Food Review: The Funky Olive

1722-1724 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads, Ph: 07 5576 1804

Opening a restaurant is a bit like running the gauntlet. There’s so much to do: leases, venue and kitchen fitout, engaging a chef, decisions about menus and suppliers, staff recruitment and training, licensing and inspections, branding and marketing … all in preparation for that all important ‘reveal’ to the general public.

First impressions count. After all, thanks to social media, the Gold Coast is really just a small town. Word spreads like flames in a haystack: earn or burn!

From the outside The Funky Olive presents as just another ‘funky’ Burleigh café with a Mediterranean twist, the welcoming warmth of its cosy timber décor lit by trendy drop lights and enthusiastic new owners willing to give their business a decent shove. But our experience so far tells us that it’s so much more.

We’ve dined at The Funky Olive three times (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and have come away totally impressed. ‘Too good to be true,’ I thought, pinching myself that these were first time restaurateurs. Service was efficient and cheery – no hiccups when we visited, food was promptly delivered and water refilled despite the place being hummingly busy.

It’s a huge ambitious menu: Breakfast (everything from bircher muesli and açai bowls to eggs your way or brekkie boards), Lunch (salad or sandwich through to sticky pork belly) and Dinner (small or large plate dishes which take in everything from snacks to French-influenced comfort food).

And then there are the stayers – menu items such as boards and all day brekkie plates which spread across all three meals. Beef up any meal with sides to share; there’s an entirely separate menu for kids, and plenty of homemade sweets. All in all, the menu is so extensive that it’s a bit complicated; so much choice, in fact, that we’d question its sustainability.

Mind you, customers aren’t complaining, and the kitchen flow is well divided with cold platters prepped behind the servery and other menu items cooked in the back kitchen. It’s these intelligent touches of organisation, the owners on the floor keeping a watchful eye on the action, which make all the difference.

When we dined late, platters poured out of the kitchen – generous portions of well-presented cold cuts (meat or ocean), bread, cheeses and antipasti ($22.50 or $32) – plenty to nibble on with a glass of wine, but in our view the star dishes come from the chef: smart combinations of ‘on trend’ ingredients, well cooked, with gorgeous presentation.

Our Bircher muesli with poached rhubarb, for example, is topped by goji berries, fresh raspberries, strawberries and apple, with a slurp of honeyed yoghurt smeared across the plate. It looks almost too gorgeous to eat. Of course, it’s delicious.

Lunch meals also demonstrate the chef’s expertise: perfectly cooked Scallops topped with smoked tuna dust, Sticky pork belly zigzagging beautifully across a quinoa salad dotted with pear gel. Rustic or delicate, all of our dishes showed intriguing points of interest and attention to detail; nothing was average.

The Funky Olive has many assets: its position in a highly desirable dining area, an all- encompassing menu, a share plate philosophy, crowd pleasing tummy filling platters, friendly service, well-priced drinks, great coffee and even a real pot of tea. The restaurant can function as a family and party-friendly venue which can also accommodate a casual meet up with friends for breakfast or a solo crowd-watching coffee on the front pavement.

While all of these factors have been important in The Funky Olive’s highly delectable ‘reveal’, it’s the chef’s creations we’d go back for any day. The real talent in The Funky Olive kitchen is the icing on a simply delectable cake!

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

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