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11 boutique Gold Coast dining destinations

Intimate, cosy spaces to treat you and your faves.

Restaurant Labart by Andy Macpherson Studio (image supplied)
Restaurant Labart by Andy Macpherson Studio (image supplied)

Dining out can be a mixed affair. From finding yourself excitedly catching up with friends over share style plates to sitting down in a sophisticated environment with huge explorations of flavours — and no doubt courses. There is undoubtedly an eating-out experience for every occasion. Boutique dining room-style destinations offering polished and carefully orchestrated dishes are growing in popularity; offering diners the chance to take part in a culinary journey from the moment they sit down until the moment they wave goodbye.

Hasn’t it been a little while since your last date night? We thought so. Handy for you, we have compiled our take on 11 of the best Gold Coast’s boutique dining experiences. Get booking peeps!

Restaurant Labart
How do nine luxuriant courses of utter seasonality and divine savourings sound to you? Like something you need in your life, we think you’ll agree. Brought to you by renowned Sydney Chef Alex Munoz-LabartRestaurant Labart provides one of the most on-point submersions into culinary wizardry you’re going to find outside of a capital city. Once you have taken your seat, enjoy the pared-back wooden furniture and muted colour accents permeating serene yet urbane feels. Seriously: what is there not to adore about this place?
Where: 8 West Street, Burleigh Heads

The North Room (Image: © 2019 Inside Gold Coast)
The North Room (Image: © 2019 Inside Gold Coast)

The North Room
A sophisticated and contemporary dining room in Mermaid BeachThe North Room made its debut in mid-2017 introducing locals to share-style dining. The ever-changing menu focuses on seasonally inspired dishes served in a clean and minimalistic space. For wine lovers out there, rejoice. You’ll be treated to exceptional and lesser-known wine producers hand-picked to accompany the exquisite flavours of whatever chef/owner Tim Stewart has opted to curate for the day’s menu.
Where: 2527 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach (between Ventura Rd and Cronulla Ave) 

If the backdrop is something you consider heavily when choosing a destination for eating out, how does a world-class art gallery sound? Home of the Arts (HOTA) brand spanking new Gallery building would not have been complete without an astounding place to eat and drink, right? Enter Palette. With the talented and much experienced Dayan Hartill-Law as Executive Chef, the ethos is simple; high-quality produce with amazing provenance underpinned by knowledgeable yet approachable staff. Book in for an evening visit and be amazed by a degustation menu directly inspired by neighbouring art installations.
Where: The Gallery, 135 Bundall Road, Surfers Paradise

Palette interior at HOTA Gallery (image supplied)
Palette interior at HOTA Gallery (image supplied)

Glenelg Public House
One for the meat lovers out there: what these guys don’t know about preparing and serving up mouth-watering steak isn’t worth knowing. The menu cleverly hinges on incredibly diverse, quality produce — both from the paddock and the ocean — with old-school yummy dishes served with a contemporary Australian flair. For those who feel like something a bit special, there is an additional section for oversized select pieces of meat which can be sliced and brought out ready to share. Be sure you come with drinks on your mind, as the back bar and wine selection are another strong point at this Mermaid Beach ode to good food.
Where: 9/2460 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach

Eddy + Wolff
The décor and styling of this tucked-away Robina hotspot will inevitably make it hard going if you intend on ordering anything quick. A central island bar with wrap-around high seat dining is the epitome of modern, sophisticated eating, and we reckon you’ll fall for it in a big way. A fusion of Asian flavours awaits you from an uncomplicated share style menu with its devoted section to BBQ: Octopus Tentacle with tangy nashi pear glaze is the absolute highlight here. Another eatery with a ‘distinction’ in Instagram profiles, showing off some mighty sexy-looking cocktails you just must try — all with subtle but considered nods to the orient.
Where: 44 Commerce Drive, Robina

Eddy + Wolff (Image: © 2019 Inside Gold Coast)
Eddy + Wolff (Image: © 2019 Inside Gold Coast)

