The local foodie scene is on fire.
The local foodie scene is on fire.
It’s a good day to be a Gold Coaster friends (when isn’t it) because 20 of our local restaurants were named in delicious magazines’ top 100 in Queensland over the weekend and we’re very proud over here.
Congratulations to everyone who took out the top honours, well deserved.
Here they are in delicious’ order. Prepare to get hungry.
2. Rick Shores
Found on the absolute beachfront in Burleigh, Rick Shores quickly became a favourite thanks to its incredible, Insta-worthy cocktails and THOSE BUG ROLLS. It’s truly next level and absolutely deserving of the number 2 spot (first on the Gold Coast).
Where: Goodwin Tce, Burleigh Heads
13. nineteen at The Star
It’s the rooftop destination atop The Star Gold Coast’s new Darling building and its five star dining at its finest. The setting is pure sophistication and the menu is made up of the finest produce around.
Where: The Darling, Gold Coast Hwy, Broadbeach
Next up is a Greek extravaganza at Nobby’s institution Hellenika who recently underwent a classy makeover and introduced an expanded menu (and wine list). Known for their incredible eats and sophisticated, taverna vibes Hellenika is all the good things. They also secured the number one spot overall for their Brisbane Hellenika venture at The Calile, but the Gold Coast is where it all began).
Where: 2235 Gold Coast Hwy, Nobby Beach
The Star’s famed eatery brings us the authentic taste of Tokyo with mouthwatering sashimi (could eat every meal), crispy rice rolls and some of the best cocktails on the Coast. If you haven’t been, pop this one on your must-do-soon list and get excited.
Where: The Star Gold Coast, Casino Drive, Broadbeach
28. Glenelg Public House
A newbie to the list, Mermaid Beach’s Glenelg Public House has quickly become much-loved for their next-level steaks and laidback gastro pub style of venue. We say the sides are equally as delicious as the mains and don’t go past the beans and the dirty fries.
Where: 2460 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach
29. The Fish House
With 180 degree Burleigh beach views and produce flown in daily from wherever the best quality can be found, The Fish House certainly deserves it’s spot on the list. Spend your next date night celebrating the tastes of the sea in the little white cottage by the ocean.
Where: Goodwin Tce, Burleigh Heads
32. Restaurant Labart
Restaurant Labart, was gifted to us earlier this year and what a gift it is. Brought to us by renowned Sydney Chef Alex Munoz-Labart, the space is one of the most beautiful we’ve seen. The food can be both share-style and keep-for-yourself-style and every single dish on the menu is an absolute delight.
Where: Hill St, Burleigh Heads
Found way up high at RACV Royal Pines, Videre offers exceptional food with some of the best views around. They offer a stunning High Tea if you’re in the market, otherwise head on up for some of the best produce on the Coast.
Where: Ross St, Benowa
59. Mamasan Broadbeach
Slow cooking is the name of the game at this Asian fave. Again, we’ve got tasty share plates with a unique menu including everything from Korean friend chicken to beef tataki salad. Find them in the heart of Broadbeach and try one of everything.
Where: 3 Oracle Blvd, Broadbeach
60. Social Eating House + Bar
An absolute stunner in Broadbeach, Social Eating House is a casual, modern Australian tapas eatery and one of the best there is at that. Everything is absolutely incredible and you can wash it down with an equally ridiculous cocktail.
Where: Shop 137-138, 3 Oracle Blvd, Broadbeach
Another fine dining gem, Vanitas can be found in the spectacular Palazzo Versace in Main Beach. It’s Italian eats at their very best and we highly recommend a feast here for a special occasion in your finest attire. They are the proud owners of several Chef’s Hats too.
Where: 94 Seaworld Dr, Main Beach
73. The North Room
A relative newbie on the Coast, The North Room is next up. It’s a cosy, compact space offering a seasonal menu made up of locally sourced produce in a share-style setting. Find them in Mermaid Beach.
Where: 2527 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach
74. Iku Yakitori Bar
It’s the sensory experience of your dreams in a Burleigh back alley and one of our absolute faves. The food is of the chicken, seafood and meat on a stick variety and all of it is five star. The cocktail list is divine, changing weekly and everything about this place is mind-blowing.
