Food Review: Pigs & Pints, Surfers Paradise

9 Hamilton Avenue, Surfers Paradise Ph: 0455 676 223

Even in the midst of a big city, it’s possible to find a place where you walk in the door, sit down and an ‘Ahhh!’ escapes your lips. Many of you know places like that, where the lighting is dim or subdued, couch seating comfortable, music doesn’t interfere with your headspace, and an enveloping ambience invites you in off the street, away from the glare of cars and neon, to enjoy a bite to eat and relaxing drink.

It’s a formula that’s worked well in Pigs & Pints restaurants. The first opened on Chevron Island three years ago before moving to Burleigh Heads, the second opened this year directly opposite the Surfers Paradise Q: Link station.

While Pigs and Pints Burleigh is a rustic country-style pub bar, Surfers Paradise carries the sophistication of a city bar with high ceilings, warm colours of brick and timber panelling, a choice of seating (casual couches, tables or bar stools), and a wall of vintage stained glass from an old Queenslander.

It’s both a comfortable setting and comfort food, but that does not mean downmarket. Quite the contrary!

This is food from one of our best chefs, UK-born owner/chef James Brady. Trained at the prestigious Westminster College before working throughout Europe and in some of London’s most luxurious hotels including The Lanesborough under Chef Paul Gayler, since coming to Australia over ten years ago, James’ positions include Sous Chef at Vue de Monde, Head Chef at Melbourne’s 3 Station Pier and Head Chef at Poseidon Restaurant on the Gold Coast where he achieved 2 AGFG Chef’s Hats. This feat was repeated in 2012 in his own restaurant, Samphire Bites, set to reopen in Q1 behind Pigs and Pints within the next few weeks.

For James, each day begins in the same way, with the baking of the bread. It’s a routine that he’s loathe to give up, even as he expands his restaurant portfolio.

“There’s something grounding about making bread – the same routine every day, kneading, baking… When the bread comes out of the oven and it’s perfect, you know that the day’s going to be fantastic,” he tells us.

The little brioche buns (AKA pigs) are the foundation stone of the eatery’s menu. Pigs & Pints started with sliders, an item so popular in Samphire Bites, where ‘three little pigs’ were served on hay in a Grange box with a side of house-smoked chips, that they earned their own restaurant!

The ‘pigs’ are also indicative of the devotion James and his team put into the menu. There’s a choice of ten fillings, with all meat having felt the love of several hours’ marination before being braised overnight. Some of our favourites include Pork belly BLT with 12 hour confit pork belly, fresh tomato and aioli; Sobrasada and pickled chilli; Crispy beef, red pepper and watercress; Crumbed camembert with crème de cassis; and Cheeseburger (filled with haloumi, pickled lemon and a red pepper puree). At $5 per slider (or three for $10 as a Wednesday special), they’re a great option for a meal.

But who could pass up on the small plates and belly fillers? They’re some of my favourite menu items: Sobrasada poppers made from Guindilla chillies that hold more spicy acid than heat, the perfect match for one of the local Burleigh beers on tap; Chickpea chips and Horseradish Gems which beg to be eaten, or James’ famous smoked chips – once tasted, never forgotten
Feeling hungrier? Then choose one of the grazing boards to share with a friend or two ($45 – $60 per platter) of BBQ pork ribs, Roast pork, Lamb shanks, Arancini, or Brisket smoked and braised with pomegranate molasses and sides – plenty for two (or more, if you add a few pigs and belly fillers).

“We want to encourage people to slow down,” James tells us, “to enjoy the moment and the experience. It’s all about the company – who you’re spending time with. We just facilitate.”
As you sit in a lounge, apart from the passing foot and tram traffic, you can slow down with one of the smart boutique pints on tap, have a chat to the friendly barman, enjoying food that’s flexible enough to suit the mood. The world may pass you by, but that’s the point, isn’t it?

Read more of Marj’s reviews on Good Food Gold Coast http://www.foodgoldcoast.com.au

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