Food Review: Sparrow Eating House

2/32 Lavarack Road, Nobby Beach Ph: 07 5575 3330

“Where should we dine on the Gold Coast?”

Restaurant names given in answer to that question often fall into two camps: chefs and restaurateurs (and sometimes the two in combination)!

Young, dynamic and visionary, there’s a clutch of restaurateurs who are defining what could be termed ‘Gold Coast style’: often single-concept eateries which are ideally suited to the lifestyle preferences of coastal diners.

Andrew Whiting is one of the small but influential group of forerunners in eatery culture. Using the core values they’d already established in their previous cafes (Vintage Espresso and Elk), Andrew and his wife Jodie knew that they would be concentrating on seasonal fresh local produce and a selective well-chosen list of boutique small producer Australian wines and beers.

But they wanted more. Looking closely at their demographic and prevailing food trends, they decided on one central theme: sharing. Sparrow’s core concept is clearly outlined on the top of the menu: “Our menu has been created so that it may be shared. Enjoy your food journey!”

While we’d found the previous seasonal menus both creative and interesting, the new spring menu from Chef Jeremy McBain has been tweeked to take it up a notch. Drawing from a world palette of colour and flavour, it’s brimming with innovative combinations of on trend ingredients, while maintaining a balance of flavours.

Beautifully plated, each dish is a balance of known ingredients and the surprise of a new combination: the best Tempura zucchini flowers we’ve tasted, stuffed with truffled ricotta and the sweet tang of ginger-spiced honeyed pumpkin; seared Beef tataki served with whipped horseradish and truffle-infused butter, and our dish of the night – the unassuming Sticky ginger quail served with peppered ricotta and the crunch of a broad bean watermelon salad.

While many of the smaller plates are lighter for summer, they are augmented by four larger plates: Lamb rump, Duck breast with grapes and celeriac, Crispy skinned salmon with a sweet fennel and cranberry remoulade, and Slow cooked pork shoulder topped with its crisp crackling – a delicious hearty meal to share.

“Every plate that comes out represents us,” Andrew tells us.

It’s a menu to savour; clever with unexpected combinations. In fact, we find it difficult to choose what to miss! Too many taste sensations, each one unique in its own way; the problem can only be solved by successive dining ventures. Some options are to dine with a group ‘Banquet’ ($39) or the ‘Chef’s Banquet’ (a selection of the restaurant’s favourite dishes for $55 per head), which you can choose to pair with cocktails and/or wines to match.

A truly affordable option is to dine on Wednesday nights when four dishes can be ordered for $50 per couple. An assortment of dishes can be ordered gluten-free.

It’s well worth leaving room for shared dessert at Sparrow: Cheesecake croquette with the bite of mandarin curd and caramelised white chocolate, or the amazing puff pastry Banoffee jaffle served with salted caramel sauce and cream.

Our favourite is the Misty chocolate terrarium, the dessert that Jarryd Hayne made famous! In a dramatic unveiling, the chocolate cake appears from under a cloche, then Callabaut Belgian chocolate ganache is poured into its flower-ringer centre. Such a showy, decadent treat!

Sipping a glass of Riposte Pinot Noir, we realise that Sparrow’s success does not rest solely on its food or its boutique wine list, though both are absolute standouts. We look around and take in the little things that count at Sparrow: the warmly genuine greeting as we entered the restaurant, water glasses constantly refilled, fresh orchids on each table, microherbs and edible flowers used in presentation, beautiful plates on luxe copper tabletops in a spotless venue… There’s also dining flexibility, the inclusion of single diners sitting at the bar being entertained by the barman’s repartee, function catering on and off site for weddings and celebrations, even their notorious ‘Wow’ cake, which is an absolute hit.

“It’s the extra 10% that counts: staff training, consistency, product and service, all need to offer more to the customer,” Andrew tells us. “It’s about establishing trust. Then people will come back and bring their friends.”

There’s nothing accidental about the Whitings’ success. Dining at Sparrow is a celebration of innovative cuisine, well-chosen fine wine, exceptional service and our unique Gold Coast dining culture.

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

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