The Gold Coast is famous for its surf beaches and laid-back lifestyle, but its sophisticated dining scene offers foodies some seriously fabulous choices.
By Katrina Lobley
From modest beachside eateries serving up world-class seafood to over-the-top opulence in one of the region's most upmarket hotels, the Gold Coast has a restaurant for every mood and occasion. Try native Australian ingredients such as kangaroo, a Aussie take on a European classic, or a thrilling mix of unusual flavours.
From the outside, The Fish House at Burleigh Heads looks like a simple brick diner (albeit with astonishing views across to the glittering Surfers Paradise skyline). Step inside to discover what's earned this modest-looking eatery multiple awards. A southern European twist elevates fresh Australian seafood: try lemony fish soup; steamed coral trout with ginger and shallots; or a whole rock lobster. For real decadence, add a caviar course to your order.
With executive chef Chase Kojima at the helm, it’s no wonder Kiyomi attracts a lot of buzz. Like Kojima's Sydney enterprise, the highly regarded Sokyo, this Japanese eatery is also tucked away in a casino (The Star Gold Coast at Broadbeach). Given Kojima's appetite for artful presentation, it's a sure bet diners will be astounded as one gorgeous dish after another emerges from the kitchen. The binchotan (white charcoal) and grill menu features lamb chops with plum wine and eggplant, while the small plate menu matches grilled octopus with green sauce and watermelon.
Mix and match favourite Asian dishes updated with modern touches at the glamorous Broadbeach eatery, Mamasan Kitchen + Bar. Chef Ray Choi perfected his cooking at Sydney's China Doll on the Woolloomooloo Wharf before migrating north to the Gold Coast. Here, under the watchful eye of a lady in red (whose striking portrait stars in many Instagram shots), he serves the likes of Wagyu beef bao with kimchi mayo; Singapore chilli crab; Thai sticky pork cheeks; and matcha panna cotta.
Mingle with millionaires at Marina Mirage, an upmarket waterfront shopping and dining complex where diners with their own yachts can simply moor out the front. Cast an eye over the super-cruisers from an upper level table at Ristorante Fellini, which skews its Italian fare towards Tuscan and Neapolitan specialties (the restaurant is owned by the Percuoco family, originally from Naples). Try seafood dishes such as the grilled local garfish filled with prawns and rolled with prosciutto or zucchini flowers stuffed with spanner crab.
At Sofitel Broadbeach's signature restaurant Room81, chef de cuisine Sam Moore is all about taking diners on a culinary journey. His modern Australian degustation menus range from two to nine courses. Start with the likes of Memories of Mum's French Onion Soup before diving into dishes that showcase native Australian ingredients. A dish titled Roo is kangaroo prosciutto with native chutney and saltbush, while Black Pig pairs pork jowl (grown nearby in Byron Bay) with variations of cabbage. On a sweeter note, the dessert menu features fresh flavours like lemon myrtle, chamomile, cocoa and passionfruit.
Near Mamasan in Broadbeach's Oracle precinct is Social Eating House. As the name suggests, Social is all about sharing small and large plates of goodness. The tapas menu might feature softshell crab with Asian slaw and chilli caramel, prawns with peach and prosciutto drizzled with hazelnut vinaigrette, slow-roasted saltbush lamb and Asahi-battered King George whiting. The charcuterie cabinet is filled with jamon, prosciutto and salamis from Spain, Italy and Australia, as well as rustic terrines.
Understated? No, but what else would you expect from the in-house fine diner at Palazzo Versace, the five-star hotel that channels the audacious opulence of the late designer, Gianni Versace. Vanitas, overlooking the hotel's palm-fringed lagoon pool, showcases a 13-metre (43-foot) painting that encapsulates Versace's life. Open for dinner only, Vanitas serves both a la carte and degustation menus on ornate Versace crockery. Expect dishes such as cured and pickled fish with edible sand; Snowy River rainbow trout with spanner crab and buckwheat risotto; and chocolate mousse with raspberry and Szechuan pepper.