The Gold Coast’s foray into a five-star foodie destination.
The Gold Coast’s foray into a five-star foodie destination.
Since its early introduction as a laidback, beachside holiday destination, the Gold Coast has done little to shake off its reputation as the perfect getaway for those in search of sunshine, surf breaks and the salty life.
Over the last few decades the Coast has been a popular Australian tourist destination boasting over 60 kilometres of golden beaches on one side and a towering mountain range overseeing the other. With theme parks, world-class shopping centres and relaxation vibes aplenty, its popularity has never been without merit.
In terms of diverse, world-class food venues though, the Gold Coast has long been deemed to have a lot of growing up to do compared to its capital city counterparts.
Until recently that is.
Lately, the beachside city has exceeded all expectations. In 2017 alone, over 60 new venues swung open their doors to the obvious surprise of visitors and uninhibited delight of locals, who had long been waiting for a change.
From hole-in-the-wall, boutique coffee haunts to glamorous, wine and dining venues and dedicated bars for everything from whiskey to waffles, the Coast has every cuisine covered from family friendly to five-star restaurants and with no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
Some say the transformation began with local restaurateur Simon Gloftis’ foray into the foodie scene. Greek taverna-style restaurant Hellenika was his first venue offering to quality-food starved Gold Coasters and was an instant hit when it opened in March 2010. Bar Hellenika, a casual rooftop venue was added on top of the original restaurant in early 2018.
He says, “We’ve gone through the last five or ten years growing the base of the foodie scene and now there’s a good opportunity to expand on that with some of the world-class restaurants that are opening.”
“They aren’t coming by default either, they’re coming because they realise the market is ready and it’s the right place to be for their businesses.”
So much so that Mr Gloftis, in 2013, set his sights on a beachfront, weatherboard building in Burleigh Heads. The space, complete with uninhibited ocean views, became The Fish House, a specialty seafood venue that flew in only the highest quality produce every morning without fail. To this day, although under new direction now, The Fish House is known as one of the Coast’s premier dining establishments.
Having opened two leading local restaurants, Mr Gloftis now prides himself on a huge personal contribution to the Coast’s continually expanding dining scene. In fact, several of his former members of staff have gone on to open quality venues of their own.
Of his experience he says, “At the time of opening Hellenika it was the first of its kind – there was no share food on the Gold Coast, no BYO and no double sittings. I think Hellenika was the first of the restaurants here that did all of that. It was tough at the start, but it did trigger a bit of a food renaissance on the Coast. Nine or ten of my former staff have gone on to open other venues in the area so we were sort of that catalyst and that impact has been my proudest moment.”
Such was their faith in the potential of the local dining scene, The Star Casino Gold Coast recruited world-renowned chef Chase Kojima to take the Executive Chef position at Japanese restaurant Kyomi when it opened in 2014. The venue then went on to earn a Chef’s Hat three years running.
In late 2016, the Gold Coast food game was changed again with the opening of The Collective. A spacious venue on a corner block in Palm Beach, The Collective offers food options from five completely different cuisines, Mexican, Asian fusion, Italian, Greek, Southern US-style, with diners able to pick and choose from a combined menu allowing for an entirely unique eating experience. A rooftop bar completes the picture ensuring both a family-friendly and late night venue for locals and visitors alike.
Throughout 2017 the Coast saw a host of unique eateries pop up, drawing influence from across the world including Hawaiian-style poke bars, a Japanese yakitori restaurant and, perhaps the most unique of all, a fantasy Victorian-era eatery and cocktail bar.
The diversity of venues, cuisines and, of course, cocktails has been a sight to behold with seasoned restaurateurs successfully opening second and third venues as well as countless first timers stepping up to make their mark.
It’s not only food venues transforming the city though. A wave of bespoke bars have popped up too, lead by passionate young locals with a taste for tipples that will challenge even the most seasoned of tastebuds.
Local entrepreneur Scott Imlach found his way around a restriction only allowing bars to open that also served food by encouraging UberEATS and nearby restaurants to deliver within. Thus, the Coast’s first small bar, Soho Place, came to life in mid-2017 and several others followed in quick succession.
Pre-boom timers Justin Lane, by local restauranteur Adam Haralampou, led the way when it came to a fleet of rooftop bars. The owner of three much-loved locals venues also worked his way around restrictions, removing the roof of an already established Burleigh Heads restaurant. Since then, the open-air establishments have made their way into all the most populated of places finally taking advantage of abundant 180 degree ocean views.
