If there’s an eatery with a top location, this is it: Café Catalina, overlooking the Broadwater, adjacent to the expanded Broadwater Parklands leisure area, the Rockpools play and picnic area and the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre, host for the Commonwealth Games swimming and diving events.
Yet, in many ways, much like its namesake, Café Catalina is a bit of a hidden secret. You could pass by on the Gold Coast Highway and not realise that there’s a café located in the complex.
Named after the Catalina aeroplanes that landed on this shore in WWII, the café reminds us of our rich history. The planes played a similar role in Australia to what Spitfires did in Britain: ‘long-range mine-laying, torpedoing, rescue, evacuation, and holding open far-distant lines of communication’. They were our guardians of the sea, keeping us safe from invading troops.
It’s an obvious location for this dual role venue: a café offering a simple menu to swimmers on one side and a fully operating formal eatery on the other.
With a menu divided into breakfast (until 11.30am) and lunch (from 12 noon), on Friday to Sunday lunch spills over into evening. A large bar overlooking an alfresco area serves drinks and beer on tap to diners, with live music livening up a Sunday afternoon session.
With Chef Prashan in the kitchen and seasoned chef Laurence Griffin as consultant chef (ex-Salty Plum and Liquid Amber), the menu is in very capable hands.
Perched almost on the water’s edge with stunning views, Café Catalina is just the place to enjoy seafood, and the dishes we tasted were magnificent:
Hervey Bay scallops with intriguing smoked tomato and black olive butter
Grilled local prawns with a bite of chilli, garlic, lemon and capers
Atlantic salmon with a halo of rich salsa of zucchini, capers, raisins, pine nuts, fennel and olives
Grilled barramundi with parsnip purée, broccolini and a gorgeously rich lemon caper burnt butter sauce
The seafood is magnificent: plump fresh pieces cooked to perfection, served with delicious complementary sauces. Our meal is an absolute delight.
But seafood doesn’t comprise the whole menu. There are many other dishes suitable for a range of occasions.
How easy it would be to share arancini while listening to live music or with Friday afternoon drinks, to share a green papaya salad for lunch, followed by a Kingaroy slow-cooked crispy pork belly.
Don’t forget dessert, either. Besides the cakes in the cabinet, Crème brûlée is a winner, as well as Banana pudding with whisky caramel and ice cream.
With quaint, almost cottage-like deco (open picture frames and wallpaper naming the beaches of Australia), this is a perfectly ambient spot to meet. Its large wood-framed bi-fold windows show off a stunning view, making it a romantic haven for couples to enjoy a leisurely meal, ladies to catch up over coffee, or as a wedding or function venue.
Don’t let it stay a secret!
Gold Coast Aquatic Centre, 10/11 Broadwater Parklands, Gold Coast Highway, Southport; Ph: 07 5571 0390
Open Mon – Sun Breakfast and Lunch; Fri – Sun dinner.
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as guests of Café Catalina. This is an updated review. This review has also been published in Blank GC.