Lots of good things have come to Sydney this week. Like sweet, soul drenching summer rain for a bushfire season rife with unprecedented devastation, and then, the removal of lockouts that have choked our city’s nightlife for almost six years (and hell yeah, we’ll be dancing with you in the summer rain this weekend).
And now, you can add to that list of good news the long-awaited, much-anticipated opening of Coogee Pavilion’s mysterious middle level.
It’s Merivale’s most ambitious restaurant hub to date, it features three new venues (a hero restaurant, and two distinct bars) and it’s all open and ready for your weekend feasting as of today.
The restaurant’s affectionately titled mimi’s after Justin Hemme's mum, Merivale Hemmes; there’s a cocktail bar called will’s (named for dad, John Hemmes) and a wine and tapas bar called Una Más. Food and drink follow head chef Jordan Toft’s Mediterranean bent, all seen through an Australian, coastal lens (you know Toft from Merivale’s Bert’s and Bar Topa).
“Each experience has its own special personality and identity, but all are inspired by the generosity of regional dining around the Med,” Toft says.
“Those moments when your heart rate slows down, you’re completely at ease and filled with gratitude for life’s simple pleasures”.
At mimi’s, Merivale’s design dream team (Bettina Hemmes, Vince Alafaci and Caroline Choker of ACME and stylist Amanda Talbot), has revived the buildings stunning and enormous arched windows. If you’re familiar with Coogee Pav—the busy family-friendly ground floor eatery and the pumping rooftop club—expect to encounter a different pace at mimi’s. Think leather in subdued, smooth olive green, bone-coloured linens, warm lighting and an enormous open kitchen with wide, oyster-stacked marble benches.
And brace yourselves for the menu—it's a total coastal dream. To eat, you can begin with snacks like barbecued black abalone skewer, puff pastry arlettes with warm d'affinois, bread cannoli with chicken liver pate and chives, and aforementioned freshly shucked rock oysters. Then, graduate to pipis in pancetta broth with garlic, chilli, karkalla and urchin bottarga or grilled pork collar with wild honey and rosemary.
And, if you’re not already salivating, mains cover off things like charred Murray cod with lemon thyme, grapeseed oil, tangerine and coriander seed, and a grilled wagyu flatiron #9 with bullhorn pepper and Kampot and horseradish.
There’s also the option to let Toft take you on a quick trip to the Med via a menu called “mimi’s Selects”, which kicks off with a hit of caviar and frozen vodka (that’s a massive yes from us), and promptly moves on to Queensland mud crab, and a suckling piglet for two with finger lime salsa.
Chablis is the superstar on the 600-strong wine list, and we’re very on board with that choice from sommelier Adrian Filiuta (Chablis is a drop that’s quietly trending in Australia right now).
Sitting alongside mimi’s is will’s, where wine and cocktails will take you to the Italian coastline, with a sweet hit of Australian natives. Ben Wainwright (Bert’s, Charlie Parker’s) and Luke Ashton (This Must Be The Place) are in charge, and we highly recommend sampling “Bella Bella”, made with yellow nectarine, macadamia, lemon myrtle and prosecco. The signature "Willy’s Martini" is served dry, wet or dirty.
Finally, Una Más is set to be an ever-evolving tapas bar and an uncomplicated post-beach hideaway.
“Think a chilled Chablis or vermouth, with an oyster just shucked, seafood off the plancha and anchovies on fresh bread”, Toft explains.
The menu will change regularly, but you can expect to sample things like brilliant red scarlet prawns, pipis and fresh buffalo mozzarella, while you sip sparkling, pet nat, chilled red, spritz or fresh "mixto" like Oscar 697 Bianco Vermouth served with grapefruit and holy basil.
For mimi's opening hours, head over here.
Image credit: Steven Woodburn