If you are a true Gold Coast local you would have already visited Elk Espresso, but if you haven’t had the pleasure yet, you should definitely make it a top priority. Known for its innovative dishes and seasonal menus, Elk has forged its way through the GC hospitality scene for some time and even across two locations! We got to know the man behind the cafe, Andrew Whiting, and found out what the process is when dreaming up the new menus for Elk and what his personal favourites are on the Coast.
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I’m a pure-bred local born on the Coast.
Tell us a bit about you.
I married my high school sweetheart Jodie at the age of 22 and now have three beautiful kids Lola (8), Max (6) & Leo (3). We have had other establishments apart from Elk including Vintage Espresso (at the age of 25 yr) & Sparrow Eating House. I got into hospo whilst in school and feel very blessed to be able to love my work ever since. A few things I love: sweating it out at F45 (Broadbeach), inhaling Caramilk chocolate & sipping on a good coconut margarita. I also love Survivor & would give my right arm to be on it.
What do you love the most about running a cafe on the Gold Coast?
I love that we get to be a part of the GC where locals and others enjoy visiting. We have such an amazing local community on the Gold Coast and you just don’t find that everywhere. Having people work at or dine at Elk is like welcoming them into your own home so it’s extremely rewarding to see people come regularly and enjoy themselves. I also love the fact that Elk’s team is like family to me – truly a special feeling.
Elk Espresso is renowned for having a very innovative menu, so how do you and the team come up with these dishes?
Our brains never stop churning over new ideas for the next menu! It’s quite daunting sometimes when we are two months out from a new season, as we feel the pressure to keep food evolving plus we take the responsibility of bringing something new-to-the-diner very seriously. It’s part of what makes Elk what it is today and locals near and far keep an eye on what new dishes are dropping with a new season. It’s definitely a team effort with menus between myself, Jeremy (Head Chef) & Emily (Sous Chef). All three of us are completely different and when we come together for brainstorming it’s a great feeling, we bounce concepts and food ideas off each other. When we finally release a new menu, it literally feels like we have given birth (haha… I have no idea clearly) but it’s because we put so much time and energy into each and every new element and dish.
What’s the most popular dish on your current menu?
Brown Butter Scrambled Eggs (with Goats Cheese, Caramelised Pumpkin, Shiso, Hazelnuts and Thyme Onion Sourdough.) It’s been hugely popular to the point where I got asked at school pick up to keep it on the menu from a group of Mums!
What is your personal favourite dish and why?
That’s a hard one. I love the Peach Cobbler French Toast at the moment but obviously, I can’t have that every day! The other go-to for me is the Winter Breakfast Bowl…. Think XO Brussel Sprouts, Kale, Carrot Hummus, Fetta, Poached Eggs, Heirloom Tomatoes, Brown Rice and Charred Zucchini.
How has COVID changed the way Elk operates?
I’ve tried to keep it as “normal” as possible. I feel it’s our responsibility to be a hub for the community on the Gold Coast especially during this season – that’s why we never close in lockdowns. I want people to try and forget the pandemic we are in when they are having their Elk experience. The masks have been a big issue for us though… it’s so hard to work in and communicate properly with them. Plus we do still have some people give us backlash when we make sure everyone has one on when they come in – please remember to be kind.
What are your Gold Coast favourites…
Coffee spot: To be honest I love making batch brew at home – it’s my daily morning ritual before anyone else in the house wakes.
Restaurant: Eddy & Wolff
Bar or pub for a drink: Rosellas
How do you choose to spend your weekends?
With three kids, weekends can be a lot sometimes – netball, kids parties, socialising. We do try and bring the kids to Elk on Saturday mornings weekly so they can be involved with what we do, eat some waffles and go play in the park across the road.
The HOTA Gallery opening caused quite the stir on the Gold Coast, and when we found out that the Executive Chef of the high-anticipated Palette restaurant was Dayan Hartill-Law, they had every reason to get excited. Dayan has a long resume with vast industry experience including The Star, The Press Club, Dinner by Heston, Vanitas and Quay, meaning he will bring an international pedigree of learning from some of the best chefs across the world – lucky us! Read on to find out a bit more about Palette and the man himself.
