Archive of ‘Queensland Foodie Adventures’ category
10 Palm Beach Avenue
Palm Beach QLD 4221
+61 7 5598 2774
Sorry for the three weeks of radio silence on this blog – I’ve been gallivanting around Japan and Singapore and only just got back yesterday (#sorrynotsorry). But now that I’m now semi-settled at home (and not to mention, my funds have dried up), it’s back to regular blogging for me.
So let’s start this post with what is probably the world’s worst kept secret: I moved to the Gold Coast. Yup, I’ve traded my Melbourne blacks, excellent coffees, small bars and world class restaurants for vibrant colours, tans, constant sunshine and terrible Tinder talent[sic]. I’ll be honest: I wasn’t terribly keen about starting a new life in Queensland – I don’t like the beach that much (give me big cities and forests any day) and I prefer AFL over rugby league.
Surprisingly though, I’ve come to enjoy the Gold Coast for what it is. I’ve made some wonderful new friends, my home cooking skills have improved significantly and my skin is not ghastly pale anymore. I’ve even started going for the Maroons in State of Origin.
Over the next few months, you’ll see more and more Gold Coast and Brisbane-centric posts. Of course, that’s not to say that I won’t be blogging about Melbourne – after all, I’m there pretty much there every 2-4 weeks and I’ll continue doing the semi-regular weekend dashes to Sydney. With that in mind, here’s a review of Barefoot Barista, a café I hold close to my heart because it was where I went for a quick lunch just before the interview that would ultimately land my current (day) job.
According to those living in the southern states, Queensland isn’t known for its coffee culture. In a state where Merlo and Starbucks reign supreme, it’s often difficult to find a reliably good café. However, they do exist – you just need to do your research.
Barefoot Barista happens to be one of those places. Its location in the heart of Palm Beach isn’t the best (I used to hold my breath every time my bus drove through it) but if you’re travelling down south in the morning and happen to be going down the highway as opposed to the motorway, then it’s worth a detour.
The café offers seating inside but I like to sit in the back courtyard to savour the fresh sea breeze wafting in from the east.
Sunday roast salad: chicken breast, sweet roast pumpkin, peas, radicchio, cos and rocket with herb crumbs and mustard dressing ($16)
Barefoot Barista do substantial yet healthy breakfasts and lunches, with a focus on quirky salads and burgers. I opted for the Sunday roast salad which was essentially a deconstructed Sunday roast with all the trimmings served cold.
The chicken was juicy, the roasted pumpkin was beautifully caramelised and the herb crumbs added a lovely crunch. All in all, it was the perfect light lunch that gave me the right amount of energy to get me through an interview but without the heavy and embarrassing bloating spells you (well, I, anyway) get from eating too many carbs at lunchtime.
I also enjoyed a Story Coffee latte ($3.50) on the side; my latte was made with freshly roasted Madman Blend coffee which was chocolaty with the slightest hint of toffee. I’m not sure why they decided to ditch Campos as their original supplier of beans but whatever, they don’t seem to be getting many complaints about the new in-house blends.
Palm Beach isn’t known as the culinary epicentre of the Gold Coast but if you’re passing by on the highway, then Barefoot Barista is highly recommended for a delicious feed and excellent coffee.
2 Queensland Avenue
Broadbeach QLD 4218
+61 7 5538 3877
A few weeks ago, my boss shouted the office to a Bastille Day dinner at Champagne CRB in Broadbeach. Wait, WHAT? Broadbeach? Isn’t that on the Gold Coast? What’s going on, Libby?!
Don’t worry, all will be revealed in due course.
For the time being, let’s focus on this dinner. So yes, Bastille Day. Lots of fireworks. Lots of French food. Lots of drinking. Yep, we certainly got all that. Well, maybe not the fireworks – but then again, we can’t always have everything we want in life.
So anyway, my boss who is Belgian but thinks he’s French likes to do nice things for us. In this case, he decided to treat the office to a nice six-course degustation with matching wines on Bastille Day. Not that we really needed an excuse to party. We were going to the restaurant that was formerly called Champagne Brasserie but has now rebranded itself as Champagne CRB (CRB meaning ‘café, restaurant and bar’) to shake off its rather dated image but also extend its services to include breakfast and Parisian café lunches in addition to their normal dinner service.
Champagne CRB is located underneath the Hi Ho Beach Apartment complex, just a short walk away from the beach. Indeed, it’s a random place to house what could possibly be the ‘Coast most authentic French restaurant.
