Sizzler (Gold Coast, QLD)

2505 Gold Coast Highway
Mermaid Beach QLD 4218
+7 5572 9411

Ever since they shut down the Sizzler restaurant in Doncaster (and all the other Sizzlers in Victoria) in the late 90s, my world was never the same. There were no more post-church buffet lunches with family friends, no cheese toasts, no make-your-own raspberry spiders and no antics involving putting salt and pepper in cold coffees when your parents have stayed at the restaurant past their welcome and wouldn’t stop talking, even after the staff have brought out the vacuum cleaners and wiped down the adjacent tables as a way of telling us to kindly fark off. Oh yes, we still had Smorgy’s. We still had Food Star. And if you lived in the eastside, we still had Volcano Joe’s. BUT NONE OF THEM HAD CHEESE TOASTS, friggin’!

So on my first trip to Goldie several months ago (well, first trip since the last one which was in 1999), I squealed with glee when I saw the Sizzler sign on the Gold Coast Highway en route Broadbeach. Man, I thought Australia’s favourite buffet place had been shoved under a rug along with peddle-pushers, Hanson and everything else that was bad from the 90s! I guess I was wrong – and I was happy about that too. So one afternoon, I decided to take Marty there for lunch in response to his very thoughtful and delightful dinner at Benihana. What a girlfriend, hah.

It was a particularly rainy day when we rocked up to the restaurant, which was surprisingly quite busy for a midweek lunch sesh. Those of you who have been to a Sizzler restaurant will know the concept – you can pay for the salad bar buffet ($17) which gives you access to whatever you want from the buffet tables, plus a serving of cheese toast (squee cheese toast!), or you can select a meal from the list of mains which include calamari and chips, steaks and more, all of which hover around the $15-20 mark. If you’re ordering a main for lunch, you only need to chuck in a few coins to gain access to the salad bar. As for drinks, unlimited soft drink, coffee and tea refills are available for $3.50. Marty and I decided that the mains surely ain’t worth paying for, so we decided to go the salad bar option each, plus the option to get unlimited soft drink refills.

When I was a kid, I thought the then-$10 salad bar buffet was the best thing ever. What do I think of it twenty years later? It’s horrible. I mean, sure, I wanted to go to this place purely to take the piss, knowing that it wouldn’t be fantastic, and at no point did I expect anything better. But when you have pastas that are soggy beyond belief, salads which are not at all fresh AND made with limp, frozen ingredients, and a tired dessert selection, you’re better off using that $17 on two Maccas meals that will guarantee a somewhat satisfying lunch for two days. One thing that I was actually looking forward to was getting a big handful of pasta, and pouring both bolognaise and carbonara sauce on top and then mixing them together. Yes, I know it’s weird but it was a ritual that I strictly adhered to as a kid. For some reason, though, they didn’t have carbonara sauce – only bolognaise and napoletana was available. Bummer. They did, however, still have wedges available which I grabbed by the dozen. As for the salads, well Toto, you know that you’re in Queensland when the salad options are as follows: prawn and almond salad; watermelon, feta and pine nut salad; chicken, mango and almond salad; prawn and Tassie smoked salmon; tropical coconut fish. I can’t say that any of them were particularly decent (again, crappy ingredients and devoid of freshness) though Marty didn’t seem to mind them.

Yay cheese toasts! Sadly, they were smaller than the ones we enjoyed back in the 90s – and they were extremely soggy. Funnily enough, they were probably the nicest things I ate during this meal.

We ate about two plates each (yes, of pretty much the same thing) before we decided that enough was enough. Soon, we were headed for the dessert bar. I played it like a good girl and stuck with the fruits, though I did indulge in a bit of vanilla ice cream.

And because we’re kids at heart (okay, Marty more so than I am), we did the whole let’s-put-ice-cream-in-our-lamb-and-beansoup routine. So we did. I mean, the lamb and bean soup was pretty disgusting and it was going to waste anyway, so why not have a bit of fun with it before it gets chucked out? And so we added a bunch of other nasty things in addition to the ice cream. I couldn’t remember what sort of stuff we put in (nor did I want to) but thanks to Marty’s elephant memory, we came up with a list: raspberry soda, coke, bread and butter pudding, salt, corn and a receipt (don’t ask). God, we’re so mature. And yes, we both dared each other to have a sip of the soup – and yes, it was as awful as it looks.

With my Sizzler craving finally quashed for good, we headed to Biggera Waters to buy some discounted exercise gear (Nike tights for $45 FTW!), resolving to never come back again.

