Each time we come back to the Gold Coast from wherever in the world we’re currently living I always continue my search to find out the new openings that are worthy of a chance visit in the hope of a successful meal. On this trip we’ve hit Mamasan in the Oracle Building, The Farm in Byron Bay and Can Tho Vietnamese in Runaway Bay to name a few. As a special meal before we were to leave back to London I decided it was time to give The Glenelg Public House a try.
Housed in what was previously an old Laundromat on the Mermaid Waters section of the Gold Coast highway, Bonita Bonita arrived first a few years ago in the same area and Glenelg Public House is banking on the success of the area which hopefully will continue to get more foodie. Glenelg is being billed as a gastropub – but living in London, it’s nothing of the sort. Common features of a gastropub should include a really good selection of ales and craft beers (which they do have – I had a great Killer Sprocket, Peated Pale Ale that went perfectly with the meat on offer) on draught, a variety of dishes inspired by pub classics given a refined twist, meat and produce by local producers would feature highly with insights into each. The Glenelg Public House is more of a steakhouse than anything else.
This is a weird review to writer as we had positive vibes as we arrived but throughout the evening until being ignored once our mains had been cleared has left me with very mixed feelings – but onwards with the review.
We arrived on a warm Friday night to find we had unfortunately been given the worst seats in the house – in a corner behind the door with one of our party having to stare out on the bus stop and the Gold Coast highway while the others were able to admire the inside of the restaurant for the evening. After we shifted the table and chairs around we were much more confortable. I really dig the interior – the bar is one of the very, very few places on the Gold Coast that I would come to perch at the bar with a cocktail and catch up with friends. The restaurant is all charcoal, timber sleepers and brick, which works well if you buy into the place being more of a steakhouse. Barmen are all kitted out in well-maintained beards, which brings a heady amount of hipster cred to the proceedings of the evening.
One thing I would like to highlight was the music. It was easy listening madness. It had no personality and told us nothing about the sort of place we were dining in. I would have much preferred the kind of music we heard up at Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall in Brisbane – old school Mississippi blues and swamp would work perfectly.
The menu is indeed more steakhouse than gastropubs. Yes – starters such as cured ocean trout and rabbit terrine do fall into the gastropub food camp but having a couple of token dishes does not a gastro experience make. Main meals are divided into Steak or Not Steak – so either a choice of four cuts of steak or the single choice of a vegetarian gnocchi are on the cards.
We started out with some nice plump warm lemon garlic Sicilian green olives (5) and baby squid with chili, lemon salt and caper mayo (16) to start. Olives were delicious but the squid was a little too heavily battered for my liking. Saying that the serves of each was more then generous and each could have happily fed the three of us easily.
I went with the Robbin’s Island Wagyu Tri-tip (28) with a selection of sides that included dirty sabago fries with rosemary salt (8) and my favourite – roast pumpkin, honey, goat’s curd and pistachio (8). I detest having to be told that if I want a sauce with my steak it’s going to cost me – this time it’s $4 each for of the hollandaise and mixed mushroom sauces we choose. Has no steakhouse thought of adding the cost into the price of the meal and just offering a discount should someone not want the addition?! Or just factor it into the price into the rest of the menu, as 99% of people visiting a steakhouse will be ordering the steak.
The gnocchi, pumpkin, watercress, truffled pecorino and sunflower kernels was a very substantial plate of food but became quite one dimensional after eating half a plateful. This comes down again to the issues I have with calling this a gastropubs. My favourite local gastropub in London is The Camberwell Arms which we reviewed HERE and you can get more of an idea of what can be offered un the Not Meat section to be more interesting.
After the mains arrived, service fell apart. Our waitress disappeared, our empty drink and water glasses went unfilled and dessert menu didn’t grace our tables until we started glaring at the hostess who would usually be manning the front door but was hanging out at the chef’s pass chatting to the bar staff. Then more ignoring then glaring to get her attention again as we were again forgotten and we wanted to just get the bill and head for the hills.
In summary – the food is very good, the steak indeed excellent but the dining experience was found lacking in both the service and atmosphere.