CHAMPCAR/CART: Kika's guide to dining in Gold Coast

Australian Cuisine: As with most countries, Australia has a cuisine or style of eating its people like to call their own. And in Australia it is the barbecue (or BBQ). Due to warm weather conditions that prevail most of the year, eating/or ...

Australian Cuisine: As with most countries, Australia has a cuisine or style of eating its people like to call their own. And in Australia it is the barbecue (or BBQ). Due to warm weather conditions that prevail most of the year, eating/or cooking a 'barbie' outside is a relaxing and common way of dining. With everything from sausages to steaks to prawns able to be cooked on the outside grill, barbecues are a tasty and fun way to cook.

Types of food: Australia prides itself on being able to offer fresh, home-produced vegetables, meats and fish all year round. Vegetables and fruit are relatively inexpensive depending on the season. Meat is also inexpensive and easy to obtain and generally quite reasonable, even in the best restaurants in town. But the Gold Coast's real specialty is, of course, seafood. Much of it is caught locally and is always served fresh from restaurants or fish shops. Some of the local delicacies include:

Sole - Sole is a sweet fish when it comes to the table. It is flat and lives in mud or sand up to 500ft deep.

Moreton Bay Bugs - Caught just north of the Gold Coast, Moreton Bay Bugs (shellfish) are in a league of their own. Thicker than the meat of a lobster, they have their own delightful taste.

Red Emperor - This fish is red in colour before it reaches the table. What makes it pleasant to eat is its lack of bones. Tuna - Fresh tuna is another fish without bones. It has a strong seafood taste and is good for sushi.

Atlantic Salmon - Although often expensive, salmon is a very tasty seafood and is usually sold in thin strips. It is great smoked. A treat for seafood lovers.

Barramundi - Caught in Northern Queensland, barramundi can either be salt or freshwater creatures. Considered by many as the best-tasting fish in Australia.

Mud Crabs - The are known as the Queensland mud crab. The meat of the mud crab is very sweet and succulent. If you love seafood it is a must! Lobster - The sweetest of the crustaceans. Very enjoyable as a mornay. Prawns - A plentiful supply is always available on the coast from the giant tiger prawns to the sweet little size. Try them on the barbie.

What to drink? Australian wines

To list all the wines produced in Australia is just not possible, but here are a few of the more common types of Australian wines.

Chardonnay - All but unknown in Australia before 1970, it has had a meteoric rise since, providing rich table wines and fine sparkling wines.

Semillion - Produces wines which are extremely long-lived and often need 5 to 10 years to reach their peak. Also produced in a new oak to produce a new style, increasingly used for the production of sauterne-style wines in South Australia.

Reisling - still remains the most important high quality white grape. The widespread advent of botrytis has meant that both dry and very sweet wines of excellent quality can be produced from it.

Sauvignon Blanc - is an aromatic wine with intense richness of flavour that compliments light meats, seafood and salad.

Moselle - is best described as a light white wine.

Cabernet Sauvignon - is one of the two most noble red varieties in the world, the other being pinot noir. It is the most important top-quality red-wine grape in Australia, terrific with pasta.

Pinot Noir - is a light to medium bodied red. Quite easy to drink if you are not accustomed to reds.

Shiraz - still the most widely propagated red grape. Produces wines of the very highest quality. The new Shiraz bottle especially is wonderful...wonderful...oh I said that. (Tip from Jon Potter)

Known as the ulinary heart of Queensland', the Gold Coast is the ideal place to explore a great many of the world's cuisine's as well as sample the region's delectable tropical fruits and seafood. Crustaceans and fabulous fish are purchased daily from the trawlers and local fisherman to be delivered as an exquisite culinary treat to you table. Simple fare or exotic dishes are available from beachside cafes, stylish coffee shops and restaurants overlooking the water, teahouses hidden in the mountains and rainforests, fine dining meeting places and a host of culinary corners brimming with flavour.

More than 500 restaurants eater to every taste and budget and breathtaking views of the ocean, mountains, lush gardens or the calm Broadwater come with compliments of the region's talented and experienced chefs. Theme parks and wildlife parks invite you to mingle with star performers and enjoy breakfast or lunch while cruise boat and 4WD operators will tempt you with delights from mud crabs to succulent bush barbecues.

Ristorante Fellini at Marina Mirage - Phone: 5531 0300 -It would be easy to sit in Ristorante Fellini on the Marina at Main Beach. On a summer's night you could think that life couldn't get much better. What a great setting overlooking the marina crowded with boats and across to the lights of Southport and Surfer Paradise. When the temperature is right, huge windows slide back to let in the sea breeze; otherwise air conditioning and ceiling fans will keep you comfortable. Colours in the restaurant are muted, leaving just the food and view to shine. Tables are topped in crisp white linen and the mostly male service is snappy. Specialises in modern Italian cuisine and true Neapolitan and Tuscan dishes. The menu is unpretentious, authentic without tired Italian cliche's, a menu that rests on good Italian Cuisine principles using the fresh produce of it's location. Tony Percuoco is passionate about his food, ask him for the specials or his recommendation and you won't even bother with the menu. Emerson loves Fellini's food so much that... when his kids where tired and sleepy, he will call Tony and they will bring him dinner to the Hotel. Still my favorite place. Olvey, Gil, Fr. Phil everybody loves this place. If you don't know Tony well - better make reservations!

