Review: Genkotsu Ramen (Brisbane, QLD)

25/258 Warrigal Road
Runcorn QLD 4113
+61 416 292 167

Rather than just sticking within the inner city boundaries when I’m dining in Brisbane, I’m slowly familiarising myself with its suburbs. As clichéd as it sounds, they say you can find some real gems if you’re willing to drive out – and they’re right. If you’re a ramen fanatic like I am, then I strongly implore you to make your way down to Runcorn Plaza, where many locals like to line up every weekend for their fix at Genkotsu Ramen.

The line was at least 20 people deep when Peter and I arrived. And because the restaurant is very small, it’s impossible to fit everyone at once. True to efficient Japanese style though, the turnover here is super fast and we were seated within 15 minutes or so.

Chicken karaage ($6)
Chicken karaage ($6)

I wanted gyoza but Peter wanted fried chicken so karaage, it was. Each morsel was crispy and full of flavour.

Tsukemen ($12)
Tsukemen ($12)

Peter ordered the tsukemen and declared it one of the best he’s ever had, a good call from the Tsukemen King. $12 gave him a very generous serving of fat noodles and a plate heaped with chasiu, menma, soft-boiled egg and shavings of bonito. I tasted the cool broth and it had plenty of depth, with a lovely acidic burst shining through.

Original shoyu ($10)
Original shoyu ($10)

I ordered a shoyu ramen. While I expected something a bit lighter than the soy-laced milky tonkotsu I received, I definitely wasn’t complaining. I also thought it was one of the better ramen I’ve had, at least in Australia. It had so much taste, depth and oomph. Loved it.

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My ramen was topped with chasiu, menma and half an egg (which was slightly beyond what I’d say would be a soft-boiled state). House-made thin straight noodles completed this glorious package, soaking up all the collagen, fats and goodness from the broth. I was so happy.

You can also order weird ass ramen dishes such as prawn or soft shell crab ramen if you want something a bit fancy. Personally, I think the simpler shoyu ramen is plenty enough for me. Sadly, Runcorn is a bit out of the way for me to make this trek a regular thing but thankfully, Genkotsu have recently opened up a branch in Toowong which is more accessible.

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Review: Paradox Coffee Roasters (Gold Coast, QLD)

The 4217
7/10 Beach Road
Surfers Paradise QLD 4217
+61 7 5538 3235
http://paradoxroasters.com/

These days, there aren’t many reasons for me to want to venture into Surfers Paradise. Call me boring, but I like the peaceful stillness that comes with living in an area that’s slightly inland, away from the beaches, crowds and loud bogans. In saying that, I do occasionally leave the house and make my way to Surfers Paradise if I feel like some ramen or if I’m meeting out-of-towners, who usually end up booking accommodation in the heart of Surfers because they don’t know better. Sometimes, I even like to come in for some coffee at Paradox Coffee Roasters.

Gold Coast may not be Melbourne when it comes to the coffee scene, but you can still find little gems scattered here and there if you know where to look. When it comes to regular coffee haunts, Blackboard is my #1 not just because the coffee there is good but, admittedly, because it’s very close to home. If I have time to kill and if I feel like venturing into Surfers though, I’d go to Paradox – personally, they have slightly better coffee.

Short macchiato ($3.50)
Short macchiato ($3.50)

I’ve never had a terrible coffee here. Regardless of whether I order a latte, an espresso or a macchiato, they always seem to get it right. Paradox’s house blend is a velvety mix of Nicaraguan and Ethiopian coffees, with delicious berry and rose notes. I don’t have lattes very much these days but when I do, I tend to order them here – the blend goes well with milk, with delicious caramel flavours shining through.

Slow roasted lamb salad ($17)
Slow roasted lamb salad ($17)

On one occasion, I decided to have lunch here. Paradox has a very extensive menu filled with gourmet sandwiches, vibrant salads and an all-day breakfast menu that starts light with granolas and bagels before shifting to heartier options such as eggs, hotcakes and big breakfast-type dishes. I decided to go for the lamb salad which came with a generous serving of warm Flinders Island slow roasted lamb shoulder, crunchy root vegetables (so, carrots), sultanas, smashed pomegranate and fresh mint.

