Food review: St Helen’s Kitchen

2/78 Musgrave St, Coolangatta Ph: 07 5659 2821

There’s a swell of new eateries opening up along the foreshore of Kirra Beach, St Helen’s being one of the first.

From Seattle on the West Coast of the United States, Head Chef Jess Hayes, who co-owns the restaurant with husband Brendan, is fulfilling the dream they’ve shared since they met thirteen years ago: to own a restaurant by the sea.

Located on Musgrave Street under the new Iconic Kirra Beach Resort, Saint Helens Bar + Kitchen sits overlooking the stunning Kirra Beach and parklands. Whether you are coming straight off the beach for a post surf snack, catching up with friends for sundowners or settling in for a mouth-watering dinner date, Saint Helens Bar + Kitchen is a casual setting befitting the southern Gold Coast dining scene.

Jess brings us a taste of her homeland with its nomenclature of St Helen’s (the volcano near Jess’s home town Seattle) and in the menu of North-West American food with a Gold Coast twist, the famous Kirra break represented by a 10-metre custom mural painted by artist Mike Ambrose.

“I wanted to bring a fresh approach to presenting American food to Australia – the flavours of my childhood. Too often the American foods I grew up with were very one dimensional – typically sickly sweet or overtly greasy. However, I’ve always enjoyed balancing flavours with garden-fresh herbs, pops of spice and a fresh, colourful twist.”

“We’re all about innovative share foods with beers on tap and exciting cocktails that reflect our coastal locale,” says Jess.

To us, the strength lies in the snack menu to enjoy with drinks, with highlights including Crumbed okra tots with spicy ketchup, Trawler prawn fritters with aioli, Artichoke and jalapeño dip with grilled bread, Charred sweet peppers, chicken wings and sliders, leading into mains of Sugar-cured Rainbow Trout, Roasted pork shoulder and Grilled flank steak with sides to share.

Desserts of Peanut butter crème brûlée chocolate cookie, and Grandma’s chocolate pie with a salty Graham cracker base are rich and decadent; a must to share.

Jess’ and Brendan’s longstanding experience in the hospitality industry shows in their approach to the diversity of the menu. It has a low entry price point as well as the ability to suit multiple occasions and diner preferences.

“The Gold Coast is very accepting of different kinds of food,” Jess says, adding that rising to the gluten-free and vegan-friendly challenge has added an interesting dimension to the menu.

With gluten-free options clearly marked on the menu, there are also plenty of delicious vegan dishes on offer, including Saint Helens signature KFC Cauliflower (aka Kirra Fried Cauliflower) and the ‘pulled pork’ jackfruit sliders with bourbon BBQ and coleslaw. Of course, they’re dishes that everyone will enjoy, not just vegans!

Whether you dine alfresco overlooking the beach with share plates and drinks or more formally inside, the couple’s twist on the food of Jess’s homeland brings something refreshingly different to the coast. Moreover, you get the joy of enjoying it as the sunset is reflected across the Gold Coast skyline. Perfect!

Read more of Marj’s reviews on foodgoldcoast.com.au

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