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Salt grill by Luke Mangan

Curious how a laid back tapas menu would mesh with fine dining, we checked out the new tapas menu at Salt grill by Luke Mangan. 

Unfortunately, this restaurant has now closed – but you should stick around and check out these other restaurants!

Luke Mangan quoted “My most memorable dishes, are the ones I’ve shared with friends” which is most likely his inspiration behind the new tapas menu at his Gold Coast venture Salt grill by Luke Mangan, tucked away in the exclusive Hilton Surfers Paradise.

A recent article posed the question, “Is fine dining dead?”. If even the fine dining kings are incorporating tapas into their menus, maybe it is.

Our beach community prides itself on our laid back lifestyle. So what happens when a fine dining restaurant such as Salt grill mixes in with the not-so-fine-dining tapas culture? Could that possibly work?

Much like Luke Mangan’s philosophy with food, the decor has a clean and contemporary twist.

The open kitchen previewing chefs in traditional chefs attire, large circular windows sit behind thick chain link curtains, white table cloths sit atop every table, and the salt and pepper shakers are precisely placed, so the salt faces the ocean. As you sit down, the waiter places a napkin in your lap and asks the classic ‘still, sparkling or tap’ question. All the makings of a fine dining establishment.

Steak for men in suits and cocktails for women with perfectly quaffed hair; terribly cliché but on point.  Clearly a successful fine dining strategy, why jump on the tapas bandwagon now?  Surely the couple ordering a bottle of Verve would not break away from the caviar or truffled mushroom foam. Would they?

As soon as the first tapas delights were brought to the table it was incredibly clear why not only was this going to work, it was going to thrive. Fine dining is usually reserved for dates or special occasions. With both, the purpose of the dinner is to connect with fellow diners. Sharing simple elegant food is a fantastic way to do that. It sparks conversation and with the addition of Sangria and specifically paired drinks. It was clear the new tapas menu was designed to be delicious and to create a shared experience amongst diners.

The dishes were simple and full of flavour.

The elegant scallops atop black pudding and butternut puree were buttery, rich and petite. Quick to follow were the tempura oysters with wasabi mayo were crispy, meaty and had a surprise bed of wakame. The mini seafood fork still made an appearance in true fine dining style.

The Tempura Prawn Duo was served with a coconut lime Asian slaw, but with a bit of lemon grass. Sitting atop a creamy peanut sauce, this Thai influenced dish was crunchy, zesty and light.

What we would consider the main fare was a Braised Wagyu short rib accompanied by a green papaya & peanut slaw and Moroccan lamb cutlets topped with capers, raisin puree,  hazelnuts and broccolini. We could taste the spicy sweet, tear apart short rib and the cool crunch from the papaya slaw. The lamb was tender with pops of salt from the capers and lots of crunch from the hazelnuts.

Our incredibly knowledgeable waitress made fantastic wine pairings on our behalf for our tapas dinner. We started with a crisp sauvignon blanc to accompany the seafood and moved on to a pinot noir to savour the red meat. We were impressed to see an unpretentious wine list which included a selection of chilled reds, no snobbery here, it’s the Gold Coast, it’s hot, we’ll drink the wine how we want! Our dessert was paired with a fantastic dessert wine.

A platter of petit fours, Créme Brûlée, a Churro and gold dusted Semifreddo were served for dessert. Of the petit fours, we were especially impressed by the Passionfruit purée Waffle Cones and the traditional rose Turkish Delights.

Oh and one more thing, the tapas menu is at a surprisingly low price that most can afford. 


Level 1, Hilton Surfers Paradise, 6 Orchid Avenue

Surfers Paradise, QLD

9 reasons locals love Surfers Paradise

Surfers Paradise Beach - Photo by Will O (Image from Unsplash)
Surfers Paradise Beach - Photo by Will O (Image from Unsplash)

Ah, Surfers Paradise. The jewel in the crown that is our fair city. The place visitors first picture in their minds and have done for the last several decades. While it is the most tourist-dense part of our Coast, what is it local’s love about it? Here we fill you in on the six best reasons locals love Surfers Paradise.