I was so full halfway through that I couldn’t finish everything on my plate (I did eat all the lamb though); for $17, you’re definitely getting good value for money. Would I get the lamb salad again? Probably not. It was nice and all but I just got bored eating it after a while – in hindsight, I should have gone for the house-made spinach and crab gnocchi with heritage tomatoes.

But that’ll be a dish for the next time I decide to trek to Surfers.

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Review: Harajuku Gyoza (Brisbane, QLD)

394 Brunswick Street
Fortitude Valley QLD 4006
+61 7 3852 4624
http://harajukugyoza.com/

Sometimes, all you want is a snack of several pieces of gyoza and maybe a beer – at least that’s what I told myself one afternoon when I was shopping in Brisbane. I wasn’t hungry enough for a massive lunch but I was certainly peckish enough to want more than just a $2.50 sushi roll from a food court. And so, I ended up at Harajuku Gyoza in Fortitude Valley.

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I grabbed my seat at the bar was greeted by probably the most awesomely kitsch plate I had seen in recent memory. There’s seriously nothing like grabbing bits of food with your chopstick off a sumo wrestler’s butt, I say.

Poached pork gyoza (five pieces, $8); grilled whole prawn gyoza (three pieces, $8)
Poached pork gyoza (five pieces, $8); grilled whole prawn gyoza (three pieces, $8)

The best thing about Harajuku Gyoza is that their serving sizes are small (between three to five pieces of gyoza) so it’s perfect if you want to try more than just one variety. The only problem is that if you end up ordering a few plates, the bill will add up. I paid $32 for my meal – so much for a ‘snack.’

Frozen Kirin slushie ($7)

Oh, and I ordered a frozen beer slushie because why not? Because the beer had been frozen, the slushie was watery. In hindsight, a normal beer would have been better but hey, the slushie is great purely for the novelty factor. It also brought me back to my Tokyo trip two years ago where I tried a banana beer slushie for the first time in Shibuya. The beer was interesting, the Tinder date was (unfortunately) the complete opposite.

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So that’s what the prawn gyozas look like – I liked that they used whole prawns rather than minced ones. That said, three pieces of prawns wrapped in gyoza skin for $8 did seem like a bit of a rip. Better were the poached pork gyozas – they were plump and juicy, bursting with a tasty filling. I will definitely try the fried version next time.

Peanut butter white chocolate gyoza served with vanilla ice cream ($9)
Peanut butter white chocolate gyoza served with vanilla ice cream ($9)

In addition to more substantial savoury dishes, Harajuku Gyoza also has a dessert menu featuring sweet-filled gyoza. My peanut butter and white chocolate gyoza were surprisingly quite delicious; each dumpling contained a simple yet tasty filling of crunchy peanut butter and melted white chocolate. A quick stint on the grill resulted in a gooey, warm filling. Definitely worth a try if you have room for dessert.

In hindsight, Harajuku Gyoza was definitely not a destination for a cheap snack – then again, I admit that my eyes were bigger than my stomach that day and over-ordered. Still, I’d say it’s a good place to bond with your Tinder date over beers and a selection of shared plates before – plus, the peanut butter and white chocolate gyozas ain’t bad too!

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Review: Betty’s Burgers (Gold Coast, QLD)

Chevron Renaissance Shopping Centre
12-14/3240 Surfers Paradise Boulevard
Surfers Paradise QLD 4217
+61 7 5538 6565
http://www.bettysburgers.com.au/

Gold Coast seems to be in the midst of a burger and donut hurricane, with new establishments opening up seemingly every other fortnight. A while back, Betty’s Burgers took the Noosa cool crowd by storm before deciding to open a second outlet in Surfers Paradise. Gold Coast went NUTS when they heard that the ‘Shake Shack Rip-Off’ was opening in the 4217, despite the fact that a decent amount of new burger joints had opened shop in the space of a few months. I guess burgers are here to stay on the ‘coast…

Adam and I had the chance to check it out some weekends ago. After a leisurely (and by that, I meant boozy) Saturday afternoon session, we decided to walk over to Chevron Renaissance to suss this place out. At 6pm on a Saturday evening, the place was still dead (though it got busier as we left). Orders are placed at the counter, you’re then given one of those vibrating buzzers and asked to wait until it starts beeping.

