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Good Things Happen After Dark

By Rhys Kane on December 15, 2010 in Food

I always love a trip down to Coogee. It has that chilled seaside vibe that makes me happy to live in this area. My normal visits to Coogee are daytime trips to the beach, followed by brunch at one of the many great cafes. Coogee Cafe on Coogee Bay Road is a favourite. It’s a busy place that serves great food and a mean latte. The all day brekkie menu always tempts me when I’m in the area, so when I heard they now open at night I was keen to try it out.

The evening enterprise is run by husband and wife team Dan and Emma Hampton, whose passion for the place and the food they serve is immediately evident. They have made some nice touches to give it an atmospheric night-time vibe: low lighting; new pictures on the walls; and special ‘after dark’ menus. The room is dark and cosy with only a handful of tables; it feels more like a small restaurant than a cafe. There are also a few tables on the footpath with a glimpse of the water. We arrived on a miserable ‘La Nina’ evening and the place was packed – always a good sign.

The selection of beer bottles hanging in the window is not only a sign of the owners’ love of beer (Dan is a director of Beer Snobs, an Aussie boutique beer appreciation company), it’s also an indication of the brews they have available. There are good crisp lagers as well as a number of boutique ales, of which the English ale is particularly pleasant. They have the best and most varied beer list I’ve seen in the area, and the staff will happily recommend them to you with expert knowledge and advice on what will go well with the food. There are also five whites and five reds to choose from, and a cocktail du jour.

The menu is clever. Most of the dishes have two prices, for a small or a large portion, so you can choose a selection of small plates, tapas style if you will, or opt for more traditional a la carte dining. It’s not an extensive menu, but there’s enough on there to get you thinking. We had some terrific battered dory with hand-cut chips as well as the immaculately tender beef served with an earthy herb salsa, which packed a good kick of chilli. The stand out though was the salt and pepper squid; it’s seriously the best I’ve ever tried.

For dessert we had a chocolate feast: a chocolate brownie, followed by a white chocolate and Baileys pudding that resembled tiramisu, and dark chocolate truffles garnished with M&M’s. The Mad Abbot Dubbel Ale, with its bitter chocolate notes, was the perfect accompaniment.

Dining in one of my favourite seaside cafes is now a luxury I can enjoy in the evening. Coogee Cafe ‘After Dark’ has everything going for it – boutique beers, fantastic food, and Dan and Emma’s passion for the place are an irresistible combo.

Coogee Café After Dark

Address: 221 Coogee Bay Road
Phone: 9665 5779
Seats: 30 inside, 10 inside
Open: Wed-Sun, 6pm-late
Price: Entrees $12-$16; Mains $17-$23; Dessert $12-$16
Cards: Everything except Diners
Licensed/BYO: Fully Licensed