Food Review: Follow the Black Herd

The Black Sheep Kitchen Espresso Baa and Catering, 2460 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach Ph   07 5572 6159

We warned you. The black sheep are breeding.

If you loved The Black Sheep and The Black Lamb, now there’s another one.

Having been lovingly received by Coolie locals for his great coffee opposite the beach, Dinesh Nair took on the challenge of Southport with a hole-in-the-wall shop under Pacific Private. Now he’s opened his third venue in the old Push Espresso space near Bonita Bonita in Mermaid Beach.

‘It’s not the coffee, It’s the Baa-rista that makes it!’ the sign baas from the wall.

It’s true, of course. Coffee’s the deal breaker in espresso bars, and The Black Sheep’s coffee is a very smooth Toby’s Estate served in sheep sizes – lamb, sheep, and ram.

Despite the self-deprecating sense of black humour of this Fijian-born New Zealander, we dare not ask too much about the ‘black sheep’ reference. What we do know is that it pays to be different, and there’s also more to him than meets the eye.

The son of two chefs, Dinesh migrated to Australia when his wife came to the Gold Coast to work, Dinesh finding employment in restaurants and hotels, then at Toby’s Estate Coffee, waiting for the opportunity to open his own espresso bar.

Like many customers, we not only fell in love with Dinesh’s enthusiasm and devilish sense of humour, we also fell hard for his food.

Dinesh’s latest venue carries his strategic plan: to use the Mermaid Beach café as the cool room/storage area and commercial kitchen to make food for his two smaller venues, a plan still under construction when we visited.

With the ‘menewe’ straying way outside normal range, we expect to see a lot of pre-cooking going on: homemade sauces, slow-cooked meat and ‘staples’ such as arancini and pulled pork come to mind.

Our breakfasts show off the difference. I choose the Spawn of Fungi (Mr & Mrs Fungi’s child, according to the menu): rich mushroom ragout with aranchini, a fried egg and fried enoki ($16.50). Two meals in one, for sure, but it’s so delicious that our usual sharing principle flies out the window.

The Main Squeeze has enough of his own anyway, choosing Bigger Than GC ($17.50): Texan beans with cheesy potato hash, grilled bacon and 12 hour slow-cooked beef cheek!

OK, so there are your usuals: Avo smash (with Persian feta and chilli jam if you want), Bacon and egg rolls, Eggs and bacon (but make that streaky), Granola (with beetroot, apple and candied granola), and Croissants (with the lot). At every corner there’s something new; an ‘out of the box’ rustic dish with huge flavours driven by fresh produce and great technique.

Random? Yes, especially the menu descriptions, but there’s that Kiwi affection for difference shining through, just as it does in the food. Not just your average ‘menewe’, there’s a bucket load of creative flair and humour in each dish, plenty of options, and we’re sure there’ll be a black sheep on ‘Best breakfast’ lists soon!

Find the rest of the Black Herd at:

The Black Lamb, 123 Nerang Street, Southport, Ph: 07 5528 2126

The Black Sheep Espresso Baa, Shop 29A, 72 – 80 Marine Parade, Coolangatta Ph: 07 5536 9947

 Read more of Marj’s reviews on Good Food Gold Coast

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