Our degustation began with some freshly baked warm bread and a glass of Charles de Cazanove rosé.
Truffled egg and ‘testou’
‘What the hell is a testou?’ we all murmured when we read the menu. I had no idea and a Google search proved fruitless. Hence, it was kind of funny when we were later told that it was a thing that Chef Olivier Burgos made up. The hollowed out egg was filled with a warm truffled egg emulsion and topped with a piece of crouton.
The testou was well received across the table. I loved the presentation and the fact that something so silky and so delicate can hold so much flavour. (err Libby, you idiot, it’s the TRUFFLES)
Seared scallops on rocket veloute with cocoa dressing and orange tuile
I wasn’t sure about this dish. On one hand, the scallops were beautifully cooked and oh-so-succulent. On the other hand, I thought the blobs of cocoa dressing were out of place and the orange tuile, which was a bit too sweet, just made the whole thing taste like an orange jaffa party. Bleh. If they served the scallops with just the rocket veloute, then it would have actually been a perfect dish.
Comte cheese, Jerusalem artichoke and truffle soufflé
The third course was rich and decadent – and enough to render half the table full. A cheese soufflé was always going to be a filling course but to also jack it up with a Jerusalem artichoke filling AND truffle shreds on top? Man, they were asking for trouble.
The whole package tasted pretty damn good (I’m a sucker for cheese), but the soufflé’s texture was a bit off. It was too dense – almost like a pudding – and having those rich ingredients and flavours certainly didn’t help. The matching wine for this course was a Gerard Bertrand 2010 Chardonnay. Now, I’m not a Chardonnay drinker but if I’m going to drink Chardonnay, it may as well be a French one and the Gerard Bertrand managed to cut through all the richness beautifully. I’d like to think of it as akin to when a dud Tinder guy matches with a hot Tinder girl and magic happens on their first date.
Chicken boudin blanc with mushrooms and green lentils
I found our fourth course a bit ‘meh.’ A boudin blanc is a white sausage (no snigger, please) that’s normally stuffed with pork and rice but in this case, Burgos used chicken mousse instead. This dish received mixed reactions from the table: some loved it, while others hated it. I just found the filling a bit bland and the mushrooms a bit sweet while the green lentils were slightly out of place.
Prime Black Angus tournedos served with truffle sauce and potato galette
I did love our final savoury course, though. Steak (yes!) cooked in bacon fat (yes!) served with crispy potatoes (omg yes!). I couldn’t really taste the truffles in the so-called truffle sauce but I didn’t care – the steak was absolutely beautiful and full of flavour and imo, you just can’t go wrong with crispy potato slices.
At this point in the evening, a group of mid-high school girls walked into the dining room in leotards. Music came on and the girls then started to do the can-can and a whole bunch of other dances! I did take photos but I feel like a creep putting photos of young under-aged girls on my blog so I’m not going to. It was a random interlude to what had been a joyous dinner – in fact, it was kind of awkward watching middle-aged men ogling these girls!
French nougat served frozen with red fruit coulis and vanilla Chantilly cream
I was too full to fully appreciate our dessert, a frozen nougat topped with a dove-shaped meringue (though someone on the table thought it was a ghost) surrounded by lots of raspberry coulis. If I had still been hungry, I probably would have had more than the three spoonfuls I did manage to consume. The nougat was lovely but combined with all that sauce, I did find the whole thing overpowering – but that’s just me.
Our Bastille Day dinner was a bit of a hit and miss, however we all had a fun night pretending to be French. Hell, I even wore the French colours: a blue dress and red nail polish. While it’s not the best French I’ve ever had, it definitely makes the top 5 on the Gold Coast. The breakfast and lunch offerings are very different to what they offer during dinner so I will definitely revisit Champagne CRB during the daytime for a croissant or two.
Shop 2B/2484 Gold Coast Highway
Mermaid Beach QLD 4218
+61 7 5679 3779
If there’s one thing the Gold Coast has over Melbourne, it’d be their ramen restaurants. Oh, and the sun. And the beaches. And the quality guys on Tinder (no, I wasn’t serious with the last one).
Sure, we now have our Mugen and Fukuryu-type places but the Goldie guys have been doing it a lot longer than us with Hakataya and Muso, the subject of this post. While Hakataya is located on the main tourist strip at Surfers, Muso is slightly tucked away on the more residential Mermaid Beach area. However, it’s right on the highway so it’s easily accessible by one of Gold Coast’s many highway buses should you be an interstate or overseas visitor looking for a feed going up from the airport.
