The Gold Coast is a metropolitan region approximately one hour south of the Queensland capital Brisbane, on Australia’s east coast, easily accessible by train or bus. It is famed for its long sandy beaches, surfing spots and elaborate system of inland canals and waterways. It’s also home to theme parks and, inland, hiking trails criss-crossing Lamington National Park’s mountain ridges and valleys, home to rare birds and rainforest.
Whether it’s surfing, swimming or simply sun baking, the Gold Coast offers 21 beaches along 57 kilometres of stunning coastline with world-class entertainment available. However, when the Gold Coast’s culinary scene stood tall at the Good Food Guide 2019 Awards, the international gastronomic eyes shone brightly and crowned the area as a gourmet, epicure, gastronome paradise; first class all the way.
It stands to reason that if you’re going for gold, you’ve just got to arrive in style, add a pinch of panache and serve it all on a stylish silver platter. In my case that meant flying from Brisbane to the Gold Coast in a flash helicopter, landing at the Marina Mirage then boarding a luxurious yacht for a spot of champagne and succulent pastry nibbles from the new venture Ursula and Ben Watts (of famous pastry powerhouse Bam Bam), Cubby Bake House.
All of this is ‘bar-setting-high’ stuff but, if you want to spoil your significant other on a special occasion, secure that contract, impress that client or propose in an exceptionally unique style, believe me, this is a winner. And inimitable, exceptional food is on the menu.
A limousine then took me to the Burleigh Pavilion on Goodwin Terrace. This $10 million construction is absolutely breathtaking, channelling vibes from Florida, United States, whilst paying tribute to its local surroundings — they’ve even installed showers and surfboard racks so you can literally go from beach to bar.
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The Pavilion is made up of two areas. At the northern end sits restaurant, The Tropic, and at the other end is the more casual The Terrace (great if you’re spending time with the family and young children are involved); both have food offerings from head chef Guillaume Zika, who nabbed two hats while running restaurant Cottage Point Inn in New South Wales. Both offer a superb range of cocktails (Rosy Gin Kombucha, Burleigh Barrel), wines (some 90-plus options) and beers on tap (Balter, Stone and Wood and Burleigh Brewing). Yes, spoiled for choice.
Just downstairs is the iconic Rick Shores. The view is an Instagram dream; pristine sand, intriguing, shiny rocks and rolling surf all seemingly within arm’s reach. The food is inventive enough to intrigue real foodies, without sacrificing the essence of modern Pan-Asian cuisine; a triumph attributed to executive chef Ben Bertei and head chef James Brady who focus on fresh, locally-sourced produce.
Both bar snacks and a la carte are appealing and include fried shrimp wonton, smoked ham broth, fermented chilli, pork floss and (yes!), the famous, ‘Ricks’ fried bug roll with gem lettuce and sriracha that completely exceeded my expectations. The restaurant offers cold (kingfish sashimi, black sesame, lime, coconut), over the coal (charred Wagyu, miso hollandaise, crispy kale, smoked pickled onions), meats and curries (smoked pork and tamarind curry, charred chilli, roasted macadamia), sides and salads (grilled octopus ‘Som Tum’, watermelon, snake beans and lime). As well as desserts to happily break your resolve and your diet.
I stayed overnight at the Bujerum Holiday Apartments on Goodwin Terrace. Located directly opposite the famous rolling surf of Burleigh Beach, Bujerum offers unique, family friendly, self-contained two- and three-bedroom apartments boasting high quality fit-out and finishes, incredible ‘on beach’ location plus the ultimate Burleigh Heads views.
Queensland’s Gold Coast is a winner on many platforms and surely must be happy to take centre stage, any time, in any gourmet rivalry, pleasing palettes from the connoisseur to a fussy four-year-old.