When you’re yearning for top-notch Japanese eats within a small and intimate setting, then this under-the-radar restaurant in Currumbin Waters, we think, fits the bill to a tee. From the moment you arrive, the cheery staff will bring the specials blackboard over to your table and talk you through what delicious edible sensations are on offer. If it’s available, we recommend the black sesame crusted Salmon or any one of the baos — they’re all fabulous. Pair up whatever you opt for with a selection of sakes and Japanese beers to round off a great experience of Japanese cuisine on the southern Gold Coast.
Where: 10/27-31 Currumbin Creek Road, Currumbin Waters

Little Truffle
Being one of the longest-standing — and most celebrated — restaurants in our city, Little Truffle most certainly has a piece of our heart. But what is it about this unassuming Mermaid Beach haven of flavour? Is it a European-inspired menu filled with the most deftly put together mouth-watering dishes, or a dazzling wine list, perhaps it’s the exceedingly polished service? You know what, we think it’s all three — and a whole lot more!
Where: 2444 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach

Cross Eyed Mary interior (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)
Cross Eyed Mary interior (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)

Cross-Eyed Mary
From the same folks behind the ever-popular pizza restaurant, Francie’s, this newly opened Mediterranean delight is already bringing all things delicious to the people of Coolangatta. Aesthetically, this bolt hole with a fresh white interior is the kind of place you’ll want to settle into and be in no hurry to leave. With a menu centred around some incredible handmade pasta — with a separate vegan menu — we think you’ll join us in agreeing Griffith Street just got a whole lot better. The textbook spot to pop in for an afternoon wine — or fall in love with the menu and stay late into the night.
Where: 14 Griffith Street, Coolangatta

Lupo arrived at Mermaid Beach to a whirlwind of rave reviews, and here now, nearly four years later, the adoration hasn’t stopped. The comfortable space offers a homestyle Italian menu with lashings of love and an atmosphere to match. Made up of the very best produce around, if you take a look at their Instagram anytime soon: beware. It’s plausible you’ll be lost to the world scrolling their drool-worthy photos for a while. The Pork Cotoletta is crumbed pork that will ruin the humble Chicken Schnity for you forever.
Where: 2460 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach

Lupo (image supplied)
Lupo (image supplied)

When the prospect of visiting the cutest little Italian eatery comes your way, you should be keen as can be. The newly opened Bottega on Chevron Island features handmade pastas to hand-rolled and stretched pizzas, fired right on the spot in their pride of place pizza oven — beside the entrance, no less. Sprinkle into the equation some out-of-this-world imported wines, which you won’t find on the high street every day, and Bottega is the answer to your pasta-induced prayers.
Where: 58 Thomas Drive, Surfers Paradise

The Little Plate
Another hidden in plain sight gem, The Little Plate manages to pack a punch in the flavour department by taking Euro and Asian favourites and turning the taste up to 10! You’ll consistently find a large selection of as-fresh-as-possible specials, giving this Burleigh restaurant the ultimate replay value — no two visits will ever be the same. We suggest you give their tasting menu a go at least once and let the experts take care of the rest.
Where: Shop 11/3 Deodar Drive, Burleigh Heads

Words by Alex Mitcheson.

The North Room

The old adage “you eat with your eyes” is the philosophy behind Mermaid’s latest foodie location The North Room and the European-inspired, tapas-style dishes certainly are a sight to behold.

A bright, naturally lit space sets the scene with navy, natural wood and copper accents giving it a coastal, laidback vibe. Get up close and personal with a seat at the bar or kick back on the blue velvet, booth-style lounge.

The menu is created for share-style dining with a focus on local, seasonal ingredients and will be ever-changing, as will the wine list. The premise is simply based on using the freshest of ingredients and encouraging diners to always try something new.

For the initial weeks, The North Room are plating up dishes to delight all your senses including Green Eggs and Ham consisting of duck ham, scrambled organic eggs, nettle and kalettes (half way between kale and brussel sprouts) and Whipped Cod with white anchovies, pickled onion and rye.

Don’t go past dessert and in particular the Beetroot, Strawberry and Yoghurt that sounds unassuming enough but actually consists of beetroot meringue, fresh strawberry sorbet and sour yoghurt. It’s an absolute flavour sensation.

The North Room was named for owners Tim and Shannon Stewart’s gradual “venture north” from Victoria over recent years and if opening weekend is anything to go by, it‘s definitely been worth the trip.

