Coogee Pavilion is all things to all people. This quintessentially-Sydney beach palace seamlessly blends together a mean gastro pub menu and kid-friendliness with an all-day buzzy atmosphere, cocktail-serving kudos and the ultimate in beach vibes.
Consequently, this place-to-be attracts a slow cooker of personality types that takes people watching to nose-bleed heights.
Here are the 11 types of people you’re likely to bump into at the Pav:
1. The peacocks
Upon entering this trendy, nautical-themed beach bar and restaurant you can’t miss the peacocks. Largely because they’re here to be seen, no matter whether it’s 10am or 10pm. If the Bambi-length eyelashes and Orange is the new Black spray tan doesn’t inadvertently catch your attention, the ass-bearing shorts and bodycon dresses (that they’ve been on a week-long juice diet to be poured into) definitely will. If in doubt, the peacocks tend to flock around the upstairs 18+ only balcony bar, sipping away on their Aperol Spritzes like baby birds.
2. The under 12s
Given the palpable party vibe, it’s disconcerting how many kids are running around screaming and bumping into your shins, reminding you how much you dislike children. Although I completely love that Mum and Dad can escape with their Chandon and oysters, while the baby goats are abandoned in the downstairs play area. Mind you, the under 12s seem clearly content with their abandonment, taking full advantage of the petanque, giant magnetic scrabble wall, ping pong and an in-house theatrette.
3. The Ned Kellys looking for a beard trim
In a downstairs corner, right alongside the ping pong tables, are some hairy dudes reclining at Rudy’s Barber. At this barbershop-meets-bar, the butcher tiles with black grout, white dentist capes, frosted glass and two 1920s barber chairs scream mens’ barbershop. Fortunately, come sunset, Rudy’s puts away its hair clippers for the day, preventing any drunken dragons being shaved into the back of one’s head.
4. The lads
You’ll spy the lads guffawing and back-slapping, lounging about around the downstairs island bar. They’re clearly rugby players (the non-necks give them away) and they’ve also clearly spent the large part of the day’s AM at Coogee’s Titan Fitness (the veins popping dangerously out of their biceps give them away).
5. The yummy mummies
Flirting with danger, these yummy mummies insist on wearing white pants (that odds on have some sort of decorate tearing), coupled with some serious inside shade-wearing. They can be seen sipping away on their Will & Co take-away soy lattes, throwing the odd glance at the scrabble wall making sure their children are still occupied.
6. The tourists
If the accents don’t give these guys and gals away, the Akubra hats, the selfie sticks and the fact that they’re sun burnt AF do.
7. The beach hipsters
With their tatts and tanned rigs, these guys have seamlessly transitioned from the beach to the bar, via a pitstop at their Arden Street bach pad. They’re not as buff as the lads, but what they lack in muscle definition they make up for in coiffed hair and shiny white shoes.
8. The double daters
These couple twosomes probably met their respective partners during a boozy night at Coogee Pavilion’s rooftop bar 12 months ago. Now they sit downstairs in the restaurant sharing a pizza and reminiscing over stories of their peacock and beach hipster pasts. Before leaving at 9pm to go home and watch Suits they get a gelato cone for the road.
9. The older cashed-up couples
Perched at the café windows are the older cashed-up couples. They’ve made the day trip from Vaucluse, letting the Porche out of the garage. He’s all salt and pepper, she’s freshly blow-dried bronde (courtesy of Edwards and Co) and her Fendi bag is perched self-importantly on the wooden bench alongside them. The whole time they’re here they don’t say a lot to one another, they just pick at their sashimi platter and stare serenely at the ocean views and parade of beachgoers. Upon leaving they purchase a bunch of peonies from the flower stand for their one-kilometre-long hallway table.
10. The serious Saturday and Sunday day drinkers
Come the weekend, this crew are camped out front as soon as the sun starts to paint the horizon. Then once the doors open at 7:30am, they’re straight up the stairs securing a prime table on the balcony where they’ll spend the day casually drinking their gin and tonics, as well as the wrap-around views of Coogee Beach and Wedding Cake Island.
11. The foodies
These are the people who don’t blink at the 30-minute wait time to get a table in the stegasauraus-sized dining area*. They’re the ones eagerly taking their seat overlooking the oyster bar and then pouring over the food menu absorbing every syllable. Despite the pub-like surroundings, there’s no schnitzel in sight on this menu. At Coogee Pavilion, it’s more like a pint and pork belly. While my favourite dish is the seafood spaghetti, loaded with pipis, calamari, chilli, parsley and pangrattato, which means, I’ll admit, I’m clearly a flag-flying foodie type (my bodycon days are behind me).
* Lucky the beach is sneezing distance away – you can kill the time you need to wait for a table by walking to the Giles Baths ocean rock pool at the northern end of the beach or the Ross Jones Memorial Pool at the southern end of the beach. Alternatively, head straight for the bar and try a Coogee Be Loved or Surfs Up cocktail.
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Coogee Pavilion | 169 Dolphin Street, Coogee, New South Wales
Phone: (02) 9240 3000