Muso is very cool. The back wall is adorned by Beatles and Hendrix posters, while classic 60s and 70s rock music blare through the speakers as the lady takes your order at the counter.
Steamed gyoza (five pieces for $6)
With cold Kirin beers in hand, Marty and I started off with some steamed gyoza. I’m more of a fried gyoza person these days but he was always of the opinion that steamed is better than fried (true in most case but not for dumplings, in my opinion). The steamed pork gyoza were tasty enough but I found the skins a bit too soggy.
Fried gyoza (five pieces for $6)
The fried ones were a lot better (this is why it’s a good idea to listen to me in most cases!). The filling was just as tasty as the steamed ones, but the thin skins had just the right amount of crunch and to me, that made all the difference.
I had the tonkotsu original ($13) while Marty had the tonkotsu spicy miso ($14), the latter being essentially the same as mine but with a spicy miso sauce drizzled through it, obvs.
My ramen was amazing, on par with the one I enjoyed at Hakataya Ramen. If you love the milkiness of the Hakata-style broth, you’ll definitely enjoy the ramen at Muso. It was rich, yet clean. It was milky, yet packed with an assortment of flavours ranging from pork to sweet miso to pure awesomeness in one neat little bowl. And it was perfect, oh-so-perfect, from the gooey tea-soaked egg half to the fatty chashu pork to the slippery thin noodles.
It saddens to me think that there are amazing down-to-earth ramen restaurants in Gold Coast, yet Melbourne seems to struggle with producing something even half as good as this. However, I have a feeling that this will all change now that Fukuryu is in the picture. And about time too.
2235 Gold Coast Highway
Nobby Beach QLD 4218
+61 7 5572 8009
The other day, my half-Greek friend Yanni was complaining about the lack of good Greek restaurants up on the Gold Coast. While it’s true that there isn’t a big Greek population up there in comparison to Melbourne, it’s fair to say that Yanni had not experienced the wonder that is Simon Gloftis’ Hellenika.
After experiencing one of the best meals I’ve had on the Gold Coast at Gloftis’ second restaurant The Fish House, I knew I had to give Hellenika a spin. Luckily Marty was on the same page so we arranged to have dinner one evening. Keep in mind that this visit happened ages ago (by that, I mean last year) so things might have changed slightly since then.
Gloftis is the George Calombaris of Gold Coast. He owns two restaurants and a few cafés including Three Beans – put simply, he knows food and he knows business. The thing that makes me like Gloftis’ restaurants a bit more, however, is the fact that they’re stylish, yet unpretentious. And while Melbourne and Sydney has its lion’s share of fancy restaurants, you’ll never be able to replicate the effortless manner in which Fish House and Hellenika combines charm, sexiness with a loads of modesty. Ah, it must be the Gold Coast beach thang.
Ten Cane: Ten Cane white rum, ginger, pineapple, chilli and lime ($16)
Our table wasn’t ready when we rocked up just after 8pm so we perched at the bar with some drinks. Marty ordered a Scotch but I decided that it was perfect cocktail weather despite Hellenika’s very limited cocktail menu. My Ten Cane cocktail was as refreshing and zesty as the night’s cool breeze.
I initially thought that $10 for a dip was a bit steep but as soon as the creamy, smooth white roe dip reached my mouth, I knew it was worth every cent. Dinner had only just started but already I made two mistakes: 1) not ordering a second serving of taramosalata and 2) only ordering one serving, but eating enough bread to render myself half full before our main dish arrived.
Hellenika boasts an impressive list of starters, with fresh seafood dishes being the obvious highlights. I would have been totally happy with fried garfish or chargrilled octopus but in the end, Marty won with his choice of dolmades. Each little silverbeet parcel held a lovely warm mixture of veal and rice and with a spoonful of sour Greek yoghurt, each bite was a delight. (ooh hey, that rhymes)
Baked Junee lamb ($45)
There was no way we could bypass the house special, the 1kg baked lamb which is designed to serve two people. Apparently this dish sells out quickly each evening and because we arrived late on a Friday night, we didn’t like our chances. Luckily, they still had some lamb so we were right to go.
