Fine dining has been undergoing a renaissance for several decades. Gone are the over-blown expense accounts and opulent eateries of the ’80s. Slowly, a new kind of venue has emerged: ‘casual fine’ dining. With high level, ingredient-driven food presented with efficient casual service, it’s a lot more comfortable dining than its forbear, giving greater accessibility and friendlier service.
Fine food is here to stay. There are times of celebration when all of us wish to indulge in the very best cuisine on offer. Every so often we should veer away from our usual repertoire of casual eateries to tackle the finest on offer.
The Sofitel Gold Coast Broadbeach bears an international elegance and sophistication which is unmistakably French. To enter the restaurant you pass by the projected Eiffel Tower on the foyer wall, manicured topiary and colourful floral displays in the foyer, carefully placed beside imported French furniture. You’re embarking on an experience of this cultured brand that through sight, sound, smell, taste and feel demonstrates that you will be well cared for.
Located on the ground floor, Room81 is an understated dining room with an intimate cocktail lounge attached, its private bar ideal for a cocktail, a worthy introduction to the gastronomy that awaits you.
A two-hatted restaurant, Room81 seats only about twenty diners, their closeness to the kitchen adding a voyeuristic dimension to the dining experience.
And Chef de Cuisine Sam Moore’s food is well worth our attention! In a venue that embodies sophistication and elegance, Moore’s cuisine is delicately exquisite and playful. Despite his youthfulness, Moore has had over a decade of experience, spanning from Edinburgh’s Prestonfield Hotel (he was Scotland’s Apprentice of the Year in the same year that his father was Chef of the Year, he tells us) to top restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne, including Greg Doyle’s Pier, No 41 Chifley Place, and the Sofitel Melbourne’s signature restaurant No.35.
From master chefs such as Stuart McVeigh (formerly Sofitel Melbourne), Moore has learned the fine art of presentation. While his cuisine is European-influenced, his experimental presentation takes him out of the traditionalist stable, touting his youthfulness like a colourful banner.
It’s Moore’s food we’ve come to enjoy as well as the seamless service. We’re dining from the A la carte menu, however another choice is to indulge in the Signature 12-course degustation, which gives a taste of many dishes from the menu.
Beautifully plated dishes arrive in succession: Freshly shucked Port Phillip Bay scallops balanced precariously between sweet and sour, Hiramasa kingfish sashimi with pea puree and apple snow, and House-cured duck ham with spiced yoghurt and quandong take us through the Raw and Cured sections into the shared larger dishes ‘To Taste’.
Fresh garden peas dotted with whipped goats curd, hazelnuts and WA truffle, Kurobuta pork jowl, and Honey and lavender Peking duck follow…Each dish so exquisite in presentation and taste that we savour each bite.
Sam tells us that he gains inspiration for his dishes from many sources, either walking down the street or working with a product.
“I focus on the main product and choose different complementary ingredients and textures to create each dish,” he tells us. “Some of my dishes tell a story, such as as our French Onion Soup, based on the way my mum would burn her onions in preparation for the dish. We burn and scrape the onions too, cooking the dish for 48 hours to gain intensity.”
Then there are Sam’s equally famous desserts. Two which have gained our attention in the past include the landscape creation ‘Alice in Wonderland’ populated by pistachio praline rocks, green pistachio sponge hills, three magic toadstools, a tower of elderflower marshmallow and rhubarb, its clouds of bubble gum ice cream buttoned by fresh blueberries and strawberries, and the ‘Valrhona Chocolate Sphere’, a liquid nitrogen-made ball of chocolate holding a pile of tonka bean ice cream, coffee cream, fresh raspberries, homemade honeycomb, caramel chocolate balls and chocolate cubes.
No such stories on this visit, however our desserts are beautiful creations of texture, flavour and intrigue, always surprising the palate.
Fine food is as important to our lives as a visit to an art gallery: it’s a special celebration of extraordinary talent that’s so often overlooked in daily life. At times we need to stretch our culinary boundaries, challenge our senses and feast our eyes and taste buds. It’s a soul essential to step into the world of beauty and wonder…
Note: Gluten-free dishes are available upon request; Room 81 is fully licensed, no BYO.
This is an updated review. The original review has also been published on More Gold Coast.
Disclaimer: Good Food Gold Coast dined as guests of Room81.
81 Surf Parade, Broadbeach Ph: 07 5592 2250