17 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Open 11am to 12am daily.
There was an apprehension-tinged buzz going around the table at our lazy late lunch at House of Brews in the heart of Surfers Paradise. We had just been informed that our meal today was going to have some special guests: Bugs. Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t do well with bugs, let alone ones that I am supposed to eat, so my anxiety was running high. A hush fell over the table as our first bug infested dish hit the table: Porky rinds with balsamic vinegar and roasted ants. I took a deep breath, grabbed one of the little suckers and popped it in my mouth expecting the worst, but then…I was pleasantly surprised! The roasted ants were crunchy and had a slight tang to them. Sprinkled over the bubble wrap like porky rinds you would believe them to be just another spice to enhance the dish, but really they are so much more.
In speaking with Damien and Sacha Kanaghines, two of the three brothers who own and operate House of Brews, I was surprised to learn about the nutritional content of my new insect friends. Beyond their novelty value, putting bugs on their menu is a step towards a more sustainable food alternative with the added health benefits of being higher in protein and lower in calories when compared with other meats. In fact there is now an international food movement called “foraging” where people search out consumable insects with many world-class restaurants now engaging in the activity.
I enjoy my ants with a delicious Big Head beer from the magicians at Burleigh Brewing as talk of sustainability engages the group. It’s no surprise that House of Brews features many Burleigh Brewing beers on their menu as they boast an amazing array of 32 local and imported beers on tap, having a custom-designed keg room that delivers beer straight from the barrel to the customer’s glass, chilled to below zero degrees Celsius. Patrons can marvel at the keg room themselves and no doubt start planning how they could have one in their own home as I did.
A proven popular dish at House of Brews is their onion ring tower, with truffled cheese sauce lovingly poured over them at the table. As I tuck into some delicious onion rings I find myself thinking how well my new ant friends would go with the dish. Other firm favourites on the menu are brought out for us to sample including buffalo wings with an amazing American spicy sauce, original wings and tender pulled pork sliders, which were of a larger size than what you would generally get in a restaurant, allowing more time to savour the delicious flavours along with their Burleigh Brewing respectively paired beers: the Premium, 28 Pale Ale and my favourite, the Fig Jam.
As we enjoy our meal and beers Damien and Sascha regale us with tales of all the places they visited in America with their other brother and co-owner Ben. In a 12 day period they managed to dine at 64 restaurants, drink at 34 bars and attend a three day conference all the name of research before the opening of House of Brews. Their hard work has definitely paid off as the venue, an ode to rock, brews and BBQ, is stylish and fresh, drawing in a more mature crowd who are in search of a quality alternative to Surfers Paradise’s usual offerings. Damien and Sascha inform us that they have found the venue to be popular with younger females too who I am sure are drawn in by the amazing cocktails and cotton candy tower piled high in a large martini glass that follows our meal.
Finally the last dish rolls out and by now my initial apprehension has turned to excited curiosity as a generous serve of Kangaroo tacos with mango salsa, sour cream and roasted chilli and garlic crickets are brought out to the table. Visually appetising, it’s not until you look carefully that you can see the crickets peppered over the tacos as though lounging in the hot summer sun. As I pluck one from the taco and pop it in my mouth I am surprised once again by how easy they are to eat as the initial crunch gives way to a peanut butter like flavour that blends well with the Kangaroo taco. Washing them down with another great Burleigh Brewing beer, this time their Hef, I muse over the meal and find myself planning what else these bugs would go well with.
Having worked together for 19 years, the Kanaghines brothers have used their extensive industry knowledge to open an exceptional venue that is worth the visit if you are looking for something more laid back and refreshing on your next trip to Surfers Paradise. You’ll no doubt leave bug-eyed after a great meal like the one I experienced!