When a chef and a restaurant critic agree on an eatery, it pays to take note.
Is there one restaurant that really nails the Gold Coast vibe?
MJ Rick Shores in Burleigh Heads has it all – beachfront, the smell of the ocean – and it’s bright, breezy and fresh. Even in winter, it’s summer all year.
MK Rick Shores, hands down. I don’t think there’s any other restaurant on the coast where you can dine with the waves rolling in just metres away from your table. Maybe it’s that sea air – or perhaps it’s simply the effects of the cocktails – but there’s always a buzzy atmosphere.
What’s the best old-school restaurant in the area?
MJ Omeros Bros Seafood Restaurant at Main Beach has been doing the same stuff since the 1970s and continues to do it very well. The freshest seafood, beautiful chips – simple but perfect.
MK The Fish House in Burleigh Heads doesn’t do share plates or add quirky twists to its menu – just topnotch seafood treated with the respect it deserves. Oysters are served au naturel, mains come with complimentary sides of roasted potatoes, greens and salad, and there’s a classic prawn cocktail.
What’s your favourite coffee spot?
MJ No Name Lane (Shop 132, 3 Oracle Boulevard, Broadbeach; 07 5538 5221) is my go-to for my twice-a-day pick-me-up. The beans are by boutique roaster Black Sheep and they make a consistently good flat white.
MK Parlour (34 Tallebudgera Creek Road, Burleigh Heads) is a calm little oasis near the creek. They use a range of beans from Marvell Street Coffee Roasters in nearby Byron Bay and the baristas take care with every cup.
Where would you go to splash out?
MJ The North Room at Mermaid Beach is part of the Gold Coast’s new wave that shows you can do something amazing with a tight 28-seater. You sit around a beautiful bar, the menu changes all the time and it’s really innovative food that pushes boundaries.
MK Seaduction Restaurant + Bar is glitzy in a way that only Surfers Paradise can pull off. You enter the foyer of the Peppers Soul building and take the white marble staircase to the dining room, where leather armchairs and spectacular views await. The eight-course dégustation is a procession of well-executed modern-Australian dishes.
And for a casual family dinner?
MJ For good Greek food, Hellenika is our family’s choice. It has a great chef and the lamb is amazing, as is the seafood. The prices are surprisingly good, too, considering they’ve recently fancied it up with an expensive-looking fit-out.
MK Social Eating House + Bar has large share plates of hearty comfort food – it’s perfect for a family dinner. The whole roast Barossa chook and the lamb shoulder slow-roasted in sheep’s-milk yoghurt are especially delicious.
What’s your hot tip for the best breakfast?
MJ Bam Bam Bakehouse is an amazing pâtisserie and café with an on-site bakery that has a huge viewing window. I love their eggs Benedict and croissants.
MK Bam Bam Bakehouse is fantastic, not just because of the beautiful French pastries but also because they come out of left field with dishes like Egg Nasi – nasi goreng with a fried egg and a side of chilli sambal – which makes a great change from standard brekkie fare. They also have picnic rugs that you can spread out in the adjacent park for the ultimate lazy start to the day.
Where would you go for cocktails on a rooftop terrace?
MJ The Collective Palm Beach has a great beach vibe, along with fantastic Margaritas and Amaretto Sours.
MK Justin Lane Establishment took a fairly nondescript 1960s brick shopfront in Burleigh Heads and made it the coast’s coolest spot for rooftop cocktails. With a great drinks list, views and a misting system for those balmy summer days, it’s beachside boozing at its finest.
What’s the Gold Coast’s best-kept food secret?
MJ Jimmy Wah’s is the kind of place only locals go to but it has amazing Vietnamese food and big windows overlooking Burleigh. The rice paper rolls stuffed with chicken and Thai basil are incredible and the pho is really good, too.
MK The Wine Barrel. Mudgeeraba itself is a bit of a well-kept secret – a laid-back village nestled between the coast and the hinterland. At the rear of an unassuming little shopping centre is this tapas bar that punches way above its weight with dishes such as crisp soy quail and 14-hour braised lamb shank ravioli with leek mash and preserved lemon.
How about your favourite bar?
MJ The Roosevelt Lounge in Broadbeach is small but it really takes things to the next level. They prepare cocktails at your table – it’s very theatrical.
MK The Cambus Wallace, at Mermaid Beach, named after a ship that went down in a storm off the coast, along with its cargo of whisky and beer. It’s a nautical-themed, moodily lit bar reminiscent of being below deck on a yesteryear sailing vessel.
And the best Asian restaurant?
MJ Kiyomi at The Star Gold Coast is the sibling restaurant of Sokyo in Sydney. It has a similar menu of modern Japanese with a bit of French fusion thrown in. The chef, Chase Kojima, is very talented and the standout dish is the miso-glazed toothfish.
MK The omakase menu at Yamagen at QT Gold Coast is great, as you can soak up the atmosphere while the food keeps coming. You’re in excellent hands with Adam Lane, who worked at Tetsuya’s and with Nobu Matsuhisa at Nobu and David Thompson at London’s Nahm.
What’s a great place for seafood?
MJ The Fish House has impeccably fresh seafood, with a variety of fish and shellfish in the display cabinet. The King George whiting is cooked two or three ways; I prefer it crumbed and pan-fried, served with salad.
MK Reef Seafood + Sushi in Southport is quick, casual and incredibly fresh. All the produce is on display so you can eyeball the prawns and oysters and choose exactly which ones you want. Or choose a piece of fish and have it served as sashimi.
Where do you go when you want to keep things super-healthy?
MJ I stay at home or I head to O Sushi in Broadbeach for Japanese.
MK BSKT at Mermaid Beach has vegetarian, gluten-free and Paleo eats. The raw pad Thai made with zucchini noodles is as delicious as it is virtuous and the high-protein falafel plate with hummus, tzatziki, rocket and harissa is also a feel-good feed. If you’re really keen, you can do a yoga or meditation class in the loft above.