2444 Gold Coast Hwy (Cnr Bondi Ave)
Mermaid Beach QLD 4218
+61 7 5526 5033
One of the things I was looking forward to during my long-but-not-long-enough weekend on the Gold Coast was eating my way through the Gold Coast edition of the Entertainment Book. Never mind the warmer weather, the friends, massages, facials and Marty, I had PRIORITIES! Now, one of my readers (hi Kewyn!) urged me to try Little Truffle so when I saw that the restaurant was one of many appearing in the current edition of the Entertainment Book, I was excited.
Situated on an unglamorous section of the Gold Coast Highway (then again, when was the GC Highway ever glamorous? Oh right, back in the 60s perhaps…), convincing someone that this was home to Queensland’s best restaurants would be an extremely difficult task. I mean, a one-hatted Mod Oz restaurant that serves food with French, Spanish and Italian twists seems more at home in trendy Broadbeach than next to a crappy surf store, does it not? Still, I know not to judge a book by its cover so Marty and I entered the restaurant (through the back, via Bondi Ave), excited indeed.
Unlike its exterior, Little Truffle’s dining room oozes class and sophistication courtesy of its chandeliers, banquettes and friendly staff. There must have been a party happening in the private dining room, for it took some time for someone to greet us. Once we were settled, however, things were pretty much seamless.
Did I say class and sophistication? Okay, so Marty and I did agree that the purple ‘mood’ lighting above the bar did scream out ‘Vanity nightclub’ (NOT a good thing!) but hey, you can’t take the Gold Coast out of… ahem.
That said, we did like the cool painting of the nameless blonde beauty which hung majesty in the main dining room. A cross between a French femme fatale and a Gold Coast slurry, the girl was wearing a beautiful lilac-coloured dress which the waitress explained was meant to represent the curtains in the dining room. Trés chic.
Head chef Daniel Ridgeway’s menu is simple and succinct, yet packed with enough variety to keep everyone happy. Having cooked at such a young age alongside his Thai aunty and in his family’s pizza restaurant, Ridgeway soon added stints at resorts and restaurants in Melbourne and around the world before finally opening up Little Truffle with his mate, Christian Mak, as restaurant manager. I suspect that Little Truffle does not change its menu regularly for the menu we sighted on the night was 98 per cent similar to the 2010 menu that appears on the restaurant’s website. However, I did like the fact that while the Gold Coast Highway ages poorly, Little Truffle remains timeless.
Skipping the tempting options on the charcuterie menu, we decided to select a cold entrée each. For some reason, we both ended up with cold beef dishes. Marty had the steak tartare, organic egg yolk, cornichons, pink salt, toasted brioche ($19). Having never tried steak tartare before, Marty decided that he enjoyed the chopped raw beef pieces especially when mixed with the creamy egg yolk. Eaten with a piece of crunchy and sweet brioche, the whole thing tasted magnificent – and even more so with the added tang and crunch of a cornichon piece. Salt was also provided, but deemed unnecessary.
I chose the beef carpaccio, quail egg, truffle mayonnaise, fried capers, parmesan croquettes ($21). Tasting a lot nicer than my crappy photography skillz on the night (I shall argue that the lighting was pretty bad to begin with), the thin slices of beef were designed to be mixed in with the truffle mayonnaise and fried capers, which were surprisingly salty. Each forkful tasted divine, with the quail egg halves and little parmesan croquettes texturally accentuating each bite beautifully. I liked that the truffle notes were slight, rather than overpowering, providing the perfect balance between meatiness, creaminess and earthiness.
Marty had the herb-crusted Pyrenees lamb rump, red onion chutney, rosemary tomatoes ($36) for his main. Unlike this photo, this hefty piece of lamb was amazing. Served with a tidy potato gratin and Little Truffle’s jus, the lamb was juicy and tender. The red onion chutney, only very slightly sweet, provided an edge of piquancy while the rosemary tomatoes were sweet and fresh. It was comforting, without being too hearty – and perfect for a Gold Coast winter’s night.
I felt like pasta that night so I was hoping that a serving of Moreton bay bug and prawn tortellini, sweet mustard fruit beurre blanc ($32) would satisfy my craving. And satisfy it did. The dish may not look big in comparison to Marty’s main but it did extremely well to fill my stomach – and make my tastebuds happy. Each tortellini was bigger than big, and contained a generous and even mixture of fresh bug and prawn meat. The beurre blanc (French for ‘white butter’) was lovely in its creaminess and richness, with the slightest tinges of mustard fruits providing a only a little bit of sweet relief. Amazing.
We still had room for dessert. Of course, we did. We decided to split an assiette – Little Truffle’s dessert platter – between us ($29). On the plate tonight, we had a vanilla bean panna cotta, raspberry and rose jelly, rose granita; a warm chocolate pudding; a petit soufflé de jour (strawberry with dark chocolate); and a Chantilly cream quenelle with caramel and honeycomb.
We were instructed to pour the dark chocolate sauce into the tiny hole on top of the strawberry soufflé. As a result, each spoonful was a light and fluffy strawberry cloud tinselled with the bitterness and sweetness of chocolate. That said, we would have much preferred a white chocolate sauce instead so we told the waitress that, and her reply was, ‘Oh yes, that’s what everyone says! Daniel does use white chocolate sometimes!’ THEN WHY DIDN’T WE GETS WHITE CHOCOLATE, DAMMIT?
We also liked the vanilla bean panna cotta. It was topped with a very thin layer of raspberry and rose jelly before being liberally doused in a refreshing rose granita. It was a very summery dessert but definitely a welcome addition to what seemed like a wintery dessert plate.
The dessert we enjoyed most, however, was the Chantilly cream quenelle with caramel and honeycomb. The crunchy browned honeycomb, slightly bitter in taste – but good bitter, contrasted brilliantly with the Chantilly cream quenelle which was as soft and smooth as the Broadwater on a still spring day. Unfortunately, we couldn’t say wonderful things about the chocolate pudding. It wasn’t terrible, but it just paled in comparison to the other desserts and Marty even went so far to say that it was like eating a pre-mixed White Wings pudding from the supermarket. That, though, was the only ‘bad’ thing we ate that night.
The bill came to around $150, including a glass of pinot grigio for me and a Spanish beer of some sort for Marty, which was very reasonable for a one-hatted restaurant of this quality but the $115 we paid thanks to a 25% Entertainment Book discount was verging on ridiculous (in a good way!). We’ve paid way more for meals and for service of equally high standard at other restaurants so in a way, we did feel that Little Truffle was almost too generous with their pricing. Not that any diner would complain, of course! After a bit of bother with Marty’s car being blocked in the restaurant’s car park (a staff member parked in front of Marty), we were finally on our way back to the reality that was the Gold Coast Highway.
Like the prestigious tuber that this restaurant is named after, Little Truffle is a hard-to-find gem in Gold Coast’s somewhat lacking dining scene. Its location away from boisterous Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise means that it’s not well-known to many but damn, once you get a whiff, you’re hooked for life. I would gladly come back again and again to try more of their dishes. While I wish that Gold Coast, as a city, would progress (in other words, for road works to be completed on time and for supermarkets to trade beyond 5pm on Sundays), I’d be happy if Little Truffle just remained the same – quietly and classily producing amazing dishes in its corner of Mermaid Beach.