Last time he was in the spotlight, swimmer Eamon Sullivan was fronting a high-profile news conference to admit his involvement in a Stilnox-fuelled team bonding night in the lead-up to the London Olympics.
But this week, the Beijing silver medallist was attracting attention for a much more welcome reason — the opening of his much-anticipated, big bucks, beachside restaurant.
Bib & Tucker — the first new beachside restaurant in Perth for decades — is co-owned by Sullivan, pole-vaulter and Beijing gold medallist Steve Hooker and Australian hockey captain and Athens gold medallist Jamie Dwyer.
Despite the fierce competition at the upper end of the Perth restaurant sector, Sullivan and his partners are hoping for a team gold with the stylish 150-seat restaurant at Leighton beach complete with a $100,000 coal-fired rotisserie and grill and a menu “that is all about simple, well-cooked beach food”.
It has been a bumpy year for Sullivan; two weeks before the press conference, he was fined $1000 over “drunken shenanigans” at a South Australian pub in October, when he accidentally rode a gopher into a couple sitting at a table.
But Sullivan told The Weekend West he was “nervous but excited” about the new venture.
Sullivan said he and head chef and partner Scott Bridger have even invented a new word to describe their vision.
“Elegant rascality; that’s our theme,” Bridger said.
“It’s about sophistication but a laid-back, unpretentious kind of sophistication.
“We’ll be doing suckling pig, hopefully every day; char-grilled steaks and rotisseried meats; simple share food.”
Customers will enjoy the best views of any restaurant along the metropolitan coastline with floor-to-ceiling windows and wide balconies giving diners a rare north-facing view out to sea and up the coast to Cottesloe.
Among the 120-strong crowd at the launch on Thursday night were stars from the West Coast Eagles, Fremantle Dockers, Perth Glory and West Coast Fever, Olympic gold medallist Todd Pearson and Eskimo Joe frontman Kav Temperley.
Guests enjoyed a tasting menu in line with Sullivan’s vision of simple food, quality produce and “medieval cooking techniques.”
Watermelon and haloumi canapes and a fig, pancetta and gorgonzola pizza were preludes to three bold main course offerings — wood-roasted lamb shoulder, crispy skin Cone Bay barramundi and spit-roasted Linley Valley suckling pig.
For dessert, chefs combined smashed meringue, lemon curd, yoghurt sorbet and textures of strawberry to create a “Leighton mess.”