Perhaps one of the most popular watering holes on the Coast is Nobby Beachs’ The Cambus Wallace, a moody, live-music venue specialising in rum cocktails and a guaranteed diversity of characters.
Of the opening, and the Coast’s bar scene in general, co-owner Dave Ferry says, “It was about six years ago we started the Cambus conversation. ‘We’ being a group of friends that grew up on the Coast and loved it but found it to be lacking the nighttime vibe we found when we were traveling.”
“We knew we had to open something that fulfilled that inner nomad; late night eats, delicious classic beverages, live music, good times and just that feeling like ‘this is where you’re meant to be’.”
“Wherever people live or are coming from, we want them to feel like The Cambus Wallace is their local. We’re aiming more for that dream-like place you stumble across when you’re traveling. You know the one, it’s packed with locals and you don’t know a soul but everyone feels like a long-lost friend, the food and drinks are ‘write-home worthy’ and it’s the best memory from your trip.”
In 2017, the bars 20-something owners opened a second venue, The Scottish Prince in Palm Beach specialising in all things whiskey. It was a testament to the growing popularity of bespoke bars and one that was certainly cheered on by locals.
Dave says, “Opening the second venue seemed like the right thing to do to complete the story. We wanted the place to tell a story linked to Gold Coast culture to show people why we love this place so much. The story of The Cambus Wallace was just perfect and really resonated with us being young travellers (or drunkard sailors) who love a good story. The Scottish Prince is just the next chapter of that story. People have finally started to venture out mid-week, like in the big cities and that’s what we wanted.”
It goes without saying the creativity and culinary expertise of the crop of business owners that have seemingly popped up out of nowhere is second to none and, with several venues already swinging open their doors in 2018, the best may just be yet to come.
Already in 2018 we’ve welcomed a Southern-inspired bar and eatery to Coolangatta, a New York-style brunch venue to Nobby’s Beach and a five-star Asian fusion wonderland.
Most excitingly perhaps, was the opening of six-star bar, restaurant and nightclub nineteen at The Star. Headed up by Simon Gloftis and internationally acclaimed events promoter Billy Cross, the exclusive venue is set to rival every other rooftop bar in Australia.
Mr Gloftis says, “nineteen at The Star is a restaurant, pool, cabanas, a lounge bar and a club type venue. I’ve been offered a lot of sites on the Gold Coast so I know what’s coming up and there’s going to be some amazing opportunities for interstate and international restaurateurs here on the Coast.
“It’s real here now. It’s no longer only about what tourists want to eat but venues are opening with specific cuisines, not just mix and match. People are buying the right produce and when that happens you can’t help but move forward. Everyone I speak to is very positive about the growth.”
It seems there’s no turning back now, the Gold Coast is making a name for itself and the crowds are queuing to hit the Coast for reasons that would have been unfathomable five short years ago.
Expect big things in 2018, the unassuming beachside city is becoming a culinary force to be reckoned with, glittery tourist attractions and all.
Words by Kirra Smith.
The moment we’ve all been waiting for will finally arrive this Saturday (March 24th) when nineteen at The Star Gold Coast swings open its solid gold (may be made up) doors.
The high-end restaurant and bar, located on the top level of The Darling in Broadbeach, is pure sophistication unrivaled by any other venue the Gold Coast (and perhaps Australia) has ever seen.
Stepping inside you’ll glide down a curved stairway and be met with sweeping ocean and city views via floor to ceiling windows, stone flooring, a sparkling chandelier and of course, the piece de resistance, an infinity pool from which dreams are made.
nineteen’s colour palette features jeweled hues of teal and ocean blue reminiscent of the Coast’s natural landscape, oozing luxury and ensuring you feel as though you’ve stepped into a glittering wonderland.
As expected, the 110 seat restaurant area will deliver an exceptional, produce-driven dining experience with signature dishes including a Rock Lobster Bolognese and a 400g Wagyu Sirloin Kiwami MB9 (an Australian first and premium dish designed for two).
A custom designed wine room boasts space for 1500 bottles and the bar area offers somewhat of a lighter feel, perfect for after work cocktails or a night of dancing with the girls.
Of course, there’s an exclusive private dining area complete with its own bar and a cognac wall (doesn’t that sounds delightful) to create a completely bespoke experience. Let us know what that’s like hey.
