Salt Grill, Surfers Paradise

For years I’ve been visiting the Gold Coast and sadly, always come away disappointed with its food scene.  Time and time again we’ve had disastrous dining experiences with over-priced and dated food served on paprika dusted plates.  But the times they are a-changing.

Entry

Entry

Having just returned from a recent trip to Surfers Paradise, excitingly, along with the accommodation, the restaurants and cafes are greatly improving.

I love the port hole styled windows

I love the porthole styled windows

Just across the road from where we stayed at Peppers Soul is the Hilton and on its first floor is Salt Grill, a Luke Mangan restaurant.  Luke is one of Australia’s celebrity chefs whose resume wears you out just reading it.  He owns 19 restaurants, has Salt Grill restaurants on five P&O cruise liners, is the consulting chef for Virgin Australia, the consulting chef for the Eastern and Oriental Express and has written and published four books.

Open kitchen

Open kitchen

I’ve previously written about my dining experience at Salt Grill onboard the P&O ship, Pacific Dawn and as I really enjoyed that experience, I was really thrilled to find Salt Grill in the Hilton Hotel at Surfers Paradise.

Tables are well spaced maintaining intimacy

Tables are well spaced maintaining intimacy

The restaurant has a beautiful and spacious interior with an open kitchen.  The waitstaff are impressive; like nurses, they walk with pace and purpose.  They are friendly without being intrusive, attentive without being imposing, and professional without being severe.  Above all, they seem genuinely happy to be there which sets diners at ease and enhances their dining experience.

Kitchen action

Kitchen action

The tables are very well spaced allowing you to talk with your fellow diners without groups surrounding you being involved in your conversation as well.  The seating is comfortable and the lighting flattering without being so dark you need to shine a torch on your menu.

I love the port hole styled windows

Such a pretty setting

The menu is modern Australian cuisine and it is food that’s well presented without being tortured and the menu reads well – none of that tongue-twisting pretentiousness with long and drawn out descriptions using language that may as well be foreign.  What you read on the menu is exactly what arrives on your plate.

Bar

Whipping up a few cocktails

Luke does have some self-promotion going on that I don’t think is particularly necessary (his name is on all the plates and the plates are positioned in front of you so his name is at 12 o’clock), however, it is much more subtle in this restaurant compared with what I experienced on Pacific Dawn.

Complimentary warmed bread with olive oil and dukkah

Complimentary warmed bread with olive oil and dukkah

There’s a tapas menu and also an a la carte menu.  We mixed things up and ordered a few items from both.  Drew started with the salt and pepper calamari.  I liked how the dish was served on ‘newspaper’.  The calamari had a light and crunchy batter with a good kick of seasoning that was tempered with the aioli.

Salt and pepper spiced calamari served with aioli: $14.50

Salt and pepper spiced calamari served with aioli: $14.50

Unable to decide between two tapas, I ordered both.  Definitely my favourite was the steamed pork bun with crunchy pork belly that contrasted well with the softness of the bun.  Drew and I could have had a few of these.

Steamed bun, crisp pork belly, char sui glaze, cucumber, shallot: $12.00

Steamed bun, crisp pork belly, char sui glaze, cucumber, shallot: $12.00

The second tapas I ordered was the zucchini flower and while it was pretty on the plate and there was great originality in the way it was served, and it allowed the delicate flavour of the zucchini flower to shine, I think I would have preferred the more traditional Italian way of serving the flower; stuffed with something surprising and served in a crunchy but light batter.

Zucchini flower, goats cheese, semi dried heirloom tomato and basil: $9.00

Zucchini flower, goats cheese, semi dried heirloom tomato and basil: $9.00

Drew loves his seafood and so ordered the grilled salmon with spinach and lemon.  The salmon had a lovely crunchy skin with very soft salmon underneath.

Salmon fillet, grilled with spinach, lemon: $36.00

Salmon fillet, grilled with spinach, lemon: $36.00

I ordered the pork belly with pink cabbage and apple gel.  Absolutely perfect crackle that I enjoyed with the apple gel.  The meat was tender and having been twice cooked, very soft as well as juicy.  There was plenty of smooth sauce and the braised cabbage gave lovely colour to the dish.