Probably best to book your spot in advance.

HOURS: Open Wednesday to Saturday for dinner and Friday, Saturday, Sunday for lunch.

LOCATION: 2527 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach (between Ventura Rd and Cronulla Ave)

Words and photos by Kirra Smith

Restaurant Labart

Photo credit: Andy MacPherson
Photo credit: Andy MacPherson

Burleigh Heads is on absolute fire with venues swinging open their doors left and right, much to the delight of locals who apparently can’t get enough of tasty eats and bunkering down somewhere warm with a wine in hand (same to be honest).

The latest eatery to grace us with its’ presence is Restaurant Labart (opening tonight), a stylish space on Burleigh’s West Street, where Burleigh Chinese once lived. It’s simple sophistication at its finest and unlike anything the Gold Coast has seen before.

Which is of course, due to the fact that Restaurant Labart is the work of Sydneysiders Karla and Alex Munoz Labart who bring quite the impressive rap sheet to our beachside city.

But first, the interior. The narrow space is beautifully designed with walnut leather bench-style seating lining the walls and not-quite-khaki paneling with dark wood furniture and low-hanging lighting completing the picture. The vibe is earthy, refined and understated and we quite like it thank you very much.

The menu is, happily, the star of the show and that is a concept close to our hearts (and tummies). It’s made up of snacks (best) and both small and large share plates all of which are absolute taste sensations.

To share we recommend the BBQ King Prawns with shellfish butter, crème fraiche and finger lime and the Veal Tartare with sun-dried tomatoes, tarragon and potato crisps.

The large plates are all kinds of goodness and in particular the Seared Mulloway with peas, dill and horseradish and the Grilled Lamb Rack with charred turnips and green herb sauce should make you happy.

For dessert (OUR FAVOURITE) Chocolate Mousse with popcorn ice cream and salted popcorn is probably the most exciting dish there is in the world. Keep that one coming please.

You may also indulge in a cheese plate and if that’s not enough to have you making a reservation right this minute, please explain.

To compliment the stand out menu, a carefully curated selection of wines (including biodynamic and natural choices) along with Australian craft beers and seasonal cocktails are on offer to delight your tastebuds.

As mentioned owners Karla and Alex made the move from down south where Alex was the Head Chef at famed Sydney venues Monopole and Cirrus Dining, both of which were awarded Chefs Hats during his tenure.

Restaurant Labart is their first venture and, with the philosophy of aiming to simply make people happy, they’re sure to fit in just fine around these parts.

Excuse us, we’re off to consume all the chocolate mousse before the rest of you get your hands on any.

The end.

LOCATION: 8 West St, Burleigh Heads
HOURS: Dinner Wednesday to Saturday 6pm until 11:30pm. Lunch Friday to Sunday, 12 until 3 pm

Words by Kirra Smith. Photos supplied – interior shots by Andy MacPherson – food images via Restaurant Labart.

Daniel Ridgeway

He’s the local restauranteur who has made Gold Coasters dining dreams come true for over a decade and Daniel Ridgeway isn’t done yet.

He opened Little Truffle, four BiN restaurants and Rivea Italian Dining in the last eight years and 2018 will see him gift northern Gold Coasters a rooftop bar and grill.

We chat with Daniel about Rivea’s recent move and what we can expect from soon-to-be-open Gotham Grill & Rooftop Bar in Runaway Bay.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
About 25 years. I was originally from Victoria and we came back to the Coast when I was about 13. I did go overseas on my travels as a Chef, through Europe, the US, Canada and Asia and then came back to the Gold Coast. After all the travel I didn’t want to go back to Melbourne and thought there was a lot more opportunity on the Gold Coast.

Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
Yeah I have. My family would always ask my older brother what he was going to do for a career. Every month we would go to my Uncle’s house, he was married to a Thai lady and I always used to help her cook, it was one of my favourite things. I remember an argument was going on and my Gran turned to me and said ‘ Daniel what do you want to be’ so I said ‘what am I doing now’ and she said, ‘oh you want to be a Chef’. Everyone asked me my whole life what I wanted to be and I had no idea what I was talking about but I always said I wanted to be a Chef. When the time came, I thought I’d give it a go having no idea what I’d gotten myself into but I just loved it. I was lucky enough to get that buzz out of the service and enjoy it.

