This restaurant, Deep Blue Bistro, is just around the corner from Coogee Women's Pool. From the outside it looks like my photo above, and it faces straight at the beautiful Coogee beach.
The winning location hosts a relaxing venue with décor in a neutral costal colour scheme, backed up with good thematic photography by a local photographer. We sat in a nice cushioned area on a raised plinth. As you can see from the photo above, they use some pretty blue lights in the main part of the dining room. While they looked beautiful from where I was sitting, frankly I wouldn't have liked being unable to enjoy the colour and look of the food. If this is also important to you too, don't sit under the vivid blue lights (however pretty they seem).
The photo above shows the colours of the area I dined in. As you can see from the next photo, there are also al fresco dining options, which on a less chilly night, I would have happily taken advantage of.
The cuisine is “modern Australian with a native twist” according to manager and sommelier, Richard Hargreave, who quickly had us sipping a sterling drop - the 2006 Palliser Estate Pinot Gris ($59). It could well be the creme of the pinot gris crop - at least as far as the wines I have tried to date. However I am still rather partial to the 2007 blush pink Carlei Pinot Gris I had at the now defunct Sobo. At the Organic Show recently though, I found out that the Carlei new release pinot gris goes on restaurants/case buys and I am unlikely to ever see it in a bottle shop.
We left our choosing in the very capable hands of Richard - I was impressed that he came out with both entrees we would have chosen for ourselves. In fact, Richard is an incredibly knowledgeable manager and sommelier, and a great advocate of the cuisine of chefs Wayne Farmer and David Lee. It's not misplaced either - the chefs do a wonderful job in the kitchen with strong French technique backing up good produce and imagination, especially where it comes to native ingredients.
This is the entree I was partial to, Citrus Cured Salmon ($17) with pickled cucumber, herb cream, caper berries and lotus crisps. All of the elements combined really well - in fact I would term it a wonderful (and innovative) combination. I was loath to give it up half way...
... that is of course until I tried my dining companion's dish. I’ve already eaten a lot of pork belly this year, but their Milk Braised Pork Belly ($17) served with sautéed pears & apple puree is one of the best I’ve tried. It easily has my dish of the night award.
Over the course of the evening, it became apparent that there’s not much this team can’t handle – al dente pasta and a spectacular lobster bisque foam made the Crispy Skin Salmon ($30) a winner. It used really strong flavoursome prawns too, and the level of 'crustacean' flavour in the foam really impressed. It wasn't a dish I would have chosen for myself, but I did actually enjoy it.
Ditto for the hearty Lamb Navarin ($30) - not what I would have chosen (never been a fan of anchovies except in dressings), but it impressed with a beefy broth, and quite edible white, fresh anchovies. They added a lemony edge that actually worked to make it an easier big meaty taste - I may need to revise my position on anchovies to allow for fresh ones in the future.
Desserts also impressed. This was an intensely chocolate dessert (not particularly my thing, or my dining companion's, but we appreciated the perfection of it anyway) - called a Bitter Chocolate Torte with Hazelnut Praline, Armagnac poached Prunes and Orange Reduction ($14 or $20 with a glass of dessert wine). It was so rich, we found it impossible to finish.
The dessert I would have chosen was also selected for me by Richard - I told you, he's gold. Check out the divine concoction of sticky Italian meringue with candied peel on the Lemon Curd, Lemon Meringue and Shortbread ($13). This heavenly meringue will drag me back, even if the promise of an Outback Degustation ($75/head, $100/wine) doesn’t!
I was very happy to be surprised with a sneaky taste of the degustation dessert (yes, a third dessert was slipped into our menu by the cunning Richard). It was a Quandong and Lemon Myrtle Roll with poached Muntaris and it proved so amazing that we finished every last morsel! The ice-cream was amazing - closest I could liken it to is mango. Not an ice-crystal to be seen either. You can't see the poached muntaris, but they looked like little purple blueberries. The fruit balanced on top in a Quandong, and quandong is also used in the crust of the roll.
Based on this dessert, and the cooking throughout, I am keen to go back and try the Outback Degustation ($75/head, $100/wine) soon. Richard tells me that while most crocodile is bland and chewy (and from our Darwin experience, I would have to agree), it really sings in the Crocodile Carpaccio, which is on this menu. He also said they make no money on the additional wine package (a sterling $25), so it makes it very good value! This restaurant is well worth a look, especially if native Australian ingredients interest you.
Deep Blue Bistro
Ground Floor – Coogee View, 56 Carr Street, Coogee Beach
Ph: (02) 9315 8811