Words: Bryce Corbett
Visions of tawdry motels, bikini-clad meter maids, garish skyscrapers and Bacardi-Breezered schoolies loomed. The prospect of existing on a steady diet of pizza-by-the-slice and barely drinkable coffee. Sophisticated is not a word that springs to mind. And yet listen to any one of the Goldie’s many proponents — from the Gold Coast mayor to the celebrity chefs who are increasingly inhabiting the joint — and it seems the area has come a long way since the days of the Pink Poodle Motel.
My first stop is at The Star Gold Coast. I have a lunch scheduled with The Star Entertainment Group’s CEO, Matt Bekier. I pull into the car park and enter the premises fully expecting to dodge Zimmer frames among dimly lit rows of pokies. What I find instead is a light-filled series of atria.
Bekier and I meet and eat at The Star’s Garden Kitchen & Bar — a large, open space that spills out onto a wide lawn rimmed by tropical foliage.
Over Mooloolaba crab cakes and a Craggy Range chardonnay, he explains the building frenzy currently taking place around us: a ‘six-star’ hotel, a series of luxury residences, and the purchase and complete refurbishment of the Sheraton Mirage Resort.
Next stop is the QT Gold Coast, my digs for the mission. Part of a now-international chain, the QT has recently undergone a facelift. The result is a hotel that perfectly captures the sunny, playful spirit of the Goldie. Accents of yellow, plenty of exposed wood and a vintage Kombi in the lobby — the hotel has a definite Beach Blanket Bingo vibe. I half expect to find Gidget by the pool.
The QT’s Japanese restaurant, Yamagen, has reopened after its own extensive makeover. Now more of an izakaya than brightly lit teppanyaki restaurant (as was its previous fate) it’s now all mood lighting and sleek lines. The sashimi tacos are delicious, the assorted kushiyaki (skewered meat or vegetables) are grilled just right and the signature sushi roll with seared scallop, cucumber, witlof and miso caramel is a rolled gold classic. If the cocktails (the gin-based Sake It To Me is a winner) and ludicrously comprehensive Japanese whisky list weren’t reason enough to dine there, the soundtrack ought to seal the deal: prepare for a winning mix of 1980s hits on high rotation.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT