Monday, May 4, 2015

Gold Coast Weekend - Hank Dining, Elk Espresso, Cardamom Pod

In March, Brad and I snuck up to the Gold Coast for a little weekend getaway. It's a trip that has been long overdue, since we first discovered our mutual enjoyment of roller coasters at Universal Studios in Singapore in 2011. 

It had been a long time since I had last been to the Gold Coast, and coming back with fresh eyes, it’s certainly an interesting place. It kind of reminded me of Los Angeles, with sporadically placed apartment blocks, which all have a bit of a 70’s vibe to them with Spanish names…right by the beach. It’s got a bit of a reputation for being tacky, but it’s certainly got it’s charm in it’s own way, and despite what some say, there is some pretty good food around here!

So here’s what we got up to, and a couple of tips of an enjoyable weekend on the Gold Coast!

We booked a one bedroom service apartment at Meriton Broadbeach, and my suggestion? Book well in advance. It’s a steal of a room (roughly around $220 at the time we booked), with way too much room for a weekend, and a simply fantastic location, just 5 minutes from a major bus terminal, and an array of good restaurants in the area. 

For dinner on Friday, we walked over to Hank Dining and Bar, hidden unexpectedly in a pedestrian mall amongst McDonalds and other fast food outlets, but a very pleasant surprise. The menu reads well, but it is heavy, particularly on this humid night as we regret keeping our jeans on and not switching out for shorts. But despite that, I simply could not turn down the slow biased beef cheek with textures of cauliflower, pureed, grilled, steamed and crumbled on top. Sure, a bit rich for the tropical weather, but no doubt delicious. Along with great big chunks of duck fat roasted potatoes with roasted garlic and rosemary. Have mercy. 

For breakfast, you can’t go past Elk Espresso before heading to Movie World. The place is busy, bustling; it feels a little like Melbourne in attitude. There are iced chai’s on the menu which make me happy and allow me to sneak in ice-cream for breakfast (clearly just getting my calcium fix here)! 

The menu is generous, with classics, but lots of fun twists as well. I forgot exactly what I had, but it was essentially a superfood type of salad, with poached eggs, broccolini, wilted kale, peas and a generous handful of slivered almonds. Despite it’s simplicity, this was delicious, with a pinch of lemon through the kale, still crunchy broccolini and just lightly charred flavour from the almonds. And I tell you, it was the perfect thing before heading to Movie World, as I did not end up eating lunch (okay, I had one ice-cream scoop) and just powered on through the day. 

Getting to Movie World is super easy, especially if you’re staying in Broadbeach or Surfer’s Paradise, with an express bus that makes a couple of stops through  both suburbs then high tails it down the freeway to the lands of fun. 

We got to Movie World around 10:30am, which surprisingly, worked out pretty well, although it happened to be a pretty cloudy and wet day as well, which may have helped us out as well. My tip? Hit up all the big rides if there aren’t lines yet early. Superman is out of this world. I think we rode it three times. The Scooby Doo ride is also one of the most fun things ever, unexpectedly and worth the wait if there is one. 

Do skip out on the Justice League 3D ride. What a waste of time!

We left at about 3:30pm, and got off the bus at Surfer’s Paradise, hung out in Timezone (which is the biggest in Australia and stupidly fun), before enjoying the lovely beach view with guacamole and chips from Guzman y Gomez. Bliss.

That night’s dinner wasn’t anything to write about, but! The gluten free Byron Hippy Pumpkin Cheesecake from Cardamom Pod, just two minutes from out service apartment, was everything. Everything. I was fascinated to see the place absolutely pumping with little pretty young things at 9pm, in little black dresses and towering heels, fuelling up with the most delicious looking vegetarian plates I had seen. I immediately regretted not having dinner here instead…

…but that’s alright, because the next morning I made sure we went for a very satisfying breakfast before we went to Wet n’ Wild. I loved how colourful and expressive my chickpea pancake with mushrooms, scrambled tofu, cherry vine tomatoes, sautéed kale and romesco was. Sure, not all refined, but plenty of flavour, those mushrooms!

Brad’s version of a vegetarian big breakfast was also delicious, my favourite thing being that baked ricotta. So creamy!

And to finish, just because I couldn’t stop staring at it, Cardamom Pod’s raw lime and blueberry pie, with garnished lavender and pistachio. Just look at that colour! Sweet, nutty, a little bit floral, it hit all the sweet notes that I needed in the morning, without being too rich. Let me warn you though, it is very dense and filling though…I only managed to get through half after breakfast! 

No photos at Wet n’ Wild, but man, be prepared to walk! Those stairs! I almost felt like there were far more rides at Wet n’ Wild than there were at Movie World, and as such, I think I enjoyed myself more. ‘The Loop’ though is totally insane and does not need to be done more than once, you literally are put in a capsule with a plastic board buckled onto your back, which is locked, followed by a countdown and then the bottom drops from your feet and you half slide, half fall, down an almost vertical drop before doing a loop de loop. 

Hair raising!

Form Wet n’ Wild, we went straight to the airport, where after eating clean and green in the morning…we revert to burgers, cokes, and episodes of Face Off on my tablet while waiting for a flight. Hey, we're only human. 

All in all, a great weekend. Next time, I would consider hiring a car, to explore a little more south of Broadbeach, where there seems to be a lot of good food to be found as well. 

Hank Dining and Bar
12/15 Victoria Avenue
Broadbeach QLD 4218

Hank Dining and Bar on Urbanspoon

Elk Espresso
16 Chelsea Avenue
Broadbeach QLD 4218

Elk Espresso on Urbanspoon

Cardamom Pod
1/2685-2689 Gold Coast Hwy
Broadbeach QLD 4218

The Cardamom Pod on Urbanspoon


  1. Looks like a fun weekend, and you certainly managed to find some great foodie spots!

    I totes agree with you about the daggy apartment blocks overlooking the water, hehe. :)

  2. Wao yummy food..!!! I think it's a best place to enjoy your holidays.

  3. I used to think the GC was tacky, but after moving to Brisbane and going down frequently for daytrips I have started to really like it. If you stay away from the Cavill ave area there IS good food around, and a very big young Byron-esque Hipster crowd happening which gives it an interesting vibe. I'm actually heading down this weekend to do what is becoming my fave thing - sample one of the cafes takeaway options with a picnic at a beachfront park followed by a dip. If you go back one day check out the Burleigh Heads area - much nicer :)

    1. Sounds like a beautiful weekend! Will definitely be getting a car next time I visit, was reading of a lot of good things in that area, thanks for the tip :)

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