The serial restauranteur behind six of your fave Gold Coast venues.
The serial restauranteur behind six of your fave Gold Coast venues.
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…
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.
It’s the destination we all know and love. Relaxed, a little bit retro and constantly surprising us with new places to eat and play. It’s the much-loved suburb that flies under the radar when visitors come to town but to locals, it’s pure magic.
To show our love for this beachside beauty, here are ten things we locals love about Mermaid Beach.
The North Room
Recent receivers of a very prestigious hat, The North Room is an intimate restaurant serving up some absolutely stunning contemporary dishes that you’ll want to wrap your mouth around ASAP. Bookings are essential and they open for lunch Friday and Saturday and dinner Thursday to Saturday so you’ll want to get in quick. Huge fans of this place.
Where: 1/2527 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach
There’s a lot to be said about infusing a space with tropical, feel-good vibes and Little Mermaid, on the highway, has done exactly that. Decked out with plenty of greenery, a laidback beachy feel, and tons of space for all your friends this is the place to be. The bar and restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which more often than not, is overflowing with folks having the time of their lives as the sun goes down. Little Mermaid has earned the love of locals for their tasty eats, creative cocktails, and generally cool aesthetic – so get there now.
Where: 2557 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach
The Borrowed Nursery
Never before has a plant nursery gained such a cult-like following so quickly (or perhaps ever). The Borrowed Nursery draws plant lovers and photographers in droves due to its Instagram-worthy aesthetics and bespoke greenery. While you can certainly purchase the potted petals for your humble abode, you may also like to hire them for an event (which is quite the concept if you ask us). The stunning space also hosts workshops and yoga classes amongst the leafy greens but if that’s not your jam at least pop in for some healthy retail therapy and an Insta-snap.
Where: 42-44 Cronulla Ave, Mermaid Beach
Italian food is one of life’s greatest pleasures and particularly when it comes from Mermaid’s Lupo. Tucked away in the little complex that’s also home to Bonita Bonita, Lupo’s menu is one you’ll never forget. It’s a quiet, laidback space, low-lit & moody, and did we mention one of the very best spots for drinking incredible cocktails and filling your belly with goodness.
Where: 2460 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach
This is one for the fellas… Zeppelin Barbers is the best on the Coast if the man in your life is looking for a fresh cut. Jase and the team are absolute weapons with the scissors and they deliver quality chat and a frosty beer while they’re at it. Good vibes always.
Where: 2460 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach
Mermaid Beach Surf Club
How good are surf clubs? Mermaid’s is right on the ocean with uninterrupted views, delicious meals that will fill you right up, and of course, a sweet selection of drinks to sip on. It’s an amazing spot to watch the sun go down with the crew and always provides a quality atmosphere with a buzz of people.
Where: 172 Hedges Ave, Mermaid Beach
It only opened recently but already Soak Bathhouse has become a firm favourite amongst those who are a little bit partial to some rest and relaxation in a beautiful environment (so everyone). It’s a stunning oasis featuring a magnesium pool, massage rooms, a sauna, spas, and a cold plunge pool. Plus you can get an LED facial and just generally kick your feet up and chill – tried and tested by us and we highly recommend it.
Where: 2532 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach
The Glenelg Public House
Serving up premium steak and boutique wine (among other delicious things), The Glenelg Public House is an absolute must-visit in Mermaid Beach and just generally on the Gold Coast. If for some reason you’re not into steak, everything on the menu is top-notch and they have a selection of some of the best sides we’ve ever sampled. There are also small plate options and it’s all mind-blowing. We vouch for the gnocchi. Just. Trust. Us.
Where: 2460 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach
Mexican eats at their absolute finest can be found at Bonita Bonita. Taco Thursdays are a favourite amongst the locals and there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options should that be your thing. Right next door is Bon Bon Bar so you should also head in there for bulk margaritas before sampling all of the epic eats on offer.
Where: 2460 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach
Mermaid Beach Bowls Club
Barefoot bowls is never not a fun time and so, there’s plenty of fun to be had at Mermaid Beach Bowls Club. Round up the crew on a Sunday afternoon for bulk beers and a little ball throwing (bowling) and then venture onto one of the many eateries (like those listed above) to round out the night.
Where: 2418 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach
Surely we have convinced you that Mermaid Beach is the place to be by now?
