When we asked Rachel Trevarton and Scarlett Forward, COOH’s owners, what they wanted to do with the extra space at their new Alexandria site, they said “everything”. They’re keeping the same organic, wholefood philosophy of the original Curl Curl cafe, but expanding the scope with more on-site coffee roasting, fish curing, cake baking, kombucha on tap and a list of local beers and Australian wines.
The menu includes a few Alexandria-specific specialities. Our favourite is the misleadingly named tuna steak burger – there’s no steak element, the tuna is cut into small rectangles. Each piece is perfectly pink-centred and crusted around the edge. It’s joined by a toss of purple cabbage and a dousing of avo-aoili and jalapeno salsa. What really makes it is the bun, a soft, fluffy sphere of toasted brown bread, which perfectly matches its ingredients.
The cured fish – ocean trout no less – comes prettily arranged in a garden of multicoloured beetroot wedges, feta mouse and a surprisingly hardy mixed-seed cracker. The trout is cured for two days with beetroot, sugar and the zest and juice of oranges by Anders Knopp, the resident Swedish chef. “It’s an abbreviation of gravlax,” says Knopp humbly – it’s a clever take on the Scandinavian tradition of curing.
Knopp has been working with Trevarton and Forward since Curl Curl opened. He helped the duo design the original Curl Curl menu but now he’s here to stay as the new site’s head chef. “Trying to get someone to understand your concept, when hiring a head position, is the hardest part, but he just understood,” Trevarton says. On the breakfast menu there’s a cheese-covered Mexican shakshuka with sides of guac and sour cream, and for lunch there’s a textural Moroccan spiced salad with chermoula-spiced lamb, currants, tomatoes and mint-infused yoghurt.
Trevarton says while the menu has a strong link to Curl Curl the fit-out had to be distinct. “It’s very industrial here, it's a large space. We couldn't bring Curl Curl here; it's very rustic and full of antiques in there. Here our main concern was to open up the space and brighten it.” With light woods, marble tops and surrounding windows they’ve turned what was a rather corporate, dark space into one that’s fresh and open – it feels like sitting in a design studio built in the centre of a park.
90–96 Bourke Road, Alexandria
Mon to Fri 7am–4pm