How did your career come about?
I went to Tafe on the Gold Coast when I finished school and quickly realised if I was going to make it work I had to be in the best place possible so I started at Royal Pines. That was 20 years ago. From there I realised I liked the fine dining aspect of things and traveled to Melbourne to work in some of the top restaurants down there. Eventually I decided I needed more experience so I traveled to London and worked there for a couple of years in multiple restaurants, then to Canada and back to Melbourne. I was working for a Chef called Andrew McConnell who still has multiple venues down there when I got an opportunity to come up and open Room81 at The Sofitel as the First Chef Cuisine. It was the first time I had been given that role and I loved it and did very well and from there it transformed into doing it for myself.

Why did you decide to open your first venue?
When you open your first one it’s very emotional. You don’t care what anyone tells you, you just want to do what you want to do. No matter what advice you get, you do what you want to do. I opened Little Truffle almost eight years ago. I liked the corner location, there was nothing else around and I wanted a destination restaurant that was still accessible. Honestly back then it was probably the biggest mistake I could have made, it was really quiet and when the busy season came no one knew where we were. The first year was a struggle but I believe if you have the passion and the right product, it will work out. My thoughts are look after the locals first and the tourists are a bonus. Every year has been better and better and last year was probably our best. Now we’ve got Etsu, Glenelg and a bunch of restaurants around us and it’s become a dining hub. Just recently we won Best European restaurant in the country from Restaurant and Caterers so that was a nice little accolade.

How did the BiN phenomenon come about?
After Little Truffle, the focus kind of shifted to share plate dining and food with Asian influences so it was a good opportunity to do something new. We picked a little hole in the wall in James Street, which became BiN 12 – a bar with good food at a reasonable price and that went really well. We opened BiN 72 at The Strand in Coolangatta and got that buzz and just kept opening venues. We did BiN 232 in Pacific Fair and quickly after that BiN 89 in Broadbeach.

Why did you move Rivea Italian Dining to Broadbeach recently?
BiN 89 got hit with those massive roadworks on Surf Parade and we struggled with that, a lot of venues closed down but we pulled through. In that time we opened Rivea Italian Dining in Pacific Fair and that was such a popular venue so we’ve now moved that over to the BiN 89 space and gave it a fresh start. Having BiN 232 at Pacific Fair, less than a kilometre away you can still get your BiN fix. Rivea has been open for about a week now and we’re so thankful. We did a mini refit to give it that Rivea feel which is fresh and inviting. There’s white marble and stone and some dark wood. The cuisine is classic Italian and we just keep it as fresh as possible.

What have you got in the pipeline for this year?
Next month Gotham Grill and Rooftop Bar opens up – it will be mid-March. The one thing no one knows about Gotham is that it’s two levels of dining – so two restaurants in that one building. It will be Gotham Grill, which will be Little Truffle style but more casual, not so fine dining focused. At Gotham Rooftop Bar  there’ll be pizza, pasta, cocktails, wine and draft beer so very casual. There will be two menus and two different styles, it’s pretty special.

Thoughts on the Coast’s dining scene of late?
I think we’re there now, I don’t think it’s a matter of it getting better and better, I think we’re there. Where I think we’re doing the best is breakfast/brunch. That’s something the Gold Coast does better than any city in Australia. That’s one thing I think we’ve nailed almost perfectly. We just need to get ourselves more exposure because everything that opens up now is getting better and better. We’re very excited to be part of it.

Do you have any life advice for us?
Find balance. It’s one thing I still struggle with but I’m trying to add more balance into my life. It’s amazing when you take that time off and do life stuff, you come back and feel so much better than before.

Tell us you favourites on the Coast…
Beach: Burleigh
Café: I can’t just say one, people will get mad. There’s so many to choose from, it’s the best part of the Gold Coast I think.
Restaurant: If I want to go somewhere and be relaxed it’s Itoshin in Mermaid Beach. It’s all about the sashimi and sushi boats there, everything raw is amazing.
How does your weekend usually look: We try to religiously take off Sundays and take the dog to the beach or got to a restaurant. Saturday is my favourite day of the week because it’s purely operational in the restaurant.

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