Palm Beach, as beautiful as it is, can be a little stuffy at times. All that prosperity in one place can mess with the place’s naturally laid-back atmosphere. But even those with beach-front pools and personal palm trees need a spot to unwind, and the colourful, lively Cranky Fin’s Holidae Inn, opened by those responsible for Bondi’s The Bucket List, is just the place.
Inside and out, the weatherboard, shack-style building has been painted a shade of aquamarine and decorated with swinging coloured-glass ocean buoys, bright signage showing retro drink ads and slogans proclaiming “life’s a beach”, which here, it actually is. Surf art guru and musician Ozzie Wright and ex-Mambo artist Gerry Wedd painted the artwork found throughout the bar, and that nostalgic, eccentric style, so recognisable from the Mambo heyday, carries throughout the space.
An order-at-the-bar affair, Head Chef Tom Walton (also of The Bucket List), has created a menu fit for Cranky Fin’s beachy location, including the obvious – though no less appreciated – buckets of tiger prawns with cocktail sauce and fish and chips. Pork and pineapple or spiced fish tacos with pico de gallo, avocado, fennel and chipotle mayo can be ordered by plates of two or three, and jars of scallop, radish, chilli, mint and grapefruit ceviche are served with corn chips for scooping. Crisp-fried school prawns with garlicky aioli are best eaten with a beer or a salt-rimmed jalapeno Margarita in hand and around once a week, Walton cranks up the giant paella pan out the front, luring in passers by with the scent of savoury spiced rice and seafood.
The mood’s rollicking and tables are available for bookings – perfect for an out-of-town function space. The bar even offers those who book a courtesy car (for a gold coin donation) back to Newport or nearby, as cabs are scant.
Cranky Fins Holidae Inn
1 Beach Road, Palm Beach
(02) 9974 1159
Wed to Sun noon–10.30pm