Coogee Pavilion, a Sydney family lunch date.

Coogee Pavilion claims to ‘celebrate the good things in life – friendship, family, fun and food’  and it is certainly an interesting concept and a welcomed change to the dingy pub that stood there previously.

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We went on a busy Sunday afternoon and had decided to join friends to catch up after middle-aged-men-in-lycra came home from their morning ride and mums had done the weekly grocery shop.

Sydney is divided east, west, south and north. You tend to stay in your geographical region as getting around can take all weekend. There are so many wonderful things about Sydney – getting around is not necessarily one of them. Meeting people in the middle is therefore one way to remain in contact with people. Don’t joke – I see friends in Melbourne more than I see friends who live further than the Inner West.

Coogee is one of those places where people congregate on weekends. It’s lively, fun and there is a great beach. For families the baths are beautiful. For those that don’t understand in much of New South Wales, the state Sydney is located in there are ocean baths. These are often natural rockpools that have had a little help (a wall to help protect or perhaps a entire pool.) they are filled with the waves of the ocean and some councils will empty them once a week to ensure they are clean. They are protected swimming areas and often very beautiful. They were built in a bygone era and are often the remnants of the Victorian swimming era. Coogee is just that and boy are they lovely.

As summer is supposedly over, although with water temperatures of 24 degrees you wouldn’t know it. As swimming season is behind us, we opted to meet at the pub for a lunch. The Coogee Pavilion is certainly a great fun place. We ordered pizza for the adults and the kids. Everything on the menu sounds wonderful but I have to say I was greatly disappointed.

I was so looking forward to tasting Jordan Toft’s menu. I had been to the Coogee Pavilion on several occasions prior but due to the large numbers of people in the massive space, I have left to eat somewhere slightly more romantic and a little more intimate. As cool as the space is, you are sharing it with loads of people. In summer the space is heaving with the masses attempting to look cool and be seen. Yes, the subtle between the lines statement there is you better bring you’re ‘a’ game. Dress is glam and you need all the accessories for your kids to be a truly hip parent.

So with all the urban hipsters hanging out and looking glam, you’d think the place had great food and drinks. Surely a funky space is just a space and unless you’re matching wine and food, the crowds loose interest? This is not the case. My pizza was greatly underwhelming and the wine I had ordered, there was only one bottle so the one glass I had was the only Rose in the joint. (by the glass at least) The choice was a variety of Sauvignon Blanc. It’s 2016, have we not moved on from wretched Savvies and their blends?

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As for Toft: he started his career at the Opera House under Peter Doyle, and moved with him to create est. He has spent time in Europe (not a summer but several seasons in a variety of places, so he really has honed his European knowledge) He has spent some time in Cali and was announced the Executive Chef at Coogee when they opened in 2014. He sounds amazing huh?

Perhaps our mistake was ordering a pizza rather than something form the main menu, but I don’t care. If you charge $25 for a pizza that is not large, but just standard size, you better make sure it is amazing.

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PROSCIUTTO RUCOLA GRANA – San Marzano, Fior di Latte, San Daniele prosciutto, wild rocket, parmesan sounds great but was underwhelming and I am not sure the base was cooked correctly because shortly afterwards I had an upset stomach. The other two pizza orders had the same thing.

The kids on the other hand didn’t really care for their meal as they were having too much fun. I will point out that whilst we had a table next to the play area and watched our kids there are parents who were under the impression that it was some sort of ‘organised day-care’ having dumped their children and returned to the beachfront side of the bar. There were other guests who were not happy that a family was seated next to them and very rudely made a lot of noise as they left. To them, I state what the company is setting out to achieve. Family is one of the words they stand by.

Do I recommend it? If your children are older than 8. Yes. If you have young children, I still think pubs are not great spaces for little kids no matter how entertaining and interactive they are. I do think Merivale (the managing company) have done a spectacular effort in bringing the heartbeat back to suburban pubs and creating a heartbeat locally. I do think if you had teenagers or tweens you would all enjoy a wonderful afternoon. If you are dining with little one’s. Eat quick and head to the beach. It’s far more relaxing – although wine is not necessarily served!

TIP – stick to the fish and the salads from the main menu, they are far superior.

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