Sydney’s Chowder Bay takes its name from the whalers who used to make chowder from the abundant seafood they caught in the bay. Up until recently Chowder Bay wasn’t open to the public as in 1890 a base was built for the Submarine Mining Corps then in 1922 it became a depot and barracks for army engineers. In the 1970’s it became the site for the Army Maritime School which operated until 1997.
After the Maritime School closed, this beautiful and picturesque part of Mosman was reopened to the public. The historic buildings that once housed army personnel were restored, transformed and given a new lease of life as private businesses moved in and took advantage of this part of Sydney becoming popular with nearby residents and tourists.
One very new business that has just opened in Chowder Bay is East Coast Lounge. Prominently located at the top of the hill is the Depot Building that was built in 1890. It’s a two-storey late Victorian weatherboard cottage that’s been beautifully restored and has expansive views that look out onto Sydney Harbour and Clifton Gardens Beach.
Stepping inside East Coast Lounge is very much like walking into someone’s home – someone with a very nice home! There’s the open kitchen on your right and the lounge room with a fireplace on your left and beyond the fireplace is a dining room. East Coast Lounge, with it’s polished timber floors, homely furnishings, wall-hung paintings and multiple large windows looking out over spectacular water views, has a lovely calming and welcoming feel to it. There’s very much a beachy feel too, not only with the views, light and airiness but with the timber furniture, white walls and pale blue accents.
The furniture is designed by Stuart Membery and other Australian designers. All items of furniture have been handmade to the highest quality and can be ordered for purchase. I certainly had my eye on the very comfortable cane lounges and the expansive dining room table.
Essentially, East Coast Lounge is a place where you can shop for furniture, a painting, homewares, books or a unique piece of art. It’s also a place where you can sit down and relax while enjoying a glass of wine, a cup of Bellocq tea or a very good coffee while indulging in a charcuterie or cheese platter.
Tania and I were there for the food and wine. We sat at one end of the dining room table with my little guy (unable to get a babysitter; it happens) choosing to sit right down the other end of the table. Tania and I looked at the wine list. It’s a really interesting wine list with a lot of wines available by the glass and we started with a glass of Tar and Roses Pinot Grigio that had a lovely soft pink hue. It was a crisp and dry white that was perfect for what was, a beautifully warm day.
Alfie wasn’t happy to be ‘on the job’ for Hotly Spiced and so despite me enthusiastically talking up the kids’ menu, he said he didn’t want anything. I ordered him a Kids’ Grazing Plate that was ham and cheese fingers, fruit pieces and organic popcorn. He looked annoyed at first but then ate every bit of every thing that was on his plate.
The Kids’ meals come with a complimentary babychino and despite Alfie saying ‘I don’t want a drink’, he drank it and polished off both marshmallows.
He then said he’d like some hot salami (he’s going through a chilli phase) and pickled onions (he’s going through a vinegar phase) and so went to the bar and placed an order. Out came a wooden board with not only salami and pickled onions but also some antipasto and wonderful bread that’s delivered from Bourke Street Bakery. No surprises, he found his appetite.
Meanwhile, Tania and I shared the chorizo, haloumi and lemon from the ‘small plates’ menu. All cheeses are supplied by Formaggi Ocello in Surry Hills and the small goods from R & S Danube in Marrickville. This dish arrived on a white paddle and was so simple and so enjoyable.
Next we shared the antipasti plate that contained a variety of salamis, some proscuitto, olives, roasted and marinated vegetables with a rosemary flatbread. I really enjoy this kind of a grazing meal; it’s very casual, informal and relaxing. The salamis were wonderful and I loved the artichokes but I think my favourite were the olives that had a firm texture and weren’t too salty.
We couldn’t leave without trying the cheeses so we ordered three, choosing a truffle pecorino, the brie and the gorgonzola. I thought the presentation was extremely elegant. All cheeses were served room temperature and there were ample crackers and flat bread. I loved how the pecorino had been shaved and then there was a mystery ingredient in a duck egg coloured little dish. Tania thought it might be a type of honey that’s particularly dark but then realised it was Gelatina Di Uva Zibibbo otherwise known as ‘the honey of grapes’. It’s been made for a long time by the Italians and called the ‘elixir of life’. It certainly goes very well with cheese and although sweet, it’s not a sugary type of sweetness. I really loved it.
The environment at East Coast Lounge is so relaxing and comfortable that we forgot all about the time. Abruptly Tania realised she had but a few minutes to get to an appointment about an hour away. I just had time to visit the bathrooms that are not unisex (hooray) and are as clean as a whistle and beautiful soaps and hand creams are available – excellent!
East Coast Lounge is in a very beautiful setting in a unique location that fortunately has finally been made available to the public. Parking is available although the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust has made sure every space is metered and you won’t get away with paying less than around $10.00 and there will probably be a bit of a walk from your car to all facilities at Chowder Bay.
Tania and I had a very relaxing and enjoyable time that felt almost as if we were visiting each other in our homes (if our homes were as nice as East Coast Lounge!) The staff are relaxed, gracious and smiling and come across as if they’re welcoming you into their own residence. They’re discreet yet attentive, and have a vast knowledge of the wines and produce they are serving. The venue is excellent for not only a glass of wine and a shared plate but also for some unique shopping.
I found East Coast Lounge to be an exciting and unique addition to Mosman’s dining scene.
Verdict: I’ll be a regular.
East Coast Lounge: 7B Chowder Bay Road, Mosman NSW 2088
Ph: 02 9968 1658