How This Gold Coast Suburb Became One Of Australia’s Top Dining Spots
Amidst the high rises and urban sprawl of the Gold Coast, Burleigh Heads is a breath of fresh air – a beach town with pumping surf and a strong sense of community. Though tacos were once the height of local cuisine, Burleigh has flourished into a gourmet powerhouse.
Chef Guillaume Zika, formerly of the two-hatted Cottage Point Inn in Sydney’s Ku Ring Gai National Park, says Burleigh now ranks among the top dining destinations on the southern Gold Coast – joining the likes of nearby Nobby’s and Palm Beach.
As head chef for Burleigh Pavilion, a glamorous venue with an enviable location overlooking the beach, Zika is revelling in the opportunity to help shape the town’s future.
“Burleigh has that always-on-holiday feeling where people are always happy and smiling,” he says. “It’s a beachside town that’s super relaxed, but still close enough to the cities so you don’t feel isolated. People are drawn to the lifestyle because it’s fantastic.”
While it couldn’t remain a local secret forever, Zika believes a recent influx of sea changers from Brisbane and Sydney have spurred on Burleigh’s transformation. Used to the large selection of high-quality restaurants and cafes, they’ve forced the town to step up.
“Since there’s a lot of tough dining competition these days, only the great ones survive.”
Ready to bite into Burleigh? Here are all the essential spots you need to try.
Burleigh Pavilion / The Tropic
Good things always come in pairs. Occupying the second storey of the iconic beach pavilion on the waterfront, this two-in-one venue Burleigh Pavilion offers an unforgettable view with an experience to match – all under the direction of Michelin-starred chef Guillaume Zika.
Tuck into delicious wood-fired pizzas and burgers at The Pavilion, a casual bar and eatery on the outdoor terrace, or choose full-service restaurant The Tropic at the northern end of the pavilion. The Tropic’s produce-driven menu is big on fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Located just downstairs at the northern end of the same building, Rick Shores is all about casual elegance, lapping waves, gorgeous views and tantalising pan-Asian flavours.
Chef James Brady, formerly of Shannon Bennett’s prestigious Vue de monde in Melbourne, is the star in the kitchen, so it goes without saying you’re in for a stellar dining experience. If there’s just one thing on the menu you try, though it’s highly recommended you do order a few dishes to share, make it the fried bug rolls – they’re life-changing!
After experiencing huge success at their venues in Noosa and Byron Bay, the Light Years team have turned their attention to Burleigh Heads. The result is a sleek, pastel-toned Asian diner with a great vibe, feisty menu and delicious cocktails to match.
Sharing is a big part of the menu, with dishes such as eggplant katsu bao, five-spice roasted duck pancakes, and shitake, chestnut and ginger wontons packing a flavour punch. Wash it down with a pineapple margarita and you’ll have a one-way ticket to foodie heaven.
Justin Lane Establishment
It’d be criminal to explore Burleigh’s dining scene and mention Justin Lane Establishment. Opened in 2011, its grown from humble pizzeria into a multi-storey venue with restaurant, takeaway, and rooftop terrace. Many also credit it with sparking Burleigh’s renaissance.
The sun-drenched venue offers five distinct venues in one, meaning there’s something for everyone. As a result, it attracts an eclectic crowd and is packed every day of the week from lunch till late. Sourdough pizzas and homemade pastas are only the start.
For a more intimate and stripped back affair, head to Labart. Led by talented head chef Alex Munoz Labart, formerly of Monopole in Sydney, the smart and sophisticated eatery offers a taste of European elegance with a distinctly Gold Coast edge. Choose from the a la carte menu or send your taste buds on culinary adventure with a long or short degustation.
The menu changes regularly depending on seasonality and availability of seafood, though dishes such as barbequed king prawns with garlic butter and capers are a regular fixture.
Harry’s Steak Bistro & Bar
Go weak at the knees over a really good steak? Then Harry’s Steak Bistro & Bar need to be on your radar. More than just a steakhouse, it’s a love letter to the beef industry, with outstanding quality meats sourced from top some of Australia’s top producers. They also have their own organic farm nearby, creating a true paddock-to-plate experience.
Whichever Burleigh venue you choose, you’re pretty much guaranteed an exceptional time.
(Lead image: The Tropic / supplied)
Published 31 January, 2020