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Eating well in Gold Coast, Australia: Room 81, Sofitel, The Fish House,

Australia has always been beef, dairy and wines to me.
In Gold Coast, its geographically strategic location with pristine ocean to the east and fertile farm country to the west means a deliciously successful myriad of produce that goes beyond just meat and wines.

Seafood, at its best both in freshness and variety is something to be taken advantage of in every meal.
One of our more memorable meals was the Room81 Restaurant in Sofitel Gold Coast itself.
Another was at The Fish House, an establishment that had a lot of local press hype over the owner and his associated Nobby Beach greek restaurant.

The Fish House is on Burleigh Head overlooking to the beach. As expected the window seats are the most sought after for the view to the ocean and the surfers.

We were seated in the middle of the room. Lunch time is extremely busy but the wait staff remained diligent and attentive to our needs.
Recommendations were pretty spot-on and we enjoyed out meal. I sneaked a look at the prices after our meal and after taking into consideration the quality of produce, preparation methods, service and ambiance, it is still undeniably a bit pricey.

The Fish House:

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Starter:
Whole baby calamari, chargrilled with lemon & oregano (AUD26). 
Delicious, soft with a nice chew but a really tiny portion for the price.

Oh, bread and butter were served prior to the meal but I was hungry I didn’t bother with pictures of those.

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Starter: Pan seared (CANADA) scallops with spring onions (AUD26).
I love scallops. These were perfectly seared, a lovely size and so sweet.

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Our mains came with these sides for sharing; potatoes and lightly tossed greens in simple dressing and all were utterly delicious.
I love my greens and heaped these on my plate.

The Fish House - Gold Coast - food review

Mains:
This is mine and I loved it the most even after taking a bite of everyone’s dish. Yup, I declare my ocean trout dish the best of the lot!

Petuna Ocean Trout Macquarie Harbour (TAS) (AUD42) Oven baked with macadamia and herbs.
The mixed herb and macadamia is a lovely, tasty paste on the trout. The innerside of the trout was still pink and soft and its natural flavours intact; exactly the way I love it.

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King Fish Cutlet (moist) Port Lincoln (SA) (AUD42) – braised with white wine & onions.

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If you have ordered a whole fish, it will be deboned at your table, by a good-looking hunk too if I may add. 🙂

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Coral Trout (delicate) Cairns (QLD) (AUD52) – steamed, fennel, white wine & tarragon.
Given The Fishhouse’s focus on simplicity, I did think that the sauce was flavoursome enough yet just at the delicate balance of NOT overpowering the delicate flavour of the fish.

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Thin Spaghetti with Bug Meat (QLD) AUD28.
We were really really curious about the “bug meat”. Turned out to be some sort of a species of slipper lobster. 

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The ambiance is definitely one of main factor for the high prices here. Service is extremely professional yet friendly. Everyone is knowledgable of the menu, from the food to the dessert to the wines.
During busy periods the noise level can get uncomfortably high and you might need to raise your voice to be heard.

Gold Coast -   The fish house

Asian at Work: Photos before anyone is allowed to touch the food! 🙂
Patagonian Toothfish (rich) Heard Island (AUD56) – Glacier 51, certified sustainable, caramelized, spring onions.
This dish was highly recommended by our waiter and though I admit it is tasty, I still find the caramelised surface was too sweet and it overwhelmed the natural flavours of the fish.
By the way, the Paragonian Toothfish tasted almost like cod; high fat content, white waxy flesh, firm and thick flakes.

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We wished that we had stomach space for the cheese. The waiter made it all sound so good!

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No space for cheese unfortunately, but we got space for desserts! 🙂
And yes, all 3 desserts were enjoyable. To the last lick.

Apple Tartin (AUD28 for 2 pax), House made Ice Cream – Coconut Milk Chocolate (AUD3.50/scoop) and Citrus Tart & Mascarpone (AUD14).

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1 the fish house - apple tartin

1 the fish house - coconut ice cream

Providore, Marina Marage:

Now Marina Marage is Queensland’s ultimate waterfront shopping and dining destination.
It is a short five minute drive from the heart of Surfers Paradise and on every Sunday the famous Farmer’s Market starts at 6am and the merry trading goes on to 12pm.

Gold Coast - Day 3

Darcy, our guide dropped us off at 10am to survey the market and do a bit of shopping before our planned lunch at Providore.

My initial impression of Providore is “just another restaurant serving pasta, breakfast and meat” based on the website.
Little did I know that it is has a glorious little bakery and a deli counter displaying gorgeous salads and brick-sized sandwiches.
The mini market within the restaurant offers all kinds of spread, fruits, vegetables, cookies and even ice-cream!

Gold Coast - providore marina marage

Inside, it reminded me of Delicious (the popular restaurant in KL); the decor and modern simplistic.

The breakfast and lunch menu differs.
For lunch I zoomed in on one of the salads at the deli; a kale (can you guess why I ordered it?), spicy chorizo, bacon, lentils and whatever else salad.