Belt out karaoke at Tune Up
The definition of karaoke, Tune Up is THE place to test out your vocal cords after you’ve had a few cocktails at bar instution The Avenue or a few schooners of ale from House of Brews. It’s an intimate environment that feels much like a house party where you can choose to mingle with everyone in the main bar or take up residence in your own little private room and sing your heart out. Count us in!
Where: Level 1, 23 Cavill Ave, Surfers Paradise (above Gold Coast Real Estate)

Have a Guinness at the D’Arcy Arms
Wet your whistle with a pint of Guinness at D’Arcy Arms where the historic first Guinness keg was brewed in Queensland (and arguably Australia), tapped onsite in 1988. This locals’ Irish pub fave offers a welcome change of pace if you want to take things slow, keep warm by the fireplace or if last night happened to get the better of you. There’s always great home-style food to be had, live music and a few friendly faces with some good craic.
Where: 2923 Gold Coast Highway, Surfers Paradise

Surfers Pavilion (image supplied)
Surfers Pavilion (image supplied)

Have a luxe afternoon at Surfers Pavilion
Aptly positioned with ceaseless waterfront views and boasting a substantial mooring site of 400sq metres, means if locals would like to arrive GC-style by boat or jet ski — so be it! Setting and glam aside though, the new arrival is perfect for enjoying our fantastic year-round weather with an outside frosé bar, and for those with a discerning palette, a dedicated oyster and Champagne station keeps the crowd more than occupied.
Where: 30-34 Ferny Avenue, Surfers Paradise 

Hit 9 pins at Strike Bowling
Prepare to lose a few hours when you step into this space which is a literal smorgasbord of entertaining activities and feast for the senses. The highlight is the 10-lane glow in the dark bowling alley where competitive urges can be settled with groups big and small. But, it doesn’t stop there either. If you fancy further fun, then a 15-person karaoke room, cocktail bar, two escape rooms, and pool tables should do it.
Where: Circle on Cavill, Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise

Sip cocktails on The Island Rooftop Bar
Rooftop bars are one of the greatest things that ever happened to the Gold Coast. Period. Now, take this sentiment and couple it with this — the Gold Coast’s largest open-air rooftop bar — and voila, you have one of the best places to drink delectable cocktails, watch live music, and live your best life at the stream of ever-changing events (drag queen brunch anyone?). You are promised great times and vibes when you head to The Island.
Where: 3128 Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise

The Island Rooftop (image supplied)
The Island Rooftop (image supplied)

Grab breaky at Cuppa on 41
If you find yourself in Surfers Paradise before the afternoon, then you need to head to Cuppa on 41 to energise yourself for the day — as well as for all the other inclusions on this list! The café is an excellent concept that allows local underprivileged youth to become experienced in hospitality, and coincidentally isn’t so hard on your pocket either! Our pick is the Bauernomelett, a German-style omelette straight out of heaven. You’ll leave with a satisfied belly and knowing you have contributed to a change in a Gold Coasters future.
Where: 41 Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise

Indulge at Alfrescos Italian Restaurant
Creating picture-perfect pasta and pizza for the last 25 years, you might say what Alfrescos doesn’t know about Italian food and ambience isn’t worth knowing — and you’d be right! This charming family-owned and run restaurant has stood the test of time with locals and continually returning for great Italian classics and drinks to match. If you haven’t been in a little while, be sure to change that, the venue underwent a slight facelift late last year and is looking as enchanting as ever.
Where: 3/3018 Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise

Retro's Surfers Paradise (image supplied)
Retro's Surfers Paradise (image supplied)

Boogie on down at Retro’s
When it comes to having a boogie along to cheeky tunes of yesteryear, you no longer have to hide in your bathroom in your towel to do so. All the locals know that Retro’s is the ultimate answer to having a fun night out and dancing the night away to the music you grew up with. With themed nights and drinks specials coming at you from all angles, you are destined to have a good time no matter what day of the week it is at this hotbed of a disco.
Where: 3 — 15 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise

Take in the view at Surfers Paradise Surf Life Saving Club
After a swish refurbishment, this 100-year-old surf club is the faultless place to go for an ice-cold beer for a spot of people watching, seamless views across the Pacific Ocean and to chat to a local. The family-friendly atmosphere is full of locals after their early morning beach walk tucking into a big brekky (but they’re also open for lunch and dinner too!) — a great option straight off the sand and when you feel the need to escape the crowds with some uber-friendly Queensland hospitality.
where: Corner of Hanlan Street & The Esplanade, Surfers Paradise

Words by Alex Mitcheson.

Surfers Paradise Life Saving Club (image supplied)
Surfers Paradise Life Saving Club (image supplied)

3 new finger lickin’ reasons to visit Brooklyn Depot Kitchen & Brew

After eating their way through the US on a taste-testing mission, the team at newly renamed Brooklyn Depot Kitchen & Brew brought home 15 of the most authentic dishes they found for your finger lickin’ pleasure.

While there are obviously 15, here are the top three reasons to make a date with the Brooklyn boys stat.

