Outdoors comes inside at Garden Kitchen & Bar, part of The Star Gold Coast’s $345 million transformation.
The hotel foyer’s wall of cascading greenery is the first statement of intention: Garden Kitchen & Bar is a fresh take on all day dining. With bar and pergola areas bathed in natural light and a large back deck opening onto a vast expanse of lawn, we get the sense of a giant garden party for the whole extended family!
There may be no ‘100 mile table’ mentioned, however Garden Kitchen & Bar is our first major restaurant to take a bite at defining who we are as a region, showcasing Gold Coast lifestyle and produce in one sweeping statement.
Clean and fresh in décor and presentation, there’s well-chosen simplicity in style. Seating well over 350 guests, the venue is well divided into areas according to purpose: bar, pergola overlooking the open kitchen, dining room, conservatory and patio, plus several other areas suitable for groups; even a couple of ‘family’ areas away from other diners.
Staff who serve us, dressed in crisp white shirts, tan trousers and sneakers, would look equally at home in a ‘Country Road’-trendy steakhouse – fittingly so, as this is a casual venue.
Their approach to service is not so casual, in fact our waiter, Mikey, is very well versed in the menu and full of helpful suggestions for entrée. He loves the Crab cakes, he tells us, because they’re packed full of fresh Gold Coast spanned crab and herbs, served with a snow pea leaf and parsley garnish.
Not just good for opinions, Mikey also gives us the provenance of ingredients, his narrative filling in a picture of locally sourced, seasonally driven ingredients, treated with respect. He points across to a picture window where meat is ageing in a Himalayan salt-clad room.
As our Pork belly arrives, we find out that it’s prime hand raised Berkshire from Byron Bay Pork, the farm owned and operated by the pioneering Singh Family, who have been farming the Northern Rivers since 1897. The pork has been cooked sous vide, then finished in the oven, served with a maple glaze and a crisp apple and celeriac salad.
Garden Kitchen’s à la carte menu includes the showy Pitaya Bowl with granola and fresh fruit for breakfast, Quinoa salad or Crab cakes for lunch, and the Chef’s Rotisserie (a rump cap served with smashed potatoes, rocket salad and house HP sauce), which we share as our main. Food is available all day, including nibbles and snacks or dips and sliders for grazing ($12 – $15) or platters to share in a group ($55 – $75).
Leave room for the Honeycomb ‘Cheesecake’, a not-too-sweet quark-based deconstruction studded with honeycomb, served in its own little Le Creuset pot with a honey twirler alongside. It’s ‘evilicious’!
If you think the 13 metre long bar bathed in light is captivating enough, try their selection of craft beer on tap or, in a first for the coast, five premium wines on tap. Petaluma, Innocent Bystander and my Stonier’s Pinot Noir are available in four sizes: 150ml, 250ml, 375ml or 750ml. There are signature and classic cocktails on offer or a selection of mocktails if you’re intent on keeping your mind on the job!
Facing outwards to its international clientele, Garden Kitchen & Bar offers a mix of the world’s favourite comfort food and on-trend dishes, showcasing some of our best local ingredients. With an emphasis on fresh and inviting, the menu treads a fine line between being eclectic but not confronting. In our view, it’s pitched perfectly to the clientele, who will find something to suit every palate, price range and purpose, while still holding interest for foodies and family alike.
“Welcome,” it says, “to our own Gold Coast garden kitchen and bar.”
This review has also been published on More Gold Coast.