Twice cooked pork belly, braised red cabbage, smoked apple gel: $37.00

Twice cooked pork belly, braised red cabbage, smoked apple gel: $37.00

Sides can be ordered to go with your main course.  We ordered the very rich truffle mash that was very creamy with a lovely hint of truffle.

Truffled mashed potato: $12.00

Truffled mashed potato: $12.00

We also ordered the steamed broccolini so we’d appear health conscious and feel better about ourselves.  Not really, we just enjoy broccolini.

Broccolini with almond butter: $9.00

Broccolini with almond butter: $9.00

For dessert we ordered the very pretty panna cotta and meringue with mandarin and pineapple.  This was very well balanced with sweetness while also being refreshing.  I loved the little violets on the top of the dish that added a beautiful touch of colour.

Coconut panacotta, blood orange meringue, crisp mandarin and rum-infused pineapple: $16.00

Coconut panna cotta, blood orange meringue, crisp mandarin and rum-infused pineapple: $16.00

With our dessert we enjoyed a glass of dessert wine.  Not that we needed anything else but, when you’re in a restaurant with a great sommelier, why not just go ahead and try a few of the selections.

2007 Le Tertre du Lys d’Or Sauternes Bordeaux, France: $16.00

2007 Le Tertre du Lys d’Or Sauternes
Bordeaux, France: $16.00

This is not an inexpensive restaurant.  With main courses costing close to $40.00 and sides needing to be ordered at around $10.00 each to accompany the dish, the total cost of a main course ends up at around the $50.00 mark.  And then there’s the drinks!  This is not a restaurant where I would dine three times a week; it’s a special occasion restaurant where you can walk away with wonderful memories.  Given the setting, the staff, and the quality of the dishes presented, our experience at Salt Grill was absolutely worth it.

Not like the staircase I have at home

Not like the staircase I have at home

Verdict:  I’ll be seeing you again.

Descending the stairs with a very full tummy

Descending the stairs with a very full tummy

Salt Grill Surfers Paradise:  Hilton Hotel, 6 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise, Queensland

Ph:  (07) 5680 8100

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Comments

  1. Sounds like a wonderful place to dine Charlie. Everything looks absolutely delicious!

  2. That is fantastic you finely had a tops experience in this neck of the woods. I cant say I have spent a whole lot of time up that way, especially at restaurants, but good to know where to go if I am looking for a high end place. Thanks Charlie. Also, I am totes loving your dress, you look like a super model coming down the stairs like that. 🙂

  3. Well, I DO hope we shall be seeing you again! As far as the ‘Salt Grill’ is concerned I am not a huge fan of ‘chain’ restaurants bearing famous names! That said the food is SO above that of the ordinary Surfers Paradise ones I am used to you I do have to slow clap!! Prices very high: but o’seas readers methinks have grown ours simply ARE!!! Captive audiences as on a ship!! Glad you enjoyed and a lovely photo of you 🙂 !!

    • Thanks so much, Eha. Yes, we do pay so much for food here in Oz – it’s maddening!

      • Of course the problem with restaurants like Jamie Oliver’s or Luke Mangan’s or many others is that quite a bit of the food course price simply goes into their pockets for just having provided a name and a recipe!! They are not there in the kitchen or at the pass!! The reason I try to avoid . . hope exams going/went well!!!

  4. Great blog as always and food looked wonderful…but I do have a problem with chefs putting their name on the plates but maybe I am the only one who doesn’t like such self promotion.

  5. I love the staircase!!

  6. So glad that the Gold coast is finally shaping up! and yes Salt is wonderful!
    I can’t wait to go again, in fact I’m going to take mum for her birthday!
    Come back soon 🙂
    Liz xx

  7. Truffle mash? Sounds wonderful. Isn’t it amazing how quickly prices have gone up and we just accept these astronomical prices in restaurants these days ?! I think I would find all that advertising way too much. It just annoys me. I mean we already know whose restaurant it is:). Glad you had a great meal.

