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By Madeleine Gray on December 8, 2016 in Food

Photo: Grant Brooks

Photo: Grant Brooks

The cafes along Arden Street are prime real estate. Literally across the road from the sparkling blue waters of Coogee Beach, they have the kind of view that most businesses only dream of.

So when the good folk behind Café Congo decided to close up shop after more than two decades late last year, Coogee carpenter Brock Thompson decided to seize the moment. Putting his hospitality experience and woodworking skills to use, Brock renovated the space by hand, exchanging Café Congo’s brown tiled floors for sleek concrete, and swapping a dated cream paint job for distressed brick and lovingly crafted wooden panels. And thus, Bell & Anchor was born.

When I popped in with friends during the month, it was immediately clear that the staff members at Belle & Anchor were the loveliest people you will ever meet. Brock is friendliness personified, and while his personal aesthetic is decidedly non-hipster, his knowledge of the menu and the origins of all the produce used would put many a man-bun sporting lumberjack to shame. Our waitress, Ange, was a deadest legend, too, and her genuine exuberance made the whole ordering experience a treat.

We were presented with a culinary extravaganza. The menu is an homage to good old-fashioned seaside tucker, with an added Americana twist (Brock’s wife hails from Kansas City). And it looks beautiful.

We started with a range of breakfast options (both breakfast and lunch are served all day). The grilled halloumi stack was heaped on balsamic glazed sourdough, topped with perfectly poached eggs, grilled tomato, baby spinach, aioli and basil pesto. Both the breakfast bruschetta and the prosciutto stack also outdid themselves. The bruschetta raised the bar with its salty, crispy chorizo and Danish feta, while the prosciutto sat atop not one, but two types of cheese: feta and goat’s cheese.

For the ‘lunch’ element of our feast we went for three standout burgers, and a salad, just to be healthy.

The ‘Captain’ was a whopper of a meal, combining a thick wagyu beef patty, smoked barbecue brisket, crunchy bacon, deep fried mac ‘n’ cheese, pickles, lettuce, tomato, and truffle chipotle sauce – with fries on the side. It was insane, but also insanely good.

The Southern Chick is apparently a best seller, and one taste of the zesty house made pineapple chutney made us realise why. The spice fried chicken breast and bacon really upped the ante too. Our final burger, the Aunt Rita’s Jerk with marinated jerk chicken breast, coleslaw, grilled pineapple and Jamaican barbecue sauce, offset by the creamy scrumptiousness avocado mayonnaise, was also on point.

Meanwhile, a surprise winner was the Hawaiian-inspired grilled mango and chicken salad. It was delightfully fresh, sweet and salty.

Drinks-wise, you can go in two directions. Either choose an expertly made coffee (brewed with award-winning Queensland roaster Duckinwilla’s beans), or go to the other extreme: how about a donut-topped salted caramel and popcorn milkshake? Or why not both?

Brock and the team are now licensed too, and expect to start opening for dinner very soon. Keep your ears open – you won’t want to miss it.

Address: 208 Arden St Coogee 2034
Instagram: @bellandanchorcoogee
Opening Hours: Daily, 7am–4pm
Prices: $15-$20
Card Accepted: Yes
Licensed/BYO: Yes/Yes