Cnr Park Ave & Connor St, Burleigh Heads
In a suburb dubbed as ‘the new Byron Bay’, within sight of an award winning beach, there’s a laid back vibe and lots of funky eateries – Burleigh Heads.
We’re heading to a venue that started it all; the first craft-beer drinking hole on the Gold Coast, and one of the first communal dining venues: Ze Pickle.
We were all sad to witness the demise of the little second-hand bookstore on the corner of Park Avenue, but two doors away, Connors’ owner Nathan Zukerman was joyful. He’d always loved the corner venue so he grasped the opportunity to open a burger bar to accompany what was to be the first craft beer bar on the Gold Coast. Joining him were mates JD (Joey Day) and Aaron Wilson. In October 2012, Ze Pickle was born.
We dine out on a Friday night, open-minded to the venue and more than a bit pleased to see the end to a ‘shitty’ Friday! By 6pm it’s already pretty busy with diners, a large range of age groups, the music upbeat but not overpowering, so we settle down to business, here to have a good time.
The drink menu! The range of 30 craft beers, six on tap, makes for interesting choices. The US, NZ and Germany are all well represented, including beers not found in other venues. The wine list is good too, so we don’t even get tempted by the cocktails!
“It’s pretty laid back,” Nathan has told us. “We don’t like a pretentious vibe.”
No who’s who here, it’s all funky cool vibes. The communal dining is working well for us. Besides friends already there, we chat to three groups of people – locals who pop in regularly, as well as interstate visitors keen on having a great time. Under the cover of the poinciana branches, the world could pass us by. Who cares! It’s relaxed and easy, just the sort of place where it’s a pleasure to drift into the weekend.
All three owners travel regularly to the States and, loving their food, the menu’s awash with Americana style. So is the bar. Fronted in copper-painted rego plates hailing from Washington State to New York, I wonder how many suitcases the guys have filled on return journeys… Cool! So is the industrial fit out and dimmed lighting!
The burgers are winners, voted the best on the Gold Coast in 2013, so we’re eager to launch. Burgers and sliders come in three sizes, all available gluten-free, with tons of humour in their names, such as the Funghi Haha Yippee, or the Pablo Escoburger ($15) – ground wagyu beef, cheese, guacamole, queso spread, jalapeno aioli with the added crunch of corn chips, but we’re hedging our bets. Sliders, like shoes, come in pairs, so two sets ($15 a pair) will give us a sampler 4 pack! Smart thinking!
There’s no holding back on the carbs tonight. We’ve ordered entrées of Porkitas (housemade mini tostadas stacked with pulled pork, queso and aioli) with a bowl of Sweet Potato Fries to accompany them. Served with a homemade aioli for $8.50, it’s a generous portion of a totally addictive dish, and they’re polished off before our sliders arrive.
I’ve spied something else on the menu, though. I grab JD and ask that if a Triple Loco Burger is ordered, could I please take a quick shot. At $34, it’s nicknamed “The Widow Maker”; a burger of three wagyu patties, triple cheese, bacon jam, pulled pork, lettuce, tomato relish, caramelised onion and slaw, served between two grilled cheese sandwiches. Unremarkably, there’s a waiver to sign. Not one for the faint-hearted, and I feel doubly virtuous turning back to my not-so-little slider!
“So, what about the health angle? There are quite opposing viewpoints in fitness practice: paleo vs carb loading.” It was a question I’d timidly asked Nathan earlier.
“Many of our regulars love working out. Well, everyone needs a night off! All good, so long as you work it off!”
“But the Krispy Kreme burger is a joke, right?” JD’s serving us, so I grab the opportunity to satisfy my curiosity. I’d seen a photo of the burger on the Facebook page and thought it was a practical joke: A Krispy Kreme donut enveloping a wagyu beef patty, Swiss cheese, crispy bacon, jam & maple syrup for $15. Are they for real?
“It’s no joke,” he says. “It’s a special we put on every three months or so. It actually tastes really good!” Later, an American friend gives me an eye roll deliciousness indicator at its mere mention. Hmmm…
It’s not on the menu tonight, though, so we’re primed to order dessert. With a new-found friend as a willing accomplice, indulgence looms as a possibility!
Dominique Ansel would be proud! The man who brought us the cronut and the new cookie-and-milk shot probably hasn’t heard about the Oreogazm! Yet! It’s an ‘I’ll have what she’s having’ experience, even reading the menu! And it almost lives up to its reputation, but let’s not go there! Chocolate Oreos, dipped in a light doughnut batter before being deep fried sound deadly. They are, but in the best possible way! Served with ice cream and chocolate sauce, the dish is far more delicate than it sounds – an indulgent treat to share.
“Everybody’s got to have fun!” says Nathan, and at Ze Pickle we really do!
Now, about working it off…
Read more of Marj’s reviews on Good Food Gold Coast http://www.foodgoldcoast.com.au