Betty’s Classic ($10) and fries ($5)
Betty’s Classic ($10) and fries ($5)

Although there is a nice selection of burgers on the menu (including fried chicken, pork belly and mushroom), Adam and I decided to keep things simple with the Betty’s Classic and share a serving of fries which came sprinkled with ‘sea salt seasoning’ (read: just salt – and they were average). Beers at Betty’s range from pure bogan (XXXX Gold) to pure hipster (Pabst Blue Ribbon), and we both selected something in the middle – you won’t see this Victorian drinking XXXX Gold!

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The Betty’s Classic was essentially a cheeseburger: Angus beef, lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese and Betty’s special sauce completed a perfunctory package, bursting with striking block colours. As someone who thinks value for money equals generous serving sizes, Adam wasn’t wowed by his burger (‘for the same price, I can just walk down the road and get a bigger burger at Boom Boom Burger,’ he muttered). I, however, thought it was great. The closest comparison would be a Huxtaburger burger – the package came in a soft, buttery bun that was deflated rather than plump. The patty was well seasoned and while the burger itself wasn’t massive, I think it did the job for $10. I can see why Noosa and Gold Coast burger lovers adored Betty’s.

Blueberry cheesecake concrete ($8)
Blueberry cheesecake concrete ($8)

Another product that Betty’s is known for is the concrete, essentially frozen custard mixed with whatever descriptor is added to that particular concrete flavour. For example, the blueberry cheesecake concrete is a mix of vanilla custard, New York cheesecake, blueberry sauce and lemon that’s been mixed, blitzed and frozen. It’s interesting and certainly one for dessert fans – I enjoyed my concrete for what it was but it’s not really something I’d be in a rush to order again.

The burgers though are probably up there with Gold Coast’s best, despite what Adam thinks. For $10, you’re not getting the biggest burger ever but you’re getting something that’s tasty and will sufficiently satisfy your stomach even if you opt for no fries (which I strongly recommend).

Betty's Burgers and Concrete Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Review: Shouk Café (Brisbane, QLD)

14 Collingwood Street
Paddington QLD 4064
+61 7 3172 1655
http://www.shoukcafe.com.au/

There aren’t many places I’d go to for brunch in Brisbane – heck, there aren’t many places I’d eagerly eat brunch at in Melbourne. I just don’t like brunch; I don’t like the food, the whole culture of waking up late and queuing for more than 30 minutes to pay more than $20 for a dish I can easily whip up at home and the microherbs. Oh goodness me, those damn microherbs. Sorry, not for me. Unless you can offer dishes that are more exciting than bacon and eggs or avocado on toast, you won’t see me lining up at your door.

But Shouk Café is a little different, though. Yes, it’s one of Brisbane’s most popular brunch places and yes, it serves avocado. However, the service is efficient so you generally don’t have to wait too long even on weekends and their smashed avocado comes with Persian feta, dukkah and prik grapefruit gel. In actual fact, most of their menu items have Middle Eastern influences – think eggs benedict served with toasted challah and sumac peppered hollandaise, for example.

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Paddington is one of Brisbane’s oldest suburbs, full of tree-lined streets, old Queenslander houses and hilly roads that are a pain in the ass for manual drivers to drive around in. The leafy suburb is also home to Paddington Antique Central, said to be Queensland’s oldest antique store, which is just around the bend from Shouk (itself a former corner store).

