Say what you want about Merivale, but the hospitality group certainly doesn't suffer from a lack of bold ideas. Or the capital to realise them. The group's newest offering, Coogee Pavilion, which has taken over the old, mega-booze-barn digs of the Beach Palace Hotel, is a good example.
After a three-month makeover it's now a family friendly restaurant with a seafood focus. It's also, thanks to Vinnie's Pizzeria, a place to go for wood-fired pizzas. You can also get cold-pressed juice (Love Juice), an espresso (Will & Co coffee), a book to read (the library), and even a short-back-and-sides (Rudy's Barbershop). The renovated ground-floor space is part marketplace, part hangout spot, and sports a stripped-back aesthetic complemented by the odd nautical flourish.
Overseen by executive chef Jordan Toft and head chef Zac Sykes, the menu is huge, and traverses its way from mini lobster rolls and fried-chicken sandwiches, through to pot-roasted mud crab and fish stew. It is fun, fresh and friendly; an extension of Coogee’s lifestyle.
When you're done eating, hunker down at the cocktail bar, have a game at one of the three retro ping-pong tables, or test your date's word skills at the giant magnetic Scrabble board.
There are plans for the rest of the building too – a rooftop bar is slated to open in time for summer. And the first floor will eventually house a more formal restaurant. In the meantime, the space will be given over to community events. It all adds up to a win for Coogee.
169 Dolphin Street, Coogee
(02) 9240 3000
Mon to Fri 11am–late
Sat & Sun 7am–late