Rosella’s was borne from a passion for all things Australiana. It’s a haven of childhood memories, the songs we listened to on the radio, the snacks we’d make on Sunday arvos, all with a luxe twist.
Friends since high school, Jack Connor (ex-Aloha) had spent twelve years in hospitality, his friend Jon Debeere immersing himself in the Sydney music scene before returning to the Gold Coast to start a business together.
Realising a huge gap in dining offerings on the coast, the guys opened Rosella’s on Burleigh’s ‘dining highway’. Wisely, they’ve found a real point of difference. The row of Rosella tomato sauce bottles along the top of the bar says it all: this is a place that heroes all things native and indigenous to Australia with an element of nostalgia.
Primarily, Rosella’s is a bar stocking Australian-made drinks, including a local range of spirits from Tamborine Mountain Distillery made from native ingredients, Brookie’s rainforest botanicals gins, The Native Collection’s cocktail syrups, alongside Green Ant Gin, Aussie beer and wines, the team making their own spirits, liqueurs and bitters such as Aperol and Chartreuse where they can’t source Australian products.
The Cape Byron martini is made with Brookie’s rainforest botanical dry gin, white chocolate, macadamia and Davidson plum, while the signature Rosella cocktail is made from vodka, Australian bitters, rosella jam, lemon and lilly pilly, served in a rosella shaped glass.
The wine list has a real point of difference, comprising minimal intervention pesticide-free wines with minimal sulphates, Rosella’s being exclusive stockists for each wine. Also featured are Pétillant-Naturel sparkling wines. The cloudy sediment is still obvious in these naturally carbonated wines which are not filtered or fined, made with a 300-year-old technique where they are bottled before primary fermentation and finished without the addition of secondary yeasts and sugars.
Chef Aidan Stewart’s menu gives Aussie classics a shove, reworking each dish with native ingredients, such as the Australian Caprese Insalata’s heirloom tomatoes topped with Aussie buffalo mozzarella and ground bush tomatoes dressed with macadamia oil, ice plant and native basil or the Roo Carpaccio, whose toppings include Davidson plum dressing and karkalla.
Many of the bar snacks and jaffles revert to nostalgia, served up with reverent tongue-in-cheek humour. Beef jerky gets a touch of Vegemite, the Bunnings snag roll moves over for a smart Bug Sambo, and fresh local oysters come topped with native finger lime and shaved macadamia, the new workie’s knock off time feed tucked inside a polystyrene esky.
The perennial jaffle takes on a life of its own, filled with Spag Bol and pecorino (from an old family recipe), cheddar and wattleseed butter, or Mum’s Onepot lamb jaffle (just like when you raided the fridge at midnight after a big night out). Why not finish with a Kakadu plum and apple jaffle with rosella ice-cream?
While it’s easy to dismiss Rosella’s as a bit of fun (which of course it is), it also carries a far more important message.
“We wanted a small intimate venue where we could talk to people and explain what we are doing,” Jon tells us. “Education is important. We’re in an unusual situation with Australian cuisine under-represented in our own country.”
Like the macadamia nut which is now grown around the world and rarely identified as Australian, we have fantastic native products all around us whose use is endangered because we don’t recognise them.
There’s a growing movement pushing for native ingredients not only to be featured on restaurants’ menus but also for everyday Australians to use them every day. It’s definitely time to ‘eat from our own backyard’. We have so much, foodwise, to offer the world.
NOTE: We congratulate Rosella’s on their recent recognition as a finalist in the 19th Annual Australian Bar Awards. They were also awarded one wine glass in this year’s @gourmettraveller wine awards.
6/1730 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads Ph: 07 5633 5905
Open: Mon – Fri 4pm – 12 midnight; Sat – Sun 12 noon – 12 midnight
NOTE: Two photos credited to Gold Coast Food and Wine Tours.