The round-up: south bound – the Gold Coast’s must-try new openings of 2017
Well, it’s been a massive year on the Brisbane food and drink scene, but we thought we’d mix things up and fill you in on some of the goodness that has been bubbling away on the Gold Coast throughout 2017. If you’re hanging around for the festive season and plan to head south for a sneaky day trip or weekender, there are plenty of exciting new places to keep you nourished and hydrated. From hidden bars to vintage cafes and refined beachside restaurants, here’s a handy list of some of the most impressive new openings on the Gold Coast this year.
The North Room
The relaxed vibe and beachside feel of Mermaid Beach has created the perfect culinary canvas for some of the city’s most popular cafes and restaurants – The North Room is one of the more recent standouts, adding a new element of refined dining to the seaside precinct. Renowned chef Tim Stewart leads the kitchen with a share-style menu that incorporates modern Australian elements with European tastes. Snack on the crispy chicken skins with gherkin salt and the sardine soldiers with oyster cream and jalapenos, before moving onto the popular beef short ribs with cured yolk and celeriac.
Blue Door on 5th
Former Fins head chef Dylan Cashman is the brains behind this quaint Palm Beach space, which offers fine-dining quality and minimum-intervention wines, minus the pretentiousness. The Blue Door features a melting pot of everything from modern Australian to Japanese and French culinary styles. There’s a truly local and sustainable ethos in this kitchen, and the ingredients are treated with respect to create an innovative rotating menu. Basically, whatever ingredients are best on the day will be on your plate. In true Gold Coast style, this gem brings fine dining back down to earth.
When father-and-son duo Brad and Harry Pearce temporarily bowed out of the Gold Coast dining scene after years at the helm of Broadbeach establishment Espana, which later became Franc’s Wine Bar & Deli, we all knew something was brewing. The Pearce family’s latest venture, Lupo, which opened in July (in the same precinct as Bonita Bonita and Glenelg Public House) is a quaint eating house with a legit neighbourhood vibe. Kick back on the olive-green leather seats or pull up a stool at the horseshoe bar and listen to your slab of pork belly crackle away in the fire as you work your way through one of the more unique wine lists in town.
Tasca is Italian for ‘pocket’, which perfectly reflects its style and location in the chilled beachside hub of Coolangatta. It’s refined, cosy and brings a whole new culinary vibe to the relaxed southern end. The share-food menu is polished and designed for all tastes, focusing on the simplicity of modern Italian. Tasca’s refined dishes, like the wild-caught tuna carpaccio, perfectly complements the refreshing wine list, which gives a genuine and respectful nod to low-intervention and independent wine producers. Nab a booth inside for the perfect date night, or soak up the sunshine with a glass of rosé in hand.
Yakitori bar Iku is the latest venture from Mitch and Nerissa McCluskey, the owners of wildly popular Japanese eatery Etsu. Whilst the origin of the cuisine is the same at both venues, Iku certainly holds its own identity. The menu here is authentic and adventurous, yet still approachable, with the humble chook as the hero. With sustainability a driver, the menu sees everything from chicken’s wings, skin, hearts, tail and cartilage all delicately placed onto skewers and grilled to perfection. Combine that with more than 85 different Japanese whiskies and an impeccable cocktail list and you’re in for a great time.
If you haven’t been to Burleigh in a while, things have changed. Lockwood was the first of a many new openings in the precinct – though this speakeasy-style haunt is a little harder to find than its counterparts. It’s nestled in the alleyway behind Justin Lane and when you arrive at the front door, you have to send a text message to let them know you’re there. There are around 140 different bottles of spirits (around half of which is whisky), ranging from affordable drops to rare top-shelf goodness, many of which form the basis of the bar’s killer cocktail list. Here it’s all about respecting the quality and attributes of alcohol, so expect to be well educated by the time you leave.
The Scottish Prince
Brought to you by the owners of The Cambus Wallace in Nobby Beach, this moody Palm Beach bar is known for its wall of whisky (around 200 to be exact), featuring lots from key Scottish regions, as well as international single malts and more classic blends. The solid whisky stash is backed up by a respectable wine list and a very unique collection of cocktails. It’s all perfectly paired with a tasty menu of delicious share food, cheese boards and French-style tartines.
