Fremantle’s food scene is undeniably a healthy one, but the latest restaurant to land near the city invites punters to cast the net a bit wider. Coast Port Beach lies at the water’s edge in North Freo, and has more cranes for company than it does other restaurants.
After a wave of slick pre-launch hype, I was interested to cruise by the place. There’s definitely not a lack of ambition from those involved – Coast’s website proclaims it to be: “Everybody’s beach house: A secluded beachside sanctuary where everyone feels welcome. With an environment to suit every mood, a quiet sunset cocktail, big group catch-up or a delicious meal.” I was curious about whether a single venue could manage to hit all those different notes, on both menu and mood fronts.
They’ve certainly acquired enough space to do so. Coast sits on the site of the old Salt on The Beach restaurant, and encompasses an ample restaurant floor, cocktail lounge, and further window areas for admiring the view. The expanse of glass meant a perfect picture of the setting sun over the waves, which definitely lent a glamorous light to proceedings inside. The rest of the interior is attractive too: high ceilings, two stylish bars and a seaside vibe without the presence of decorative anchors.
While the marketing before the event had promised a “pub-like atmosphere, or something more akin to a small bar”, the result was neither. On launch night Coast had a cool, airy vibe; the restaurant’s tables had been temporarily removed to open up the central space to several hundred people. The DJs on deck did a great job too, and it felt like an upmarket party venue, somewhere you’d be happy to watch a summer night swim by. If the place can maintain that sort of ambience, it should have proper pull on Friday and Saturday nights.
The restaurant will actually open seven days a week during summer, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as catering for the early-morning swimming crowd via a kiosk. We visited at a more civilised post-work hour, but were still able to trawl a generous range of dishes to get an idea of what might be on offer.
Being kind, the openers didn’t float my boat. A pork-based canape lacked flavour, while sliced duck with cucumber didn’t make much of a splash. Steak slices on crostini were an improvement though, before we tackled an impressive-looking centrepiece stacked with seafood and fish. Prawns and sliced salmon – accompanied by better-than-average rye bread – were pleasantly fresh, but the highlight was the smaller salmon cones, which were crammed with smoky flavour.
The standard rose again with subtly flavoured potato and spinach spring rolls and tender tandoori chicken. Pretty pork and chilli sliders looked great thanks to multi-coloured buns, but were perhaps a case of style over substance. Crucially for a coastal kitchen, the chips we sampled were light and crispy.
It’s worth noting that not all the dishes we tried were obviously present on the “regular” menu I was kindly offered a glimpse of. Either way, Coast seems to have opted for options, with sections for seafood, pizza and tandoor dishes, as well as various nibbles. A decent drinks selection included local brews from Little Creatures, though my co-captain said her mojito was rather heavy on booze and light on flavour. I think it’s fair to put that down to opening-night calibrations, as the staff were extremely busy (and equally helpful).
After only one visit, I’m still not sure whether this could be a case of trying to do too much for too many. That said, I’m sure those running the restaurant will use the opening weeks to steer its future course, and I certainly saw plenty of potential here. The venue and views alone should reel in plenty of people for their first visit. I’ll be keen to hear whether the food keeps them coming back.
Coast Port Beach, 42 Port Beach Road, North Fremantle, is open 12pm – 10pm Monday to Thursday; 12pm – 12am Friday to Sunday.
Disclaimer: foodie cravings was invited as a guest of Coast Port Beach. See disclosure policy for further details.