QUEENSLAND’S Gold Coast has come a long way from the days it was known primarily for its theme parks and Surfers Paradise glitter strip.
With the arts, culinary, music and retail landscapes all thriving, the new Gold Coast can now hold its own against the southern states with a host of world-class eateries, bars, retail precincts and hotels opening their doors in the surf city.
One venue which has generated a lot of excitement is the multi-million dollar Burleigh Pavilion, which opened its doors on December 22.
The brainchild of hotelier Ben May, behind Manly Wharf Bar and Mrs Sippy in Sydney’s Double Bay and Bali, and Robert Magid, this restaurant and bar is housed at arguably the most iconic location on the entire Gold Coast, the absolute beachfront Burleigh Beach Pavilion on Goodwin Terrace.
The second-storey venue - award-winning pan-Asian eatery Rick Shores is downstairs - is split into two zones so you can enjoy a casual bite and a drink at The Pavilion Bar after a day on the beach – there are even surf racks and a shower outside - or a finer dining experience at full-service restaurant, The Tropic, on the northern side.
When a shiny new venue opens on the Gold Coast, there’s always a lot of hype - and very long queues – so I was a little dubious about my Australia Day booking.
We decided to lunch at The Tropic and then head to the more casual bar area for a cocktail afterwards in case the crowds were too much. However, when we arrived, there was no queue and the vibe was relaxed and low-key.
With its pale pink tiled bar, pops of terrazzo and pastels and four-metre-high ceilings, The Tropic, is certainly beautiful space.
There’s also an expansive open-plan kitchen at the venue's heart where you can see executive chef Guillaume Zika and his team hard at work.
Our cosy booth-style table is outside and although it’s a stifling hot day, the sea breeze is glorious and it feels we are as close to the ocean as we can get without getting wet.
The view is breathtaking and we watch the surfers ride the point waves while enjoying a glass of Cloudy Bay Pelorus Rose Brut from Marlborough, New Zealand.
Our waiter is attentive and friendly and we order a few light dishes to share including the pumpkin salad with feta, pomegranate, seeds and honey dressing [$22], the ocean king prawns with dry vermouth butter – and house sourdough to dip into the said butter [$8] - and the heirloom tomatoes with bualo burrata, basil and balsamic [$26].
Zika and his team source produce locally - seafood is king here, obviously - and from the neighbouring northern New South Wales food bowl, and our dishes are all fresh and flavoursome.
Later on, we wander into the bar area, which is busy but not uncomfortably crowded.
The bar snacks menu includes pizzas, burgers, beer-battered fish and chips, nachos and some healthy salad options plus there are 14 beers on tap and 90-plus labels on the wine list.
We take a seat at one of the high tables with our classic margaritas – they were very good - and people watch. The crowd is a mixture of dressed-up young hipsters, mums and bubs, the well-heeled post-lunch crowd and those who have come in off the beach.
The Gold Coast has been in need of an absolute beachside watering hole, a little above the traditional surf club offering, for some time and this venue certainly delivers.
It is early days and some say they are still ironing out some creases, which is to be expected, but the Pavilion is a welcome addition to the Gold Coast’s hospitality scene, and coastal vistas don't get any more spectacular.