The lamb shoulder was slow-cooked for five hours and as a result, the meat was gloriously juicy and fatty. Again, yoghurt was our friend – it broke through all the sinfully delicious greasiness. And if you wanted a bit of sweet kick, the eggplant dip was there. The potatoes on the side were also pretty amazing – they were also slow-cooked in the lamb juices, making them super soft and delicious.
Horiatiki salata ($14)
To keep things on the slightly healthy side, we ordered a Greek salad. At $14, it didn’t come cheap nor was it remarkable. But the ingredients were super fresh, yadayadayada.
Halva ice cream ($3.50)
Believe it or not, we were really stuffed after the lamb (and I guess all that bread). In fact, we had to take the rest of the lamb home (it was enjoyed for breakfast the next morning – so so good). We couldn’t, however, leave without tasting something from the dessert menu. I think Marty wanted something more substantial than the measly halva ice cream scoop I suggested. In the end, I won. And just as well because after the ice cream (which was beautiful and nutty, without being too sweet), we were about to collapse.
We really enjoyed our meal at Hellenika. Sure, it’s not what you’d call a cheap eats place and given that the atmosphere was so lively and casual, it was hard to believe that you were dining at a fancy restaurant. Not that it matters anyway; it’s one of those places that would be perfect for a normal Friday night dinner or a special occasional venue. Overall, the meal was worth every cent and I can honestly say that it’s earned its place as one of my ‘must to go to’ restaurants on the Gold Coast.
Now if only to convince Yanni to take me there for a normal Tuesday night dinner this week ‘just because.’
Shop 18, Pacific Fair Shopping Centre
2-30 Hooker Boulevard
Broadbeach QLD 4218
+61 7 5558 0300
I don’t normally blog about chook shops. However, I think it’d be kind of dumb to finish off my Gold Coast series without mentioning Red Lea Chicken, arguably my favourite chicken shop on the Gold Coast – and possibly the world.
Red Lea has its origins in NSW and its most famous store is the one in Cabramatta. Despite Cabra’s notorious reputation, its food is king and if you don’t feel like Vietnamese, there is always Chinese, Malaysian, Cambodian… and Red Lea.
Their chips are amazing. The ones from the Cabramatta store were piping hot and insanely crunchy – and sprinkled with a liberal dose of equal parts chicken salt and paprika. For all we know, there could have been a bit of crack in there too – that explains why they’re so bloody addictive!
For some reason, Red Lea hasn’t quite crossed the NSW/VIC border (why the hell NOT?), yet Queensland managed to score a Red Lea store. Granted, it’s located in Pacific Fair on the Gold Coast, which has got to be one of the strangest-looking shopping centres in the country (castle? moat? Tudor-style buildings?). But hey, Gold Coastitutes should consider themselves lucky.
Crumbed chicken piece ($1.80 each)
The chicken is, as you’d expected, delicious. From memory, Red Lea does have a small range of free-range chickens but most of their birds are conventionally grown. Nevertheless, their roast chooks ($8.50 for a family-sized bird) don’t taste like they’ve been plumped up with water or hormones like the chooks you get at Woolies or Nandos. They actually taste like real chicken and their crumbed chicken is better than piece of KFC chicken.
Marty disagrees with me, but I think the chips they serve at the Cabramatta joint are better. The Pac Fair ones are still great but they’re not as crunchy and you don’t have the option of helping yourself to extra seasoning.
The Poms are more likely to win this Ashes series than for Victoria to have their first Red Lea store in the next couple of years. Until then, Red Lea will be my first (well okay, only) destination for hot chips and chicken when I’m visiting the northern states.
Also: Red Lea Chicken Cabramatta, 57 John Street, Cabramatta, NSW 2166
Lido Promenade, Robina Town Centre
Robina Town Centre Drive
Robina QLD 4230
+61 7 5580 8181
Gold Coast isn’t exactly known for being the yum cha capital of Australia (on the other hand, if you’re looking for ridiculous sleeve tatts and fake tans…). So if you’re craving siu mai on your Gold Coast trip, you’re better off waiting until you get home. Having said that though, Marty and I had yum cha at the innovatively-named Yum Cha Robina one Sunday – and we were pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t bad. In fact, it was great. Definitely the best yum cha meal I’ve had on the Gold Coast (however, my only two previous yum cha experiences were these ones which doesn’t say much).
At 1:15pm on Sunday, the restaurant was packed so we were told to wait. Thankfully, we only had to wait 5 minutes before a waitress ushered us to an outside table overlooking the small lake in the middle of the promenade. I would have taken a photo of the lake but the sun was too bright and by then, a nice little queue had formed, thus blocking our view.
