While the Gold Coast is envied by Australians living in other cities because of its almost continuous days of sunshine and warm temperatures and its outstanding tourism attractions, generally, the envy stops with the food scene.
I know things are improving and I know one day I’ll have the dining experience that’s going to make me what to pull up stumps and relocate, it’s just it hasn’t happened yet.
The Marine Village at Sanctuary Cove has around 15 restaurants and I have heard some of the newer restaurants are excellent.
On the day I was wandering around the Village looking for somewhere to dine that evening, I knew we’d need a booking for 12 and that six in the party were small children. I was looking for something fairly affordable, something with a kid’s menu and something relatively casual.
I saw George’s Paragon, a Greek seafood restaurant. It seemed to tick all the boxes and while it had a bit of a dated 70’s look about it, it was on the water with views out across the marina.
While appearing like it hasn’t kept up with the times, it has a certain charm as there’s Greek music playing, the restaurant is decorated in the colours of the Greek flag, there are lots of coloured fairy lights, and there’s a casual and relaxed feel to the restaurant very much like you’re walking into a family business.
The restaurant doesn’t take bookings but I thought I should give them advance warning that we were a party of 12 so I told the lady at the front desk and said we would be arriving at 6pm. She said that would be fine.
We arrived at 6pm and they seemed surprised to see us. A table hadn’t been set up so they started joining tables together at one end of the restaurant and then we were hurried to the table. The table was very small and it seemed there was only room for about eight of us so I told the waiter we were in a bit of a sardine situation but he gave me a blank look and walked away. English wasn’t his first language so he may have had difficulty understanding me.
The table wasn’t near the water view but it was near a wide opening to the street so it was a little draughty. We asked if they could bring over one of the gas heaters we could see at some of the tables by the water but were told they are bolted to the ground. There was a rolled up plastic ‘wall’ behind us so we asked if they could unroll it to block the draught so they did but then it was so close to the backs of our chairs the waiters couldn’t step behind it to serve us.
The restaurant was very accommodating when we asked if they could bring the children’s meals as quickly as possible and within minutes the children were happily wading through their meals. Their food was piled high on very large plates and so for $15.00, seemed very good value.
I do love Greek food and I usually can’t go past grilled halloumi for an entree. I ordered it and when it arrived I was a wee bit saddened. Firstly, when we were dining on the Gold Coast 15 years ago every time my meal came out of any restaurant kitchen the edges of the plate were dusted in paprika. For no good reason. Now the trend seems to be framing the food with sauces. For no good reason. I saw the black glaze and felt it should have been left off the plate.
Saganaki is an authentic Greek dish where slices of halloumi are usually coated in flour then cooked in a pan until bubbling, forming a nice golden crust and the cheese is almost melty inside. It’s served with a wedge of lemon. On my plate I couldn’t see any halloumi, just some roasted capsicum. The cheese was underneath but there was no golden crust and the cheese was soggy. A little more lemon would have been nice.
For a main course, three of us ordered the souvlaki which is lamb marinated in oregano and lemon juice and cooked on skewers. My mother and I both felt the lamb had a very strong unpleasant smell. We mentioned this to one of the waiters who came back saying we were smelling the marinade ingredients. I said, ‘No, no, it’s a strong meat smell’. So he disappeared again then someone else came out and said they were sorry we felt the meat had a smell. Even though my mother and I didn’t eat the souvlaki, the charge was on the bill.
Em ordered the barramundi but sadly, didn’t enjoy it. She wondered if it had been frozen as it was very mushy.
Katie ordered the BBQ octopus and it was a very generous serving. She really enjoyed the octopus and said it was well tenderised.
We decided not to stay for dessert.
George’s Paragon Seafood Restaurant is a very large restaurant with open sides to water views. There’s a family feel to the restaurant that suits the casual dining experience. Good atmosphere is created with the Greek music and the multiple fairy lights however the food is a disappointment.
Verdict: Room for improvement.
George’s Paragon Seafood Restaurant: 46 The Promenade, Hope Island, Gold Coast, Queensland
Ph: (07) 5577-8420