Expresso Coffee : At the Marriott - Lobby (right side) - Great ! That's why everybody stays there.

Mandarin Court - Chinese Restaurant - 2374 Gold Coast Highway Mermaid Beach 4218 - Gold Coast Phone: 07-5572 3333. If you like Chinese, that's the place. I go every year with some "local" friends. Efficient and friendly service. Great for lunch - Yum Cha daily - from 9 am till 3 PM.

BELLISSIMO Cnr Gold Coast Highway & Elizabeth Avenue BROADBEACH Telephone (07) 5570 3388 Bellissimo - a wonderful Italian word describing a wonderful Italian restaurant! It is not surprising that Bellissimo has just received the Campari International Award for the Best Italian Restaurant in Queensland. The Lapenna family have been restaurateurs on the Gold Coast since 1975, and Anna & Nick Lapenna were the original owners of La Rustica in Surfers Paradise. Today, Anna & Nick relax with there friends and diners while sons Robert and Max look after you in Bellissimo's warm atmosphere of Florentine decor surrounded by hand painted frescos. The menu is extensive and a pleasant combination of international cuisine & special Italian dishes. The entree choice is varied with risotto, antipasti, and seafood dishes such as baby octopus, oysters, or calamari; the Carpaccio of Salmon (Tasmanian salmon "drizzled" with olive oil) is recommended. Main courses reflect the Lapenna family's attention to quality: home made exotic pastas, choicest grain fed meats, game, poultry and local and imported live seafood - the variety is amazing and there are also daily special dishes. All selections are cooked to order by chefs Ken Herlingh and Chris Kelly, and their attention to food selection an quality comes through in the wonderful tastes and tenderness of each dish. Chicken Roberto is a delicious combination of pan fried chicken in a white wine sauce, smoked ham and Gruyere cheese served as a generous portion with every mouthful bursting with taste - simply bellissimo! A well stocked cocktail bar and an extensive list of local, Italian and imported wines add to your enjoyment (BYO wine is an option). Live Italian music and attentive staff help you relax while you observe the activity in the kitchen and enjoy your meal. Again, a selection of rich Italian deserts await you: gelato, tirimasu, crepes, etc. Don't miss this part of your meal to savour the delicate tastes of the deserts to complement your main course. A terrific dining experience in a true Italian family restaurant. Bellisssimo is located in Broadbeach on the Gold Coast Highway directly opposite Conrad Jupiter's Casino: open every evening, and venue bookings can also be arranged. GOLD COAST TRAWLER SEAFOOD RESTAURANT 2789-2791 Gold Coast Highway BROADBEACH - Telephone 5592 1199 A Superb Indulgence. Located on the Gold Coast Highway opposite Cascade Gardens, the Gold Coast Trawler Seafood Restaurant is a familiar landmark. By day, the white hull of the "Ellen C" cannot be missed, while at night the restaurant is a photographer's delight. Inside, the nautical theme continues with the live lobster tank in the entrance, nautical trimmings, and a blue and white colour theme. There is a ship shape bar offering tempting cocktails. Proprietor Peter Chan and his staff give you a warm and attentive welcome. Peter has been a restaurateur on the Gold Coast for nineteen years, originally with the Mandarin Court in Mermaid Beach (which he still retains) and over 5 years at Trawlers; his personal attention to quality is certainly reflected in the atmosphere and superb food. The a la carte menu is extensive with a wide range of entrees (including 6 oyster dishes), and the main course choice of freshly cooked dishes covers fish, BBQ prawns and bugs, deep fried fish and seafood, plus beef (e.g. steak diane, veal parmagiana), steaks, poultry and pasta. There is even a Children's Choice with complementary ice cream. For a treat, try the fresh lobster. The wine list is extensive, mainly focusing on whites as you may expect. We started with avocado prawns - a real indulgence - and garlic prawns (cooked and served in an iron pot and succulent with plenty of garlic). For the main course we both selected fresh fish (Snapper and Barramundi) - a very generous serving of really fresh fish and accompaniments, and the quality and taste are absolutely fabulous. Attentive staff give you the consideration of a pleasant break before the desserts - all light and delicate to compliment your main course, and again very generous servings. To conclude a superb dining experience, a wide choice of liqueur coffees will really make you feel at sea. Alternatively, the restaurant offers complementary port as a subtle end to an excellent feast. Dining at Gold Coast Trawler Seafood Restaurant is certainly comparable to dining at the Captain's Table, and is a superb indulgence not to be missed. There is also a lunch time menu offering the same choice and quality, but with all dishes under $10. Open 7 days a week for lunch (11.30 - 2.30) and dinner (5.00 - 10.00).