It sounded fabulous, looked fabulous but tasted anything but fabulous no thanks to the amount of sodium. Perhaps it was a bad idea to combine chorizo and bacon in the same bowl.

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Irene hit jackpot with the Providore Selection (AUD26)Mixture from the best Providore has to offer: cured meats, olives, dips, handmade terrine, marinated vegetables, cheese and breads.

Gosh, everything on this platter is marvellous. This one tasted as good as it looks. Thankfully looks wasn’t deceiving here.

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I had a Steak sandwich as my main. Done medium rare of course.

Steak sandwich (AUD19.50) Fillet steak sandwich served on toasted Ciabatta with confit beetroot, lettuce, Gruyére cheese and tomato chutney & chips. 
The steak could do with some seasoning. Somehow the overall execution was lacking and it wasn’t the sublime sandwich I had imagined it to be.

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My luck was obviously bad that day. Even the Thai chicken salad (AUD24) Thai style chicken salad with grilled prawn,bok choy, picked mint, coriander, wombok and a ginger, lime and soy dressing; an order by Beatrice turned out to be delish.
I wouldn’t have thought of ordering a Thai dish in an Australian restaurant, but if the Thai salad turned out better than the steak sandwich, I guess I stand corrected!
In fact, I single-handed wiped half the salad clean. It is not as punchy as an authentic version, but it is tasty nonetheless.

providore at Marina Mirage Shopping Centre

Steak $29Black Angus sirloin, pickled mushroom salad, broccoli florets, fondant potato, roasted field mushrooms and rich beef jus. 
Since I already had my steak sandwich, I didn’t take Aunty Ruby’s offer of her steak. There were no complaints from her so I’m guessing it’s all alright.

steak at providore

Char grilled tuna (AUD26) – Quinoa, crusted tuna served with fondant potato, avocado, soy and lime dressing.
The portion is monstrous for this one but frankly it was a bit of a flavour let-down.
Quinoa? WHERE?
Oh, you mean that sprinkle of grains…

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Still, it is easy to see why Providore is so popular. Service is energetic, warm and friendly. The drinks were good, fresh juices with no sugar added and served in tall glasses.
All in all, the food is imaginatively presented, fresh and of good quality.

While you’re here, a walk by the marina which is really peaceful and picturesque. It is also perfect for cruising up on Broadwater as this is where the tours will depart from.

marina marage - selfie time

Marina Marage:
Location:

74 Seaworld Drive, Main Beach
QLD, 4217

Room81 Restaurant Bar and Cafe @Sofitel Gold Coast, Broadbeach

On the ground floor of the Sofitel Broadbeach is Room 81, an elegant fine-dining space.
Intrigue marries creativity in harmony here with the brilliant Chef de Cuisine Sam Moore at helm in the kitchen.

Room 81 offers a menu crafted to promotes micro seasonal craftsmanship.
Delicate, fresh flavours are perfectly balanced on every plate and each arrived on the table in the most beautiful presentation.
Chef Sam proves that he can certainly create food with superb flavours and by following the mantra every respected chef swears by; the best dish begins with top-notch ingredients.

Serving portions are just the right size and we really liked the concept of shared plates as it worked really well since everyone is interested each other’s plate.
Every dish looked so good it was hard to decide which to eat so why not share everything?

Appetisers:
Green tea smoked ocean trout, clam custard, fennel, confit potatoes (AUD32). 

Room81 Restaurant Bar and Cafe

So what was Chef Sam’s most “eyebrow raising” menu item?

It is the ‘Valrhona Chocolate Sphere’ for sure; brought to the table as a round ball of chocolate, with liquid nitrogen poured on it to melt the sphere and then smashed in front of the guest to reveal chocolate soil, a long pliable white chocolate (texture almost like soft cheese), blood orange sorbet, cubes of blood orange jelly, tiny spheres of caramel crunch (the tiny brown balls), chunks of homemade honeycomb and chocolate dust.
All of these are meant to be eaten together which means you’ll have to scoop as much as you can onto your spoon and into your mouth!
The varying textures & flavours are amazing!

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Starter:
The Kingfish ceviche, nasturtium puree, compressed cucumber, pickled daikon, apple ice (AUD24) gets a lot of positive consideration (according to online reviews) and it proved itself worthy of the high praise.
The fish was firm and lightly flavoured with the nasturtium (an edible flower) puree which gives it a delightful tang instead of the usual lemon/lime juices.
The cucumber and daikon gave the crunch.

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A vegetarian (well, if dairy is allowed) dish that I’ll recommend here is the Caramelised sweet potato gnocchi, sous vide sweet potato with shaved caprinelle (AUD32).
Caprinelle
is a semi-hard goat cheese from southern France. It gives a delightful goat milk flavour with a creamy finish.
The sweet potato gnocchi is perfectly sweet with a nice chew.

