Once upon a time there lived a man named Joe who was beloved Shire-wide for his milkshakes and hot dogs, served with a smile to hungry surfers fresh from the waters of Cronulla. Sadly Joe passed away, but his memory now lives on thanks to the team behind the Hamptons-style beachside bar and eatery Old Joe’s. You can still get a hot dog and milkshake, of course, but the former is much bigger and the latter 100 percent boozier.
From the outside this place looks like everything it tries to be. Brought to life by Sydney-based interior designer Sibella Court, Old Joe’s is colourful and playful, and the huge space inside has been worked well. The main dining/dancing area is large, complete with table tennis, high tables, low tables, games machines for the kiddies (and drunk big kiddies) and a big bar right across the back. To your right (or right in front of you if you enter via the outside/smoking area), you’ll find a light and bright lounge area with nods to its namesake, like cute vintage sign reproductions and candy-striped awnings.
Unfortunately, while it may look the part, for a Saturday afternoon it was practically deserted and the people-fuel needed to fire a bustling atmosphere was running on empty. Slightly surprising, as the location is killer and the aforementioned alcoholic milkshakes are decent. In fact, the cocktail menu is good in general. If you’re hankering for dairy, the Joe-J-Fox of vodka (interchangeable with bourbon), banana liqueur, chocolate liqueur, Milo, caramel, regular fruity banana and milk is as tasty as it sounds. But if you like your cocktails sans cow, the Breakfast with Nonna is fresh; sharp; filled with gin, Aperol, maraschino, pink grapefruit, a squeeze of lime; and served in its own dark-glass, apothecary-style bottle.
On the food front, it seems the menu has gone through a few transformations since opening, beginning as a one-page American-style selection of dishes ideal pre-binge drinking. It now has a few more modern Australian dishes, most likely to appeal to a wider audience. The Mexican plate to share was generous and the burger was big, juicy and actually really quite delicious. The hot dog, Old Joe’s signature dish, while very large, was just a Frankfurter in a bun, smothered in mustard: a great belly filler but nothing special.
As a dining destination, you’ll find somewhere better than Old Joe’s; however, as a beachside bar this place is actually a pretty cool addition to Cronulla’s nightlife. If its Facebook pics are anything to go by, Old Joe’s is already attracting a big crowd come the weekend and if you’re in the area, you should probably go.