“It’s fulfilling, nostalgic, substantial.” Bougie beachside brasserie Gibney opens

Gibney Cottesloe
Home >Eat & Drink >“It’s fulfilling, nostalgic, substantial.” Bougie beachside brasserie Gibney opens

There are plenty of hospitality openings that are referred to as “highly-anticipated”, but few that reach the level of buzz that beachside brasserie Gibney has accumulated since its announcement in 2023.

We’re not entirely surprised: much discussion has been had about the venue’s budget (substantial) and its South Cottesloe location (impressive). Billed as “luxurious Californian country club meets Parisian hotel lobby”, it’s also the latest venture from Kailis Hospitality Group – the group behind longtime coastal favourite the Shorehouse and incoming Magic Apple Whole Foods, set to take over the former Barchetta site.

We popped into Gibney ahead of its opening earlier this week to have a chat to owner George Kailis about premium dining, WA’s world-class hospitality and his grand plans for his namesake hospitality group in the coming years.

Gibney Cottesloe
Gibney Cottesloe

But first: with so many beachside venues under his belt… What keeps drawing him back to the coast?

“I grew up surfing from probably, I don’t know, from four or five. So I lived in the ocean my whole youth. I love being on the coast,” George explains.

For a city built on the ocean, there’s an argument that beachside dining hasn’t always always quite synergised our love of good hospitality and the beach – at least not in the fine dining arena.

“I don’t know, I just think from a hospitality perspective, it was a bit undercooked,” he continues. “So we embarked on this mission to find as many spots as we could, over the course of a decade or so. We just felt we could add value.”

It’s no wonder the location was so enticing. At the base of a luxe apartment development, the slope of the street and position on the corner of Gibney Street and Marine Parade means the restaurant has an impressive outlook onto the coast, maximised by an expansive al fresco – and plenty of well-heeled neighbours.

Gibney Cottesloe

“We felt it was a really exciting and, I guess satisfying opportunity to be able to create new brands and products that people could enjoy – whilst enjoying the Indian Ocean.”

“We already operate in a more casual dining space. So when we found this site, we were ideating early on: what do we put in it?”

“We also knew that there was an explosion in the wine bar scene, which has been just amazing – there’s so many great little wine bars now which are accessible and casual and brilliant. That market was really quite saturated, so we didn’t feel it was wise to jump back into that space.”

“The premium dining market is non-existent. Maybe Rockpool, Nobu, Wildflower… And again, they’re all brilliant. But there’s not many players. And there’s no one on the beach, so we just thought there was a really great opportunity to build a brand that was in that market segment and that could exist, I guess, in its own little stratosphere – in that there’s not really anyone doing anything like this. And we felt, most importantly, that Cottesloe should be the home for it, being an affluent beachside suburb.”

If the outside looks as good as the Indian Ocean… Well, the interior’s got to hold its own, too.

Perth-based designers Rezen Studio (also responsible for the lush fit-outs of La Lune and Vin Populi) were tasked with the 600m2, $5 million luxury fit-out. Every corner is painstakingly sourced, bespoke or an Australian design exclusive.

Each choice channels the coastal location while resisting clichés: stainless steel mirrors evoke sunshine on rippling water; huge Kooij pendants are suspended over the bar, glowing like lighthouse beacons and grown from molten, recycled plastic; relaunched 1985 Ettore Sottsass veneer and floors of flame-finished natural stone echoing undulating sand.

The attention to detail doesn’t stop there – cocktail picks, tablecloth clips and even retro matchbooks bear the Gibney insignia.

Gibney Cottesloe

“When you’re delivering a product like this, we’re not just sitting here going, ‘Let’s see how much money we can throw at a venue’. It’s about creating an ambience, an environment that we hope people really appreciate, and understand that when you go into Gibney it’s not just the ocean view, it’s not just the food, or the wine list, or the spirit program, it’s the interior, and the space itself is beautiful.”

“Sometimes you walk into somewhere and the mood and the theme is set, and you feel special, you feel like you’ve been elevated into a different space.”

