While I’ve long admired the Old Swan Brewery, sitting proudly on the banks of the Swan River, I’d never stopped for a closer look. Not once had I visited the now-closed brewery for a bite to eat, or the popular Italian, Zafferano. The historic building sits on its own isolated island, cut off by water and traffic, you need to make an extra effort to stop by.
The Old Swan Brewery was purchased by Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest’s private company Tattarang in 2019. Late last year, he opened Cooee, a restaurant with a distinctly West Australian feel. I seized the opportunity to check out the iconic Perth spot. The dining room has its roots firmly planted in WA with an earthy palate. Cane furniture oozes a chic, though relaxed, resort feel. Each table enjoys spectacular views across the river to the Narrows Bridge and Perth city beyond.
Lunch at Cooee
Our cheery waitress leads us outside. There’s a brisk breeze off the Swan, though the patio is relatively sheltered. The tables are well spaced, and the music kept firmly in the background, lending well to conversations without having to raise your voice.
While the contemporary wine list heavily features drops from vineyards using biodynamic, ecologic, minimal intervention, and pet-nat making methods, there are plenty of old favourites. I sip a light and fruity Corymbia chenin blanc, produced in the Swan Valley with no chemical fertilizers, pesticides or sulphites.
The share menu is briming with unfussy, clean flavours and you don’t need a glossary to decipher it. This is fine dining simplified. WA produce if featured, notably beef from Harvest Road and Leeuwin Coast akoya – both businesses owned by Forrest.
Akoya, a relatively new ingredient to Perth kitchens, takes pride of place on Cooee’s menu. Chefs are still in an experimental phase when it comes to how best to cook this delicate morsel – most like a mussel in flavour and appearance. At Cooee, the Akoya ($26) is smoked with applewood, then topped with chili, garlic and a light pangrattato crumb. They’re worth a try. The crisp crumb of cauliflower cheese croquettes ($14) leads to a gooey cheddar centre, with added kick of jalapeño.
Must-try plump Abrolhos Island scallops ($18), are plated on their shell, along with a fragrant sweet curry of pine nuts and raisins.
Thinly sliced pressed pork belly ($18), has a morish depth of flavour, thanks to being cooked in a master stock along with chilli and fennel. Plated with a sticky prune compote, candied seeds and nuts, the tender belly meat is topped with pickled onions. Another must-order dish.
The “large plates” are still on the smaller side. The day’s market fish, a line caught Bremmer Bay nannygai ($36), is over-salted, topped with lemon, lentils, chives and capers. Capers are already a briny component, and this dish’s saltiness overpowers the delicate fish.
A vibrant salad of heirloom tomatoes ($14), lightly dressed with an herb and sherry vinaigrette, proves how good fresh, un-fussy food can be.
Rustic French fries are a little oily, but add a starch to bulk out our small plates. An addition of aioli would be welcome.
After a decent pause, a rosewater pannacotta ($14), arrives with delicate Turkish delight flavours. An almond brittle provides crunch and a raspberry sherbet leaves a surprising punch on the pallet.
A subtly savory dessert of freshly diced mango ($14), coated in a lemongrass broth, is a vegan delight. Served with a scoop of coconut sorbet and a sprinkle of curry leaves, a coconut coral tuille sits proudly on the pretty dish.
Whether you stop by Cooee for brunch, lunch or dinner, you will want to linger a little longer to enjoy its fabulous view. The restaurant is a breath of fresh air at the Old Swan Brewery, as is the interesting menu – a celebration of the finest WA produce blended with Indigenous ingredients and Asian flavours. Be sure to say hello to Cooee.
Brunch at Cooee
Before my lunch date, I made an impromtu visit for a light brunch with my parents. While we hadn’t made a booking, and were seated at a fab table outside, under a shady umbrella. First up was the coffee, which was very good. I enjoyed a simple avocado on toast ($16), with tomato, cucumber, basil and lime. Plus a very generous side of bacon.
My Dad ordered the fruit toast ($12), not expecting anything out of the ordinary. The simple breakfast staple was elevated by premium components – house baked thick cut raisin bread, served with their own peach jam and orange marmalade.
Cooee makes a good spot for a brunch and walk combo along the river. All in all, the venue is stunning, the service very personable and friendly, and the food simply good. We’ve been a few times now, and we’d absolutely return for a fifth visit.
Cooee – At a Glance
Old Swan Brewery
171-173 Mounts Bay Rd, West Perth.
Phone 6389 9808
■ Opening times
Tuesday to Friday 12pm – late
Saturday 7am – late
Sunday 7am – 3pm
value for money 3
■ style – Modern Australian
■ wine –a progressive WA wine
list, focusing on organic
production methods, with a few
international drops too.
■ Owner – Tattarang
■ feel – modern, approachable
and what a view.
■ wheelchair access – yes
■ cost –
Small Plates – $4.50 to $26
Larger Plates – $22 to $48
Dessert – $14
■ all in all – an iconic riverside location,
seafood-heavy menu and attentive service
makes for a pleasant long lunch spot.