A multi-million dollar renaissance has been taking place at the iconic Cottesloe Beach Hotel. Established in 1905 and renovated in the 1930s and 40s, the building still retains the art deco character that makes it such a striking beachfront landmark. Some patrons may remember the wilder, rougher days of The Cott, but today, with tighter liquor laws and an evolving, more sophisticated dining culture, the pub kitchen has become more important than ever before.
The old Hotel beer garden has been transformed, recently unveiled as the stylish yet laidback Beach Club. Renowned WA chef Russell Blaikie, best known for Must Winebar and Bistro in Mount Lawley and Margaret River, has been consultant chef for the project, designing a menu for a modern beachside dining experience, based around sustainable, locally sourced produce with lots of dishes for sharing, all cooked in a custom built open kitchen.
Jac and I were part of a group of Perth bloggers and partners invited for a tasting of The Beach Club’s menu last week. We were joined by Russell Blaikie and Garry Gosatti, Executive Director of Cottesloe Beach Hotel owners The Prendiville Group.
My first taste of The Beach Club’s fare was a spicy lamb meatball, topped with tomato sauce and yoghurt. It was an easy mouthful that fell apart with the gentlest bite.
The fried squid was tender, lightly battered and seasoned with Turkish pepper. The cool tangy tzatziki made a nice change to tartare sauce. If we weren’t passing the plates around, I’d have easily eaten most of this on my own.
Local patisserie boulangerie Jean Pierre Sancho supplies its famous crusty bread to many Perth restaurants and here at The Beach Club it’s sliced and served with herb-scented extra virgin olive oil, marinated olives and feta whip sprinkled with dukkah.
The kitchen at The Beach Club boasts state of the art wood fired grills and rotisseries where Margaret River Arkady lamb and Mount Barker chicken are cooked daily over charcoal and carved to order into succulent chunks. You can order just lamb, just chicken, or some of each, served on giant couscous with tzatziki.
Wood fired pizza is a staple of many a Perth pub and they’re in great demand here at The Beach Club. They’re made on organic dough bases and the toppings are the stars, deceptively simple but thoughtfully chosen combinations. First to arrive is the pizza with Carnarvon prawns, Borello bocconcini, fresh chilli and basil.
Next, pizza with Black Pig pancetta, gorgonzola, spinach and bechamel. It’s a stunning combination that will knock the socks off any lover of blue cheese. My only complaint: needs more pancetta!
The final dish was grilled Carnarvon tiger prawns with bean sprout salad and pineapple, chilli and lime salsa. Some of us were far more interested in the prawns than the beansprouts, crushed peanuts and fresh mint leaves they were buried under! The prawns were sweet and we sucked every bit of meat from those tails.
As Garry explained, different elevations and furnishings have been used throughout The Beach Club to create different spaces for socialising. And around us, it was a mixed crowd enjoying bubbles, pints, the company of mates, and many a good feed.
Although the food is prepared with top-quality ingredients and the wine list features real French champagne among the local offerings, the atmosphere is relaxed, with a bright and (sea)breezy colour scheme reminiscent of sunshine, holiday houses and beach towels.
Russell took us to see the kitchen. As we were right in the thick of dinner service on a Thursday night we observed the action from the outside, but there was plenty to see through the many hatches of the large open kitchen.
According to Russell, the speed of the rotisserie has been specially calculated so that the fat coming off the meat will not drip down onto the embers below. Cameras poised, we oohed and aahed, mesmerised by the dancing flames and the turning, glistening meat.
If live action Rotisserie TV isn’t enough, there’s also Pizza TV. The woodfired oven is set to roaring and each pizza inside rotates as it cooks, much like those Alice in Wonderland teacup show rides. Of course, if kitchen-watching isn’t your thing, you can simply sit back and relax with your friends, never looking at the kitchen.
I could have easily stayed there watching and drooling until the last pizza was retrieved from the oven and the final order was sent from the kitchen. It was an absorbing, appetising show and a couple of us chuckled at our shameless gluttony when we caught an “mmm” or two escaping our lips as we ogled the food leaving the pass.
Interior designers Hecker Guthrie have done a magnificent job in breathing new life into an ageing local watering hole, but the revival of the Cottesloe Beach Hotel has also come out of its kitchens. The Beach Club’s cuisine values provenance, top quality produce and international flavours that taste great – they’re the things we love about dining in Perth today.
The Beach Club
The Cottesloe Beach Hotel
104 Marine Parade
Cottesloe, WA 6011
Telephone: (08) 9383 1100
Also part of the refurbished Cottesloe Beach Hotel:
TFP and Jac dined as guests of The Cottesloe Beach Hotel.