Words by Kirra Smith.
Broadbeach has long been regarded as one of our wining, dining and shopping. With a number of ‘stayers’ boasting staunch followers for many moons, sprinkled with a hearty helping of shiny new eats and drinks players, nothing can dull the sparkle of this burb’s A-grade entertainer status.
Here are precisely 17 reasons why locals – and Gold Coasters far and wide – love themselves a piece of our much-loved Broady.
Social Eating House + Bar
If you’re a foodie, this is your go-to. A modern Australian sensation, Social has more hats than a Milliner’s workshop. With Executive Chef Matthew Jefferson in charge, you’ll experience a carefully curated range of bar snacks, charcuterie, and small and large share plates, all featuring the finest Australian ingredients and paired to perfection. A meal here is worth.every.cent.
Where: 3 Oracle Boulevard, Broadbeach
The Star Gold Coast
If ever there was a reason to get a babysitter, it’s for a session at The Star. Between the live music and amazing food at the Garden Kitchen & Bar, award-winning Cantonese, Japanese and modern Australian cuisine at Uncle Su, Kiyomi, and Nineteen at The Star, authentic Italian eats at Cucina Vivo, the ultimate buffet experience at Harvest Buffet, a few bevvies at the new-look Atrium Bar and/or the Insta-fave rooftop lounge bar at Nineteen, who needs to go anywhere else?
Where: 1 Casino Drive, Broadbeach
Broadbeach Bowls Club
Nothing says a chilled GC arvo like a game of barefoot bowls with a brew in hand. Another enduring favourite amongst the local set here on the GC, Broadbeach Bowls Club never fails to deliver a feel-good time for young and old. They serve up big portions of all your go-to pub-grub meals and do a great canape package for a laid-back birthday or celebration.
Where: 169 Surf Parade, Broadbeach
Dracula’s Cabaret Restaurant
If you’re after a tried and tested, long-standing comedic cabaret, good ‘ole Dracs has been serving up frights, food and frivolity since we were all ankle-biters. Most people are sold when they hear there’s a ghost train alone, let alone the actual show (which changes every so often, so there’s always a reason to go back), banquet dinner…and shots in syringes!
Where: Hooker Boulevard, Broadbeach
Aloha Bar and Dining
This tropical hidden treasure is all fun vibes, good food and cracking good times. Popular for its hospo nights, taco Thursdays, karaoke nights, live music and pumping DJs, there’s always something going on here. The tapas always deliver the feels (bao buns…I die!!), the Cucumber and Jalapeno Margi is (too) easy to drink, and we never tire of the super cute fit-out.
Where: 18 Main Place, Broadbeach
Sofia’s Restaurant & Bar
With an impressive contemporary Coastal European menu, we are completely besotted with Sofia’s…and we’re not alone. A meal here is all about enjoying and sharing simple, delicious food with your favourite people – as it should be, and truly encapsulates the famous words ‘That’s Amore’. Also, you heard it here first but Sofia’s is on the move. Watch this space!
Where: The Oasis Shopping Centre, Victoria Avenue, Broadbeach
Have you ever seen this place anything but bulging at the seams? Aaaand of course you haven’t. Since its pre-migration days just up the road, it’s had an army of raving fans and yes, this obvs includes us. A hop, skip and a jump from the beach, the coffee is all-time, the seasonal menus are heavenly, and they even do a Boozy Bottomless Brunch. And sold.
Where: The Oasis Shopping Centre, 12 Victoria Avenue, Broadbeach
Blues on Broadbeach
So unlike our other listings, it may not be here 24/7 but it’s that much of a Broady icon that it would be criminal not to throw it a mention. As the name suggests, it brings us world-class blues and jazz music from locals and famous acts alike, performing across multiple venues over four unforgettable days. And it’s free, and sorry but when does that ever happen?
Where: Various Broadbeach venues
CHA CHA Japanese Restaurant
Gold Coasters have been CHA CHA bound for an authentic Japanese nosh-up which won’t break the bank for years, and that’s not about to change any time soon. The banquet menu is divine and every visit you’ll experience the same level of scrumptiousness. But the soy on the dim sum…it’s BYO and it’s hard to find an already affordable yet high-quality restaurant offering our 3 favourite letters. Score.
