It’s fitting that the Gold Coast’s newest Greek restaurant, overlooking the sparkling Broadwater from Marina Mirage, should be called ‘Elia’.
“The ‘elia’ or olive tree is highly prized by Greeks as a sign of prosperity and fertility,” Elia’s owner, former Adelaide restaurateur Marina Panayiaris tells us.
The Greeks’ love affair with olives has continued for over 5,000 years. Originally used only for their cosmetic benefits, today olive oil is highly prized as a healthy fat and antioxidant. In Greece, dotted along rocky hillsides, beside roads or houses, there are olive trees, each family growing their own.
Olives are an essential part of the Mediterranean diet, widely recognized as one of the healthiest ways to live. Abundant in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and olive oil, Mediterranean food features lean proteins such as fish and poultry over red meat.
“This is the food I want to bring to the Gold Coast: home-cooked meals to eat every week,” Marina says.
The menu contains many familiar favourites, so we choose a couple then sit and chat over a glass of wine as we soak up the view.
Starting with a trio of dips and pita bread fresh from the grill, the fresh taramasolata is exceptional for its mild salty richness. Marinated sardines, saganaki and dolmades could also be shared starters before moving on to smaller plates of spanakopita, zucchini fritters or grilled king prawns and larger shared mains.
On olive leaf platters imported from Greece, the abundant dishes exit the kitchen: large meaty quail on the bone grilled over charcoal and dressed with Greek extra-virgin olive oil and bush oregano, chunks of spit-roasted lamb with Mediterranean vegetables, a whole grilled squid with tourlou and fennel, beet and orange salad, and a rich moussaka accompanied by a Greek salad.
They’re traditional dishes made to family recipes passed down through generations; food that families in Greece gather to feast on, the sense of belonging that comes through community as important to our health as the food.
Traditional Greek desserts provide a sweet ending: Baklava, kataifi cream and loukoumades all present on the menu.
Elia’s décor is just as traditional as the food. Decked out in brilliant blue and white, a huge mural of Santorini gracing the back wall reflects our own Broadwater shining through floor to ceiling glass doors opposite. Visually and through the aromas of the chargrill wafting out from the open kitchen, the venue brings to our senses the feeling of a true Greek taverna.
A wooden cart against one wall provides a home for a retail section housing organic Greek teas, Greek biscuits and hand creams for sale.
The restaurant is expansive with different areas within the dining room as well as a large undercover area fronting the water, making it suitable for a party of large celebration. The choice of hot, cold or meat-filled share platters for a minimum of two people or banquet menus starting at $35pp could take the decision out of your hands however, if you are like us, we’ve established favourite dishes that we’ll go back for time and again.
Whether you visit Elia Greek Island Taverna for a banquet, extended family celebration, date night or just a glass of wine and dessert, you’ll be transported away to an island taverna where food and wine flow freely. And you won’t even have to endure the flight!
Marina Mirage, 74 Seaworld Drive, Main Beach Ph: 07 5575 7729
Open daily 12noon – 3pm; 5pm – 10pm
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of Elia Taverna.