Those who say the Gold Coast isn't known for its gourmet grub clearly haven't ventured further than the fish and chip shop near their holiday apartment block.
Recently, a number of Gold Coast restaurants were recognised at the 2016 Brisbane Times Good Food Guide awards. These restaurants, and the lauded chefs at their helm, scooped up an impressive 14 Chef's Hats, cementing this coastal playground as a firm fixture on the national culinary circuit.
But with or without those esteemed Chef's Hats, local restaurateurs are turning heads and whetting the appetites of foodies and food critics alike in Queensland's sunniest stretch. Here's a taste.
At Room81, culinary maestro Sam Moore and his team are acclaimed for their creative spin on mod-Oz cuisine. This two Chef's Hat restaurant enjoys an intimate setting on the lobby level of the luxe Sofitel Gold Coast Broadbeach hotel.
An open kitchen allows diners to see the chefs at work as they create two-, five-, seven- or nine-course degustation menus. Australia's best produce is used to bolster the bold flavours of this dynamic menu, including everything from local Witches Chase cheese and kangaroo prosciutto to new season potatoes and lemon myrtle.
For a taste of Tokyo, look no further than Kiyomi at Jupiter's Casino. Head chef Chase Kojima (of Sokyo and worldwide Nobu fame) celebrates shared dining with a slew of imaginative dishes. Moody, with subtle Japanese accents, the dining space opens up with a bar area where liquid libations run the gamut of tap and bottled beers, shochu cocktails and Japanese whiskies.
The star though is of course, the dinner menu. Savour the seven-course omakase (chef's choice) shared degustation, or choose from binchotan, tempura, raw and izakaya a la carte items. Must-order dishes include the Hiramasa kingfish with miso ceviche and crispy potato; crispy rice with spicy tuna; and the chicken with yuzu honey, celeriac and yakitori sauce.
Terraces Restaurant at Sheraton Mirage Resort & Spa sits high on the list of any seafood lover. Before you notice the bright, light-filled space and the ocean views, your eyes will be drawn to the glistening array of deep crimson prawns, plump oysters and glossy crabs.
Terraces Restaurant takes the mantra of 'fresh is best' seriously and utilises its coastal location to source only the freshest ingredients straight from the ocean. Settle in for a leisurely lunch where you can indulge in not only seafood, but heartier delights such as rich soups, tender roasts, salads and oven baked pastries and desserts.
These days, revered chef Luke Mangan may be more known for his culinary feats in the air and at sea with his respective Virgin Australia and P&O partnerships, but this culinary king can still bring the flavour on land. With strong Asian influences, Salt grill serves up Luke's distinguished, yet affordable style of modern Australian cuisine.
Choose from a set degustation menu or a flurry of a la carte favourites without having to take a seat in the sky or set foot on a ship. The signature kingfish sashimi with ginger, eschallot and Persian feta is a menu mainstay and a must try on any visit.
Brought to the seaside by the same folk who run popular Brisbane locale LONgTIME, Rick Shores is a newcomer to the Gold Coast gourmet scene. And what a mark he's made. The airy restaurant space commands prime real estate right on the sand of Burleigh Beach.
As for the food, Rick Shores serves up a decadent modern Asian share menu, taking cues from Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese and Korean flavours. Afternoons don't get much better than an Aperol spritz in hand while devouring exotic temptations like salmon tartare tacos and Wagyu rump cap with aged black vinegar and roasted shrimp oil by the sea.
The Fish House
There's another destination at Burleigh Heads vying for your attention. While its location and setting on Goodwin Terrace is relaxed, The Fish House isn't exactly the place where you can simply wander up from the sand.
Perfect for couples or groups of gourmands, sophisticated, yet simple seafood is the order of the day at this Chef's Hat recipient restaurant. The Fish House and its array of beautifully plated dishes has a loyal local following. The Patagonian toothfish and saffron tagliolini with Queensland yabbies both have large fan bases. Choose from the chef's menu of the day paired with wine, or linger over some share plates and glasses of vino, and enjoy the sea breeze.