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Gold Coast restaurants take out top QLD food awards

Image via hellenika.com.au

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, Gold Coast restaurants are up there with some of the very best there are and apparently we aren’t the only ones who think so.

Just this week, two much-loved local venues took out top honours at The Courier-Mail Food Awards and we are even more stoked than usual to be surrounded by such incredible talent.

Nominations-wise, the Gold Coast was very well represented with beloved Burleigh bar Rosella’s nominated for Bar of the Year alongside other beloved Burleigh bar Lockwood and a slew of Brisbane spots.

nineteen at The Star was nominated for Best Regional Restaurant and if you’ve ever had the pleasure of dining there overlooking the ocean and the Gold Coast skyline, you’ll understand why.

They’re all some of the most talented folks we know and EXTREMELY deserving of both nominations (and winning in our opinion).

The winners on the day were two that came as no surprise to anyone – Hellenika 2.0 (Brisbane) took out Restaurant of the Year for their not-even-a-year-old venue at The Calile.

Owner Simon Gloftis opened Hellenika on the Gold Coast in 2010 and in that time, it has become a firm favourite due to the freshest of produce, excellent service, stunning eats and a big old welcoming Greek family vibe you’d be hard up to find anywhere else.

Due to the success of the first venue, with the recent(ish) addition of a rooftop bar, Simon opened Hellenika at The Calile and well, here we are reporting on its best Queensland restaurant props. Enough said.

Closer to home, the almost unbelievably impressive work of Burleigh’s Restaurant Labart was rewarded with the Best Regional Restaurant award and that is one of the most deserved achievements there has ever been.

Owners Alex and Karla Munoz-Labart have created a five-star venue featuring a refined menu filled with dishes that you’ll likely never forget while also being two of the most down-to-earth people around.

A BIG congratulations to both Hellenika and Restaurant Labart, the Gold Coast is very lucky to have you on our foodie scene and here’s to many more well-deserved awards.

Words 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.

Hellenika Brisbane

There are certain Gold Coast venues that one can never get enough of. One of which, quite obviously, is Hellenika in Nobby Beach. In fact, if we could just move in and consume Saganaki every day, for the rest of time that would be ideal.

Now that’s sorted, here’s some really great news. There are even more opportunities to enjoy the exceptional eats and abundant good vibes you’ve come to know and love at Hellenika because (how’s the build up) their Brisbane venue is opening this week and Hallelujah.

That’s right Greek food lovers; you may now travel a very short distance, as opposed to all the way to the Gold Coast, to get your Hellenika fill and that is something to celebrate.

The brand new venue can be found inside The Calile Hotel, also brand new and probably your new favourite place on the planet. Owner of Hellenika, Simon Gloftis, says The Calile and Hellenika Brisbane are an absolute match made in heaven and, in our opinion, absolute interior goals the both of them.

The restaurant’s interior, set to be completely different to the Gold Coast, will be all marble and white stone surfaces with vaulted ceilings and skylights and quite the classic beauty. The fitout is a pared back version of a resort-style classic and we are really quite excited.

Now to the food. The menu will be very similar to the Coast’s (including all your faves – Taramasalata Dip, Zucchini Chips and Junee Lamb to name a few) but, with the addition of breakfast, there’ll be a few new dishes for you to fall in love with.

The morning menu will be filled with Greek-inspired breakfast treats like Rizgalo, a rice pudding that’ll be Hellenika’s take on porridge, Bougatsa, a custard-filled filo pastry dish (love you already) and The Onassis, a big breakfast option featuring a lamb cutlet (of course) among other tasty treats.

Oh and there’ll also be a Brûlée Grapefruit dish and a magical dish featuring Greek yoghurt, seasonal berries, crushed macadamias and Manuka honey.

We’ll take one of everything please.

Excitingly, if you opt to stay at The Calile Hotel you may eat said delicious dishes by the pool, celebrity-style.

Also excitingly, Simon has coaxed Hellenika’s original Head Chef and Restaurant Manager, Brian and Tessa Kelly, back from London to oversee the Brisbane venue so you know you’re in excellent hands.

