When I was growing up in country NSW, the Sizzler at Greenhills was a dining highlight (followed closely by the all-you-can-eat Pizza Hut nearby). So when we arrived on the Gold Coast last Friday and drove past Sizzler at Mermaid Beach I was, just quietly, a little curious.
Simon was less reticent: ‘That’s it, we’re going there tomorrow’. As you know, I take my eating pretty seriously, so I felt compelled to read the reviews before we went. They were woeful. But on Saturday morning I was just the right level of hungover that Simon was able to convince me it was a good idea.
From time to time I’m reminded that Simon’s upbringing was vastly different to mine: he went to Nepal for his Year 10 school camp; we went to Leyland Brothers World in Karuah, home of the faux Uluru. But never has the difference been as stark as when we arrived at Sizzler and he asked me which meal I was going to have. Say what? Who orders the a la carte meals at Sizzler? The salad bar is ALL YOU CAN EAT people!
Anyway, I got caught up in the moment and was ordering the Shrimp Fry before I knew what had happened. To be fair, I’d just noticed a woman in a red cape helping herself to the bacon bits, so I was a tad distracted…
We loitered at the counter for a while before being shown to our booth, then as soon as the waitress had gone to fetch our cheesy toast we were charging at the salad bar. And, just like that, the clock wound back 20-odd years, and I was piling flaccid pasta onto my plate, spooning over lukewarm bolognese, then dusting it with fake parmesan and chilli flakes. I added some greenery because, you know, I’m an adult now, then proceeded to stuff my face. And you know what? It tasted just like childhood. That’s not to say it tasted particularly great, but it was exactly the same.
I’d already downed my first plate by the time the cheesy toast arrived. And it was a revelation. If the bolognese had remained unchanged for two decades, the cheesy toast had excelled in that time. It was crunchy on top, ultra-fluffy on the bottom – and when the table next to us was offered a second round, the teenage girls actually squealed with glee. That’s how good it was.
For round two, I hit up the potato skins, to which I added the mod accoutrements of guacamole, jalapenos and fresh tomato salsa, which definitely didn’t grace the Greenhills buffet back in the day. And then my main course arrived. Jesus, nobody needs that much food. And nobody needs a wilting side of mesclun when there’s a full salad bar at your disposal. Oh well. The little fried prawn cutlets were actually damn tasty, but Simon’s steak was hilariously bad.
We were too full to even approach the dessert bar (ok, I approached, but then retreated). Never mind, it’ll get a full workout when we’re back on the Goldie in November. Because nostalgia tastes that good.
For some serious eats in town, check out my Gold Coast restaurant guide for Mercedes-Benz.