Where: 1730 Gold Coast Hwy (front entrance) or head in through the back on Justin Lane (next to Lockwood Bar).
We’ve got another Italian gem, this one located in Nobbys Beach. As we all know, pasta is life and when it’s combined with recipes by the owners’ Nonna, you know you’re onto a winner. Go when you’re extra hungry and order all the things.
Where: 2247 Gold Coast Hwy, Nobby Beach
83. Little Truffle Dining Room
Another old faithful found in Mermaid Beach is Little Truffle. As you might imagine, truffles are the hero so try to time your visit when they’re in season. Luxe ingredients and European-style sauces will blow your mind so add this one to your list of asaps.
Where: 2444 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach
85. Jimmy Wah’s
Again we find ourselves in Burleigh and this time for a Vietnamese feast of epic proportions. Sip spectacular cocktails and share tasty tapas plates while enjoying the upbeat vibes. Perfect for a night out with the girls if you love Vietnamese cuisine with an Aussie twist.
Where: 1724 Gold Coast Hwy, Burleigh Heads
86. Etsu Izakaya
Oh Japanese food how we adore you. Particularly that of the Etsu variety. The Mermaid Beach gem has been around for a few years now and the love is strong for their array of whiskeys and tapas-style eats.
Where: 2440 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach
87. Gotham Grill
The northern-most restaurant of the bunch, Gotham Grill opened their sophisticated doors earlier this year. They boast two dining spaces including a rooftop serving pizza and share-style dishes and a more formal dining room where steak is the star.
Where: 6 Bayview Street, Runaway Bay
The cosy space offers a share-style menu made up of the very best produce around and it changes regularly so it’s likely you’ll never eat the same thing twice. Which is something we can definitely get behind. The atmosphere is upbeat and the drinks menu is filled with an array of tasty treats.
Where: 2460 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach
Words by Kirra Smith
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
We’re going to call it, Simon Gloftis is the man who started the foodie revolution on the Gold Coast. Starting with Little Beans, then now-iconic Greek eatery Hellenika and finally The Fish House, the restaurateur has a slew of local firsts under his belt.
His passion for the Gold Coast’s dining scene has seen him become one of the most familiar faces in town and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
We chat with Simon about Hellenika’s soon to be opened rooftop bar and the game-changing plans he’s got in store for the Coast.
How did your passion for food came about?
I didn’t realise but obviously growing up in a European family, it was ingrained in me when I was a kid. My godfather has one of the most famous Greek restaurants in Melbourne and we used to go there as a family but I wouldn’t sit at the table I’d go and stand at the door of the kitchen and they’d pass me food and I’d take it out. Then I got a job delivering pizza, worked in a few restaurants, then went to pizza maker and floor manager then I went back to the kitchen. I eventually left hospitality and got my real estate license but every night I was going home and instead of studying the real estate course I was looking at cookbooks so I realised what I loved. I had three cafes on the Gold Coast and then from the cafes I opened Hellenika then Fish House.
What is it you love so much about it?
I literally wake up in the morning and start thinking about food, then I eat food and I don’t stop until I go to bed. It’s my life. I don’t travel anywhere other than for food. When I go to Europe I book the restaurants before I go, even if I’m popping down to Sydney I book the restaurants before I book the flights. It’s all I want to do.
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I went to Marymount College from year four. I was born in Melbourne then we moved to Brisbane, back to Melbourne then to the Gold Coast.
What do you love most about living here?
I just think there’s an energy here on the Gold Coast that the bigger cities could only dream about. We can actually make an impact with such a small decision. When I opened up Little Beans in Nobby’s it was probably the only real espresso bar on the Coast and people followed it straight away. We needed these places. In a big city you can make an impact but you get lost. My whole success on the Coast has been because people supported me. They followed me from Three Beans to Little Beans to Piccolo to Hellenika to The Fish House and now back to Hellenika. I’ve got the same customers from back then and some of my staff have worked in all those venues. The Coast has been a massive support for me.
Why are you so passionate about bringing such quality dining venues to the Coast?
