Canteen Kitchen, Burleigh Heads

UPDATE January 2015:

Since the sale of Canteen (Kitchen and Coffee) to Kristen Kiely in late 2014 as Brendan Elcham concentrates on the wholesale side of his coffee business, our visit this month showed that little has changed in Canteen.

Though the food heritage is still strong, fittingly the Elcham family photos no longer hold pride of place on the wall. We’ve moved from Tripoli to Burleigh. Sepia shots of Burleigh’s early days look right at home on these walls, as though they’ve always been there – tents on the beach, lifesavers in neck-to-knee suits…

Canteen 21 There’s little change to the menu as well; only cosmetic. My coffee’s still strong and heady, smooth but edgy. The Tabouleh salad may have lost the the pearl barley, but it’s gained pistachios, sumac and dukkah, served with  baba ganoush, house flatbread and a side of chilli-smoked trout. Totally yum!

I’m tucking into the lunch Jordan has just brought me when three blokes pull up at the menu board.

“What are we feeling like?” one asks. “A ‘gourmette’ or more like a BLT greasy?”

One pulls a face and they turn and walk away.

Wrong decision, guys!

…………………………………………

Food doesn’t travel well but ideas travel very well indeed.”   

Magnus Nilsson quoted by Gourmet Traveller @GourmetTweets 8 March 2013

It’s not coincidental that some of our strongest feelings are tied up with food. A communal extended family meal, travel in far-flung exotic lands and even tender memories of love are infused with the flavours and tantalising smells of particular dishes or even a single ingredient. In an instant a moment can come flooding back, along with accompanying emotions, linking us to who were truly are, to the experiences which make up our foundation stones.

For Brendan Elcham, proprietor of the award-winning Canteen, his happiest breakfast memories involve his grandmother cooking for him – za’atar dusted flatbread, scrambled eggs with freshly clotted labneh which she’d hung overnight, laced with a few green olives.

In his new restaurant, Canteen Kitchen, Elcham presents the Gold Coast with his heritage ‘on a plate’. It’s a melting pot of flavours influenced by his Lebanese grandparents who emigrated to Australia post war, Elcham’s lifetime of Middle Eastern food experience, a family history in fine coffee roasting and his personal passion for clean and healthy cuisine.

Canteen Kitchen 6 There’s an intriguing mix of Middle Eastern culture infused with modernity in the single brunch menu: age-old ingredients and combinations balanced by the goodness of fresh local seasonal produce and some of the finest meat available in Australia: heirloom tomatoes and local Duranbah avocadoes; organic eggs, free-range chicken and Flinders Island lamb.

It’s a foodie’s menu, a well considered, boundary breaking selection of dishes, with no ‘eggs and bacon’ in sight. Some of the ingredients such as dukkah, labneh, za’atar, pomegranate and shanklish will be new to the conservative eater, but look a little deeper and many base combinations are familiar: eggs with beans and toast, fruit and cereal are present. Be just a little adventurous and you’ll be well rewarded.

Every night, as was customary two generations ago, fresh labneh is prepared and hung overnight in readiness for the next day’s breakfast. At 4am every morning, baking begins in the tiny kitchen, with flatbread baked daily for an early start.

Canteen Kitchen 4 And the effort really pays off. Our breakfasts are extraordinary – the labneh smooth and creamy, beautifully balanced by poached eggs and the nutty spices of the za’atar topped bread, the soft lamb kofta smothered with a rich bean and tomato sauce on sourdough. It’s not so far from some of my favourite breakfasts, I realise – poached eggs topped with goats’ cheese and olive-laced tabouli on toast…

“I wanted the food to be clean and healthy,” Elcham says, “food I’d eat at home. Something that people could enjoy every day,” and it’s priced accordingly.

Canteen Kitchen 2 The restaurant interior design also demonstrates that same balance: it’s rich, masculine, and culturally imbued, yet minimalist and elegant at the same time. Copper-topped tables are surrounded by Bentwood chairs and Chesterfield couches flanking the back wall, the main focus of the restaurant – a gallery of framed family photos, many of Elcham’s grandfather, taken post-war on the streets of Tripoli.

Somehow, there’s both comfort and mystique in Canteen Kitchen. With his fine eye for detail in both menu and styling, Elcham has seamlessly blended cultural heritage and modern cuisine to find an exciting point of difference. Noticeably unique, Canteen Kitchen is a stylish boutique eatery, serving fresh modern Middle Eastern food – a taste of Tripoli on the Gold Coast.

23 Park Avenue, Burleigh Heads

Canteen Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Breakfast Burleigh Heads Coffee Coffee & Tea Dessert Lunch Main course $15 or less Main course $15 to $25 Middle Eastern Restaurants , , , , , , , ,

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