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
My family and I relocated to the Gold Coast 5 years ago now.
Tell us a bit about your career to date.
Coming up on 20 years as a chef, I have been on a perpetual pursuit to work with the best chefs and thinkers around the globe. More recently running prolific spaces like The Press Club in Melbourne and Vanitas at Palazzo Versace. There have been many formative years in my culinary education, working for great chefs like Peter Gilmore at Quay, Heston Blumenthal at Dinner by Heston and many others.
What career achievement are you most proud of?
I think there have been many not to sound obnoxious. I think my very first solo hat was great to attain, it sits on my kitchen wall at home as a reminder of the hard work. But I also love hearing from chefs that I have had under me in the past succeeding in their own right or repeat guests coming in time after time to enjoy what my team and I do.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Inspiration honestly comes from everywhere, whether walking through my neighbourhood and seeing what natives are fruiting or flowering, which I love to pick with my son. There’s also obvious inspiration that comes from my cookbook library. But the most inspirational thing for me now is being permanently surrounded by art; the way that certain pieces will spark an inspirational thought or a movement, it is a really great privilege to be surrounded by it every day.
What is your favourite dish to cook at home?
I really enjoy labouring over a ramen, spending the entire day working on it is wonderful, and to take from Ivan Orkin there are no rules with ramen so it can be anything, having done a Peking duck ramen, Hainanese chicken ramen, the warmth it brings to the soul is everything.
What excites you the most about Palette being part of the HOTA precinct?
The continuation of the precinct being all about arts is such an amazing thing to be a part of and to know that culinary art is held in such high regard, to be able to have Palette stand symbiotically alongside performing arts, and visual arts is amazing and to integrate the three together is really quite an amazing thing to be apart of. With plans to integrate the three with inclusive experiences in the coming months, it is really wonderful to be able to work with talented artists and creatives to think outside of the box to create wonderful cultural experiences for the Gold Coast and its visitors.
Which dish on the menu would you recommend is a must-try when visiting Palette, and why?
There are so many great features on the menu at the moment, the Fraser Island Spanner crab, watermelon radish, pandanus, blue quandong and lemon myrtle is my favourite from a chefs perspective. There are 45 movements on the plate which is pretty ridiculous when you have to do 100. The Voronoi, Little Cocoa chocolate, flavours of banoffee is also a really fun dish from its aesthetic, it was actually the very first dish I conceptualised when I learnt that I was successful in getting the position with HOTA. We have multiple fun things throughout the whole menu though, from Vegan fish sauce to Davidson Plum sorbet, Hervey Bay scallops, or the dry-aged Burrawong Gaian ducks that everyone is raving about.
What are your Gold Coast favourites…
Café: Being on the northside, it’s been so great to have Bear Boy open in Helensvale. We also love to go to Daark in Chirn Park.
Coffee spot: If I am running about in the shopping centres, Foster Black always hits the spot, but also Shakermaker and Blackboard are excellent.
Restaurant: Having two small ones, dining out is not as frequent as it once was, but I love to go and see Tim and Shannon at the North Room. Adam and Tim at Yamagen are doing some great things, but the most frequent restaurant for us because my son won’t eat any other beef than wagyu (must be nice) we are always at Wagyu-ya on Chevron.
Bar or pub for a drink: I am not really a big drinker but that being said, I have been a big fan of Tom Angel for many years, so looking forward to trying his entire menu on a Sunday afternoon at The Exhibitionist Bar. Plus the guys at Rosellas are doing some great things, as are the team at Nightjar and the Scottish Prince are also really pushing the envelope.
How do you choose to spend your weekends?
Spending time with the family is the most important thing being in this industry, you lose a lot of nights at home, which is never fun. But, on those weekend days I try to jam in as much in as possible.
With a new season comes a new way of eating. Less salads and ice lattes and more warm, nourishing dishes that keep you energised and ready to face those chilly winter mornings when all you want to do is hit snooze and snuggle back into the covers.
