REVIEW: Coogee Pavilion

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014

Pizza. Burgers. Juice Bar. Ping Pong. We’re only at the entrance to Coogee Pavilion and we’ve already read the first of many strange combinations we’ll experience during our one hour visit. Before the recent Merivale refurb, Coogee Pavilion was known as the Beach Palace Hotel, where the strangest combination you’d find, repeatedly, was backpackers and vomit.

A fistful of millions later and Coogee Pavilion stands proudly over the beach, defiant in the face of a miserably overcast August afternoon. It looks incredible inside. Was the Beach Palace Hotel this enormous, or did Merivale spend those millions on warping space and time itself so they could fit everything inside here? Each slight turn of your head reveals three entirely new vendors within Coogee Pavilion – on your left there’s a cocktail bar, a flower market and fresh sushi, directly in front of you is fresh organic juice, a coffee stand and a pizza oven, to the right is a bar, a barber and whatever the hell a theatrette is. It’s like Justin Hemmes wrote down every single thing you could buy in Coogee and made sure you could get it in the Pavilion.

We take a seat in the middle of this nautically themed David Jones food court and realise there’s also a games area for kids up the back, with ping pong, a small library and a giant Scrabble board. What Coogee Pavilion lacks in good beers on tap it makes up for in literally everything else, and we enjoy some incredible fresh oysters with our drinks, freshly shucked by the someone someplace over there (the barber?) who brings them over to us after getting a triple word score for C O L L O S A L.

It’s a common complaint of visitors to Coogee that there just isn’t anywhere that you can get fresh sashimi followed by traditional wood fired pizza, but Coogee Pavilion offers both. The pizza is fantastic, thin, crispy and perfectly charred. The Coogee Diner burger also gets the thumbs up, reminding us of a Shake Shack burger, however the secret sauce contains a dollop of hot English mustard which made us wonder if it came to us via the sushi bar and received some accidental wasabi. The ‘roll’ part of our mini lobster roll dominated the ‘lobster’ part, and was far from bad, but at $18 it only further confirmed that Australian menus just shouldn’t include lobster rolls – leave it for other parts of the world where ten bucks gets you a whole lobster on a hot dog bun.

We left Coogee Pavilion happy and will return again for some more weird combos. We barely scratched the surface of what’s on offer – and this is just the beginning, there’s still two more levels of Coogee Pavilion which won’t be open for a few more months. Our guess is that they’ll include an IMAX cinema, an Olympic-size swimming pool and an international airport.

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