Progress in The Palace and A Little Kitchen makes an impact...

So....

Justin Hemmes, the Merivale property/bar/dining magnate responsible for 27.5% of the interesting places to eat and drink in Sydney recently purchased the Beach Palace hotel!! (see also here)  

This is fantastic news for the food and drink scene in our not-so-sleepy seaside village and continues a spate of developments in gastronomic options for Coogwegians including the opening of "The Little Kitchen" up on the south end of Arden St and the continued evolution of the francophile hole-in-the-wall Le Petit Cafe.

So what is The Little Kitchen you ask?




The Little Kitchen is a beachside foodie destination which echoes the quality product/minimum fuss vibe which saw 3 blue ducks soar. The result of careful planning and execution from husband and wife restaurant industry pros Amy and Neil Thompson. Neil left his job running the kitchen at the hatted Four in Hand and Amy, former front of house at Rockpool.

The food is outstanding. Immaculately crafted plates of damn good, honest cuisine made from scratch. This food is groomed to a state of deliciousness and aesthetic prowess without being too fussy (or wanky). The portions are well sized and the coffee is well good also. 



My picks for lunch are the burger or the seared tuna dish. Breakfast options range from the hangover british fave, Kedgeree, through to the full english brekky or a great rendition of eastern suburbs crack (aka avocado on toast with a poached egg). The fare is well priced and the personal touch of this venture really sets them apart.

Can't wait to go back for dinner...

Click to see the breakfast menu 



Four Frogs hit The Spot

"The Spot" (aka. the junction of St Paul St and Perouse Rd) is one of Randwick/Coogee's main restaurant areas. Lubricated by the proximity to the iconic Ritz cinema and downstream from the Royal hotel - this place comes alive on Thursday-Sunday evenings as the dinner/drink/movie combination draws residents in like moths to a flame. Thai food has traditionally been king of the spot with 4-5 Thai restaurants within a stones throw of each other.

 

 



If your not one of these Thai restaurants, its a difficult market to break into. There is a constant turnover of lukewarm venues and ventures. Only a few seem to have staying power. With that setting in mind I am really glad to see Four Frogs open up across from the cinema. These guys saw a crepe sized hole in the market and jumped at it with their house milled organic buckwheat flour and homemade chocolate sauce. In theory crepes are going to be a winner. It's food you can eat any time of day and can easily accompany a wide variety of beverages.


bacon, egg, cheese.
bacon, egg, cheese.
classic banana and nutella
classic banana and nutella

It's a known medical fact that pancakes/crepes are irresistable to the inebriated... These crepes (or galettes) are killer. Writing about them is making me hungry. Again. The hardest thing is choosing which flavour combo from the extensive list of sweet and savoury options. A real bonus is the drinks menu - French cider dominates along with curated wine and champagne options. Really worth checking out in my opinion.

is it just me or do these interiors kinda have a Christmas feel about them.
is it just me or do these interiors kinda have a Christmas feel about them.
cider heaven
cider heaven

Sleepy in Clovelly...

Rock fishing at sunrise. 

Rock fishing at sunrise. 

So for some reason I kept waking up in the middle of the night. I just couldn't seem to switch my brain off. Business ideas, inventions, blog posts, travel destinations, breakfast options and academic pursuits were whizzing through my consciousness completely unannounced. This happens to me on occasion - probably a product of subclinical hypomania and the overuse of bright screens prior to sleeping.

I tried all the usual tricks like going for an aimless walk around the apartment, drinking a glass of milk and listening to my go to jazz playlist dominated by Wes Montgomery. I even did the husband trick of waking Grace up to inform her of my lack of sleeping success - she was thrilled. 

In the end it got to about 4.30am when I decided to go out and take some photos. Landscape photography is a bit like meditation or low intensity yoga I guess. It gets you outdoors and requires you to focus (sorry for the pun. Not one of my best).

I decided Clovelly was a goer. Great mix of rocks and water and a ridiculous number of don't dive/jump/slip off the cliff signs to give scale to the shots. Many photographers go to great lengths to get these touches of civilisation out of the shot. I don't mind them to be honest - they add scale and reference.

Here are the results.

This is my favourite - dramatic sky; tranquil water. rocks and the iconic surf club.

This is my favourite - dramatic sky; tranquil water. rocks and the iconic surf club.

Not a Coogee Breakfast...

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A common observation made of the Coogee cafe scene goes something like this:

"love the beach and atmosphere and I like the cafes, but I just don't know if any of them are really worth the wait on the weekend... :( ... wanna come to surry hills instead?" 

I don't have much to say to this. In fact, I kinda see myself agreeing with it.

There are plenty of good places to get a coffee but very few places, if any, reach out to that level of awesomeness that will make you excitedly line up for half an hour. I usually resort to a take-away coffee and go sit on the beach with the rest of the locals while all the out-of-towners, morning-afterers and special-occasioners take over Coogee Bay Road.