MARIO'S authentic Italian Cuisine on the Mall, Oasis Broadbeach is the winner of the American Express Hall of Fame Award for 1998, 1999 and 2000. Quite a feat! Open 7 days 12 noon till late - Telephone Number is (07) 5592 1899 (6th August, 1999) Well, they are open till late....It's OK, and if you are shopping in Broadbeach - is a convenient location. Busy place, but nothing out of the world!

Volare Restaurant - Italian - Broadbeach - CIAO e BENVENUTI to VOLARE It serve you with traditional and authentic cuisine. They have prepared this menu with one main aim: to present you with an exciting variety of national dishes that, even in Italy, are rarely found together on one menu. They have been selected from various Italian regions, mainly of Southern Italian Cuisine. We endeavour to maintain that homestyle flavour that is so characteristic of traditional Italian taste. A Special Daily Menu featuring popular dishes, and introducing some that may not be familiar here in Australia yet - in essence, it is 'back to basics' - but with a delicious variety to suit everyone. Buon appetito your host, NINO

Grumpy's Wharf & Grill - Steak & Seafood - Two famous multi-award winning seafood restaurants on Main Beach - Grumpy's Wharf and Grumpy's Grill. Start your meal at the cosy bar with a pre-dinner drink, then select a meal from the exciting menu that will satisfy even the most jaded palate. Fresh fish cooked anyway you like. Enjoy some of the freshest hot or cold seafood. Choose a succulent lobster from the live tanks or have the wonderful household speciality, the seafood platter with it's mouth-watering delicacies such as Prawns, Lobster, Moreton Bay Bugs, and much, much more. How about Grumpy's famous seafood chowder, or the delicious seafood risotto or succulent BBQ Green Moreton Bay Bugs. Grumpy's fish and chips are legendary as is the relaxed, casual atmosphere and friendly and courteous staff. Meat lovers are exceptionally well catered for at Grumpy's where you can enjoy the best steaks, chicken and pasta together with an all-you-can-eat salad bar and a selection of mouthwatering desserts. Grumpy's offers casual and relaxed indoor and outdoor dining. Watch the waves gently rocking the many boats, the colours of the lights reflecting in the waters of the river while enjoying a superb meal in idyllic surroundings.

Montegos - Australian - The combination of fresh Australian produce with tangy Asian flavours is definitely the food style of today. At Montego's we focus on real food. Non-pretentious, wholesome, homestyle fare that offers good value for money. MONTEGO'S IS AN AWARD WINNING RESTAURANT Winner 1998 Beef & Burgundy Club Restaurant of the year Winner 1999 Australian Mushroom Growers Association Best Restaurant Award Finalist 1998 & 1999 Restaurant and Caterers Association Awards for Best Family Dining (seating less than 100) Winner 2000 Gold Coast Magazine Peoples Choice Awards for Best Licenced Restaurant under 100 Seats

Four Winds Revolving Restaurant - Asian - Four Winds, Queensland's only revolving restaurant offers a sumptuous Seafood and Asian buffet 26 floors above the city. Select from a magnificent buffet of succulent oysters and prawns, fresh fish, and a myriad of specialties from across the Asian continent. Then sit back and enjoy the everchanging, breathtaking views of the Gold Coast. In fact the only thing that won't take your breath away is the all-you-can-eat price, which covers as many trips to the buffet as you like. Open 7 days for lunch and two dinner sittings... and breakfast on Sundays. 'Brun-Cha' every Sunday from 12 noon. JOIN THE REVOLUTION. Four Winds in the Parkroyal.

Fagan's Restaurant French - Coolangatta - Fagan's is situated at the Greenmount Beach Resort in Hill Street, Coolangatta. Marie & Emile are your hosts, and their charming professionalism depicts the thirty years of experience they have acquired while catering to the Gold Coast public. The Restaurant is charming. Large enough to seat 200, Marie manages to set the mood for the most romantic dinner for two, or large corporate functions, lunches or parties, and specialises in weddings. Boasting a white grand piano and an accompanying vocalist on weekends, linen tableware, and soft lighting, this venue has everything going for it. The menu has a strong French flair with eight entrees to choose from. I selected the Escargot Bourguingon which arrived at the table piping hot with a French roll to dip in the excess garlic butter; mouthwatering! My partner chose a mixture of Tasmanian Oysters Kilpatrick and Mornay; the Bechamel Sauce and Grilled Cheddar atop light enough to taste the oysters for a change; perfect!

Ciao,;-) Kika

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