Pork and prawn dumplings
I mistook these pork and prawn dumplings for shark fin dumplings, but I wasn’t too pissed off – they were plump and full of flavour.
Scallop and prawn dumplings
The scallop and prawn dumplings were tasty but the skins were perhaps a bit too soggy thanks to spending so much time in the steamer.
Xiaolongbao (soup dumplings)
Deep down, I know that xiaolongbao dumplings are usually best avoided at yum cha restaurants. However, I never seem to learn my lesson so before I knew it, I was ordering a steamer of XLBs.
As expected, there was no soup in it but at least the pork filling was nice and hearty.
Egg custard bun
I’m going through a salted egg custard bun phase at the moment so it was imperative that we order these. I just love the harmonious balance between salty and sweet, enveloped in a lovely fluffy white bun and these did not disappoint.
Marty isn’t a fan of ginger tripe (actually, hardly anyone I know likes them) so I was glad to enjoy these on my own. The tripe dish was a solid performer – a decent portion size combined with lovely flavours.
Zhaliang (Chinese dough stick wrapped in rice noodle rolls)
Zhaliang is normally ordered separately at yum cha – as in, they don’t come at ya via the yum cha trolleys. My dad, despite being Chinese, could never pronounce this dish properly so he was always struggling whenever we wanted to order this dish. Thankfully, the folks at Yum Cha Robina provide a menu on each table so we can point to whatever we feel like ordering in addition to whatever we take from the trolley.
Anyway, the zhaliang here was pretty good and bonus points for the dough stick remaining super crunchy even after being drenched in all that sauce. That said, most places also chuck in a few Chinese broccoli pieces wrapped in rice noodle rolls and Yum Cha Robina didn’t.
Har gow (prawn dumplings)
The last things to arrive were the har gow, my favourite yum cha dish of them all. The filling was lovely, though the dumplings themselves were smaller than what I’m normally used to.
We were sad that we didn’t get to order any more dishes. I would have normally added more fried dishes to the table but we both had very limited appetites that day so we didn’t. All up, I thought it was a very decent meal and it wasn’t overly expensive (yum cha dishes ranged from $3.80 for a small to $6.80 for a ‘special’). Without having been to Dragon Cove in Sanctuary Cove, I’d have to say that this is probably Gold Coast’s finest yum cha restaurant.
Shop 1004, Robina Town Centre
Robina Town Centre Dr
Robina QLD 4230
+61 7 5580 8159
Robina Town Centre may boast a decent collection of retail outlets but when it comes to eateries, you’re better off going elsewhere. That said, there is a Squires Loft and a couple of places where you can get dumplings so all is not lost on the foodie front. They even have a sushi train restaurant.
Now I’ve never been one to proclaim my undying love for sushi train restaurants but I have to say that Sushi Bay has its place at RTC. Not because it’s super-fantastic but because it’s cheap and quick and the food isn’t awful either – perfect for a pre-movie snack if all you want is a few bites. Marty and I weren’t going to the movies that night but we did have somewhere else we needed to be so we thought a few plates of sushi would do the trick.
- Salmon, tuna, avocado sushi ($3.50)
The salmon, tuna and avocado sushi was a safe first choice and while I can’t really say the salmon was the freshest, the sushi did the job at $3.50 a plate.
Chicken teriyaki temaki ($4.50)
Marty enjoys the chicken teriyaki temaki, which is made to order. I didn’t actually get to have a bite of it but given how quickly Marty gobbled it up, suffice to say that it would have been pretty tasty.
Tuna and salmon sushi ($3.50)
I noticed that every other plate that rolled past us essentially contained different permutations of tuna, salmon, avocado and cucumber, not least this fishy number that just so happened to have a random slice of orange in the middle. Like the first sushi dish we had, it wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t sublime either.
Crab croquette ($3.50)
I must say that I have a weakness for crab croquettes and these babies came fresh out of the fryer so they were crunchy and delicious. Sadly, I had to leave room for my stomach for whatever we were doing later that evening or else I would happily ordered another one.
While I wouldn’t recommend Sushi Bay for those flying in from out of town, it’s nevertheless an alright place if you just want a quick bite and ain’t particularly fussy about food quality. The service is super-fast so if you have only 20 or so minutes to spare before your movie starts (or if you happen to work at nearby Foxtel and are on a 30-minute lunch break), then Sushi Bay will hit the spot.
