Miami Village Shopping Centre, 110 Mountainview Ave., Miami Ph: 07 5607 0775
“An old man tells his grandson one evening that there is a battle raging inside him, inside all of us. A terrible battle between two wolves…
The child asks, ‘Who will win?’
The grandfather answers simply, ‘The one you feed.’”
– Unknown source (as quoted in ‘Two Wolves’ by Tristan Bancks)
We’ve long been enthralled by the dichotomy of Gold Coast diners. On the one hand there are tribes of ‘transformational’ fitness-craving gym goers who thrive on healthy gluten and dairy-free protein-rich foods. On the other we have the big chain devotees who’re addicted to burgers and fries, fried chicken, ice cream and waffles (sometimes all in one dish).
But is it really that simple? Do we live in two extremes?
We don’t think so!
“Oh, the burgers!” my friend exclaims as she glances over the menu on a girl date out. Frankly, I’m rather surprised. “Oh, I eat really healthy at home and save up my ‘junk’ quota for when I eat out. Then I want to splurge,” she drools.
I think there’s a bit of that in all of us. Many of us are food ‘swingers’, dabbling between extremes when the urge arises, not just on so-called ‘cheat days’.
If there’s one café which encapsulates the way Gold Coast diners approach food, it’s The Good Wolf. Husband and wife chefs Craig and Helen Pope have split their café’s menu into two: The GOOD Wolf menu (full of healthy dishes with vegan, vegetarian, raw and paleo options) and the BAD Wolf menu (overflowing with sweet treats, delicious snacks, mouth-watering burgers and more). It’s a concept that Gold Coast diners have identified with, voting the café Best Takeaway on the Gold Coast in 2015 and #3 Burger on the Coast in 2016 (Gold Coast Bulletin).
It’s hardly surprising that the couple’s culinary talent has been recognised. We’d enjoyed Craig’s work before at Mermaids, Black Angus Grill and Raw Kitchen & Espresso, before he became ‘personal chef to the elite’, employed by Riviera. Now with Helen taking over front of house, Craig’s in the kitchen again with Helen ‘the boss’ (his words not mine)! Keen to use fresh local produce, the couple have chosen Journeyman Coffee as their brew, from a small batch roaster down the road at Miami. It’s a strong coffee drinker’s blend, so keep to one shot if you want to maintain the smooth edge.
Helen sends out a taster plate of starters, a meal in themselves: Sweet potato wedges with aioli (the best we’ve tasted – thick, crunchy and salty), yummy Buffalo fries tossed with parmesan, hot wing sauce and blue cheese dip, and Jalapeno poppers – fried crumbed jalapenos stuffed with chipotle tabasco, cream cheese and bacon. ‘Bad’ has never tasted so good!
For mains, we decide to hang both ways. The Main Squeeze hesitates a moment considering Craig’s famous double cheeseburger with two whopping 100g patties, but restraint prevails, and he orders the Southern Fried Chicken Burger. It contains the ‘unholy trinity’ – bacon, cheese and chicken (is there a better combination?) teamed with chipotle aioli and smoky BBQ sauce to spice it up ($14.90).
‘Miss Good Girl’ (yes, that’s me) looks at the Good Wolf menu. It makes me feel better. (I need to think small. Maybe it will bring good luck!) That side of the board teems with salads, bowls featuring brown rice, tofu, felafel – vegan, vegetarian, raw and paleo…
My vegetarian years behind me, memories of North Queensland’s Barra Burgers come flooding back when I spy the Fish Taco. The description reads: Grilled NZ Hoki, lettuce, pineapple salsa, aioli dressing and zingy lime wrapped up in a fresh taco. Two tacos, as it turns out, and large ones at that! Two meals for me! It’s then that it hits: this is a real ‘bang for your buck’ café, giving diners what they want: great food, value for money.
Helen tells us, “There’s been a dramatic increase in ‘Good Wolf’ diners over the past year or so, with more customers choosing healthy options from the menu, but the battle’s still not evenly balanced. Girls often come in groups. They don’t want to break the budget but they can feel super-healthy ordering from the Good Wolf menu. Then there are your regulars who come in and order $9.90 fish and chips. We have a really broad base of clientele, with close to half being regular locals.”
Craig uses New Zealand Hoki as his fish of choice. With all meals priced under $15, it’s a fish which goes well grilled, crumbed or battered, while meeting the necessary price point. But there’s lots of room to give dishes his own twist, he says, with daily specials such as House-made pastrami on brioche with pickles, fried egg, aioli and Dijon mustard. (One walks out the door as we speak.)
While just under half of The Good Wolf’s clientele are from surrounding suburbs, the goal for this couple is to ‘pull people up the hill’ to experience their mouth-watering fare. Not only is the price point keen for this suburban café, but they’ve also established their point of difference.
We’re not asking which side you bat for, good or bad wolf. Phone in your order and do a takeaway or trundle up the hill, bottle in hand. There’s a little suburban treasure at the top: The Good Wolf.
Note: Liquor license pending. Marj dined as a guest of The Good Wolf.
Read more of Marj’s reviews on Good Food Gold Coast