George’s, Sanctuary Cove

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.

A blue carpet entrance

A blue carpet entrance

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.

One of two bars

One of two bars

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.

Tables decorated in the colours of the Greek flag

Tables decorated in the colours of the Greek flag

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.

Fairly lights in all the trees

Fairly lights in all the trees

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.

Saganaki:  $10.00

Saganaki: $10.00

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.

Souvlaki:  $19.50

Souvlaki: $19.50

Em ordered the barramundi but sadly, didn’t enjoy it.  She wondered if it had been frozen as it was very mushy.

Barramundi:  $19.00

Barramundi: $19.00

Katie ordered the BBQ octopus and it was a very generous serving.  She really enjoyed the octopus and said it was well tenderised.

Baby Octopus:  $17.25

Baby Octopus: $17.25

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


  1. Oh the steak house is so much better… I would have told you not to go to Georges, every time it’s just yuck… I’m sorry you had such an awful meal! Liz xxx

  2. Eww! I’m amazed they didn’t offer you an alternative to the lamb. I wish restaurants didn’t feel the need to randomly decorate plates. GG xx

  3. How awful. So embarrassing these sorts of places are for the qld food reputation. Rest assured Charlie there are good places, just not so many on the Gold Coast. The seafood place at Burleigh is superb I hear:)

  4. It does sound like there is quite a lot of room for improvement. Sad when a restaurant has so much potential and doesn’t seem to know what to do with it.

  5. It’s amazing that a place envied for so many reasons has disappointing food options. Did the kids enjoy their meals? Sounds like the adult meals were less than appetizing. And not even a view to make up for it. Perhaps one of these days the establishments in the area will match the appeal of their surroundings.

  6. Still, it looks and sounds like a beautiful setting.

  7. I love an unbiased, fair review, and even though it’s rather unlikely I will ever get near this place, I still loved reading about your experience. I do love a place that allows the kids to be served quickly too!

  8. Hi Charlie!
    I hear you got my chicken salad recipes from Kim.
    LOL! I’m now going to referred to as Charlie #2.
    She is sending them on, hope you enjoy them I know I will.
    Kim’s a great cook.

    Sorry you didn’t enjoy your restaurant meal. I hate going out, paying the price and getting lousy food. Such a waste of good money.

    Have a Joyful Day :~D
    Charlie (#2)

    • Hi Charlie, yes – an unexpected bonus! Many thanks for your recipes and I look forward to trying the salads when the weather warms. We’re not quite into salad season just yet. Have a lovely weekend.

  9. Hi Charlie, I would say there is quite a bit of room for improvement. If my husband and I are unhappy with a place we normally don’t say anything but then we will never go back again, ever.

  10. Bummer your meals weren’t better. Or even good, in the case of the lamb. Sorry you had a bad experience. But thanks for warning us off that restaurant!

  11. So, if you don;t like something, can you ask for something else? Will they still charge you? Here, they aren’t happy to do it, but they will if you really don’t like it.
    It’s such a shame that you spend all that money and eat nothing. I’d be quite upset.

  12. It’s always such a disappointment when you visit a beautiful place and the food is under par. You would think a place that people love to visit that has so many positives, would up their game in the restaurant arena. Maybe you should consider a Hotly Spiced restaurant? 😉 Kauai, Hawaii is the same way. Such a gorgeous island, wonderful people, not too touristy, but the food is a huge disappointment.

  13. As I lived for close to six years in Mermaid Waters on the Gold Coast, was there for the opening of ‘Sanctuary Cove’ and its adjacent ‘Marine Village’. I honestly do hope that the I ‘continental chain [which has had such a huge success in Sydney from day dot!] will be able to turn this sad child around, as it has never ever ‘fitted’ anywhere! Neither ‘fish nor fowl’, neither Gold Coast [oh, that ‘white shoe brigade 🙂 !!] nor Brisbane it has stuck absolutely nowhere in architecture nor appointments with no ‘excitement factor’ whatsoever since the day it opened its doors. Oh, yes, pretentious ‘architecture’! I have been there many a time to ’empty houses’ bar conventions and conferences. Ditto: the Village – seem to have dozens of photos of o’seas visitors who wanted to see and had to be photographed on the waterline against all the ‘ticky-tacky boxes’ [thanks Nina & Frederick!] opposite!! Wonderful weather can be had in many parts of Australia . . . as with everything, one DOES have a choice!!

  14. What a shame you had another disappointing experience but I can’t blame you, I too would have been disappointed. Here saganaki is dusted with flour and fried in butter and oil and then doused in ouzo and set on fire at the table! It’s quite the show. Good thing you didn’t eat the lamb, being disappointed is far better than food poisoning!

  15. Hate that when you go out to eat and its disappointing. I must admit when we go to the Gold Coast, we have yet to find a really special restaurant. I am sure they are there, ,maybe we eat at the wrong places lol. Have a great weekend, suppose to be heavy rain here bugga :(.

  16. What a shame! I do remember finding it very hard to find places to eat when I was there – I had two nights on my own around the conference dinner and whilst one was spent with family, I ended up driving to the central gold coast area to find food on the other!

  17. Sad it can’t always be as perfect as you would like.
    Have a wonderful day Charlie.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  18. Oh man, what a bummer!!

  19. Oh dear such a shame that the lovely fit-out and view wasn’t backed up by the food – or the service.

  20. Sweet Posy Dreams says:

    A disappointing meal is so … disappointing! Too bad. At least the octopus was good.

  21. Hope the kids enjoyed their meals. A shame when establishment don’t care about their reputation, they should have offered you and your mother a substitute.

  22. Oh what a shame about the food! And I would think they would take bookings for a party of 12. Most places that don’t take bookings will do it for large parties. At least the kids’ food arrived quickly!

  23. Too bad about the food. I love Greek food as well and would have anticipated something lovely given the ambience. What a shame? Luckily, the children were happy, and that counts for something. I so wish I could get halloumi here in San Miguel…can’t tell you how I love that cheese and miss it!

  24. To me it looks like a pretty setting, or maybe it’s your pictures? Bummer when the food does not live up to standards. Baramundi is such an easy fish to cook….if they bungled that, it’s speaks sadly of the kitchen crew.

  25. I have always heard such wonderful things about the Gold Coast, but the food was never part of the discussion. It is interesting to me to hear from you that the dining reputation doesn’t match the expectation. You had a very uneven experience at George’s and I hope they find a way to “up” their standards. A good Greek meal in such a beautiful environment would be very special!

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