Falafel salad ($18)
Falafel salad ($18)

I had my first coffee of the day (at 2pm, no less), a short macchiato ($3.50) made with Veneziano coffee. It wasn’t the best coffee I’ve had in Brisbane (a bit too pungent for me) but it did the job. Far better was the falafel salad I hungrily devoured; there were a handful of crispy green falafels on the plate, with fresh heirloom tomatoes, Lebanese cucumber, radish and pickled kohlrabi thrown in the mix. To tie everything together, a (not really that) spicy green yoghurt sauce did the trick.

I’m not one to order vegetarian dishes at cafés, especially when there are at least half a dozen meat dishes to choose from. However, Shouk’s falafel salad was spot on and a dish that I’d happily order again. It was delicious, fresh and filling – so much so that I had to weakly ask for the reminder of my lunch to be boxed up so I can finish it at home.

Shouk Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Review: Ramen Champion (Brisbane, QLD)

Shop 50, 342 McCullough Street
Macgregor QLD 4109
+61 7 3344 4832

Do you think you eat your way through a massive bowl of ramen, the equivalent of five standard bowls, in less than 25 minutes? I’m a slow eater and not really one for ridiculous amounts of gluttony (I’m aware that this is a food blog and all) so I quickly said ‘no’ to this challenge. My friend Peter, on the other hand, slapped $35 down the counter and was pretty much like, ‘Bring it on!’

We were at Ramen Champion, one of Brisbane’s many ramen restaurants. Being from Melbourne, the two of us never really got much of a chance to try amazing ramen down south. Our luck changed, however, when we moved up north. There was sunshine! There were geckos roaming around our houses at night! And most important of all, there was good ramen to be had!

A popular Japanese franchise that does extremely well in Singapore, Ramen Champion has been in Brisbane for several years now. It’s located in Sunnypark Plaza which is in Sunnybank (though Google says it’s in Macgregor but whatever, same thing). Sunnybank tends to get hectic on weekends and the weekend that had gone by was no exception – we made it to Ramen Champion at around 11:45 and by the time we left, the place was buzzing with young families and uni students wanting to get their ramen on.

Basically Ramen Champion’s ramen challenge involves this: you pay for their giant ramen (which is apparently the size of five normal servings) and you try to finish it, broth and all, in less than 25 minutes. If you can do it, you get your $35 back as well as a $50 voucher for your next visit. You also get your photo on the wall of fame; there are about 10 proud men on that wall, one of which happened to be an old Tinder date of mine. Ramen Champion limits their giant ramen to three servings a day though so your best bet is to get in early for a chance to get your beaming mug on that wall.

Gyoza ($4.90)
Gyoza ($4.90)

I ordered a serving of gyoza to start, with Pete helping himself to one piece to warm up. Because he had avoided eating breakfast that morning, his stomach was growling like mad. The gyozas were nice enough but I wouldn’t say they were best I’ve ever had – too much cabbage and not enough pork for my liking.

Champion ramen ($9.90); giant ramen ($35)
Champion ramen ($9.90); giant ramen ($35)

I had the champion ramen, the most ‘basic’ of the six options on offer. The broth was a classic tonkotsu-style pork bone soup and on top of the generous amount of lovely handmade noodles, there were two pieces of flame grilled chashu, nori, half an egg, spring onions and bean shoots. The menu photo also had menma (fermented bamboo shoots) so I was expecting some, only to find that there were none. To be fair, menma was not mentioned in the menu description; instead the vague descriptor ‘vegetables’ were used but I’m not sure if that was the right term to describe a pinch of spring onions and bean shoots. Regardless, I enjoyed my ramen; the broth may not have had as much depth as some of my favourite ramen places but it was rich without being too fatty. The noodles, however, was the thing that did it for me – they were flawlessly silky and chewy as handmade ramen noodles should be.

You can’t tell from this picture, but Peter’s ramen really was heaps bigger than mine – to me, it looked like a massive birdbath filled with a lake of endless noodles swimming in a rich tonkotsu broth. The waitress set the timer at 25 and off he went, determined to polish the bowl of soup noodles off like he did with Superbowl’s pho challenge years ago.

