My first Gold Coast dining experience was a dirty kebab on Schoolies Week, which was, it pains me to say, 15 years ago. That Broadbeach kebab shop is still there. In fact, during our visit to the GC last weekend, I woke up one night to find Simon waving a chicken kebab in my face. Best surprise snack ever. But outside the hours of midnight and 5am, Kebab 88 ain’t making my list for Gold Coast restaurants to hit this summer. Unless you’re sufficiently sloshed, in which case move that bad boy straight up to number one.
At all other times, take your pick of one of these stellar places to eat, including a fab new bar-restaurant in Broadbeach, a virtuous cafe and the buffet to end all buffets (which may or may not be Sizzler).
The new kid on the block, Hank blew us away last weekend with stellar contemporary fare and an insanely cheap bill – we’re talking $120 for four dishes and a bottle of Chablis. The fried whitebait with tarragon aioli has summer snacking written all over it, and the roast carrots with labne and honey could well be my new go-to vegie dish when entertaining. Also keep an eye out for the salmon special, served with prawns, mussels, clams and a lip-smacking seaweed butter. So damn good.
The banquet is the way to go at this Grecian gem – and a steal at $55 a head. Kick off with a bottle of wallet-friendly Greek red, then settle in for a procession of fabulous tastes, including fluffy taramasalata with warm bread, a wedge of saganaki, cured swordfish, impossibly tender calamari, salty cubes of pork belly and fall-apart braised lamb. Chances are you’ll be so stuffed (as we were) that you’ll have to order the desserts to go. Never fear, sticky baklava and semolina cake make an ace breakfast the next day.
3. Social Eating House
Sharing is caring at Social Eating House in the Oracle at Broadbeach. Bring a crowd for generous dishes such as the whole roast chook basted with lemon and herbs or a hefty grilled rib-eye with horseradish and red wine jus. Round things out with a summery salad of heirloom tomatoes, creamy fresh mozzarella and basil, plus endless Aperol spritzes.
4. Black Coffee Lyrics
Tucked above a string of cheap Asian eateries in a dreary Surfers Paradise arcade, this isn’t one of the sexiest settings on the Gold Coast. And yet, Black Coffee Lyrics still manages to entice with its ramshackle assembly of share-house couches, graffiti-covered walls, cheap-ass wine and deep-fried brie. Seriously, who’s saying no to fried fromage? Also worth a nudge are the miso-glazed pork belly, and housemade spelt pasta tossed with squishy pumpkin, parmesan and spinach. Much like the decor, nothing quite goes together, and yet it somehow works.
The streets of Broadbeach are lined with strings of dodgy-looking cafes toting $10 big breakfasts (you’re on your own there kids). Koi doesn’t look much different to the rest, but it leaves the others for dead in the dining stakes. Grab an outdoor table for prime GC people-watching – so much tan, so much plastic – then surround yourself in a bubble of smug by ordering the acai berry bowl, house muesli or red quinoa fruit salad with coconut yoghurt. On the savoury front, the breakfast antipasto platter comes loaded with smoked salmon, feta, smashed avocado, fresh tomato salsa, toast and more – it’s easily enough for two to share.
Normally I’d run screaming from a hotel buffet. (Ok, that’s a bald-faced lie… I’ll fight you for the last croissant or a spot at the front of the omelette queue.) But the Bazaar buff at the QT is up there with the best, pipped only by the behemoth in Cancun that offered DIY tostadas and margaritas on tap. They’re a little less generous with the booze here, though you will get a glass of bubbly on arrival. Then it’s time to hit the food stations to ensure you get your $72 worth. You can do the most damage at the seafood bar, where you can load up on oysters, crabs, prawns and Moreton Bay bugs. Then, top piping hot pizzas with sliced-to-order prosciutto, dip into the dim sum station, or zero in on the shelves brimming with desserts.
For a more low-brow, but no-less satisfying take on the smorgasbord, get yourself to Sizzler Mermaid Beach. Yes, I’ve waxed lyrical about the nostalgic value of Sizzler on the Gold Coast, and I stand by my claim that this temple to bad taste is worth a visit, if only for the endless supply of cheesy toast and potato skins. A waist-expanding trip down memory lane.
Where to eat
Hank,12/15 Victoria Ave, Broadbeach
Hellenika, 2235 Gold Coast Hwy, Nobby Beach
Social Eating House, 3 Oracle Blvd, Broadbeach
Black Coffee Lyrics, Lvl 1, 3131 Surfers Paradise Blvd, Surfers Paradise
Koi, cnr Albert St and Surf Pde, Broadbeach
Bazaar, QT Hotel, 7 Staghorn Ave, Gold Coast
Sizzler, 2516 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach