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From seafood buffets to brunch by the beach, the Gold Coast is now considered a culinary and coastal destination.
The Gold Coast is known for its long stretches of sandy beaches and clear blue seas. It's where you will find lifesavers standing like statues, sun loungers that stay out year-round and a cityscape that glitters in the late afternoon sun. But the southern Queensland area best known for its coastal lifestyle is also becoming known as a culinary destination.
Director of Sales and Marketing at the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort, Gold Coast Nick Clarke, says the Gold Coast has undergone somewhat of a culinary renaissance in the past decade. He cites a wave of new food and drink options that have brightened up the coastal suburbs stretching from Main Beach via Burleigh Heads in the north to Palm Beach in the south.
"I've been on the coast since 2009 and I have seen the Gold Coast grow up a lot during that period," Clarke says. "There was definitely an injection of confidence when it was announced the Gold Coast would host the 2018 Commonwealth Games. A steady influx of café owners and restaurateurs has since demonstrated the integrity of the destination. We're taken a little bit more seriously these days," he says.
Celebrate good times
Clarke believes the upward trend of chefs and restaurateurs from Sydney and Melbourne has helped bolster the appeal of the Gold Coast as a destination for dining. He says while the café and restaurant culture was once concentrated to the southern end of the Gold Coast, the epicurean offerings are now broad-reaching on the 57 km-long coastline and range from relaxed cafes to rooftop bars and airy hotel restaurants by the sea.
Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort offers a coastal location and international cuisine Photo: Supplied
"The Gold Coast includes a great mix of everything from high-quality restaurants to food trucks. Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort is blessed with a few great options that add to that mix: one is the hotel's mainstay, Terraces Restaurant, which has a seafood buffet that pulls a regular crowd for its lagoon-facing location and quality local seafood," he says.
"The Oyster Bar & Grill is also a premium a la carte restaurant that is a special-occasion space aimed at couples. The Oyster Bar has enjoyed a recent refurbishment, but continues to serve food from the heart."
Clarke says Pearls Bar is another standout venue at the Sheraton Grand, as it looks out over the lagoon and ocean. "We recently launched High Seas, which features fresh seafood served in a tiered stand in line with the high tea concept."
Clarke says he feels blessed to work for a brand that has integrity in a market that is saturated with good food options. "It's such a pleasure to see people coming back again and again as it talks to the loyalty that the Sheraton brand is after." To discover more great offers, click here.
Sunshine and surf
The co-founder of the Salt Meats Cheese brand, Italian-born Stefano De Blasi, opened up an outlet in Surfer's Paradise in 2015 hoping to capitalise on the area's burgeoning reputation as a culinary destination.
Salt Meats Cheese delivers the flavours of Italy to the Gold Coast Photo: Supplied
De Blasi says the 100-seater Salt Meats Cheese restaurant, located in a high-traffic area in The 4217, an urban village next to the bus terminal, doles out hundreds of wood-fired pizzas each day.
"The Gold Coast has changed a lot. There are so many restaurants now and there are amazing cocktail bars, speakeasy bars, rooftop bars, vegan restaurants, steakhouses, food trucks, amazing places for seafood buffets or brunch by the sea," De Blasi says.
"Competition is a good thing. In the past 24 months, we have seen a lot of Sydney operators come to the Gold Coast for a lifestyle change and so it's really exciting now to go out to dine everywhere from Burleigh Heads to Mermaid Beach," says De Blasi, who manages SMC's operations in Queensland.
Full of fresh flavours
Marketing manager at Surfer's Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa, Bronwen Hemmings, agrees the dining out scene on the Gold Coast has undergone somewhat of a renaissance in recent years. Hemmings says hotel restaurants have continued to raise the bar in response to the expectations from visitors.
Curated cocktails at the Surfer's Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa Photo: Supplied
"The food scene on the Gold Coast has changed a lot because people travel, their tastes have changed, they want great experiences, and this is evident in our new hotel offerings. We have different promotions each month just to cater to the volume of different travellers who visit the Gold Coast. We have everything from an interactive Japanese teppanyaki experience at Misono Japanese Steakhouse to bar bites beside the Pool Bar, award-winning high teas at Chapter & Verse Bar and Lounge and the wonderful seafood buffet in Citrique Restaurant overlooking the lagoon," says Hemmings.
She adds that while the seafood buffet at the five-star hotel curated by executive chef Andrew Fraser has been a draw for decades, the casual Pool Bar serving beverages and light bites is also hugely popular.
"The Gold Coast is a health-conscious place to live and that approach extends to dining out and eating fresh, locally sourced produce," she says.
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