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X74: One of Coogee’s Finest

By Dining Dave on August 30, 2016 in Food

Photo: Grant Brooks

Photo: Grant Brooks

This may be the best eatery that I have reviewed for The Beast. If you live in Coogee and have not eaten at X74, you need to go there immediately. What Tim Hughes and Nathan Hollowell have created here is much more than a café, and much more than a restaurant. It isn’t new – it’s been down near the intersection of Bream Street and Carrington Road for four years now – and it’s easy to find, but getting a seat isn’t always so simple, as evidenced by the full tables on the footpath and the queue of hungry people that my two companions and I encountered when we walked up to X74 late one recent Sunday morning.

Escorted to an indoor table on the edge of the footpath, I learned that both Tim (originally from Wales) and Nathan honed their vision during the years they spent working at Catalina in Rose Bay. Tim is right in the middle of the ground-level action, even bussing his own tables at the peak of the rush. The café isn’t flashy; the décor is simple red brick with black chalkboards for the most part.

The real value comes from the effort they put in, like making two runs to the fish market on a Sunday to make sure the freshest seafood is served, and growing native herbs in the rear garden.

We started off with a few coffees from Allpress roasters, then ordered two of the day’s specials: the hot smoked salmon, and the ham and cheddar gallette with crumbed eggs. X74 also specialises in fresh juice creations, so we shared a smooth ‘Recovery Cleanser’ of cucumber, apple and beetroot, to help with the hangover from the night before.

Visually, the dishes were stunning. The smoked salmon was cooked just a little under and placed on top of a bed of asparagus spears, two poached eggs and a fried potato hash, with just the right amount of hollandaise sauce to bring it all together. I had never seen crumbed poached eggs before, but head chef Nathan really made it work with the cheesy gallette, which simply melted on my lips.

Not letting us sit back and digest, our cheery Italian waitress, Debra, brought us out some more creations – delicious fish sliders made from fresh scallops, snapper and home-pickled cucumber with a dash of aioli, and the blow-me-away dish of the day, Spanish mackerel on a bed of julienne zucchini, cauliflower puree and capers for that extra bit of salty flavor. We washed it down with some aromatic Dreissigacker Riesling from Tim’s growing Reserve list.

For dessert (all of which are hand-prepared, of course) we went for the chocolate and hazelnut delice with wattle seeds, and the pear and macadamia tart with ice cream. Each was too good for words.
While we trod the line between breakfast and lunch, Tim was quick to point out that they also do dinner from Thursday to Saturday each week, even in winter.

Overall, between the care, freshness, commitment to the food, and excellent service and atmosphere, X74 is to me is among Coogee’s finest.

Address 10 Bream St, Coogee
Phone (02) 9665 2222
Instagram @x74cafecoogee
Open Mon–Wed, Sun: 7am–4pm, Thu–Sat: 7am–10pm
Prices $12 – $32
Cards Accepted Yes
Licensed/BYO Fully Licensed