This is Southport’s first-ever rooftop bar – and it’s a real gem. The two-storey establishment was originally a postmaster’s residence, which was occupied in 1909 by Philip Palmer Agnew (Mr PP), a poet, illustrator and scriptwriter. The downstairs deli and bar is dimly lit, with a cabinet of cured meats, a well-curated shelf of spirits and a selection of bottled cocktails ready to pour over ice. A bottle-green brick-clad stairwell joins the downstairs deli to the rooftop, which gives you a bird’s-eye view of the central hub of Southport. Up here you can sit at the bar, in the booths, or nab a timber picnic table with the crew and snack on share food and sip cocktail jugs as the sun sets.
Nightjar, located in the same rad little alleyway that houses Lockwood and Iku in Burleigh Heads, is the latest venue from Scott Imlach, the owner of Hideaway Kitchen & Bar, Bine Bar & Dining and Soho Place. Full of neon lights, rock music and killer cocktails, this grungy bar has an intentional super-casual vibe – and there’s no dress code. It opens from midday on weekends, so if you find yourself fanging for a beer after a lazy Saturday on the beach, then you can totally rock up in rubber thongs and grab a seat at the bar. Nightjar is heavy on the classic cocktails – and you’re a whisky drinker or like to jazz it up with spiced rum, gin or tequila, then you’re in the right place.
This newly opened hang is the Gold Coast’s first gin bar. Yep, gin is king here, with awarded ex-Kiyomi mixologist Tom Angel overseeing the drinkables. The well-curated cocktail list is designed to showcase the complexities and varieties of gin, offering everything from light and floral gins to citrus-heavy variations and bolder styles. Expect to see some really unique gin offerings, too – like sheep’s whey-infused gin (yes) from Tasmania’s Hartshorn Distillery. The gin cocktails rotate regularly, so there will be plenty of magical creations to try.
Justin Lane and Harry’s Steak Bistro & Bar owner Adam Haralampou teamed up with former Sparrow Eating House manager Justine Tompsett to create Palmy’s newest neighbourhood cafe. If you’re familiar with the area, you may remember Feather & Docks – well, that’s gone and Mr Bengel has taken its place, cutting a striking bright-white figure on the beach-side of the Gold Coast Highway. You won’t find any fancy edible flowers here, rather an all-day menu with simple and honest food, with a little bit of that renowned Justine Lane flair. You’ll also find Harry’s famous wagyu beef burger on the menu here – you need to get that special sauce in your mouth.
This is the Gold Coast’s first dedicated poke-bowl eatery and its cool, casual vibe and delicious fare has made it one of the busiest lunch spots in town. The sunny Mermaid Beach hang comes from Morgan Walsh, the brains behind Bonita Bonita and Bon Bon bar, and offers flavour-packed poke bowls alongside a menu of Caribbean-style curry-filled roti bowls. That’s not all they put in bowls – there’s also a menu of smoothie bowls and acai, plus a vegan banana split for those post-beach treats. Oh, and you can have a glass of pinot gris while you’re at it.
Hula Girl Espresso
Love coffee, guitars, records and vintage clothes? This new hang out will be right up your alley. Hula Girl very quickly outgrew its original Koala Park digs and recently moved to Mermaid Beach (near The Borrowed Nursery). You’ll find Marvell Street coffee and cool vibes alongside some tasty treats and seriously top-notch toasties. Though, this is so much more than just a coffee joint – it’s a collaborative space that also features a retail component for Surf City Vintage Instruments, which showcases and sells high-end vintage guitars and records, as well as a vintage clothing collection by local business Kashmir Vintage.
That Blue House
There’s no place like home. Dorothy was right. Luckily, you’ll feel right at home at this Coolangatta gem. The southern end is generally pretty laid back and That Blue House is no exception to the fact. There’s killer Bear Bones coffee, an all-day menu featuring a cool twist on your homestyle faves, plus some seriously relaxed vibes. While there is a modern touch on classic dishes, there is a deliberate shift away from being ‘too fancy’ … it’s all about good, honest food. Hot tip – nab spot on the deck in the sunshine.
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