Hellenika Brisbane has been a dream four years in the making so happy days for Simon and the team and us, the good people of southern Queensland who get to eat even more epic Greek food on the daily. 

Friday cannot come soon enough.

LOCATION: The Calile Hotel, 48 James Street, Fortitude Valley

Words and photos by Kirra Smith

Alex Munoz Labart

Alex Munoz Labart is a relative newcomer to our sparkly city but, in the year since he arrived and brought Burleigh’s exceptional venue Restaurant Labart into our lives, he’s made quite the impact on the local dining scene.

At a time when the hospitality world is experiencing so much upheaval Alex, his wife Karla and the Labart team have come up with an idea to create takeaway dishes (of the same high quality) rather than opening their venue to the public.

We sat down for a chat with Alex about restaurant Labart’s ethos of sustainability, seasonality and simplicity and how this new plan is going to work.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
Exactly one year. My wife Karla and I moved to the Gold Coast from Sydney in April last year to open Labart.

What do you love most about living here?
We live in Burleigh and the ocean plays a big part in why we moved here. I love the Gold Coast’s sunshine and the beach weather that sticks around for the majority of the year. That, coupled with the amazing local community and slower pace of life. It doesn’t get much better.

Talk to us about the initiative you’ve just put in place to provide takeaway dishes rather than having diners eats in…
Labart at home will be available for pick up from the restaurant from Wednesday to Sunday afternoon and meals will range from $20-$30. An online ordering and payment system will ensure minimal physical contact and Labart’s high quality hygiene standards will remain in place, as well as the introduction of additional sanitization methods. We want to nourish people in a time when the world needs it the most. Dishes will be rustic, comfort food as we head into the winter months. Think Chicken coq au vin + mash potato, Free-range pork, chickpea + pumpkin casserole and beef bone broth minestrone. We’ll also have an offering of desserts and sides. It will be the same Labart quality to enjoy at home. Stay tuned for delivery to be announced soon.

Tell us about your career thus far?
I’m lucky to have worked with some of the best chefs in Australia like Mark Best and Brent Savage. When I was starting out, there were enough restaurants in Australia pushing the boundaries that meant young chefs like myself didn’t have to go overseas to learn. Putting myself in a fine dining environment early on really set the bar for where I wanted my cooking career to head.

Have you always known you wanted to be a chef?
Cooking has always been part of my life from a young age. My oldest brother is a chef and he pushed me into the kitchen knowing I’d love everything about it.

Why did you think the Gold Coast needed a restaurant like Restaurant Labart?
We’re starting to see a lot of people relocating to the Gold Coast from bigger cities like Sydney and Melbourne. They’re used to dining in restaurants of a certain level and we saw an opportunity to offer that on the Gold Coast. We wanted to give locals a restaurant with a high-end level of food and wine but without stuffy, formal service. For us, Labart is the kind of restaurant we love to eat at and we saw an opportunity for the Coast to experience that too.

You just released an autumn menu, what do we need to know about it?
Our menu is small but changes almost daily based on the high quality produce our local suppliers have available on the day. The change from summer into autumn means we have access to new season produce like pine mushrooms and artichokes. Keep an eye out for new dishes featuring these seasonal vegetables as they make their way onto the menu.

Tell us about your venues’ ethos…
In one sentence – Labart champions sustainability, seasonality and simplicity while hospitality remains paramount.

What are your thoughts on the Gold Coast’s dining scene in general?
The Gold Coast dining scene has grown up a lot in the past few years. There’s a move away from cheap eats and overly-themed venues and more of a demand for proper restaurants offering excellent service alongside technique-driven food and drinks. It’s an exciting time to be a Gold Coast local.

What do you have planned for the remainder of 2019?
We have some exciting collaboration dinners coming up with friends of ours in the wine and spirits world and we’re working on a line-up of interstate guest chefs who will be cooking one-off dinners at Labart.

Favourites on the Coast:
Beach: Burleigh – of course!
Restaurant: Iku Yakitori Bar
Bar: Lockwood Bar
How does your weekend usually look: Saturday and Sunday are work days for us but I make sure I still find time for the beach. The day normally begins by crossing the road for a surf, followed by breakfast on the balcony with my wife before I head into the restaurant.

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