Each year when we come back to the Gold Coast I see how the dining landscape has changed and every time I need to pump out one of these guides to update you on the situation. There is a huge influence coming from Melbourne and Sydney which is only a good thing. Too long has it been a restaurant waste land
The Gold Coast has always typically been a starter, main and dessert kinda town. It’s what the clientele wanted and that’s what they got. But the influence of sharing plates has started to change the way menus are presented which then starts to alter the style of service we receive. Soon we’ll be hearing the “let me explain the concept behind the restaurant” and the “dishes will come out whenever they’re ready” nightmare will hit where you end up getting your starters midway through dessert.
Where to go: Sparrow Eating House
It’s all about the sharing. I ate here a few times a couple of months ago during a visit rom London when it first opened and was taken aback as to how solid the cooking and menu was here. I visited Elk for a coffee this visit and heard from the team they were doing “Any Four Plated for $50 Per Couple on Wednesday Nights”, which sounded like an amazing deal and had to test it out for myself. I thought it may be smaller serves and as we were a table of three then it might make it tricky ordering. But amazingly it seems like this was their opportunity to get people out of their homes on a Wednesday night – full serves and by stating we wanted the 4 most expensive dishes plus adding on a couple of sides and dessert, we actually had the four mains as the $50 deal with just having to pay for the sides. Extraordinary value. BOOK NOW!
Craft Beer Tap Rooms
There’s a few craft beer venues on the Gold Coast right now but should you want to have a drink in a brewery, you would previously have to travel to Byron Bay to visit Stone and Wood Brewery or Brisbane to visit Newstead Brewing Co. and Green Beacon Brewing.
Where to go: Burleigh Brewing
Open only on Friday nights this is a great place to come to try fresh beer on tap, order a carton to take home for the weekend or meet up with friends to sample the weekly revolving food truck and listen to the band. I was able to try a peach saison which was an exclusive to the tap room and worth ordering as an alternative to the usual glut of largers and pale ales on the Gold Coast. But my number one beer si the FIG JAM IPA – 7% but goes down VERY easily.
Contact: Burleigh Brewing Company – 17A Ern Harley Dr, Burleigh Heads QLD 4220, Australia
Where to go: Stone and Wood Brewery in Byron Bay
I’ve pretty much said everything I need to say in this full review. I don’t think we acknowledge just how good the Stone and Wood Pacific Ale is in relation to every other beer in Queensland.
Contact: Stone and Wood Brewery – 4 Boronia Pl, Byron Bay NSW 2481, Australia. Ph. 6685 5173
I must admit the Gold Coast is the shit 80’s Chinese capital of Australia so it’s good to see the Cult of Melbourne’s Chin Chin has started to bleed over the Victorian Border. Bold, ballsy flavours where sweet, sour and spice are on full display and not toned down for a bored audience.
Where to go: Mamasan
I rate Chin Chin as one of the best Asian dining experiences in Australia, so imagine when I recently travelled to Seminyak in Bali and dined at Mama San to declare it to be the best Asian food I have ever had. I then saw that a Mamasan had opened under the Oracle Building in Broadbeach – so I had to go and find out if there was any affiliation with the Bali restaurant of the same name. It is indeedf a rip off of the highest order. The fit out, menu items and large mural on the back wall are eerily similar but the dishes are are more hit than miss and I would definitely visit again. I suggest ordering two serves of the sticky pork.
Where to visit: Can Tho Kitchen and Bar
Run by a husband and wife team who arrived in Australia with their parents in the 80’s. Vien and Thao took a trip to Melbourne in January 2014 and it opened their eyes to the amazing food culture, which buzzed at every street corner. It made them realize the Gold Coast was lacking of this. The quality of food, service and atmosphere all rolled into one had to be brought to the Gold Coast, and quick! The menu is again authentic modern Vietnamese with the option to just let the team feed you so no decisions need to be made.
