I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to lunch at the newly refurbished beer garden at The Cottesloe Beach Hotel a few weeks back. The old beer garden was seen as one of Perth’s iconic venues for a Sunday Session by the beach. That is until a few years ago, as antisocial behaviour fuelled by excessive alcohol created issues for The Cottesloe Beach Hotel. Peter Prendiville, the new owner, has now undertaken a multi-million refurbishment on the beer garden which has now morphed into The Beach Club, a relaxed lounged area that focuses on locally sourced, sustainable and flavoursome food and beverages.
When I arrived, I was greeted by a friendly waitress proposing a glass of Mumm Champagne to start with. I was surprised to find that I was amongst an intimate group of eight guests, including journalists and chefs.
Whilst sipping on my glass of champagne, I glanced around The Beach Club and saw the venue was full of tradies hard at work, as the official opening of the venue was due to happen the next day. Regardless, the outside area (designed by renowned interior designers Hecker Guthrie) already felt very beachy and relaxed, with its retro furniture fit-out, crisp white walls and beach umbrellas lined symmetrically across the area. There is definitely a Miami feel to the venue, thanks to the umbrellas, furniture and colours used throughout the area.
After a short discussion at the table, our host of the day, Garry Gosatti (the executive director), took us on a tour around the venue. Interestingly, The Beach Club will have capacity to seat 1200 people, leaving the space to be quite extensive.
Aside from the bar areas, there is also a restaurant area called The Bistro which will feature a menu that will change daily, due to the local produce available.
We then sat down to start tasting the menu. We were each provided with a glass of the 2010 Prendiville Chardonnay and New Zealand Antipode sparkling or still water. The first dish arrived and it was the Feta Whip, dukkah, West Australian olive oil, Aussie olives and Jean Pierre Sancho bread ($14). The feta whip was made with a mixture of feta and yoghurt, and then sprinkled with dukkah on top. This was one of the most interesting dips I’ve tried and went perfectly with the soft, fresh bread.
After this first dish, Russell Blaikie arrived at the table to meet us and tell us more about the food we would be trying throughout our afternoon. Blaikie is chef/owner of Must Winebar in Mount Lawley (one of my favourite restaurants in Perth), and has been contracted to help with the beginning stages of The Beach Club.
The executive head chef of The Beach Club is Alan Spagnolo, who also came out of the kitchen to greet the table. Alan and I struck up a conversation about the Middle East, as Alan was living and working in central Cairo up until a few years ago, while he started a restaurant there. This restaurant is still operating in Cairo. Our conversation mainly revolved around Egyptian dishes and I can definitely see a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean influence in The Beach Club’s menu.
The Fried Squid with Turkish Pepper and Tzatziki ($16) was our second dish of the day. Interestingly, I didn’t even realise that there was a dip on the platter – I was blinded by the amazing squid. Russell mentioned that he imports the Turkish Pepper (called Aleppo) from Syria and it added cumin-like undertones and a little bit of spice.
The Proscuitto di parma salad ($19) was my favourite dish of the day. It consisted of compressed rock melon (which was been freeze dried), rocket salad, organic Over the Moon feta with Proscuitto strewn throughout it. This salad had lots of different flavours and was refreshing to eat while lounging around in the sun. The feta had quite a new fan base after this dish, with the guests around me all mentioning how creamy the feta was. It really was an amazing dish and I highly recommend ordering this item if you head to The Beach Club.
My second favourite dish of the day was the Woodfried Portobello mushrooms, pearl barley and goat cheese salad with a Pedro Ximinez Vinaigrette ($24). I loved the flavour combination of the mushrooms with each added ingredient – especially the radishes. The mushrooms were soft but still held their texture and this dish was pretty close to perfect. Russell made the suggestion that this would be a perfect dish to order as a side to one of the steak or meaty dishes on offer.
Our next dishes were two wood-fired pizzas. The Beach Club has a state of the art wood fired pizza oven installed in their brand-new kitchen. During the tour of the kitchen provided at the end of the lunch, I was surprised to find that this new pizza oven looked very well used.
The first pizza was the Haloumi, Pumpkin, Sicilian green olives and basil pizza ($24). The Beach Club uses organic dough and the end result is a soft pizza base that doesn’t take away from the flavour of the toppings. I really liked this pizza, with the haloumi cheese and pumpkin making an unusual but winning combination.
However, my favourite of the two pizzas was the Prawn, chilli, Borello bocconcini and basil pizza ($25), which was spicy and cheesy and had a generous amount of prawn provided.
The next dish was the Grilled Carnavon tiger prawns, pineapple, chilli and lime salsa with bean sprout salad ($34). The prawns were quite large in size. Although I liked the flavours of the chili and lime salsa, my personal preference would have been for this dish to be served without the pineapple and bean sprouts. Regardless, this was a nice dish that was cooked well.
Pink slices of Beef Fillet steak ($29), served with a chimichurri sauce were placed in front of us next. The meat was perfectly cooked and was soft and flavoursome. I loved the house made chimichurri on the side as well.
The ‘Cottslaw’ Salad arrived with the steak and was an excellent side dish. There was beetroot throughout it and it added an element of sweetness to the meat. This salad is served with all the wood-fired grill items on the menu.
After our last dish, we were asked if we were interested in a tour of the kitchen. The new kitchen is quite large and Blaikie was keen to show us some of his new cooking elements.
Like I mentioned earlier, the new wood-fired pizza oven has had a lot of use, as you can see from the picture below.
There is also a large rotisserie installed in the kitchen, which will cook some of the meat for a few hours before it will be served to your table.
The charcoal grill and rotisserie were custom built by Perth’s Zesti Ovens under the guidance of Blaikie for The Beach Club’s kitchen.
While we were walking around the venue, Garry mentioned that The Beach Club will welcome families and there is a children’s menu available. For the kids or the bigger kids, there are also “Cott Soft Serve” options (made with The Cott’s own soft serve ice-cream) available for something sweet. Three different flavours are offered – Cookies & Cream, Peanut Butter Fudge, and Cherry Delight. A perfect idea for a hot Summer’s day!
I really enjoyed the menu tasting luncheon and believe that The Beach Club is an excellent addition to Perth’s continuously growing hospitality industry.
Thank you to Caitlin Irving PR and everyone involved during this lunch. I wish The Beach Club every success in the future and look forward to visiting again soon.