“We’re not saying we’re not value for money, but when you’ve got a team of artisan chefs preparing food for you – the best in the state – you’ve got the best sommeliers, the best waiters, one of the most amazing locations and then a crazy beautiful interior… From a hospitality, restauranteur perspective, this is just a different product. And some people will come to Gibney and the pricing is slightly more than other restaurants, but that’s because of the environment you’re in.”

Gibney Cottesloe

“For me, what I’m focused on is that experience. It’s really important for Gibney – we want people to come in and really walk out of here going ‘Wow, that was special. I had my birthday, I had a celebration with someone, whatever it was, and it made it even more special.’ You look back on those experiences and they’re really important things in life. Hospitality plays a really important part in people’s lives.”

“And if you’re into food and you’re into wine and you’re into cocktails and drinks… Our wait staff, our chefs come to the table, there’s table side dishes, our bartending team comes to the table and makes you smoked negroni at the table for you. And those little details that you don’t normally see is what is inherently Gibney. We’ve tried to elevate all those things.”

“And, again, that’s the investment in Gibney. Someone coming to your table and spending four minutes there. It’s an investment for us, because they could be behind the bar making up 20 cocktails. They’re not, they’re at your table looking after you.”

Gibney Cottesloe
Gibney Cottesloe

Taking the reins in the kitchen is James Cole Bowen, a young chef who cut his teeth at lauded venues including Le Rebelle, Restaurant Amusé and off-duty chef favourite The Corner Dairy. Cole Bowen will be putting the Gibney spin on classic brasserie cooking, merging a contemporary, West Australian approach with a transportive sense of Euro nostalgia.

“I mean, in that bistro, brasserie sense, it’s fulfilling, nostalgic, substantial,” George tells us. “There’s lots of familiar and nostalgic things that, that might read quite familiar, but James Cole Bowen, our head chef, has put his own unique twang on it.”

Gibney Cottesloe

“You know, you put a Gibney Kilpatrick oyster in your mouth, and you go, ‘Oh, yeah!’ Or there’s a cured kingfish with a tartar-type sauce, fried tempura pieces and then he’s put a pickled seaweed over the top. So it’s his interpretation of fish and chips.”

Fittingly for its seaside location, seafood plays a big role – from the aforementioned Pacific oyster Kilpatrick and the cured Hiramasa kingfish with crème fraiche tartar, to the selection of caviar (“I thought I’d have enough for two weeks, easy, and we sold out in three days!”), Olagasti anchovy-topped, petite pissaladière or the substantial, impressive offerings of grilled Western Rock Lobster or Fremantle swordfish with cider beurre blanc.

Gibney Cottesloe

“I just think we’ve got a wonderful opportunity to create something really special from a hospitality perspective,” George continues. “And there’s already people in that space now, like Joel at Lulu’s, Liam at Le Rebelle: there’s so many people doing such an amazing job. I think that the more of them, the better, because it’ll just explode.”

At this point, we think it’s fair to make the assertion: George Kailis is going all-in on Perth. So with Gibney officially open… What’s next?

“I see Western Australia as being a foodie destination like Melbourne is: you know, people go to Melbourne just to eat, drink, shop and hang out… I see that, not just with locals, but with inbound tourism: direct flights from Paris are online in July, all the flights now from Asia.”

“And I see with Western Australia, particularly with our coastline, the Margaret River region, what’s going on up north… I love Perth, I’m Perth born and bred would never live anywhere else but in Perth.”

Gibney Cottesloe

“We will continue to expand – we’re very focused on location, on finding the right sites. If I look at a thousand sites in a year, typically I’ll reject 999 of them.”

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“So, we’re not necessarily going to grow at a rapid pace, but we’ve got Magic Apple Whole Foods – we’ll get into construction on that next week, which is really exciting. That’s a brand we want to roll out to multiple stores, we want to take that nationally, that’s a really amazing concept.”

“And then we’re looking at something new for 2025,” he adds, rather coyly.

“It might be back in the premium dining space. And then I think longterm, we really want to get into the accommodation sector, boutique hotels. I’m a massive fan of hotels, you know, around the world there’s some amazing hotels. So I feel like in that boutique sense, we can add some value to the market when the right property is available.”

Gibney is open now, and is located at 40 Marine Parade, Cottesloe.

All images: Sally Hall / Perth is OK!