Melbourne Brunch and Third Wave Coffee
Having moved to and from Melbourne via Malaysia and the UK I realise we had it good with five years of world class brunch in Melbourne. It’s not just about smashed avocado and poached eggs – brunch should be that and more… much more. Though saying that – it’s still basically impossible to find a good croissant on the Giold Coast as it has had a sudden influx of cronut and dossant fever.
Where to go: Paddock Bakery
Hidden in a Miami backstreet, this is the quintessential Queensland brunch location. A bakery housed in an old Queenslander with tables spread the full width of the front garden and adjoining house under the shade of large trees – it doesn’t get more Australian than this. The menu hasn’t changed since we visited when it first opened a few years ago – but that’s why we love it. You can have basics like smashed feta avo on their housemade sourdough or take the dude food route of a breaky burger or hotdog to ease the hangover.
Where to go: Blackboard Coffee Co.
The original is the best in Varsity Lakes. I recently tried their new larder concept in a Burleigh carpark next door to McDonalds but I didn’t even bother leaving the car as I headed once again to Varsity Lakes. These guys are taking over the coast with their coffee brand (able to command that if you want to serve their coffee you also need to fork out for their printed takeaway cups, selection of milk and offer their famous cronuts). I see the next wave of baristas opening their own place to go their own way and not have their hand forced by what is now the biggest local coffee business on the coast. Brunch has improved in leaps and bounds – try the generous prawn sandwich to taste Queensland on a plate.
Melbourne and London are awash with $/£ per 100 grams of brisket ets but the coast has just recently started to latch onto the burger craze (it says something when a local website lists four different Grill’d sites in their top 50 burgers on the Gold Coast…) But there is some great American to be had if you know where to look.
Where to go: Lester and Earl
Everything has been said in my original review of this newcomer in Palm Beach. I went again few days ago and the meal destroyed me. I only had a burger but bloody hell was it big and was it tasty! Not one to dine solo at – you need to share it with friends.
Where to go: JR’s Smokehouse Barbecue
This week the team opened their first bricks and mortar after doing food festivals and catering to weddings around the Gold Coast. You can now find this true wood-fired American barbecue partnering up with an original surf shop in Coolangatta. Surrounded by a beer garden and only one block away from the best surf in the world – it’s going to be a great summer ahead.
Contact: Sunhouse – 41 McClean St, Coolangatta.
Bars you actually want to sit and drink at
Yes, the Gold Coast has more bars you can poke a stick at. But unless you’re full bogan and only subsist on XXXX beer there’s never been anywhere to get your Mad Men classic cocktails made properly. Now there is…
Where to go: Cavalier Bar & Supper
Set up next door and by the same team as Justin Lane pizza in Burleigh Heads, Cavalier is the place to pull up a seat at the bar, wander through their full list of craft beers, cocktails or even just pick a nice Japanese whisky to sip on while you have a proper conversation or just sit back and people watch.
Where to go: The Glenelg Public House
I had a few reservations about this place when I visited recently but one thing that did look enticing was the bar. Nicely lit, bar staff who knew what they were doing and a tight little craft beer list ticked all the boxes when I gazed longingly from my table in the restaurant. I may not go back to eat but will be back to have a few drinks.
Farm to plate
Not many restaurants have been ballsy enough to commit to the farm to plate philosophy – possibly due to tight margins and fluctuating customer numbers ensure they always need to keep costs down. But luckily if you’re inclined to head a short drive south of the Gold Coast then you will be rewarded with one of the best meal experiences you can have.
Where to go: Three Blue Ducks at The Farm in Byron Bay
This place is so good I went twice in one week – and it’s a 2.5 hour round trip each time. Saying that a chef friend of mine who stayed in Byron a few weeks before my visit ended up eating every single breakfast, lunch and dinner here – so if not take it from me, take the word of a head chef. Words don’t do the place justice. It’s an actual working far – not a naff one you might expect – because this is a chefs farm and their using every square inch to ensure you get the best damn food on your plate. You can walk the tracks around the farm to visit the animals, there’s full farm tours to take the kids on and there will be a full review where I can splash out on photos. Dear God just do it already.