Where: 2705 Gold Coast Highway, Broadbeach
An everyday escape for locals, The Oasis is one of our numero uno shopping centres and for good reason. Not only some unique fashion boutiques live here, but the sheer number of amazing eateries is tres impressive. In addition to the ones we highlight in this article, we’re talking Mario’s, Madisons Café and Patisserie, Spice Kitchen and Bar, and The Broadbeach Tavern to name just a few. It’s a #OneStopShop.
Where: 75 Surf Parade, Broadbeach
Soho House Bar
Just look for the London-esk red phone box and you know good times await. An intimate, hidden gem-adorned in graffiti and jam-packed with peeps sipping and bopping along to the sweet sounds of live DJ’s, this joint is seriously cool. The cocktail list is l.i.t, the crew are super engaging, and they’ve even been known to host things like a Wild Flower Gin Masterclass. What’s not to love?
Where: Gold Coast Highway, Broadbeach (between Queensland and Victoria Avenues)
You just know it’s destined for greatness with ‘Unicorn’ in the name. This Mediterranean seafood-infused newcomer has hit the ground running with its all-day menu goodness, and show-stopping cocktail menu that’s 20 options deep #hellofriend. You can’t help it but exhale as you settle into the relaxing blue and white-hued space, brimming with ocean murals and friendly smiles from the welcoming staff.
Where: Phoenician Resort, 24-26 Queensland Avenue, Broadbeach
No Name Lane
Okay, Blake Lively declared her caffeine hit from No Name Lane as “the best coffee of her life” and holy heck, if it’s good enough for Queen Blake… Better than any boujee on-trend Melbourne café, the coffee here has a cult following. The all-day breakfasts and gourmet lunches also go down a treat so if you haven’t been, remedy this immediately.
Where: The Oracle, Elizabeth Avenue, Broadbeach
Pacific Fair, oh how we love thee. Any time we want a new ensemble for, well, any occasion (retail therapy is real you know), we all beeline for Pac Fair. With every retailer you could possibly wish for, amazing food options and seriously THE most gorgeous shopping centre fit-out we’ve seen, there are luxe and lush coastal accents at every turn.
Where: Gold Coast Hwy and Hooker Blvd, Broadbeach
The Loose Moose
Specialising in “dirty food made clean”, there are always bums on seats in this Prohibition Tap and Grill House, one of the Gennari Group’s most popular establishments. The delish menu offers up the best of the best Canadian fare like ribs, wings, hot dogs and burgers, and is always ready for a crowd to #GetLooseAtTheMoose.
Where: The Oasis Shopping Centre, Broadbeach
The Pink Flamingo Spiegelclub
LBR, you had us at Spiegelclub. The Pink Flamingo has become a fave for locals, visitors and critics alike, with its four spectacular resident cabaret-style shows. Custom designed with a twist of swanky art-deco décor and inspired by the original 1920’s Spiegeltent and the NYC Cabaret Club district, it’s five-star luxury and entertainment not to be missed.
Where: Corner of Surf Parade & Victoria Avenue, Broadbeach
Kurrawa Surf Club
Ocean views don’t come any better than this. With legit THE most prime location, Kurrawa Surf Club has everything you’d want from a Surf Club…and more. With awesome regular members specials and fresh ingredients, there’s no such thing as a bad meal here. They host a trivia night and live music, and of course there’s the obligatory gaming lounge for those who like a flutter.
Where: Old Burleigh Road, Broadbeach
Words by Bianca Trathen.
These are the perfect healthy treat when you feel like something sweet after that huge Christmas feast!
1 cup raw cashew nuts
1 cup dried dates
1 cup shredded coconut
2 tablespoons raw cacao or cocoa
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
½ cup dried cranberries
Extra cacao/cocoa for dusting
In a food processor place the cashew nut and whizz up until they are ground into fine crumbs. Add ¼ cup of dates at a time and blitz until the dates are ground into fine crumbs. Continue until all of the dates are ground down. Add the coconut, cacao and salt to the food processor and blend until the mixture is combined. Place the coconut oil in the food processor and blend together. Finally add the dried cranberries to the mixture and mix through without chopping them up too much. Roll the mixture into 16 balls, dust with extra cacao if desired and place in the fridge to set.
For more great recipes by Gold Coast local Caralee Fontenele, check out her page here.