The Dining Spectacle of the Year | McGrath
McGrath Magazine - Coogee Pavilion Issue - March 2020

The Dining Spectacle of the Year

Issue 6
11/03/2020 | 6 MIN READ

It is on Sydney’s eastern coastline that you’ll find a breathtaking symphony of romance, food and impeccable hospitality. Six years in the making, the middle level of the multi-level beachside icon at Merivale’s Coogee Pavilion is finally open, welcoming home three unique venues: restaurant Mimi’s, cocktail bar Will’s, and wine & tapas bar Una Más. This must-visit destination is Justin Hemmes’ (Merivale CEO) love letter to Coogee, inviting Sydneysiders to unite in a spectacular celebration of coastal dining. 


The highly anticipated second floor is Hemmes’ most ambitious and beautiful project to date. The fresh and exciting additions honour Merivale’s long-lasting custodianship of Coogee Pavilion by introducing a new chapter for the historic building. Executive chef, Jordan Toft (Bert’s and Bar Topa), envisioned three distinct personalities with specially tailored guest experiences for Mimi’s, Will’s and Una Más. Working closely with Hemmes, Toft shaped and directed a dining space influenced by an Australian heart through a Mediterranean lens.


“I was inspired by the generosity of regional dining around the [Mediterranean], those moments when your heart rate slows down, you’re completely at ease and filled with gratitude for life’s simple pleasures,” expresses Toft. “What you order from the menu is exactly what you see on the plate.”


A product of an inspiring collaboration between Toft, Justin Hemmes and Merivale’s design team (Bettina Hemmes, Vince Alafaci and Caroline Choker of ACME, and stylist Amanda Talbot), the interiors of each space have a consistent European narrative, starting with the earthy palette at Mimi’s and Will’s; to the rich hues of terracotta at Una Más. 


In operation for only two months, the new venue has already established itself as possibly the biggest opening of 2020. Set over the waves of Coogee beach, the main restaurant, Mimi’s (named after Hemmes’ mother) is the Pavilion’s magnum opus, a breathtaking palatial palace decorated in muted Mediterranean tones of sage and costal white. 


Mimi’s is a true reflection of Toft’s cooking style: food that’s simple and constrained, where elegance is paired with skilful technique and craftsmanship to deliver fine dining that celebrates the coastline. The à la carte menu features sumptuous shared-style dishes such as warmed Queensland scallop, chicken wing murri and summer fennel, a barbequed black lip abalone skewer, pancetta, bay and a brilliant dish of iced raw summer vegetables, tarama, cucumber salt. If you’re feeling indulgent, opt for the ‘Mimi’s Selects’ and you’re greeted with a special Toft-curated menu, which includes a bump of mouth-watering caviar and frozen vodka in a white cloth-laden cart.


Next-door is Will’s, a bar that exudes charm with a bon vivant attitude to drinking. Directed by Ben Wainwright (Bert’s, Charlie Parker’s) and Luke Ashton (This Must Be The Place), the drinks menu is distinctly European, bringing together classic cues from the Italian coastline and elevated with refreshing local influences. Will’s offers a different kind of bar experience for the Merivale name, one that contrasts with its subterranean gems of Palmer & Co. or Charlie Parker’s in Sydney’s east. Will’s is an escape from reality, an idyllic coastal escape with one of the best views Sydney has to offer.  


For something a bit more casual, Una Más is a ‘walk off the beach’ local where guests can stop by for a quick bite or spend hours grazing over modern interpretations of tapas. Decorated in deep tones with sweeping ocean views, Una Más is homage to Spanish culture, where the menu is uncomplicated, recognisable and packs a punch. With a twist of Australian flavours. Bringing a twist of Australian flavours to Spanish classics, the Una Más menu promises to delight, with Toft serving up dishes like scarlet prawns with garlic and chilli and cauliflower with sheep’s milk and pepitas. 


Hailed as the king of Sydney’s hospitality scene, Hemmes puts immaculate service and bold flavours at the forefront of the new middle level, creating a coastal sojourn for the Coogee locale. A picturesque experience of exquisite flavours of the Mediterranean and the soul of the Australian coast, Coogee Pavilion middle level is an inspiring milestone to the Merivale empire, with Toft and Hemmes at the helm, breathing life into Sydney’s hospitality scene once again.