Review: Coogee Wine Room + interview with co-owner Tom Hardwick

Drink, Interviews, Sydney / 1 October 2019

With a 400+ wine list, this new beachside wine bar has arrived in Coogee just in time for spring.

Set to offer a seamless transition from beach swims to sundowners is the newly announced Coogee Wine Room. Conveniently located a mere five minute walk from Coogee’s iconic beachfront, the statement wine bar is predicted to open in September, just in time for the start of the swim season. With TomMarkHenry behind the design of the two level space (having also designed the likes of Bistecca & Dead Ringer), punters can expect a sleek yet casual fit-out, exposed brick walls and concrete floors softened by warm timbers, rich leather and marble.

Owned by locals Tom Hardwick and Michelle Morales, the wine bar is the product of years travelling the globe. Having done extensive research (resembling drinking plenty of wine), Hardwick and Morales are proud to front the 96 seater wine room, designed to give locals a carefully curated wine and food experience. And from the moment you step through the door, it’s clear you’re in for something special.

“We have been able to create something new for Coogee,” tells Hardwick. “It’s a venue anchored by a great team of friendly and knowledgeable front of house staff, a great kitchen team producing an interesting and healthy Mediterranean menu, a diverse yet approachable wine list and a venue environment that is equal to anything in Surry Hills, Paddington or Darlinghurst.”

Coogee wine Room Facade

The impressive 400+ wine list, curated by General Manager and Wine Director, Bhatia Dheeraj and co-owner Tom Hardwick, offers 30 wines by the glass, showcasing over 50 varietals. Joining the team in 2020, Bhatia was most recently Head Sommelier and Buyer at two-hatted est. restaurant in Sydney which was awarded Australia’s Wine List of the Year in 2019 under his helm, and from which he received the 2019 Judy Hirst award as sommelier of the winning wine list.

Unlike some of Sydney’s wine bars, this one won’t break the bank either, with more than half of the wines priced at less than $100 per bottle. For those special occasions, you’ll also find a collection of limited edition, hard-to-find vintages. After flipping our way through their hefty wine list, we left it to the servers to pick the perfect drop, a decision they were more than eager to assist us with.

“We believe our job in a wine bar is to encourage our guests to explore new wines within their preferred palette range so that we push them a little outside their comfort zone to ensure to enjoy the wonderful world of wine,” explains Hardwick. As for his favourite drops, Hardwick can’t go past their Gaja wines from Piedmonte, the unique Duck Muck Shirax from Heathcote and their Cirillo 1850, a Barossa Grenache from arguably the oldest grenache vines in the world.

To complement the wine list, Head Chef Sandro Di Marino (ex-A Tavola) has designed a petite and punchy menu, taking its cues from the Mediterranean. We started the evening with a pair of Sydney rock oysters ($4 each), alongside a plate of smoked hummus with za’atar and copious quantities of crispy flat bread ($12). This salty, smokey combination paired perfectly alongside our next starter, a plate of char-grilled octopus ($23) with lentils and herbs (cooked to perfection, naturally). Before we moved onto mains, we couldn’t pass up a serve of grilled vegetables nestled on a bed of farro and hazelnuts and topped with oh-so-gooey burrata ($16).

As for mains, their gnocchi is an absolute must. We were greeted with a hearty bowl of potato gnocchi, cherry tomatoes buffalo mozzarella ($32), a rich yet refined dish. We paired this nourishing plate with roasted eggplant, bulgar, almond, olives ($18). And to top it all off we finished the evening with a glass of CWR sgroppino ($12), a bright citrus aperitif made with lemon sorbet.

Coogee Wine Room

Whether you’re looking for an afternoon wine paired with cheese and charcuterie or a lavish set menu experience, Coogee Wine Room caters to all. And a seat at this dining room won’t cost you the earth, with their Feed Me set menu featuring 5 CWR signature dishes priced at just $45 per person (with the option to add matching wines for an additional $45 person).

Since swinging open the doors two weeks ago, the team already has its sights set on the expanding Coogee Wine Room’s offering over the next few months. “We hope to introduce wine tasting programs next year for those new to wine and we will hold tastings and masterclasses for those wanting to gain a more in-depth appreciation of particular varietals or regions,” tells Hardwick.

The Coogee Wine Room is open Tues to Fri 4pm till late and weekends from 2pm till late. To secure your spot, click here.