There are times when tapas and a share platter fulfil our dining needs more than a one-plate meal. Perhaps we have time to spare and feel like a glass of wine and a nibble, or a cocktail and bite to eat before a show. Maybe even a quick catch up without full commitment to a restaurant meal… Now there’s a cosy little bar that fills that bill perfectly.
Sharing is caring in Mermaid Beach’s new venue, D’La Rosa, which brings new life and light to the space formerly occupied by Som Tam Gai.
You know how it is with openings and closings: you win some you lose some. In Som Tam Gai, we lost a great Asian street diner, but in its place new owners Parham, Alenka and Shawn bring us delicious Latino-influenced share plates and tapas, a gap in the market that needed filling.
Hailing from across Europe, D’La Rosa’s owners are following their passion to open a restaurant of their own. Each one brings a different set of skills to their first venture: Shawn’s training in business and marketing, Parkam’s hospitality management expertise and Alenka’s family background running a large organic farm and vineyard that included accommodation and dining.
Though the learning curve for any new restaurateur is steep, with this trio there’s a palpable energy and excitement in the air as contagious as a warm summer breeze.
Catering for about 40 diners, it’s a tiny venue slung around one side of a building with another dining area outside sheltered under cover of umbrellas.
We are welcomed with a smile and seated at high tables in front of the bar. ‘The perfect place for an intimate birthday party,’ I’m thinking. Rose coloured lights splash on white walls, fairy lights twinkle, while the neon graphic above the bar recommends a cocktail.
From the list of classic cocktails, each with their own exotic twist, I choose the house signature, Cinderella Man, made on a tequila base with white chocolate and watermelon liqueurs and egg white, double shaken before being topped with shaved white chocolate. It’s a cocktail unique to D’La Rosa, a drink version of a white Ferrero Rocher, deliciously smooth but not too sweet. The Antalya Playa also caught my eye, an espresso martini made on Turkish coffee with a shot of vodka. Now that would surely kick a night off in the right direction!
Spanish Head Chef Antoni Servera completes the core team, his previous chef/restaurateur background an invaluable asset.
“We love Spanish food, and with our Head Chef ‘s heritage and experience, it makes sense to show off how great food can be in a humble establishment,” Parkam tells us.
Reflecting the size of the venue, the short menu is divided into four sections: To share (platters), Tapas (one dish plates), Quick Bites and Tacos. To us, it’s all very approachable, tasty food to share on a casual night out, accompanying drinks and conversation. It’s suitable for a light meal or stopover rather than a three-course meal covering the breadth of diners. But saying that, it’s priced accordingly, leaving you money to buy some drinks.
We choose a dish from three of those sections: a Tapas board of dips, salumi, pickles and other bites, Chicken croquettes, and a Snapper and mango taco. It’s plenty to share between two; deliciously fresh and simple food that’s made to order.
Our favourite was the croquettes served with red salsa, an authentic Spanish recipe from Chef Antoni’s grandmother. It’s rare to find so great an example of croquettes with Spanish Romesco in Australia. The Cal-Mex style taco with battered snapper, mango salsa, pickled onion and coriander was also a favourite, fresh and light, and we were kicking ourselves that we only ordered one. Given the chance, we could probably hoover a bunch of them!
Other menu options include Garlic prawns, Chimichurri steak, Ceviche and Nachos, the menu to be tweeked as the seasons change.
Preferring wine to accompany food, I settled on a pinot noir, while my partner chose a local favourite, Black Hops beer on tap. Like the food menu, the wine list is short but well-priced, covering main bases with easy familiar choices.
Open each evening, D’La Rosa is a welcoming spot to grab a casual drink with a few friends, family or even a first date. You will be greeted with respect and a genuine welcome, your food will be made with love and there’s more than enough food choices to enjoy on your journey.
D’La Rosa, 2375 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach QLD 4218, Ph: 0451 119 751 Kitchen open: 5.30pm – 8.30 Monday to Saturday; Bar open until late.