Think ‘seaside restaurant’ and we immediately recall the cliche we grew up with – white washed buildings, cane furniture (which leave its own imprint of stripes on our bare legs), nautical hues and blue & white funishings. It’s what we expect right? Well, hold your shipshape memorabilla – Coogee Bay Hotel is breaking all the maritime rules with its new restauarant Marrah.
This is one of the sexiest and creative fit outs we have seen since ‘The Grounds’ hit Sydney. The achilles heel of the project has always been what to do with that oh so eighties arched glass ceiling.
Trust a woman to get it right! Bianca Isgro, is the creative interior design talent behind spots like The Opera Bar and The Paddo Inn. She has created a sustainable and inspired solution. Now, it takes some imagination – but cross a Hollywood style make up mirror, crumpled hessian sacks and masculine black iron bars and voila! You have a moody dining paradise which creates a whole new spin on the question “What should I wear?” The reply should be “Babe, you could wear a hessian sack and still look amazing” Marrah does and pulls it off – Big time. Simply add a hand painted seascape mural of the local area and boom. Trend setting.
Marrah pays tribute to its Aboriginal name, meaning ‘fish’, where Gadigal and Bidjigal dwellers fished off these waters. Executive Chef Nathan Tillott (ex Bilso’s Rampersand, GPO, Cruise Bar) puts seafood front and centre. It’s rare that you get to choose from three fish mains, four if you include pasta.
We kick off with golden orbs of cauliflower fritti, but its the grilled, split jumbo prawns speckled with flecks of chili, garlic and butter that have us licking our fingers. Two chunky nicely charred tentacles of Fremantle octopus curl around a pool of olive oil, olives, and slow roasted peppers round out the starters. We double down on seafood mains. A perfectly cooked silky soft blue eye is all the better for gentle steaming. The lobster butter is a little overpowered with a fiesty lemon jus dotted with petals of translucent onion, peas, baby gem lettuce. A bowl of silky angel hair pasta is tangled with generous amounts of Queensland spanner crab tossed chilli, garlic, lemon, parsley. Its simple, it’s classic, there is no where to hide and they nail it. If you just have to have your meat fix then our pick is the dry-aged Kurobuta pork chop full of flavour with salad of fennel, peach & verbena and don’t let anyone steal that crackling.
We head to the seaside to be refreshed. Marrah is an experience which puts a spring in your step, but that also thanks to a mighty number of beers on tap, an imaginative wine list and a well balanced Barringwood Chardonnay. Coogee (‘koo-jah) may mean ‘stinking seaweed’ but we can guarantee that the only aromas from the open kitchen are ones that urge you to try more of the menu – oh go on – let’s order the creme brulee with roasted white chocolate.
Coogee Bay Hotel 253 Coogee Bay Road, Coogee
Hours: Marrah Bar; Mon – Thurs 7am – 12am, Fri & Sat 7am –2am, Sun 7am –10pm
Marrah Restaurant; Mon Coffee & Pastries 7am –11:30am, Lunch & Dinner Closed. Tues – Sat 7am –12am, Sun 7am –10pm