Unfortunately at the 16 minute mark, he admitted defeat. He may have been able to finish a huge bowl of pho without any problems, but he forgot that ramen was heaps more fattier than pho. Challenge aside, the giant ramen really is great value for money considering that the standard champion ramen bowl is ($9.90). It comes with a seemingly endless supply of fresh, homemade noodles, ten slices of chashu (as opposed to the standard two) and four egg halves (as opposed to one egg half). As soon as I had finished my ramen, I eagerly helped myself to some noodles and chashu. In the end, I had almost two bowls before I, too, admitted defeat.

Ramen Champion Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Review: Trang Restaurant (Brisbane, QLD)

2/59 Hardgrave Road
West End QLD 4101
+61 7 3255 1610
http://trangrestaurant.com.au/

When I’m in Queensland, I don’t bother going out for Vietnamese food. I’ve eaten at a handful of Vietnamese restaurants in Gold Coast and none of them serve the real deal. Disappointingly, the majority of them serve pho that’s been sweetened to the point of no recognition – and for that reason, I usually wait until I’m back in Melbourne or Sydney for my pho fix.

The night I was due to fly to Europe, though, I decided that I wanted pho. It was going to be a while until I get my fix and I wanted it right then and there. My flight was leaving from Brisbane Airport, but not until after midnight, so I decided to swing into town for my favourite Vietnamese dish. With my friend Brad agreeing to eat whatever I wanted in exchange for a lift to the airport, I thought it was a sweet deal. And so we went to his favourite Vietnamese restaurant, Trang.

Trang has been serving West End residents for a number of years now and people continue to return for its no-nonsense Vietnamese food, lively atmosphere and fast service. And given that we live in Queensland, half the menu consists of suburban Chinese dishes but hey, you’re catering to the locals after all…

 Spring rolls ($7.90)
Spring rolls ($7.90)

Speaking of which, we started off with spring rolls. They were nothing special, but adequate fillers to nibble on while we caught up on gossip and AFL talk (it’s so refreshing to meet a Queenslander who does know a thing about footy).

Special combination bun ($13.90)
Special combination bun ($13.90)

Brad was like, “I had this really, really nice dish the last time I was here – but I couldn’t remember what it was called! It had thin white noodles, chopped up spring rolls and a whole bunch of random thi-“

Bun.” I said. “And most likely the combination bun. If I’m wrong, I’ll buy you a drink.”

I was right, though (saved). Trang’s combination bun came adorned with chopped spring rolls, crispy skin chicken and grilled pork as well as fresh herbs. I didn’t get to try any of it – Brad polished it all off before I could get around to doing it.

Pho tai ($10.90)
Pho tai ($10.90)

At just over $10, Trang’s pho would be in the slightly higher end of the price spectrum in Melbourne (but not by much). However, I thought this was just about right for Queensland. There was a reasonable amount of complexity and depth in the broth and, much to my delight, none of these pour half a container of sugar on me business. I also loved that they used thicker-than-normal rice noodles – the thicker the better, I say (while trying hard not to snicker). One thing I didn’t like though was the use of red onions instead of traditional onions – is this a Queensland thing or something?

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It won’t win any awards on Victoria or Hopkins Street, but it’ll definitely do.

At least while I was in Europe.

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Review: Fat Noodle (Brisbane, QLD)

21 Queen Street
Brisbane QLD 4000
+61 7 3306 8888
https://www.treasurybrisbane.com.au/restaurants/fat-noodle

What does a $22 bowl of pho taste like?

That was the question I was asking myself as I walked into Brisbane’s Treasury Casino one Thursday afternoon after a morning meeting. When it comes to Vietnamese food, I’m a purist – well, if you consider Footscray, Springvale and Cabramatta pho houses to be legit (which I think they are). I don’t like try hard pun-ny names using the word ‘pho’ nor do I like overpriced modern interpretations of Vietnamese food – they look good but often lack the essence of the original dish they’re trying to add a spin to.

