You’d be forgiven if you missed the opening of Coogee Pavilion’s beautiful tapas-and-wine bar, Una Mas. The corner bar is one of the three venues to open within the long-awaited middle level of the bustling beachside dining destination but was completely overshadowed by headliner Mimi’s, Merivale’s grandest restaurant opening to date.
And fair enough – Mimi’s took the hospitality group six years to realise, and it may prove to be the biggest Sydney restaurant opening of 2020.
Yet because Una Mas is much more casual – the type of place you pop in for a glass of vino and a plate of octopus grilled on the plancha (grill), or fresh buffalo mozzarella dolloped on lemon leaves – it’s likely to be equally busy. Maybe even more so, especially on Fridays and Saturday nights when the 50-seater seaside tapas eatery is open until 3am, making it a rare late-night venue for the eastern suburbs.
Jordan Toft is executive chef across both Mimi’s and Una Mas (as well as Bert’s), and is behind the menu. The kitchen though is run day-to-day by Sydney-born head chef Andrew Wandless, who lists awarded London fine diners such as The Ledbury, Texture and Hibiscus on his resume, as well as Sydney's Bert's and Est. "Fine dining is my bread and butter but we're doing real, simple food here that's well executed and just super tasty," he says.
“It’s an ode to bodegas in Spain," continues Toft. "We can open the windows; that’s the best seat in the house,” he says pointing to a corner table under a large arched window with views out to Coogee beach. “You can go for a swim off the rocks, chuck on a linen shirt, do two buttons up, put on the slides and come up here. It’s a bit like Bar Topa [in the CBD] but with a little more going on. It’s a little bit Mediterranean – Italy, Croatia, Spain.”
Cured chorizo, pancetta, sopressa and jamon legs cured in-house hang over the open kitchen where Wandless and his crews prepare plates of food amid bowls of tomatoes, peaches, brown tapas bowls and a shiny new meat slicer. Smaller dishes include scarlet prawns grilled with garlic and chilli; pipis with pancetta; and sardines with sour onions. There are bigger options too, like sirloin with salsa verde or a whole fish cooked on the custom-built Josper grill for a touch of smokiness.
It’s uncomplicated, easy-eating food set in a warm, inviting room that's got light peach tones and striking art on the walls. Like many Merivale venues, it’s contemporary and manages to feel both international and thoroughly Sydney. It was designed in collaboration with Bettina Hemmes (part of the Hemmes family, which owns Merivale), stylist Amanda Talbot, and Vince Alafaci and Caroline Choker of ACME.
Take a seat at the bar and choose from a list of Euro-inspired cocktails, or order the superbly refreshing house Spritz, made with Gonzalez Byass Vermouth and pet nat. Take the venue’s name as instruction – una mas translates as “one more” – and follow with a Tio Pepe Fino sherry with salted grapefruit soda. Or get some wine.
“Wine in Una Mas is under $100 a bottle but you can order off the main [Mimi’s] list. The list here has more natural leaning and fun,” says Toft.
Coogee Pavilion, Middle Level, 130a Beach Street, Coogee
(02) 9114 7383
Tue–Thu, Sun 12pm–12am
Fri & Sat 12pm–3am