Once an ocean-side playground, the 1887 Coogee Palace became the 1987 Beach Palace Hotel – pub and pokies below, yum-cha diner above, under the building’s mighty dome.
But by 2014, when the Merivale restaurant empire stepped in, it was looking sad. Now Coogee Pavilion, the seaside icon’s reinvention is complete with the understated LA coastal feel of the refurbed middle floor: tapas joint Una Más, cocktail bar Will’s and flagship fine-diner Mimi’s. Amid apricot tones and soft greens, cosy cushioned sections, small-group bar tables and the knot of chefs on the open pass, views abound through heritage archways. Executive chef Jordan Toft’s menu is broad in its inspirations. Snacks play across the spectrum – coral trout tartare with finger lime in sorrel parcels, classy crudités on ice with tarama and cucumber salt – but the real bling is the seafood. Try melting abalone slivers on bay leaf skewers; a salt-baked mud crab served with fennel pollen aioli, molten garlic butter and soft little brioche buns; or perhaps a caviar “bomb” with an iced vodka chaser. Be prepared for a big-splash bill but why not? Breads, butters, cured meats and sauces are all in-house creations, the wine list is premium global and the cocktails are mighty fine.
Middle level, Coogee Pavilion, 130A Beach Street, Coogee; (02) 9114 7324; open seven days for lunch and dinner.