Yet, I’ve been wanting to try Luke Nguyen’s modern Asian restaurant in Brisbane (Fat Noodle) for quite some time. As a chef and an all-round nice guy, I respect him and his passion for teaching the greater population about the nuances of regional Vietnamese food. I have a few of his cookbooks at home and have attempted one of his traditional recipes with a reasonable amount of success.

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When you walk into Fat Noodle, it’s obvious that you’re not at your typical pho house in Footscray. You’re greeted with solid timber furniture, sleek black lines and teas served in ornamental teapots. Apart from the odd solo business diner, you pretty much get the place to yourself for the first half of your visit. Then as it hits 1pm, you’re surrounded by elderly casino patrons, tourists and groups of gossiping Asian aunties who have obviously spent way too long in Australia. (By that, I mean more than 30 years because that’s how long my mother has been in Australia and she still refuses to pay more than $10 for pho.)

Fat pho noodles ($22)
Fat pho noodles ($22)

So why did Fat Noodle charge double the standard price of a bowl of pho? For starters, Treasury Casino’s rents are high – that’s a given. But the ingredients? Well, you have the thin slices of sirloin and brisket coming from an Angus, so that’s that. Then you have the bone broth (groan) that’s been cooked for 20 hours. As for the bean sprouts, fresh Thai basil and chilli on the side? They may have come from farmer’s markets or they may have come from a no-name wholesaler, who knows.

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As much as I wanted to like this dish, I couldn’t. While it wasn’t terrible, I expected more flavour and more punch for a broth that’s meant to have been cooked for 20 hours. It was so plain and muted, nothing like the cheapie bowls of pho I’ve come to love over the years. While it’s true that there was no MSG used in this broth, I still felt there was something missed – depth. If this pho had been amazing, I would have happily paid a premium for it again and again. But it wasn’t. I doubt I’ll see myself coming back for a second bowl of pho – or any of the overpriced mains, for that matter. I’m better off driving across to Inala for pho – or making my own at home (still a work in progress but hey).

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Review: Easy Street Diner (Gold Coast, QLD)

12/2563 Gold Coast Highway
Mermaid Beach QLD 4218
+61 7 5554 6542
http://easystreetdiner.com/

I get the sense that the easiest (legal) way to make money in Gold Coast is to open up a burger place. Seriously, they’re everywhere now – and quite frankly, it’s getting to the point of mass saturation. But when your non-foodie friend asks you to do dinner with him, going to the GC’s newest burger joint is a far better option than walking into the nearest surf life saving club or pub in the ‘burbs.

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Easy Street Diner is the latest ‘cool’ joint to grace the Goldie Highway. Several years ago, this long stretch of road used to be the last place you’d grab a meal at but it’s now home to some hip and happenin’ eateries. Easy Street Diner happens to be one of them. They haven’t really advertised much but if you think you can stroll in at 6pm on a Sunday evening and be seated immediately, you’d be wrong. Thanks to the power of Instagram and the all too powerful #burgers hashtag, this place was pumping when we rocked up. Luckily though, the turnover is quite quick so Adam and I were able to score two seats at the bar.

Easy Street Tonic ($8)
Easy Street Tonic ($8)

The cocktails here are cheap and simple. Apple juice and whisky were the only two ingredients in my Easy Street Tonic. If you want bells, whistle and smoked salt dust with shaved bits of gold truffle in your cocktail, this place isn’t for you.

Royale with cheese ($12)
Royale with cheese ($12)

Adam ordered the royale with cheese, an item which seems to appear on every second burger joint’s menu. It’s like, wow, you are paying tribute to Pulp Fiction – do you want a gold star for that? Sarcasm aside, Adam said it was a nice enough burger… ‘kind of like a Big Mac, but better.’

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What I liked about the presentation was that all the salad items were placed on one side so you can choose what goes into it. Being a typical boy, Adam initially picked up his burger with both hands without chucking anything into it – but then quickly added the lettuce leaves when he saw my glare. It was me who ended up eating the tomato and pickles. Bloody hell.

