Salt Air and Serenity
FROM most of the tables in the Scarborough Beach Bar you can watch the waves swell, surge and break, carrying surfers who ride gracefully or fall into the churning froth. There is something mesmerising about it, inducing a sense of being on holiday.
The Beach Bar is upstairs, on the beach side north of the Observation City complex in Scarborough where Jimmy Deans Diner used to be.
A brand new multimillion dollar fit out by owners Paul and Patricia Squires took two years to develop. This beautiful establishment has stunning interior design by Scott Wilson, who gave it a retro beach feel by using light natural tones with blues and orange. In one section there’s a fireplace set in a stone wall with low stools and couches for cosy gatherings.
In contrast, the beachside wall consists of frameless glass doors opening out onto the balcony. Most days they are fully open, with a glass balustrade offering the balcony protection from the wind while giving the impression that there’s nothing but a bit of air between the bar and the beach. The views are amazing, overlooking the entire beach and the street below.
Other décor features include faded photos, driftwood art and decorative lighting. There’s a relaxed arrangement of tables and booths, offset by the very impressive, large central horseshoe-shaped, Carrara Marble topped bar, holding one of the largest ranges of liqueurs and spirits we have seen.
Bar manager Felicity Thomas has worked diligently to put together a strong team of experienced bar personnel, backed up with a huge selection of hot and cold beverages.
General Manager Fernando Spenseri said that what stood this place apart from his previous hospitality ventures is the blended bar/café feel. By day it’s a very relaxed beach café, but as the sun sets, the lights dim, the music picks up and the place has a groove about it.
In tune with the relaxed and beachy vibe, the Scarborough Beach Bar welcomes patrons in beach attire, including thongs, up until 7pm – after that the dress code notches up to smart casual. The Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday Sessions are fantastic, as the Scarborough Beach Bar really comes into its own. This is when the bar really starts to jump, becoming a fun, social meeting place.
The bar has an impressive 24 draft taps, of which nine are craft beers, two are ciders, one rotating tap to change things up a bit and the other 12 are from Carlton United Brewery.
Featuring more than 60 reds and 60 whites plus sparkling and dessert drops, the wine- list can honestly be called extensive. Despite all this, Fernando says it’s the ever evolving cocktail list he is most excited about.
He said: “We have a tavern licence, so you can come in and have drink without a meal, but we are not a rowdy pub. This is a relaxed place for people to have conversations. I think it’s a place people will love.”
The head chef is Nick Arrigoni. His last kitchen was in the Mullaloo Beach Hotel and before that he was at Oakover estate winery.
Nick says his inspiration for the Beach Bar menu is a modern Australian twist on some old- school American ideas. He’s included dishes such as racks of ribs, buffalo wings and pulled pork sliders and added elements such as apple slaw, seeded mustard butter, house-made chilli spice mix and red onion salsa. The Australian twist is sensitive to local tastes, with plenty of options throughout the menu for low carb, gluten-free and vegetarian diners, as well as an understanding that we like fresh ingredients and local gourmet breads and cheeses.
The day starts early at the Beach Bar, with breakfasts on offer 8am to 11.30am Monday to Thursday and from 7am Fridays and weekends. In addition to the range of teas, coffees, shakes, smoothies, juices and iced drinks, there are 17 dishes on the breakfast menu and many of them have variable options. excitingly for people who need these things, nine of the dishes are vegetarian and nine are gluten-free – or can be.
The two breakfasts we enjoyed were the banana trilogy – a warm buttery slice of banana bread topped with a grilled banana and served with a mini banana smoothie – tasty and indulgent but not too sweet; and the Kessler smoked bacon. The centrepiece of this dish is a piece of bacon a good 2cm thick. The potato, greens, poached egg and relish served around it were all tasty in their own right, but their main purpose was to mix and mingle on the palate with the mighty bacon.
We were there late-morning and noticed a couple of men in suits in a booth having what looked like a business meeting over coffee; a family group with teens and Nannas having brunch in a booth and a couple of guys sitting solo at tables with laptops open, working with a snack and a beer beside them. All of them seemed happy with the place, and it confirmed Nick’s claim that breakfast is big.
Moving on to selections from the main menu there was a lot to choose from, with the menu divided into tapas/starters, burgers and pizzas as well as a generous selection of mains and grill dishes.
Nick insisted we try the ribs. He explained that they are cooked low and slow, with a secret three-stage cooking process rendering them sticky, juicy and packed with flavour. There is an excellent choice of sauces, all made in-house, allowing you to personalise your dish.
The Black Angus steak also lived up to expectations, delivering a big meaty punch. While on the lighter side, the chicken and pear salad was a nice balance of tasty elements with a citrus dressing bringing out the flavours of the walnuts, gorgonzola and caramelised onion.
Nick explained that the menu includes meals for a range of different kinds of dining experiences, from a snack while working solo at a peaceful table by day, to tapas dishes for sharing with friends at night; and dishes for sit-down dinner guests who want something hearty.
He said: “The entire staff are committed to making this a place where people can go to take a break or socialise on a regular basis, and so it has to have a lot of variety, and it has to suit their needs.”
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