BEAUTIFUL. Magnificent. Wonderful. Stunning.
We were running out of superlatives to describe the redeveloped Coogee Common site and we hadn’t even made it inside yet.
The sprawling vegetable gardens surrounding the 126-year-old building are inspiring.
Rows of giant fennel bulbs, bushy beetroot, luscious lettuce and other vibrant veggies are surrounded by young olive trees, lanky rosemary and a towering lemongrass hedge which protects the delicious produce from the salty ocean air.
Knowing that a lot of our meal would come from these meticulously maintained gardens filled us with excitement and anticipation.
The inside space is deceptively large. Neutral, earthy tones dominate the front rooms, which include a bar, farm shop and ferment room.
There are three large dining spaces: one with a cozy fireplace, one facing the busy kitchen, and an area towards the back of the building with natural light and garden views. A decked, alfresco was packed away to protect it from the wild weather, but it will become a hotspot during summer – a place for locals to unwind after a day at the beach.
It’s all very impressive, but we were here for the food.
There are two menus to choose from – both brimming with tempting offerings.
The pickings menu includes small plates like sardines, cured meats and lemon lamb chops. There’s also a share plate for two ($65) which includes bread, tempura broccoli, pickled vegetables and sardines, ricotta croquettes and mutton bolognese.
We ordered from the more substantial menu, starting with woodfired bread ($3 for two slices) and charcoal oven roasted chestnuts ($8) which arrived steaming hot.
The chestnut flesh is firm and earthy with an extra punch thanks to a sprinkling of fennel salt.
There’s a very fine line between perfect and tough-as-old-boots when it comes to cooking kangaroo, and the pros in the Coogee Common kitchen nailed it.
The roo ($20) is served blue. It’s sealed on the outside, rolled and coated in dukkah, sliced and plated with cauliflower, fig leaf and spiced pepitas. A delight.
Rounding out our meal was a delicious chunk of braised lamb ($42) served with mashed eggplant, radish and mixed leaves.
The braised lamb was cooked to perfection and melted in the mouth, but we expected it to blow our minds for $42. A bit steep for such a small piece of lamb and some leaves from the garden outside. Despite that one complaint, Coogee Common is a breath of fresh air.
If you’re looking for somewhere new to try, after waking from your iso slumber, Coogee Common is a great place to start.
371 Cockburn Road, Coogee
0451 830 371
by MATTHEW EELES