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Pan seared quail breast, confit leg, smoked egg, honey glazed baby carrots, bacon crumble. (AUD22).
Lovely crispy skin from the confit leg and for once, no offensive gamey aftertaste from a quail.

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Duck breast sous vide, pumpkin cream, nameko mushroom, bok chou, juniper berry jus (AUD38).

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Roasted milk fed veal loin, texture of asparagus, sweetbreads, morel jus (AUD24).
Faultless.

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While the Chocolate Sphere took all the glory, the Rhubard custard, rose water gel, pistachio sponge, Tonka bean ice cream (AUD14) was a strong contender for our marvellous sweet end to the meal as well.
It is a creative dessert with intriguing components that came together in harmony on the plate; tart but sweet custard, the perfume of rose water, the fluffy nutty sponge and the fragrant, creamy Tonka ice cream.

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Besides the Chef & kitchen team, the staff at Room81 deserve all the credit for our splendid experience. They straddle the fine line of being professional yet good-natured.
The waitress always had a smile and was more than happy to answer any questions about the menu. Service was never obtrusive but they quietly kept an eye on your needs.
Overall it made for a truly beautiful dining experience.

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Room81 Restaurant Bar and Cafe is one of the few Gold Coast restaurants to be awarded the much acclaimed “Chef Hat”; to which I’ll say “Well deserved indeed“.

We did enjoyed wines with our meal, though my attention was very much on the meal itself to remember taking pictures or notes of the wines.
Room81 has an extensive wine list & all wines are available by the glass as well as bottles.

Cocktails:
I’ll highly recommend a pre-dinner drink at the lounge bar or perhaps even an after-dinner drink.
The lounge bar is relaxing, comfortable and well worth the visit. We sampled an amazing range of sensational cocktails and mocktails; all of which were visually stimulating and palate arousing.

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Mercure Gold Coast Resort.

Crocodile meat and kangaroos. The hardcore foodie in some of us will always be seeking the out-of-ordinary or potentially unattainable ingredients/produce.

I’ve had crocodile and kangaroo meat before and frankly didn’t find it anything amazing. Still as part of your Australian experience, eating Tim Tams are almost as iconic as eating roo meat and crocodile jerky.

Indigenous menu; in reference to native and produce of origin from particular region or country is not exclusive if you know where to find them.
Case in example, within a hotel like Mercure Gold Coast. 

Entree:
Goats cheese tart with thyme, honey, beetroot, smoked tomato and rocket salad (Veg, Healthy) – AUD19.
Fabulous tasting tart; enough cheese for taste but not too rich.

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Smoked kangaroo fillet with pickled beetroot, chili macadamias & bush tomato dressing (AUD19). 
Tender fillets of the roo, slightly smoky flavour and the million dollar question; is it gamey?
Answer: No it’s not. In fact it tasted ALMOST like beef, but darker in colour and leaner so it is actually good protein. Rare or medium rare is definitely the way to go for I can foresee its low fat content would make it a bit dry if cooked any longer.

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mercure gold coast resort - food review

But a kangaroo pot pie works as well.
Braised the meat for hours in stock and season it well and yup, it would taste good.

Kangaroo pot pie with native thyme, horseradish mash, market vegetables – AUD28.

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Watermelon and feta salad is pretty common but a worthy mention goes to the prawn dusted with Dukkah spices. Delish!

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But THE DISH of the evening for me was this plate of thick fillets of tender lamb with a wonderful crust of herbs which impart marvellous flavours to the juicy meat.
The meat was really soft, yielded easily to the teeth while releasing the natural jus of the lamb.
The sides of port glazed shallots and roasted root vegetables retained their natural sweetness while was a delight to eat.

Herb crusted lamb back strap, roast root vegetable, port glazed shallots, saffron aioli – AUD37. 

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I remembered desserts (was there?) and a particularly spicy marmalade that I had requested to speak to the Chef about. But I really can’t find the photos, and will update when I do. 🙂

There were a lot more venues to check out and a lot more food to sample for sure. But as with all holidays it is the case of ‘too many F & B outlets and too little time’.
The solution? Gold Coast again for 2015! 🙂

**This trip was made possible by Accor Hotels, Scoot Airlines & Gold Coast Tourism. Thank you for the wonderful experience!
https://www.facebook.com/flyscoot
https://www.facebook.com/SofitelGoldCoastBroadbeach
https://www.facebook.com/VisitGoldCoast

Below: My travel companions from Singapore – Beatrice, Irene and Sara! We are the happy girls! 😀

Australia Gold Coast with sara, beatrice, moonberry

NOTE: There are 4 parts to the Gold Coast travelogue so CLICK to read more:
1. What to do in Gold Coast, Australia: Shop, beach, swim, golf, Currumin National Park
2. What to eat and where we ate in Gold Coast
3. Where to shop (where I shopped!)
4. Our accommodation : The Sofitel Gold Coast Broadbeach

Stay tuned as I update my drafts of the above. They should all be published before 31st Dec. *fingers crossed* 🙂