Created for those who crave a truly high class experience, nineteen at The Star Gold Coast is set to be THE place for cutting edge dining with the added bonus of international DJs and plenty of dancing late into the night.
Count. Us. In.
LOCATION: The Darling, Gold Coast Hwy, Broadbeach
Restaurant: open for lunch Wednesday to Sunday and dinner Wednesday to Saturday.
Bar: open from 4pm daily Wednesday to Sunday.
Words by Kirra Smith
Ahoy mateys, we found some treasure. A new venue has dropped anchor in Palm Beach and it’s all your whiskey-loving, cheese board fantasies brought to life.
The Scottish Prince is brought to you by the salty seadogs who gifted us Cambus Wallace so prepare to be transported back in time (again).
The sneaky side entrance opens to a dimly lit space reminiscent of a ships cabin (minus the drunk pirates and plus an impressive whiskey bar). Vintage memorabilia fills every corner, from battered books to long-ago-guzzled booze bottles and art-filled walls that will have you wandering around in wide-eyed awe.
As you’d expect from the nautical newbie, the bar is the star of the show, packed with over 150 varieties of whiskey taking up 90% of the shelf space.
The cocktail list is similarly impressive made up of an array of shipping-themed bevvies even the crustiest of captains will get involved in. For its name alone, the Betrayal and Mutiny in Manhattan is a must-try concocted with Woodford Rye, Espirit de Figues, Seppeltsfield Grand Tawny and Cinnamon Tincture stirred down and served with pear and blue cheese. Epic.
The dinner menu is share-style and every meal kicks off with the softest of sourdough from Burleigh Baker. From there, it’s choose your own adventure with everything from Sirloin Steak with truffle gherkins, golden shallots and red wine jus to Garlic Rosemary Roasted Brussel Sprouts gracing the menu.
Without a doubt though, the most enticing dish is Walk the Plank – a charcuterie board filled with everything that’s good about the world – truffle salami, MANY varieties of top quality cheese, cornichons, pickled fennel, olives, you name it. You’d probably send your own Grandmother off the plank for this one fam.
Oh and in a move not seen anywhere else, you can make your own magic by selecting individual meats and cheeses to build a custom board. STOP. IT.
Fun fact: The Scottish Prince is named after a ship that ran aground in the Southport seaway in 1887. Unsurprisingly, the majority of its cargo was cartons of whiskey. Today it’s a popular local dive spot but we’ll stick to the dry, un-sharky, alcohol-filled bar thank you very much.
Seeya there sailors.
LOCATION: 1176 Gold Coast Hwy (under 8th Ave Terrace), Palm Beach
HOURS: 5pm to 12am Tuesday to Thursday and 4pm to 12am Friday to Sunday
Words and photos by Kirra Smith.
In a first for our foodie-centric city, Broadbeach has recently welcomed a London-style speakeasy known as a small bar in hospo-land. The drinks-only concept is popular around the world and now (hallelujah) the Gold Coast has joined the party.
Soho Place, opposite the Convention Centre, is marked only by a red door with no signage encouraging passers by to pop their heads in and discover what’s going on in the moody, candle-lit space.
Spray-painted scenes depicting London landmarks draw your eyes around the room until they land on the substantially stocked bar which, of course, is where the magic happens.
Owner Scott Imlach and his team, of Bine Bar & Dining and Hideaway Kitchen & Bar fame, have done their research and the result is a cocktail menu to rival any you’ve ever laid eyes on before. Combining some of the world’s most-loved concoctions along with plenty of their own unique creations, Soho Place is your new favourite watering hole.
The Painkiller was first served on the island of Jost Van Dyke in the 1970’s and quickly became popular at Tiki bars around the world. It’s a sweet little drink made up of Pusser’s dark rum, cream of coconut, pineapple and orange juice, nutmeg and maraschino cherries. It’ll certainly soothe what ails ya.
The Bacardi Coconut Bomb is a delight to both behold and consume. It’s simply a whole coconut with a tiny little bottle of Bacardi inserted into the side and it will indeed, knock your socks off.
The Monk Movie is one of the most interestingly delicious things you’ve ever put in your mouth. Green Chartreuse, Gin Mare, popcorn syrup and lime juice combine for a punchy, popcorny flavour that has to be tasted to be believed.
The cocktail list is a long one so set out in search of the red door and choose your own adventure.
LOCATION: Gold Coast Hwy, Broadbeach (between Queensland and Victoria Aves)
HOURS: 5pm to midnight seven days
Words and photos by Kirra Smith