99 Marine Pde, Cottesloe
Phone: (08) 9385 5005
Surf on in, Indiana style
If you haven’t made it down to Indiana on Cottesloe Beach yet this summer, then there’s still something fun on your things-to-do list.
Indiana is an icon. It’s as much a part of WA beach culture as the famous pylon in the surf that it overlooks, but in late 2009 the restaurant gave itself a dramatic new look, shedding its old empire clutter and emerging as a hip and welcoming beach house.
By day it’s light and bright, in keeping with the beach. Deckchair canvas now covers the cushions, classic old long-boards lean into the corners, and the walls are nautical white. There is still plenty of old world charm about it though. The table and floors are still solid timber, there are cosy couches around the fireplace and the architecture speaks for itself.
By night, the waves provide an idyllic sound-scape and the room shimmers in the glow of hundreds of candles that set a scene as romantic as any we’ve seen in recent years.
Operations manager Garry Williams said the transformation was a bid to get away from the “us and them” dynamic that seemed to exist between the people on the beach and the patrons of the restaurant in its former incarnation – a distinction that mainly resulted from the differing dress requirements for a dip in the surf and a bite at a table.
The unveiling of the new beach house look in October was accompanied by a relaxing of the dress code, which still rules out completely bare feet and wet bathers, but that welcomes in people in thongs, sarongs and board shorts. Another big change was the reintroduction of more casual dining options; going to the Indiana is no longer a commitment to eat a big meal. It can be coffee and a pastry, or a tasting plate shared among friends.
While some tables, at some times of day are reserved for classic restaurant-style dining, the lounge sections, with couches and coffee tables, are set aside for less formal grazing. Garry said it’s all about being flexible and letting people have what they want. He said Indiana now sees itself as an up-market bistro and all-day eatery.
So what is the food like?
We started with a tasting plate served on a chunky timber board that featured three meats (from the ‘charcuterie’ menu), paté, dried fruit and chutney, all very tasty. The entrees we tried were a stunning calamari with cumin and sesame (a great variation on Thai-style salt and pepper squid), and the soft-shell crab, that was mildly salty, juicy and full of flavor. Our wine was the Stella Bella Semillon Sauvignon Blanc and it went better with the calamari than the crab.
Our mains were the spatchcock and the swordfish and both were beautifully presented. The swordfish looked stunning on the plate as a huge slab of white fish, with the lattice pattern of the grill across it, sitting in a pool of Romesco sauce (think fresh tomato, nuts and wine) and garnished with basil. Taste-wise it was succulent and well balanced. The spatchcock was similarly impressive, perched on a bed of tasty mash with a delicious aromatic sauce.
For weekday earlybirds, Indiana offers coffee and pastry from 8am, and on weekends the breakfasts are full continental or a la carte. It is open for lunch and dinner most other days but it is worth calling to book because it is sometimes booked out exclusively for functions (as it is a stunning wedding venue). Otherwise, as Garry says, just stop in for a bite next time you’re at the beach, Indiana is part of the community and everyone should feel at home here.