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  1. Sizzler – the constant in an ever-changing universe. Sizzler survived in Queensland due to a different company taking them. Man that brought back memories… queuing up out the door at Mermaid Beach in 1986! Funnily enough people still do this at Toowong in Brisbane. Sizzler Qld will survive due to an ever-flourishing international student influx, teenagers thinking they’re dining out, old folk and those who don’t know any better. Hope you didn’t read this before going:

    1. Haha no, I hadn’t seen that article – my goodness, that’s horrible! I wonder what motivated her, though…

      And yes, I remember the long queues at the Melbourne restaurants, but as the years went by the length of said queues became smaller…

  2. There’s a Sizzler in Maroochydore and when we first moved here we stopped in for a quick meal. Quick being the important word. We couldn’t eat it. It’s weird because any night you drive by and it’s chock full of tourists. “shaking my head”

  3. Hahahaha… Sizzler. Steak.
    Seafood. Salad. When I was 10, KFC, McDonald’s, Yum Cha and Sizzler were the pinnacle of fine dining. Ahahahaha! xD

  4. My memories of Sizzler are of almost always seeing Mal Meninga there, and the time my brother had two bowls of ice cream for dessert and then went back and got a bowl of pickled onions to finish.

    Kinda glad I don’t have to relive that…

  5. Hi Lib,

    I don’t know if you are still there but a trip to Queensland really isn’t complete without trying a few of the local specialties that you can’t get in Melbourne.

    Firstly, a meat pie with mushy peas from the local bakery. If you are really authentic this should be accompanied with a flavoured milk, probably banana!

    Secondly, some crumbed fish and chips. For some reason the Melbourne fish and chip shops mostly offer only batterred and grilled fish.


    1. Hi Andy,

      I’m back in Melbourne but I am actually heading up there again very soon! (Cairns, then a weekend in Goldie) Whereabouts are you located?

      Thanks so much for the tips. Sure, there are some shocking places to eat up there but I have been delighted to come across some gems and am looking forward to trying more places 🙂

      Re pies with mushy pies: While they do exist in Melbourne, they are rare and you can only find them at crappy Pie Face-type places or at some gastropubs (of course, they are overpriced, heh). I will definitely suss out some local bakeries. Any tips?

      Re fish and chips: Again, crumbed fish is an option at some places but you’re right, battered or grilled is what most people get. My boyfriend reckons fish and chips in GC is so much better so I’m keen to visit a fish and chip shop on my next visit!

  6. Hi Lib,

    I’m based in Melbourne but grew up in Queensland and lived in Brisbane, North Queensland and the Gold Coast.

    The thing that makes the Queensland pie with peas version a bit different is that they usually add the peas at the time of ordering. Typically there is a steel bowl behined the counter containing a dried mush of reconstituted peas which although doesn’t sounds great, it actually tastes quite good. The pie lid is carefully sliced off and the peas (and tomato sauce) and carefully pasted onto the top of the pie then the lid is mushed back on top.

    Most of my trips north these days are to the Sunny Coast and I definintely have a favourite pie shop there but that’s no help to you. My time on the Gold Coast was at least 10 years ago but things don’t move too fast up there so my reccomendations are probably still valid.

    My favourite was a little bakery in Palm Beach that I never really knew the name of but after a bit of a google I reckon it was Crustys. (with that name how could you go wrong!) The address is 1136 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach. Otherwise Coolangatta Pies is another great option.

    For Fish and Chips, Burleigh used to be OK (Tan’s was our favoutie) but if you have a car I have very fond memories of when we lived in Bilambil and on the way home (along Kennedy Drive) you had to go past three fish and chip shops that backed onto the river. one of them had a special of $2.50 for flake and chips and it was a rare occurrance that we didn’t stop in and part with the $5 to feed the two of us. I have to agree with Marty, Queensland definitely has better fish and chips. Sadly that’s about it though.

    I too can be a bit down on Queensland at times when it comes to food. I think Brisbane has some pretty good options if you do your research but the Gold Coast is definitely a tough one. I look forward to reading how you go in Cairns, that should be interesting…


    1. Haha you’re quite right about things not moving fast on the Gold Coast (case in point: motorists – why on EARTH are they so slow?!). Although there are heaps of good restaurants popping up these days, there are also plenty of places that have been around for decades and weathered through the slow economic climate up there.

      I’ve only passed through Palm Beach once but I’ll definitely go there again to suss out Crustys. I’ve heard of Coolangatta Pies too – I’ll see if I can convince Marty to make a stop on the way to his house from the airport next time.

      As for fish and chips, Marty usually goes to two good ones in the Broadbeach area so perhaps I’ll try those two for now, before venturing further down south to try the ones you’ve recommended. Thanks for the tips! 🙂

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