Details of New Restaurant in Old Coogee Hotel Revealed by New Executive Chef Scott Brannigan
If there’s one thing Coogee is crying out for, it’s a local place to eat and drink. So when details emerged of an exciting new bar and restaurant planned at the Old Coogee Hotel, I had to learn more. I caught up with the project’s new Executive Chef and General Manager, Scott Brannigan.
If you’re big on the restaurant scene, you may know Brannigan as the Head Chef at Freo’s own Bread in Common. The immensely popular bakery and restaurant is one in a long line of projects spearheaded by Nic Trimboli and Adrian Fini, who are also the masterminds behind Little Creatures brewery. Old Coogee Hotel takes the same blueprint as Bread in Common; restoring a heritage listed building and creating a wonderfully rustic and natural space within.
And if the success of previous ventures is anything to go by, you can set your expectations high for their latest project.
But before we dive into the juicy details, here’s a quick bit of history. The Old Coogee Hotel began life as a popular bar and holiday destination way back at the end of the nineteenth century. The hotel built itself a reputation as an institution, renowned for its pleasant gardens, a relaxed atmosphere and easy access to the beach.
Since its conception, the heritage listed building has been used as a clubhouse, the site of an unregistered racecourse, an orphanage – during Perth’s housing shortage post World War II – and finally a post office in more recent years.
So, with over 120 years of history residing within those walls, it’s refreshing to hear Scott’s plans for the hotel are very much built on celebrating the original heritage of the place.
‘We’re leaving the post office and the main pub…it’s going to be kept honest and pay homage to what was there before’, Scott explains during our catch up. ‘We’re planning a little cooking school at the back in the old kitchen, we would host dinners there and also do a cooking school where we might go to the garden and pick things to make…just in a small group…basically just have a good time.’
The menu itself will take inspiration from the gastropubs of the UK, which opens up all kinds of possibilities as the options with this approach are so diverse. The finer details of the menu are yet to be confirmed. In terms of ingredients though, Scott’s focus will be on homegrown.
‘Seasonal stuff, as much as we can out of the garden.’
And it seems the garden is shaping up to be one of the hotel’s key features.
‘We’ve rescued a whole lot of trees. The fig trees that are there at the moment are from a demolition site in Scarborough. The big olive trees are from Gingin – things that were going to be knocked out and replaced with other things – we’ve tried to rescue as much as we can. We even pulled out an old bay leaf tree from my place that we didn’t want and brought it down here.’
Bar and alfresco area
If you’re just after a cold beer or two in the afternoon sun, Old Coogee Hotel will be the spot, with a herb garden planned for out the front of the building and an alfresco area where you can sit and have a casual drink. There will also be a bigger bar in the centre of the building where the old fireplaces are. No more trips to Freo every time you fancy a beer!
It’s clear that the intention is to make use of as many of the building’s old features as possible. Even the old post office is being considered for use.
‘For now, [the post office] will be used as the gardener’s little shed, but we have got plans to develop it further down the track and maybe make it into something cool. But with the planning stages in place, we have to just take things one step at a time and work with the council, our neighbours and the people around as much as we can. Get the core of it established and keep adding to it from there.’
One of the most exciting aspects of Scott’s project is the value for Coogee locals, and he was quick to point out that this is a key focus.
‘It is going to be a destination spot but at the end of the day, after all the dust settles, it is for the locals and for the people to enjoy there… I’ll be bringing across my freshest approach to food that sits nicely next to some booze and a place for people to use on their back doorsteps.
There isn’t a massive amount of options down here so we need something for the locals.
I’ve actually just moved down from north of the river to be involved in this. It’s really exciting and I’m really looking forward to meeting the locals.’
Expect to hear more next year as the project develops further.
Are you a Coogee or Freo local?
I would love to hear your thoughts on the Old Coogee Hotel Development and what you would like to see from the project. Feel free to leave a comment below.
Image Credit: Molly Schmidt / Fremantle Herald