Some of it’s a bit selfish, I actually do things I like and then hope enough people like the same thing. I’m a big fan of healthy food, not as in quinoa salad, as in King George Whiting and Greek salad. When you come to one of my restaurants you will get the best produce in Australia, bar none. We’re either equal to, or better than, every other restaurant in the country and that’s my whole motto.
Do you have a personal favourite of all the ones you’ve opened?
Hellenika. I love every one of my venues because they’re all a piece of me but when I walk into Hellenika I feel like it’s home. I eat there five or six nights a week, I’m happy there. I love the nice big wooden tables, the Greek music, the food, and the wine, the feeling. We all say there’s something in the walls at Hellenika, it’s looked after so many people. It feels like it’s been around for 40 years.
What have you got in store for Hellenika?
We renovated the whole building and I put a whole new level on it. Downstairs will be opening next Friday (1st September) and upstairs is probably about eight weeks away. Upstairs will be a bar with a retractable roof. Downstairs has gone from a taverna-style venue. It had that real rustic Melbourne-style Greek restaurant feel. It’s gone away from that now so when you walk in you’re going to feel like you’re in a Greek restaurant in Athens but something that’s modern today. We’ve gone from 110 wines on our list to 500, it’s amazing, there are 50 indigenous wines from Greece alone. We’re taking everything to the next level. We’ve added some new dishes to the menu – kept about 60% of the favourites – but added some really traditional Greek dishes. Things like Corfu Bianco which is my favourite dish, it’s potatoes and Kingfish baked in the oven with olive oil and lemon juice. So simple but so beautiful.
It’s going to be a touch more formal downstairs and then upstairs is a lot more casual. It’ll be all the mezze food, which is tapas in Greek. Things like pork belly, meatballs, zucchini chips, all that lighter stuff. The bar upstairs will be the main focus, we just want people to be able to come and have a light dinner or snack and drinks. We’ll try and be open until midnight every night upstairs so there’s no guessing if we’re open. You can feel comfortable to go at 10 o’clock at night and have a wine.
What are your thoughts on the rapidly growing dining scene of late?
To give you an example, seven years ago I had to explain what share food was. We had to tell people that food comes to the middle of the table and it’s sort of like a Chinese restaurant. Hellenika was also the first one to do double sittings. Now, that’s commonplace. Nine of my ex staff have opened up venues between Broadbeach and Palm Beach, most of your favourites were opened by my ex staff. I’m really proud of what’s happened on the Gold Coast, if I had a small part to do with it, that’s great.
How would you like to see our foodie scene change or grow over the next few years?
We’ve opened up all the venues I think it might be enough now, there’s nearly one restaurant per person. I think there might be a little bit of hardship to come, just because I know how hard it can be. I’m hoping we consolidate a little bit and maybe get more quality into what we’ve already got before we think about expanding too much further. We need all these local restaurants to make sure what they’re doing is the best they can do. I think it’s neglectful to customers if you start giving them things that are making them sick like artificial flavours and enhancers. I’m hoping we improve on what we’ve got before we grow too much more.
What’s happening after the rooftop is up and running?
I sold The Fish House to do an amazing project, which I can’t mention for a few months but that’s the next big one. Hellenika will always be my baby but I’ve got plans for something that will really be game changing. I can’t wait to launch it.
Being a Gold Coast local, we have to ask your favourites…
Café: For someone who’s owned cafes, I don’t hang out in cafes. I do pop down to get a smoothie or juice from Smoothie Shack, that’s about the extent of it.
Restaurant: Can I mention a few? For steak, Glenelg Public House, again Aaron used to work with me. For soup I go to New Saigon and get my Pho. For ribs I go to Fire Cue. For sushi I go to Sapporo in Broadbeach, they’re the only ones on the Gold Coast that I know buys the same quality seafood I do (just ask them what their best dish of the day is and go with that). For hot pot I go to Itoshin in Mermaid Beach. My cousin owns The Lamb Shop in Burleigh so I’m always up there. Pinocchio in Mermaid Beach do a really good fennel salad.
Weekend hang: I’m working on weekends but my weekend is during the week. I’m just hanging out in Nobby’s. The boys and I always get together on a Tuesday and have dinner, that’s my thing. My family owns Miami Marketta so I’m there a lot to watch a band and hang out.
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.
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.