In Short: COOH Alexandria has an impressive dinner menu, delightful presentation, relaxed and spacious atmosphere. Tip: Try the Heirloom Tomatoes & Buffalo Mozzarella.
Having visited COOH at their original café location on Sydney’s North Shore, we were intrigued by the prospect of exploring their grander culinary vision at COOH’s more recent food experience creation in Alexandria.
For those not yet aware, there’s a real foodie groundswell underway within Alexandria and its surrounds. Every time we venture through it’s mix of bustling office and industry lined streets, there’s a new sprout of culinary allure taking root. Tonight we’ve come to see how the relaxed and wholesome approach we previously enjoyed at COOH’s North Curl Curl café translates to their dinner menu and how COOH is contributing to the developing food community on the other side of the bridge.
COOH’s indoor space has a funky, semi-industrial vibe that spills out into an even more casual outdoor patio area, that we can just imagine lounging around on a long summer’s afternoon. Settling into a cosy table bathed in candlelight, Rami, our super friendly host for the evening at COOH, offers up some menu suggestions, so we let him take the reins and leave the night’s culinary journey in his capable hands. We always love a surprise! By the way, I really think more people should try this approach. It’s more common in the European restaurant culture, but letting a knowledgeable host of the restaurant guide your dining experience has resulted in the best meals I’ve ever experienced. After all, who’s going to know more about the very best ingredients currently available? Try it…I dare you!
Drinkies first! The Mango Mojito overpowers the candle on our table with its lively vibrancy. Fresh mango puree, muddled mint leaves, and a splash of Bacardi all come together in a sip that pops in the mouth. There’s a perfect tarty-tanginess that’s delightfully tempered by the sweetness of the mango and a little punch from the rum. Yum!
Nibbles start with the Harvey Bay Scallops. Moist and tender, the morsels from the deep are slightly seared and sublimely tender. Mango salsa and pea puree are along for the ride and they do their trick to make this a light and innovative appetite primer.
Seared Spiced Tuna chimes in with rare, sesame encrusted slivers of succulent and premium tuna. We travel regularly to Japan, and this tuna is nearly on par with the good stuff right from Tsukiji fish market. A slash of bright, fresh avocado salsa adds a tasteful contrast and never detracts from the main event.
Rounding out the entrees is the Warm Eggplant with Sourdough. As a nice change from the tried and true bruschetta, the sweet smokiness of the charred eggplant, topped with juicy diced tomato, is right at home on the soft, yet crunchy sourdough.
Pork Belly gets us into mains mode, with deliciously crisp and salty skin. Pork belly can be a tough dish to get right. It’s a thick piece of meat that needs enough time to cook through to the centre, but not so much that it turns dry. COOH’s chef has clearly honed his skills and serves up a tender, moist, and tasty tower of pork that is complimented by a simple slaw for a fresh contrast.
Turf to surf, the Ocean Trout served with sweet potato puree and adorned with dill and parsley is alive with the taste of the sea. Like the pork, the trout is expertly cooked with a perfect pinkness to the flake and there’s an ingenious hint of grapefruit that lifts the flavour notes.
Back to turf, the Beef Cheeks make an impressive entrance and we’re almost taken aback by the generous portion of unbelievably tender beef. We use the word tender a lot as food bloggers, but COOH’s beef cheeks may have set a new measure for ultimate tenderness. The richness of the flavour was just as striking and honestly made this dish a new benchmark for beef in Sydney.
Ok, it’s not often that a side dish has any chance of standing out in a meal, especially with mains of this calibre. BUT…. the sweetness of the Heirloom Tomatoes & Buffalo Mozzarella at COOH have gazumped what I previously cherished as the best side dish experience I have ever had. Coincidently, the previous title holder was the same side dish served to us at a local haunt in the cobble streets of Milan. I’m almost sad to unseat that memory, but the tomatoes in COOH’s incarnation are quite simply unrivalled….for now! 😉
Sweeties now! Tonight it’s two beverage and dessert combos for fellow Coco and Viner Sonia and myself. Braving a restless sleep, we test this evening’s barista with a cappuccino. A big comfy, warm mug doubles as the perfect hand warmer against the late winter’s evening chill. The cappuccino is super creamy and smooth and finishes with lovely nutty, caramel notes. Good work by the late shift coffee artisan.
Accompanying the “cap” is a subtle and refreshing Coconut Semi Freddo. The frosty and uniquely textured frozen treat is flanked by caramelised pineapple and surrounded by macadamia nut crumb. It somehow goes surprisingly well with each sip of the toasty cup of “cap”.
The next combo might even upstage the first. Chocolate and caramel are brothers from another mother, so it only makes sense to unite them in the form of a Raw Cacao Hot Chocolate and a Vegan Double Caramel Ice Cream Sandwich. The devilishly decadent hot chocolate has somehow captured all the rich, velvety “choco-yumminess” that you get in a thick Italian hot chocolate, but has managed to avoid that sickly sweet treacle experience. This is a cup you can savour and still have some sugar tolerance for the piece de resistance to come.
The Vegan Double Caramel Ice Cream Sandwich has one of those familiar flavour profiles that you leave you scouring your brain’s memory banks for in an attempt to place it. With each insanely delicious spoonful, Sonia and I racked our tastebud linked brain cells until it came to us… Golden Gaytime! Ok, sure this is so much better in every way than a store bought “frozen confection”, but that hint of flavour influence made this stunning topper to the evening all the more memorable.
We expected COOH’s Alexandria experience to be a delight, but allowing Rami to guide us through the treasures on the menu really made for a truly memorable evening. Alexandria’s dinner options are making this suburb a destination to put higher on your list and COOH is definitely doing its part to justify that position.
*Coco & Vine dined as guests of COOH Alexandria.