  8. Sounds like you’re on a bit of a roll with good food experiences finally after your pretty poor form last year! It’s nice when a celebrity chef comes through with a good restaurant – it looks like a top quality establishment.

  9. That mashed potato looks ridiculously smooth! The port hole windows are a cute touch too.

  10. I don’t mind paying for an exceptional experience, and it sounds like you had exactly that! I generally share an appetizer with JT and then order another appetizer as my main (to curtail calories), JT always orders a main, another bonus is that it also stays within reason. I loved your description about food being tortured on the plate, it’s also one of my pet peeves!
    We’ve had a few areas go through their teenaged years with overpriced, pedestrian food to emerge as quite respectable young adults, serving priced right and delicious, unique foods. One such area is the Honeymoon Capital of the world, Niagara Falls. It still has the seedy side (pinball alleys, junk fast food and wax museums) but it also has some beautiful hotels with world class restaurants serving chef-made food. Since its rebirth some 20 years ago, we have spent a few extended weekends there.

  11. I always enjoy reading about your dining experiences. You are honest, but not brutal. Kind, is more like it. Great qualities in a chef, nurse and individual.

  12. I don’t think I’ve seen a zucchini flower served like that before – what a lovely menu you enjoyed, Charlie! Even though Salt Grill Surfers Paradise was pricey, it sounds like it was worth it.

  13. I’ve been to a Salt Grill at a Ritz Carlton somewhere on the Atlantic coast of Florida – maybe Amelia Island? I loved all of the paired salts, although what a gimmick! Looks like a fabulous meal.

  14. Looking at Mimi’s comment, I think Bill and I dined at a Salt Grill in Amelia Island Florida this spring. It was a fabulous meal—I know I had seafood and some of Bill’s dessert! So glad you worked in some fun between studies!!! xo

  15. Stunning experience. Thank you for sharing.

  16. I found this rather brilliant and it said so much: it is food that’s well presented without being tortured and the menu reads well!

    As it should be. Thanks for sharing.

  17. You make me think that I honestly don’t have a favorite or standout special occasion restaurant, and that’s too bad. Everyone should have a favorite! How wonderful that you enjoyed a dining experience. If I’m going to pay $50 for my meal–without drinks–I want a special experience. Lovely, Charlie.

  18. Sounds like you had a delicious meal. I’m pleased to see the bread is complimentary. I’m a bit over having to pay extra for it. Glad to hear about the lighting, too. I recently dined in a very nice restaurant in Cambodia that was so dimly lit that they supplied a light so we could read the menu and the bill. Sadly, they removed it for the food part of the proceedings.

    • I dined in restaurants like that in Bali – so dark the menu arrives with a torch as does the bill. And then when the food arrives you can barely find it!

  19. What a wonderful evening and gorgeous dress Charlie.
    Have a super day.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  20. Hello Charlie, nice to see you! Can’t say I am a fan of the Gold Coast… but nice to know that someone in that part of the world is lifting their culinary game. xx

  21. Charlie, we can’t see that very full tummy though! What a cool restaurant to dine & wine in!
    thanks for the lovely tour! 🙂 The dishes look excellent! Yummm!

  22. You haven’t had a bad meal or accommodation lately Charlie which is great to hear! 😀 I really love Kiyomi on the Gold Coast 🙂

  23. Glad to hear the dining scene on the Gold Coast is looking up! This sounds like a wonderful place — and I’m glad you had a good experience. I’d be a bit put off by the celebration of chef (name on plates? Really?), but if he can deliver the goods — and it sure sounds like he can — would forget all about it. Well, until the next time I saw those plates. Fun read — thanks.

  24. Dear Charlie,

    That mashed potato must have a tonne of butter coz it’s oozing out…but I’ll eat it anyway.

  25. I’m happy that your travel experiences have been good lately, especially with all the studying that you have been doing lately…it sounds like a nice break.

  26. It is good to hear the standard of restaurants is on the way up – and that you found a meal that was really pleasing – sounds like you are working hard and need somewhere pleasant when you get away for some play time!

  27. What a wonderful dining experience! The food looks delicious but I was really wanting to stick my fork in the broccolini.

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