This brings me to the conundrum of where to go when that self indulgent sit-down, read-the-paper, order-two-coffees breakfast urge inevitably sneaks into your psyche on a perfect Sydney summer morning. 

At the moment I have two reliable favourites for perfect breakfasts. If it is a weekday and everyone else is at work/school - go to three blue ducks in Bronte. This Macpherson street gem is a no brainer for awesome food and the perfect vibe. The only problem is that everybody in the world knows about it and therefore weekends have huge queues.

This bring me to my second favourite... Ruby's diner. 

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Ruby's has been one of my regulars for the last 3 years or so. It is uncompromising in quality, the indoor/outdoor arrangement has just the right amount of sun, and the food and service can't be beaten. They take their coffee and food very seriously and they have been using Iggy's bread since before it was famous. Also, if you sleep in and get there after 11.30 the lunch menu has the best burgers in the East.

Ruby's is in Queens Park. It takes about 12mins to get there from Coogee if you drive or 20min on the 313/314 bus. The food isn't cheap (about $15-19/plate) but that's because it is awesome. And by awesome I mean superb quality, uses fresh, high quality ingredients and is well portioned. (I am never hungry when I leave.) 

The only major downside is that occasionally it can be hard to find a convenient park and you'll have to suck it up and walk a few hundred metres. But that is the same anywhere in the Eastern Suburbs. 

Other things to love about Ruby's: 

- Awesome wall art

- Great people watching

- Serves breakfast all day

- Can buy bread while you're there

- Great selection of homemade muffins/banana bread etc

- Does a bloody good buckwheat pancake

 

PS Photo credit to Charlie for the food and coffee snaps. I was having a lazy day with the camera. 

 
Getting some study in at Ruby's

Getting some study in at Ruby's

people watching...

people watching...

A few of the food options: kale breakfast salad with poached eggs, avocado and slow roast tomatoes on toast, buckwheat pancakes with quince and raspberries and yoghurt. 

A few of the food options: kale breakfast salad with poached eggs, avocado and slow roast tomatoes on toast, buckwheat pancakes with quince and raspberries and yoghurt. 

The pulse...

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The summer/christmas spirit is out in full. The atmosphere is buzzing and the beers are cold. Early in the morning, organised scouts emerge to lay siege to prime spots in the parks and reserves in anticipation of the daily hordes migrating to the beach suburbs of Sydney. The beach is scattered with the lobster red of English tourists revelling in their first/second/third degree sunburns. I'm pretty sure some of them feel ultraviolet radiation is a valid method of exfoliation!

Leading the celebration is the Brazilian community on the north end. Their legions of tanned bodies dancing to live music while the irresistible smell of meat cooking over charcoal fills the collective nares of Coogee. The spirit is infective and these guys know how to party. 

Elsewhere on the beach and in the parks, fluorescent shorts are rampant amongst the ball sport savvy youths. These guys and girls are making the most of the long days and school/university holidays to get their game up. Impressive renditions of hackysack, ultimate frisbee and beach volleyball add to the garden variety beach cricket, touch football and soccer games. 

I took the camera down to get a few snaps to capture some of the vibe...

 

 

On the street...

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Coogee Bay Road has slowly been gentrifying over 2012/2013. Sexy, paired back, bare brick interiors with high quality fittings are definitely the fashion. The style is exemplified by Farinha, the best Italian-Brazilian restaurant you're ever likely to encounter. Yes I said Italian-Brazilian, it wasn't a stuff up. Basically the owners wanted to do an Italian restaurant but serve the food in a Brazilian style like Churrasco. The chefs choose what dishes they are going to cook and the servers offer it to your table when it's fresh out of the oven. You let your eyes do the choosing. It's pretty cool, especially if you want to try lots of different stuff and the idea of a menu  seems like a potentially dispensable part of the equation. 

This isn't the first odd cultural gastronomic pair-up in Sydney, but it is more likely to be successful than the last one. I always used to giggle a little when I would drive along the Grand Parade in Brighton-Le-Sands and see the massive banner saying "Greek Yum-Cha". It never enticed me in. The though of Greek mammas pushing Yum Cha (aka Dim Sum) carts around barking orders was a bit of a turn off really. 

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The other business which is worth entering just to have a look at the interiors is Brown Sugar. This hair and beauty salon has a wonderful glass and brick setup which is a class above. Grace tells me the beauty salon upstairs is just as pretty (a big shout out to the BS eyebrow magician, Jasmine! --G).

Brown Sugar

Brown Sugar

Between Farinha and Brown Sugar, I was kind getting excited about a whole new era of food and boutique class down on Coogee Bay Road. Sadly this is still a while away and for every cool business there are two overpriced, shitty neon-lighted convenience stores. There are now FIVE convenience stores on the block closest to the beach. This is decidedly inconvenient as these spaces would have served our villagey community better as cool small bars, beach boutiques and the prerequisite, cool suburb Gelato Messina which we are yet to score.