There are few suburbs on the Gold Coast built to encourage a sense of community well-being, however Emerald Lakes is one of them. Oozing the charm of a modern European-inspired village, its centre is surrounded by a village, an 18-hole golf course and clubhouse, along with 13 kilometres of walking and bike tracks around a lake.
Longevity studies point to ‘community’ as a common factor in those who live longest: “People who are more socially connected to family, friends, and community are happier, healthier, and live longer than people who are less well connected,” says Harvard-affiliated psychiatrist Dr. Robert Waldinger.
Emerald Lakes, with its geographical central hub boasting cafés and restaurants, is set up to foster community, as Cabukee’s new owners, Chef Fin Tully and his wife Risa are well aware.
A New Zealander by birth, Fin trained and worked on the Gold Coast, extending his culinary experience in Brisbane, Melbourne and Japan at such places as the Sheraton, Stamford Plaza and more recently as Head Chef at the French-influenced Pompidou, Bulimba, before taking ownership of this central Emerald Lakes café.
Despite its new owners, there’s little change to the look of Cabukee. The semi-industrial fitout of timber and brick draws you away from the lake to a cooler, relaxing space. There you have the choice of indoor or alfresco dining, open from 7am, the community hub of Cabukee being a top spot for locals to stop on their morning walk to have a coffee and meet up with friends.
Talking coffee, Cabukee serves an organic blend from Marvell St Coffee, Byron Bay, a personal favourite. Just the right mix of chocolate tones and smoothness to accompany lunch of salads, bowls, burgers and open sandwiches, as you bask in the sunshine!
It’s in the menu that we can see the most change, with Fin injecting new life and a touch of class into favourite dishes. With everything made in house, including sauces, the breakfast and lunch dishes are cooked to order. From Eggs Bene with homemade hollandaise ($13) to organic free-range Pork belly salad ($18) or a vegan Buddha bowl ($18), there’s something for everyone, lots of add-in options, and vegan choices clearly marked.
Fin’s classical training and the influence of Asian cultures is evidenced in his meal preparation and in the attention to detail on Cabukee’s menu: Sous vide strip loin with the bite of pickled radish and spicy miso mayo, the flare of dark balsamic pearls on the bright Caprese salad, Japanese Furakaki seasoning on the Smashed avocado, and Beef brisket served with smoky BBQ sauce and kimchi.
On Friday afternoon the restaurant kicks off the weekend with Happy Hour from 4pm to 6pm sporting $5 house wines and $20 buckets of four Coronas. Weekend evenings also have their own menu, with tapas offered in small and larger share plates to suit different occasions and appetites. The larger size plate could double as a meal for one to be enjoyed with shared starters, or you may choose to dine with a progression of dishes, as few or as many as you choose.
Whether you enjoy a charcuterie board with a bottle of wine to share, some shoestring fries with a crispy salmon salad and beer, or a Caprese salad and Beef Brisket with goat cheese mousse, this is a great place to catch up with friends with minimal effort required. After all, it’s the people we meet on the journey that count!
Stepping up to modern dining is a welcome change in this area, the couple also choosing some interesting, well-priced wines to accompany their food offerings. Watch out too for special chef’s dinners, advertised through the venue’s social media pages.
We leave with a little jealousy in our hearts. How fortunate is the Emerald Lakes community to have scored an excellent chef and well-chosen team! This is just the meeting place that Emerald Lakes needed!
Shop 5, 3029 The Boulevard, Emerald Lakes; Ph: 5594 2860 Open: Sun – Thurs 7am – 2pm, Fri – Sat 7am – 9pm
NOTE: Cabukee is a licensed venue. BYO wine $10 per bottle. On one occasion, Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of Cabukee.