Chick n waffles ($22)
Chick n waffles ($22)

I decided to be different by ordering the chicken and waffles. The waffle base was beautifully crispy without being too heavy, while the chicken tenders were gloriously crunchy, light and tasty – think KFC, narrow the spice count down a bit, use better chicken meat and add a hundred times the crunch. Accompanying my dish was a bit of whipped butter and maple syrup to tie everything together. Oh yeah.

Loaded fries ($14)
Loaded fries ($14)

I probably would have been happy just eating my chicken and waffles but Adam insisted we order the loaded fries. I was reluctant after ordering a similar dish in Sydney’s Hartsyard and not being too impressed with it but hey, if I was able to make Adam eat lettuce with his burger then he can twist my arm into ordering these bloody fries.

I shouldn’t have whinged so much – they were delicious. While the Hartsyard version was soggy, gluggy and just unpleasant to eat, these were more than decent. The shoestring fries remained crispy, despite being drenched in an omg-wtf-are-you-crazy dressing of pork belly bits, bacon, cheese and creamy special sauce. While the dressing isn’t going to give anyone abs, it wasn’t terribly heavy and we were able to polish the whole thing off without feeling gross.

While Adam isn’t keen to go back to Easy Street Diner in a hurry (he argued that it was too far from his house and Boom Boom Burger Bar, while not AS good, was cheaper), I enjoyed our dinner. A lively atmosphere, fast-paced service, cocktails for less than a tenner and probably some of the best fried chicken you can get on the ‘Coast, what more can you want?

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Review: Burleigh Social (Gold Coast, QLD)

2 Hibiscus Haven
Burleigh Heads QLD 4220
+61 421 460 739

All things considered, I’m pretty lucky to be living smack bang in the middle of Gold Coast. I live within five minutes of Muso Ramen, Paddock Bakery and Bac to Nam, all excellent places to grab a feed. Another place I can add to this list of decent local hangouts is Burleigh Social.

When my old boss and her husband decided to escape Melbourne’s horrid winter temperatures by coming up to Goldie, my original plan was to take them to Paddock. Unfortunately, Paddock was stupidly busy when we drove by just after 1pm on a Wednesday afternoon. ‘Do people here not work?!’ I grumbled as we made a group decision to venture elsewhere; luckily, Burleigh Social was just down the block. It wasn’t my first choice but I had heard enough good things to pique my curiosity and plus, it wasn’t busy.

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Burleigh Social was started by a group of mates who worked in the airline industry and two of them were pilots – being a bit of an aviation geek with a bit of a thing for pilots, this joint was already getting thumbs up from me. The joint is a tin shed at the back of the site that was once occupied by Feather and Docks. Fitted out with an open kitchen, coffee bar and alfresco seating options at the front, Burleigh Social is a lovely, relaxing space to unwind and, um, be social.

Granola cup
Granola cup

Although I was tempted by the hot options on the menu (burgers, croissants and the like), I decided to be good by ordering a granola cup with my coffee. I drink macchiatos these days but I had cravings for a milk coffee, so I had a latte. Made with Allpress beans, my latte went down a silky, smooth treat.

Unfortunately, my granola took quite some time to arrive. A storm was passing through so the power went out for 10 minutes or so. While all this was going on, the kitchen somehow forgot about my order (my companions both had their fruit salads and croissants). After a quick follow up with the kitchen, my granola did arrive in a matter of minutes with an apology.

I’m not one to normally order granolas when eating out (I make my own quick five minute version at home with lots of honey and butter), but Burleigh Social’s version was pretty damn good. It was toasty, nutty with a lovely hint of butter and not overly sweet. Paired with natural yoghurt and fresh Queensland strawberries (gotta love Queensland winters), it went down a treat.

At just after 2pm, we got the firm but polite nudge to leave the premises as they were packing up for the day. Despite the fact that they forgot my order, it was a lovely lunch. While I can’t see myself coming here every week, it’s definitely one to add to my Gold Coast café list for those odd mornings when I need to leave the home office to recharge with yummy wholesome food and a lovely coffee or two.

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