23 Park Avenue
Burleigh Heads QLD 4220
+61 7 5534 3877
Burleigh Heads has got to be my favourite area in the Gold Coast. It’s in a central location, the beach is right at your doorstep and there are more than a handful of decent restaurants to sate your appetite. The thing I have to whinge about is that it’s always packed and it can often be hard to find parking, even on weekdays – do these beach bums not work?!
Regardless, Marty and I found parking near the bowls club and off we went up Park Avenue for some breakfast at Canteen Kitchen, the then-new sister café to Canteen Coffee, a coffee kiosk that’s been giving Burleigh residents their coffee fix for quite some time now.
Cold-pressed latte ($6)
With the Gold Coast sun blaring down on us that morning, I thought a cold-pressed latte would be the perfect thing to cool me down. It was beautifully milky with only the slightest hint of sweetness. Obviously having the milk and ice there meant that it wasn’t as strong as a hot latte but it did perk me up.
West African iced chocolate ($6)
Marty had the West African iced chocolate, presumably called so because the cocoa beans come from West Africa. It was a stronger drink than my latte but we both preferred my latte – the iced chocolate was a bit too strong for my liking.
Lamb kofta burger, beetroot relish, Lebanese cucumber, minted yoghurt ($16)
Canteen Kitchen’s menu dabbles into Middle Eastern territory, thus it is no surprise that lamb koftas, broad beans and labneh make regular appearances on patrons’ tables. Marty ordered the lamb kofta burger, which was full of fresh ingredients.
Marty thought the burger was alright but not fantastic. I had to agree – the lamb could have done with a bit more spice, especially since both the minted yoghurt and beetroot relish, although fresh, had muted flavours.
Scrambled egg, za’atar flat bread, labneh, green olives, lamb kofta ($18)
My scrambled egg with lamb kofta dish was much more flavoursome. The za’atar spices gave the dish a generous dose of oomph, while the flat bread and scrambled eggs got me full even before the halfway mark. Still, I managed to finish the whole thing off – after all, I can never waste good green olives!
Our breakfast at Canteen Kitchen pretty much cements Burleigh’s reputation for being the best area for food on the Gold Coast. While I wouldn’t be recommending the lamb kofta burger to anyone, I can definitely recommend their cold-pressed coffees and the Middle Eastern-inspired menu is a fresh change from the eggs/avocado/savoury mince dishes and Merlo coffee combo that most Gold Coast cafés spruik.
T2/3240 Surfers Paradise Boulevard
Surfers Paradise QLD 4217
+61 451 150 732
After Marty and I had demolished ribs at Hurricane’s, we decided that we’d chill over some shishas. What’s a shisha post doing on a food blog, you say? Well, I had Turkish coffee there. Plus this place has Middle Eastern sweets. Granted, I did not end up buying any sweets but they’re there, okay?
Arabesque Bazaar is a newbie on the now-gaudy Surfers Paradise scene. Although Surfers is pretty much full of decrepit nightclubs and the odd bikie trying to avoid detection, there are still some places worth going to and Arabesque is one of them.
Arabesque is more than just a place to smoke shisha (water pipes) and drink Turkish coffee, it is also a retail outlet. You can buy anything from home wares to your own shisha pipe to clothes. Most people, however, go here to chill with their shishas.
Marty and I ordered a green apple shisha to share (around $20-25), along with a tea and Turkish coffee. All up, it was 30-something dollars. A dude in an ill-fitting Aladdin-like costume then got the whole thing set up for us.
Once the burning charcoal bits were set, it was on like Donkey Kong. It was my first time taking shisha so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have to admit that I wasn’t in the right mindset to begin with – I hate cigarettes and I still had a nasty 8000-word essay to submit online the next day (and I was nowhere near close to finishing so naturally I was freaking out).
I wouldn’t say my Turkish coffee was fantastic. ‘Dirt’ was the first thing that came to mind when I took a sip. Marty also didn’t rate his tea. I guess a baklava would have gone down well that night but I just wasn’t in the mood.
Surprisingly, I enjoyed my shisha experience. I didn’t get that nasty cigarette feeling, yet I was still relaxed. It’s not something that I’d do every weekend though – I prefer my wines – but I wouldn’t say no the next time someone invites me to go to a shisha café. One word of advice: you’re best off ordering a shisha to share between several people. Marty and I tried to finish one off but we gave up just after the halfway point as we got bored.