1. The Lobster Mac & Cheese
It’s out of this world. As if Mac & Cheese wasn’t already the best thing that ever happened, the addition of lobster tips it over the edge. Basically it’s fresh lobster meat in a three cheese sauce baked ‘au gratin’ with a gremolata breadcrumb topping. Yes. It. Is.

2. The Cheeseburger Empanadas
These may just blow your mind – housemade empanadas with grass fed beef, American cheese, pickles, onion and served with Depot special sauce – they taste better than a cheeseburger but look more like a curry puff. Thank you America.

3. Chicken n’ Waffles
Not just any chicken n’ waffles though, sweet red velvet ‘bubble style’ waffles topped with crispy southern fried chicken pieces, served with maple cream syrup and flavoured butter. Soul food done the Brooklyn way and oh so Instagrammable.

There’s plenty more where they came from too y’all so a couple of visits a week for the next month should do it. The good old US of A comes through for us again, cheers legends.

Inside tip: the Yo’ Mama milkshake will make you very happy.

LOCATION: Brooklyn Depot Kitchen & Brew, The 4217, 10 Beach Road Surfers Paradise
HOURS: Open 7 days, 11am until late

Words and photos by Kirra Smith

6 Gold Coast heritage sites you should know about

Kirra Shelter Shed, Kirra Beach (image supplied)
Kirra Shelter Shed, Kirra Beach (image supplied)

Although our beautiful city seems relatively new in comparison to some down south, settlers actually began arriving here in the 1700s and there are plenty of heritage sites dotted around the place to prove it.

We’ve rounded up six of the most unique so you can spend the weekend brushing up on your local history. You’re welcome.

Matey Memorial, Surfers Paradise
You may have unknowingly had a selfie with this little guy but as a Gold Coast local, you should get familiar with Matey, the homeless dog who called the streets of Surfers Paradise home for over 12 years. He was a true Gold Coast icon befriending many tourists and locals as a loyal companion. Matey was mainly known for walking home revellers from Jim Cavill’s hotel during the 1940s and 1950s.
Where: Cavill Park, across from Melba’s, Surfers Paradise

Kirra Shelter Shed, Kirra
Kirra is home to one of the world’s most famous surf breaks, the Kirra Beach Pavilion (also heritage listed) and old school, iconic Gold Coast fibro beach shacks. While driving around the headland towards Cooly, you may have noticed the cute little shelter overlooking the ocean. It’s not only a great place to hide from the scorching sun, it’s also got some time on its back, over a century to be precise. Early photos of Kirra beach show the shelter in place by around 1916. The Kirra Shelter Shed makes for a great viewing platform and is the perfect spot to watch whales play out in the ocean.
Where: Kirra beach, Kirra

Maid of Sker, Nerang
Nerang was one of the Gold Coast’s founding suburbs so it’s no surprise a lot of heritage listed sites can be found there. One such site is the Maid of Sker, an old iron paddle steamer built in 1884, lying next to the Nerang River in Bischoff Park. From 1893 to the early 1930s it transported sugar cane and other produce up and down the Albert, Logan and Nerang rivers. The Maid of Sker is a great little history lesson on how things were back in the day.
Where: Bischoff Park, Nerang

The Pink Poodle neon sign

The Pink Poodle neon sign, Surfers Paradise
The iconic Pink Poodle Motel built in 1967 along the Gold Coast Highway and Fern St drew many tourists (especially honeymooners) to the Gold Coast. One of its standout features in a time of motor travel was the brightly lit neon sign featuring a strutting pink poodle. The motel has since been demolished but the famous sign has been preserved and can now be found close to its original location on Fern Street. Tricky to get a selfie with, the sign has been immortalised on local t-shirt brand, The Undercurrent due to its importance to the Surfers Paradise community.
Where: Gold Coast Highway and Fern St, Surfers Paradise 

St Augustine’s Church, Coolangatta
St Augustine’s Church in Cooly is the only church on the Coast resembling the Italian Romanesque style. The building opened in 1926 and was designed by J. P. Donoghue, changing the skyline in Coolangatta with its campanile of 110 feet (33 metres). For the local Catholic community, the church became the focus for both social and spiritual life, and continues to serve that purpose today.
Where: 42 O’Connor Street, Tugun

(Former) Tallebudgera Post Office, Tallebudgera
The old Tallebudgera Post Office is one of the oldest surviving buildings found on the Gold Coast today. It was built in 1878 and operated for almost a century until March 1958. This super cute building consists of a small, single roomed structure with a veranda at the front. It is constructed from timber in the style known as ‘board and batten’. You can find this historic site at
Where: 17 Trees Road, Tallebudgera

Words by Louisa von Ingelheim

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