Earlier this month I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Australia for the first time! It’d been on my list of places to visit for so long, so I felt so lucky to have the opportunity to be taken there for an event! Since I was competing I didn’t have much free time and having just started a new job I couldn’t justify extending my time there to fly to Melbourne and Sydney (where my list of brunch spots is growing at almost as rapid a rate as my London list!!) but during the couple of days I still managed to discover some amazing places!
Despite being absolutely spoilt for amazing food in the athlete’s village, I obviously wasn’t going to travel to Australia and not seek out brunch spots! Unfortunately most of them close around 2 or 3pm, so it was a case of cramming multiple stops into the couple of free mornings I had!
My favourite place was Commune Cafe in Burleigh! A small spot on a busy main road, it offers an absolutely incredible menu as well as a selection of takeaway cakes and sandwiches. They also had the best coffee I tried whilst on the Gold Coast. The portions are surprisingly decent, everything is presented beautifully and they although have the classic benedicts and avocado toast, you’d be silly to order them when they have pancakes, corn fritters and some seriously unique dishes including “Okonomiyaki” – a Japanese savoury pancake with bacon, shrimp, cabbage, spring onion and a poached egg! For savoury my cousin and I shared the smoked trout on rye (with beetroot relish, a poached egg and avocado salsa) and the corn fritters (with house made chilli jam, avocado salsa and a poached egg). The avocado salsa was divine!! The avocados were so soft, mashed with tomatoes and onions and absolutely piled up on each dish! The slab of toast was generous too and both the beetroot relish and chilli jam were heavenly! I think overall the corn fritters just won it for me – they were stodgier (in a good way!) than others I’ve had and packed full of flavour, and when we decided they’d be made even better by the addition of halloumi (what isn’t!) they brought it over very quickly!
Açai bowls are also everywhere and although I didn’t get one they have them in three different flavours here, topped with muesli and a range of fruits! They have a few baked items on the counter, some of which were peanutty ( 😦 ). We opted for an Oreo Nutella muffin which was good, but not a patch on some of the other places we visited! If you’re after something sweet, definitely go for their pancakes instead – I think these were some of the most beautiful I’ve ever eaten!! Admittedly they looked better than they tasted (I have definitely had better!), but flavoured with chocolate and topped with caramelised banana, pistachios, berries, maple syrup and deliciously creamy coconut ice cream it certainly didn’t take me long to demolish them!
If you love baked stuff even half as much as me you can’t miss going to Paddock Bakery. A little more tucked away, they’re based in the most beautiful wooden shed with both indoor and outdoor seating, almost as if you’re eating in someone’s back garden. They too have an extensive brunch menu, with all of their dishes uniquely served in recyclable cardboard boxes. Although there’s a huge variety, most of the dishes are less exciting than at Commune, with smoked salmon bagels, bacon and egg rolls featuring alongside the classic avocado toast and more lunch-type options like burgers and sandwiches. Their pea and halloumi fritters were amazing though, served with Black Forest bacon and housemade chilli jam with the option to add poached eggs, halloumi and toast.. which of course I did! I was also tempted by their purple toast (beetroot and za’atar purée with poached eggs, goats milk feta, honey roasted walnuts, olive oil and rosemary on sourdough!) but I couldn’t resist one of their Easter specials!
Known for their take on “dippy eggs”, they had an Easter version when I visited – 2 hollow milk chocolate eggs filled with white chocolate cheesecake and a salted caramel yolk, served with doughnut fries, strawberries and a milo and pretzel cookie crumb.. genius! The real highlight for me though was their huge cabinet of baked items. They have doughnuts, mini Nutella doughnuts, brownies, tarts, pastries and my favourite – huge chunky stuffed cookies!
We got milk chocolate chunk stuffed with Nutella and white chocolate macadamia stuffed with cream cheese, and they also had a Reeses stuffed one which I’m sure would’ve been amazing if those were anything to go by!
They’re Ben’s cookie-style (for anyone who knows them!), i.e. soft and ever so slightly undone so they’re incredibly gooey in the centre! Their custard-filled Easter doughnut was pretty good too, with a surprise salted caramel core in the egg, but the cookie definitely won it for me! And as someone who would never normally choose a brownie, it was impossible to resist these Lindt brownies, packed full of of nuts and so incredibly fudgy!
Along the same road (but closer to Surfer’s Paradise if you don’t fancy getting a bus!) is Bam Bam Bakehouse. Owned by the same people as Paddock, you can expect the same high quality baked items, including this glorious Nutella cruffin!
The cafe has much more of a modern vibe than Paddock but the menu is a little less extensive. Like most brunch spots here you can expect good coffee, though it definitely didn’t beat Commune’s for me.
More central still you can find Paradox Coffee Roasters. As the name suggests, they’re all about coffee, with a huge roastery in the back where their machines can roast up to 15kg of beans at once. They have a range of whole beans or ground coffee on sale and you can order cold brews, pour overs and chemex as well as standard espresso based drinks. I personally found the pour over too weak and the long black a little too fruity, but they do a great flat white. Although the focus is on coffee they have a small but decent food menu. Portions are small but their brioche french toast was incredible!!
Everywhere you go it’s clear that the Aussies are serious about good coffee, and even at the airport you can find a few decent spots. The Coffee Club also have incredible bakes – salted caramel slices, cheesecakes, cakes and monster muffins as well as a great brunch menu that includes corn fritters and salted caramel pancakes!
If you’re around Surfer’s Paradise at night make sure you visit Max Brenner! Perhaps not as exciting for Americans (as I think they’re all over the US and Australia!) I was in my element – I went there a ridiculous number of times!!
Famous for their fondue, it’s just as incredible as it looks, and they even had an Easter special which came with hot cross buns while I was there! They also do a range of brownies, cakes and other desserts but I couldn’t resist their insane Nutella pizza.. just look at it! Drinks wise they (unsurprisingly!) have hot chocolate in a variety of flavours, served in a “hug mug” – apparently they’re designed especially to hug in both hands for “the hot chocolate drinking ceremony”! My cousin tried the coconut flavour but for me (since the flavours are just created using syrups and so can taste slightly artificial), it was the original that I liked best!
Another highly recommended dessert bar was Tella Balls – no prizes for guessing what the focus is here! Find the good stuff piled onto waffles, pancakes and crepes – a dessert lover’s dream! I went for a waffles and a Tella Ball (doughnut),but they also have some crazy concoctions including lasagne, fish and chips, kebabs and pasta…. all made into sweet versions using Nutella!!
If you’re like me and love exploring foreign supermarkets, don’t miss the chance to go to Woolworths and Coles – I’ve never seen such a range of products that we can’t get at home!! Besides the well known Tim Tams in a ridiculous number of flavours and novelty items like caramel koalas (freddos!) I found a ridiculous range of stuff including Whittakers, all kinds of weird and wonderful Cadbury bars (including the surprisingly nice marshmallow & raspberry clinkers ‘Marvellous Creation’.. and the not so great sherbert-filled Spider bars), the (long discontinued in the UK!) dream bars, M&M bars and I finally restocked my Kit Kat supply!
Finally my one non-food recommendation is the observation tower at Surfer’s Paradise. It may be seen as a bit of a tourist trap but the views up and down the Gold Coast are absolutely breathtaking, and there’s a bar and cafe up there too where you can sit and relax for as long as you’d like. The cafe offers surprisingly good (and reasonably priced!) cake (coffee and any cake will set you back $10), a range of standard burgers/sandwiches or afternoon tea.
Apologies for the lack of photos.. I wasn’t planning on blogging about this trip but a 35 hour travel time on the way back left me with quite a lot of free time!!