First details: Coogee Pavilion's mid-level makeover

Executive chef Jordan Toft tests menu ideas for Coogee Pavilion's soon-to-open middle level restaurant and bars.
Executive chef Jordan Toft tests menu ideas for Coogee Pavilion's soon-to-open middle level restaurant and bars. Photo: Dimitri Tricolas

Put the caviar on ice and pop a cult champagne. Coogee Pavilion's previously unused first-floor is set to open in mid-January after five years in the making.

"It's one of the most beautiful locations we have, so we've really taken the time and care to make the room extraordinary," says Merivale hospitality group chief Justin Hemmes. 

A restaurant has been planned for the middle level of Coogee Pav' (formerly the Beach Palace Hotel) ever since Hemmes added the 4,500 square-metre venue to his pub portfolio in 2014. Details of the offering have been scarce, but now Good Food can reveal the remodelling will include a tapas bar, cocktail lounge and fine-dining restaurant, Mimi's.  

The new Coogee Pavilion fine-diner will channel "coastal Mediterranean dining vibes".
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The new Coogee Pavilion fine-diner will channel "coastal Mediterranean dining vibes". . Photo: Dimitri Tricolas

Hemmes won't be drawn on a price-tag for the new fit-out but says it is one of Merivale's most expensive projects to date.

"We can't afford to build ones like this too often, but I think it's going to be worthwhile. For me, it's reminiscent of the way buildings and spaces were constructed in yesteryear, when time and money weren't the most important factors, it was the outcome. The design team has been back and forth over details that are literally millimetres in difference."

Mimi's is the star attraction and accessible from its own entrance on Beach Street. Lead by executive chef Jordan Toft, the restaurant is set to channel coastal Mediterranean dining vibes. There's a five-metre grill imported from Spain, more than 500 wines and no shortage of high-end marble and linen. 

Toft says tableside elements will be a key part of Mimi's, but in a refined way so it "doesn't feel like a yum cha ...
Toft says tableside elements will be a key part of Mimi's, but in a refined way so it "doesn't feel like a yum cha restaurant".  Photo: Dimitri Tricolas

"Mimi's is all about effortless elegance," says Toft, who also oversees the kitchens at Coogee Pavilion's rooftop grill and casual ground-floor restaurant, and the two-hatted Bert's in Newport.

"I want it to be a place where time stops when you walk through the door. Somewhere to put yourself in the hands of staff and simply enjoy the experience."

Toft says tableside elements will be a key part of that experience, but in a refined way so it "doesn't feel like a yum cha restaurant". Guests might set the mood with silver service caviar and a cold shot of vodka, followed by red emperor crudo and salt-baked mud crab cracked open at the table.

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Cocktail bar Will's is attached to Mimi's for pre-dinner snacks or a post-dessert negroni made with vintage Campari. Hemmes says the venue names have special meaning for him and his sister Bettina, too, a key member of Coogee Pavilion's design team. 

"'Mimi' is what my father always called Mum, and Dad was born 'William'. Mimi's and Will's belong together."

Meanwhile, the name of Coogee Pavilion's new tapas bar, Una Mas, is Spanish for "one more". 

"We hope it will be the kind of place where guests say, 'why order wine by the glass when we can share a bottle?'," says Toft. 

"It's somewhere to come with a tote bag over your shoulder after having a swim. You might order a few charred sardines with salmoriglio, or grilled rib-eye with a lightly chilled red and refreshing tomato salad."

Toft says the goal of all three venues-within-a-venue is to create perfect "moments in time". 

"That feeling when you're with friends or family, or one person or ten, and you catch yourself sitting back and thinking 'life's pretty bloody good'."