It’s not often a sleepy little coastal town has a wild card up its sleeve that puts inner-city Melbourne to shame when it comes to chic. A place so edgy that top musicians visit to play to an intimate crowd – and then ask to stay the night.
Boogie Woogie Beach House at Old Bar is the very definition of a hidden gem.
The boutique rock’n’roll hotel just 100 metres from the beach is the brainchild of Stephen Doessel, former chief financial officer for the likes of Cue, SABA and JAG, and his wife Jenny; and art director and designer Dave Craig and his marketing executive wife, Jade.
Downstairs is the relaxed and eclectic Flow Bar, the perfect place to spend a summer afternoon – which is more than likely to extend into the evening. There is a distinct Hawaiian, Balinese and even Mexican feel to the outdoor dining area and the thatched “hut” where visiting artists perform. The custom-built recycled timber deck uses timber from Sydney’s Circular Quay pilings, the Goulburn Railway Bridge and the Dawn Fraser Pool in Sydney.
Head chef Dave Clifton previously worked at Hugo’s Bondi, The Bondi Trattoria and Deviate Restaurant and is enjoying playing with fresh mid-north coast produce and seafood. The dinner menu is designed to be shared. The grilled pork belly and butter leaf lettuce wrap was delicious, as were the “melt in your mouth” beef ribs on a bed of wild rice, fennel and fragrant herbs, and the Caprese salad (vine-ripened tomato, basil, buffalo mozzarella and dehydrated olives).
There is even a specially brewed Boogie Woogie Beach House Gold Lager.
The sea breeze on a warm evening and dozens of tiny lights make for a picturesque setting that you are reluctant to leave. But upstairs is worth retiring to.
The Boogie Woogie Beach House is not the Hard Rock Cafe. It’s way cooler. You won’t find outfits worn by Beyonce or Taylor Swift in glass cabinets. There are no signed guitars. Granted, there is a drum kit but it’s suspended from the ceiling – upside-down.
The lush carpet is fresh and new and each door down a long hallway (lined with vinyl records that you can play in your room) opens to a king or queen room thoughtfully dedicated to a particular musician. Nick Cave, Dave Grohl, Ziggy Stardust, Louis Armstrong and Blondie are all tastefully celebrated. There is also the Mix Tape room and the family-sized Surf Shack. The decor is a mix of industrial and retro, with bespoke art pieces. Craig’s eye for design and love of music collide beautifully.
When we visited, Tim Rogers performed at the Flow Bar and it was one of the best live music experiences this regular gig-goer has had to date. Intimate, relaxed and tailor-made for rock’n’roll stories to be told – and made.
FREEBIE OF THE WEEK: Win a night for two in the Ziggy Suite
Old Bar’s Boogie Woogie Beach House is one of a kind. Cool without being pretentious, it is tailor made for music lovers and each room in the renovated backpackers’ hotel pays homage to a musician of note.
The downstairs Flow Bar serves breakfast, lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Sunday and if you’re not careful, you might find yourself sitting in the sunny outdoor dining area for all three meals.
Not that this is a bad thing, mind you. You are made to feel right at home.
Head chef Dave Clifton has just launched a new modern Australian summer menu with Mediterranean, Americana and Asian influences. It is filled with small and main dishes designed to be shared.
Clifton himself is a fan of the pickled wild mushroom conserve and onion puree on the 500-gram grassland rib-eye steak.
He also rates the angel hair pasta with fresh tuna and local fragrant herbs, and the 350-gram grass-fed lamb rump, sliced to share and served with peppers, fresh pomegranate, chickpea and pickled cauliflower.
As for fans of crab, they should try the new crab and leek fritters dressed with a palette pleasing “green goddess sauce”.
“The menu is best when shared, it’s fun, you get to sample more than one dish and talk about the flavours with your friends. It really adds to the whole experience,” he explains.
Parties and large groups are also catered for. The Chef’s Selection Banquet leaves the decision-making in Clifton’s capable hands. He selects and serves eight delectable dishes for the group to share for $49 per person.
And then there’s the live music side of things. Plan ahead and you get to see some of Australia’s best talent up close and personal. You can even have a beer with them after the gig if you’re lucky.
Weekender is giving away a one-night stay for two people in Boogie Woogie Beach House’s stunning Ziggy Suite. Bookings can only be made outside of peak periods, in consultation with the venue’s owners.
To enter, send the word “Boogie Woogie” to firstname.lastname@example.org or text “Boogie Woogie” to 0427 369 610, including your name, address and phone number.
Entries close at 9am on Wednesday, December 13, 2017.
Flow Bar and Boogie Woogie Beach House is at 31 David Street, Old Bar. Go to flowbar.com.au or phone 6557 4224 for further information.