One local spot that never gets it wrong when it comes to changing things up is Elk Espresso, found on the Old Burleigh Rd corner of The Oasis Shopping Centre in Broadbeach.
You know the one. Always filled to the brim with both regulars stopping in for an epic brunch and visitors who have heard the buzz and come to see what all the fuss is about.
No doubt you’re aware what all the fuss is about, but if not, allow us to enlighten you.
Over the years owner Andrew Whiting and his crew have turned Elk from a friendly neighbourhood brunch spot to a friendly neighbourhood institution thanks to their exceptional eats, five-star fitout and absolutely all over it service.
They’re one of the most-loved eateries around and it’s an honour they’ve well and truly earned.
Which is why we’re here to discuss the latest menu offerings of Elk Espresso, something we’re all about when a venue has created food that is also art.
As always, the dishes are not only as tasty as anything you’ve ever sampled but they are as Insta-worthy as anything you’ve ever seen.
In particular this season, the Violet Crumble Waffles – fluffy, delicious waffles with Violet Crumble and dark chocolate ganache, lilac ice cream and gold flakes. Sounds super sweet but it’s actually perfectly balanced, as the team at Elk are aware of not creating dishes too over-the-top in flavour for early morning feasting. Bless them. We LOVED this one.
For the savoury fans there is Aged Cheddar and Corn Beef Croquettes with sweet corn purée, silverbeet, kalettes, beetroot and poached eggs and it is one of the very best breakfast dishes we’ve ever tried.
Another newbie is the Basil and Goats Cheese Scrambled Eggs with wild mushrooms, rhubarb paste and pecan crumble on spelt toast. A taste sensation.
There are also colourful, flavour-filled bowls, dishes that include pork, date and sage sausages and a slow cooked bean dish that’ll change your life.
The coffee is some of the best around too.
All in all, everything is amazing and you might need to visit a few times to try it all.
Big love Elk, you’ve done it again.
LOCATION: The Oasis Shopping Centre, Broadbeach
HOURS: Daily from 6am until 4pm
Words and photos by Kirra Smith
Next-level isn’t enough props to give Elk Espresso, the Broadbeach fave that recently relocated to take up residence in the (now extremely fancy) Oasis Shopping Centre.
The new space, which opened today (December 15th), has doubled in size and comes complete with ocean views and a big old outdoor eating area perfect for cruisy summer breaky dates with your crew (and/or puppy pal).
Raw concrete, copper and greenery cascading from above is a similar vibe to the one you came to know and love at Elk’s OG venue. Throw in a spotted tile feature wall and two mint green coffee machines at the newbie and we’ve got ourselves a winner gang. To absolutely no-ones surprise.
As usual, the place is absolutely pumping but owner Andrew Whiting and his team are cool as cucumbers and clearly thrilled with their new digs (same, to be honest). Wonder if they need a live-in menu tester person.
A sweet new summer menu adds to the fun with dishes almost too pretty to eat. Do it though because, so so delicious.
Although every plate carried out of the kitchen is both beautiful and a taste sensation, there are two we must discuss.
First, the Pineapple Panna Cotta is all kinds of colourful magic with puffed grains, seeds, nuts, fruits and yoghurt. Those words aren’t quite adequate but trust us, it could well be the most Insta-worthy dish on the Coast.
Next up is BREAKFAST GNOCCHI and we have died and gone to heaven. Honestly gnocchi is up there with the invention of electricity as far as we’re concerned and especially Elk’s version. It comes with heirloom tomatoes, smoked bacon, chilli, basil, fetta and poached eggs and let us eat it every day.
Give us a sec to compose ourselves.
Okay we’re good. So, Elk’s big move was initiated after Andrew got word that their first home on Chelsea Ave was going to be knocked down and so, the search for the perfect new space began.
That’s it, you know the drill. Happy eating.
LOCATION: Old Burleigh Rd, Broadbeach
HOURS: 6am to 4pm daily
Words and photos by Kirra Smith.