Not that Arabesque Bazaar is boring though. It’s just a bizarre fixture in a bizarre part of Australia (in a good way, of course).
4 The Esplanade
Surfers Paradise QLD 4217
+61 7 5503 5500
I’ve been wanting to try the ribs at Sydney institution, Hurricane’s, for the longest time. Unfortunately, time constraints usually mean that I could never squeeze in a Sunday session there (too many other restaurants to visit, you see). Thus, when I heard that Hurricane’s had opened their flagship Queensland restaurant in the heart of Surfers, I got Marty to make a late dinner booking the night I was to fly into the balmy Gold Coast.
Nestled on the first level of Soul Tower, Gold Coast’s second tallest building, Hurricane’s is a spacious 300-seater restaurant overlooking the beach. It was Wednesday night in Surfers; the schoolies hadn’t quite arrived and the whole area was a construction site so there weren’t many people wandering about. Inside, however, was a different story.
The restaurant was more than half full, with mostly locals making up the numbers though there were a couple of tables full of Japanese tourists (what, Japanese people still visited Goldie?).
The fit-out screams out raw and industrial – kind of like inner-city Melbourne or Sydney. It was hard to believe you were in Surfers. The faux chandeliers made out of bare light bulbs, however, added a bit of warmth as did the homely services we received from our waitresses throughout our meal.
Black Forest: Belvedere Vodka, Crème de Cassis shaken with mixed berries, mint and lemon juice ($18)
Marty loves his cocktails and he’s a bit of a fake German so I wasn’t surprised when he ordered the Black Forest. Although Marty has a sweet tooth, even he found it really sweet – think slushie pump cocktails.
Elderton Eden Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($10)
I stuck to a glass of Cab Sauv just because I didn’t feel like a cocktail. The cocktail list wasn’t terribly remarkable but I did muster a smile when I saw the Queensland Iced Tea with its ingredients being Cointreau, lemon, mint sugar, ginger beer and Bundaberg rum (of course).
Foreground: Half pork ribs ($34.90); Hidden in background: half pork ribs ($34.90) and half beef ribs ($31.90)
Onto the food! Marty decided to give both the beef and pork ribs a go, along with monkey gland sauce ($2.50) on the side. I just went for half a rack of pork ribs with mushroom sauce ($2.50). We were both given the option to have either chips or baked potato with our ribs and obviously, we chose chips.
We decided that both ribs were very good but not the best we’ve had. The meat on both were tender but they weren’t exactly falling off the bone. The beef ribs were on the sweet side and the pork ribs, while better, were not as good as the ones we’ve enjoyed at Mike’s Kitchen and Squires Loft. For one thing, both Mike’s Kitchen’s and Squires Loft’s ribs have more meat and sauce on them. The ribs at Hurricane’s also suffered from a lack of tanginess that I’m used to. Marty even went so far to say that the ribs had a bit of an industrialised Lonestar feel to them. I’ve never been to a Lonestar restaurant so I couldn’t make a fair comparison but in all honesty, I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about…
In saying all that, the ribs were still good. ESPECIALLY with the mushroom sauce. I can honestly say that Hurricane’s makes the best mushroom sauce out of all the steak houses we’ve been to. It is THAT good. The monkey gland sauce wasn’t too bad either – what’s monkey gland sauce? It’s a South African sauce that’s sweet and chutney-like; no monkeys were harmed in the making of this sauce (at least none that I know of). It was delish but oh my, nowhere near as good as the mushroom sauce! Part-Campbells canned mushroom soup (but in a good way, of course) and part-creamy garlic, we pretty much licked the whole tub clean.
Even though our minds weren’t blown, we still had a lovely meal. After all, great service, excellent views and super-friggin’-awesome mushroom sauce made up for the fact that the ribs weren’t excellent. On the night, I wasn’t sure if it was because I was expecting too much (thanks a lot, friends) or if the ribs are actually a lot better in Sydney. My friend later told me that she reckons the Sydney restaurants aren’t as good anymore so maybe it’s an organisation-wide thing.
In saying all that though, Hurricane’s definitely deserves a spot in the heart of Surfers Paradise because goodness knows that this area needs a bit of a foodie revamp. With a bit of Sydney style rolling in, hopefully we’ll see an overall increase in quality dining once all the construction work is complete.