When it comes to the criteria of what makes a great café, Tap & Grind Café ticks all the boxes.
What’s more, it’s a gem in the heart of Australia Fair, a shining light in an area of Southport where you can count the number of classy cafés on one hand!
Following its recent reno, Tap & Grind has a fresh modern vibe, its new Italian plaster feature wall bringing artistic class to the venue.
Great Belaroma coffee from Seven Miles Coffee Roasters is the café’s heartbeat, its malty milk chocolate palate balanced with just the right level of acidity.
We’re served by a young vibrant staff, and simply blown away by the food, with some of the most beautiful plating we’ve seen on the Gold Coast. It’s spot on!
Tap & Grind is owned by Vanessa Rubini, who started the café seven years ago as a 20-year-old with her dad as business partner. It was a big commitment for someone so young, even more so when Vanessa’s dad decided to move back interstate. Vanessa made the decision to buy him out and she is now sole owner.
We’d frequented Tap & Grind from time to time for cake and coffee or a sandwich but recently realised that, around the time of its renovation, Tap & Grind had gained a new chef.
From Sao Paulo in Brazil, Laura Lima Cruz has been a chef since 2018. Trained in commercial cookery, Laura relocated to the Gold Coast to accept the position of Head Chef of Tap & Grind.
With Vanessa, Laura has created an all-day menu of 10 dishes to suit the diverse demographic who frequent the centre. Many are regulars, the clientele who kept buying their daily coffee throughout lockdown to keep the café afloat, and others perhaps more like me who live elsewhere and shop at the shopping centre less frequently.
Laura’s food, from açai bowls to eggs bene, and chilli eggs to beef and bacon burger and fish of the day (‘The Catch’), is drawing a younger clientele of Southport workers. People even travel here to dine on the weekend because of the calibre of each dish.
While shopping centres are not always a place where you’d expect to see ‘destination dining’, with Laura’s artistic flair and attention to detail, Tap & Grind’s food stands out.
Matching the colours and presentation of each dish, flavours live up to expectation. There’s diversity too, with lots of vegetarian and gluten-free choices available and add-on choices which help us make the meal our own.
“My grandfather once told me to do everything with love to feel fulfilled and that’s how I feel every day working here,” Laura says.
Laura’s favourite dish is the ‘Avo Good Day’, her version of the perennial favourite Smashed avocado on toast, where she’s played with both the flavours and colours adding Danish feta, dukkah, cherry tomatoes and beetroot purée to bring us a dish that’s all her own.
Corn Fritters come a close second, loaded up with avo salsa, crispy bacon, dukkha and relish, with a poached egg on top, all building flavour, texture and colour to the stack.
No complaints either about my chilli eggs, which are light and fluffy, loaded onto a good sourdough and topped with parmesan, fried garlic and truffle oil. Delicious!
The menu is supplemented by a specials board. There are also daily special deals, such Muffin Monday, Toastie Tuesday, Thursday açai bowl and smoothie etc. which has its own appeal.
Weekday trade begins at 7.30am with local workers grabbing coffee and ‘food to go’ from the display cabinet. Muffins, brownies and small cakes are made daily by Laura. Excellent Portuguese tarts, pastries and doughnuts are brought in daily from The Pastry Emporium at Sorrento.
With their drive for excellence and a commitment to buying local produce, Vanessa, Laura and the team bring us a classy café. It’s a place where you can dine at both ends of the spectrum, from a humble toastie to a work of art on a plate, a cup of organic tea or coffee to a super green smoothie. That’s the range of choice Tap & Grind provides.
Tap & Grind Café, Australia Fair Shopping Centre G075, Marine Parade, Southport QLD 4215 Ph: 07 5564 0770
Open: Mon – Fri 7.30am – 3pm, Sat 8am – 2.30pm, Sun 9am – 2.30pm