Oysters are shucked daily. Standout Kingfish Sashimi. Fall-apart Beef Rendang. And a hit-after-hit sharing menu that defines and captures our city’s culinary spirit.
Established in 1927, the boardwalk, kiosk, bathers pavilion, dive tower and swimming enclosure on Geelong’s waterfront is an institution. But this winter marks a new era for the longstanding icon of the Pavilion: its changed hands and is being given a new lease on life with a vibrant new day-to-night destination.
Previously known as The Beach House run by hospitality group The Mulberry Group, the iconic Geelong venue – now named The Pavilion – has been transformed at the hands of Melbourne cafe mogul Julien Moussi and the Only Hospitality Group.
Keep up with the latest food and booze news across the region here.
Coming from the team behind Melbourne landmark cafes such as Bentwood Fitzroy, MOB Camberwell & Clubhouse Malvern and standing as the group’s first regional venue, the space is now home to two eateries – a thriving daytime cafe in The Pavilion, and a glorious Asian restaurant by night.
While the cafe is proving to be one of the city’s most innovative coffee spots, it’s Caledonia Shores which is Geelong’s culinary tour de force.
Taking over the upstairs level of The Pavilion – a spot that has always had the potential to be a game-changer for locals and visitors alike – Caledonia Shores captures the waterfront’s unique energy and inimitable soul, giving diners a cosily lit front-row seat to the breathtaking views of Geelong’s Eastern Beach.
Harnessing the fresh renovations from the previous owners, the space is whimsical but relaxed, instantly providing an atmospheric antidote to an exhausting week. An abundance of timber tables and rattan chairs fill the space, while the high ceilings, soft ambient lighting, exposed rafters, fresh foliage and simple crisp bar only further make this a standout among quality dining destinations in the region.
As for the food, the menu offers unique Asian Freestyle dishes combined with impeccable presentation.
Asian freestyle is vague, hard-to-define term, but this articulation, from Only Hospitality Group executive chefs Jung Hwan Woo and Allan Hwang, may be the most impressive we’ve yet seen yet.
To start, Hwang and Woo serve bite-sized popcorn chicken, Wagyu puffs with wasabi mayo, spicy Edamame, and Sichuan Calamari. The thinly sliced Kingfish is light and fresh, served with Nam Jim and coconut lime dressing. And the corn cob might test friendships with its coconut sambal butter, curry salt, snowing cheese and curry leaf.
Elsewhere on the menu, the fall-apart Beef Rendang is a stand-out. The slow-braised brisket, coconut, kaffir lime, chilli, and coriander curry just melts in your mouth, paired perfectly with fluffy steamed rice. There’s also a cauliflower curry as an alternative.
There’s also a sharing menu, featuring Xin Jiang-style lamb ribs, crispy baby snapper and XO Clams Chinese donut. Providing a fresh take on the regular bao experience, here you’ll find DIY Bao Buns, where you’re gifted all the elements separately and left to your own devices.
Of course, the dumplings deserve high praise. Soft pockets of flavour, the prawn dumplings are a must with mushroom dumplings also on offer.
Rounding out this mind-blowingly delicious menu (speaking from experience here), there are also salads and for dessert, banana fritters and Mango Sticky Rice.
The menu is extensive, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed looked for the special dishes marked ‘Cali’s must have’. Or, opt for the feed me option which will have the chefs select your dishes for you.
Drinks-wise, Caledonia Shores has curated a considered beverage list featuring wines that span mostly Australia, New Zealand and France. You’ll find all your usual suspects on the beer list, featuring both tapped and bottled selections, alongside a range of non-alcoholic beverages.
The Cali Cocktails is another area where this venue thrives, riffing on the blend of Asian and Australian cultures. You’ll find classics like the Aperol Spritz, Espresso Martini and Negroni, alongside the more extravagant like the Thai Basil Smash, Lychee Lavender Collins and a Spicy Margarita. With a relaxed outlook on dining by the bay, you can even head on in just for drinks if you please.
With the iconic spot reborn as a day-to-night eatery, trading from breakfast to dinner, perhaps our favourite part of all is that it’s a venue that will be open seven days and nights a week.
With years of hospitality experience, Moussi’s vision for Caledonia Shores is that there is always something to celebrate. From birthdays to anniversaries, there’s always a reason to go out – no matter what day of the week it is. Operating on Geelong’s waterfront every night – even in the depths of winter – Caledonia Shores places itself as a unique dining experience, one that will be ingrained into the culture of destination dining in Geelong for years to come.
The Pavilion/Caledonia Shores is located at 95 Eastern Beach Road, Geelong. Caledonia Shores will operate Monday to Thursday from 5 pm to 10 pm, and Friday to Sunday from 4 pm until late. Find out more and book here.