Commune by Carmody’s

It’s the thirst for adventure that leads us to Commune by Carmody’s, a “Now you see me, now you don’t!” pop-up restaurant.

 

Is this the start of a trend? Who knows, but it’s a fabulous surprise to see that Southport Sharks has taken the plunge, utilising the middle of their award-winning signature restaurant’s bar area with a set menu communal dining table seating 22 people. We’re intrigued, and graciously accept an offer to dine.

 

Pop-up restaurants are ‘having a moment’. Held in warehouses or interesting locations, in bamboo groves or railway stations, temporary eateries have been popping up across the world.

 

They started as ‘guerilla’ dining events, with time and place spread virally by social media. Theatrically surrounded by mystique, the greatest difficulty was being ‘in the know’ early enough to get a seat!

 

Commune 8Before long the commercial value of pop-ups was recognised. Trendy and exciting, pop-ups offer a chance for chefs to bridge their experiences, experiment with new cuisines and dining concepts, offering great value to diners without the setup cost of starting a new restaurant. Soon ‘pop-ups’ evolved into ‘pop-ins’, with mainstream restaurants creating separate dining experiences within their existing venues.

 

Until now, we had not seen much pop-up action on the Gold Coast. Adopting the concept of supper clubs (such as our own Goldtoast Supper Club), our chefs have hosted dinners in the kitchen (for example in the Gold Coast Convention Centre), annual or weekly food and wine events (Miami Marketta Street Food Market), and experimented with new ideas and dishes in temporary sittings (for example to trial weekend dinner trading). A toe in the water maybe, but that’s about all…until now.

 

Aptly titled Commune by Carmody’s, Southport Sharks will operate a pop-up restaurant during the month of December 2013, a quick plunge into communal dining waters.

 

Commune 7There’s a party atmosphere, with Katie Perry’s cheery voice cascading through the club.  In the bar area lights are dimmed, the long table elegantly set with white linen napkins, insignia glasses and flowers.

We’re greeted by Manager Socky Soares, a veteran in the Gold Coast dining scene, and invited to join a party of diners who are already seated. The novelty of dining with strangers provides an excitement of its own, and even though the timing of our courses doesn’t coincide, we find ourselves commenting on the food, finding topics of common interest, and swapping dining recommendations.

Commune 4“We wanted to capitalise on the holiday season,” Chef Nathan Hay tells me, “to utilise the space and to enable families to do things together.” It’s Hay’s cuisine that we will enjoy tonight, prepared in Carmody’s kitchen.

The five course menu ($54 for Members and $58 for guests) is luxurious. Strewn across share plates, the entrées are delicately presented with flashes of garnish dotted with flowers. A salad of ocean trout tartar and avocado perches on a crisp wonton; a path of Pomegranate glazed multicoloured beets topped with goats’ cheese and maple candied pecans trails across the plate; a scallop sits on a slice of pork belly riding a swipe of cauliflower mash and dots of umeboshi (sour plum). They team well with the elegant gooseberry and citrus tones of Marlborough’s Secret Stone Sauvignon Blanc.

Commune 5We’ve experienced a cascade of tastes leading from one course to the next, but the main course brings a change of pace. We settle into a marinated rack of ribs accompanied by candied carrots and black bean salad; a substantial meal. So too is dessert – dark and light espresso mascarpone swirled around a jam jar laden with chocolate brownie squares, topped with chocolate Persian fairy floss. It’s a generous serve and richly delicious – a sweet tooth’s delight. Already satiated, I find a little room for dessert, as well as a glass of the luscious De Bortoli Noble One! What an indulgent treat!

 

Commune 3 There are murmurings between fellow diners about the quality of the food, its exceptional value, the moment temporarily broken by the club’s crier announcing tonight’s raffle winner. It’s the two-edged sword of open spaces – the flowing through of vitality or static from one space to the next, but I notice that some diners drift off to other areas of the club as they finish their meal.

 

While Commune by Carmody’s may not be the clandestine dining experience which the original pop-ups provided, we loved the attention to detail in the menu, exotic ingredients and flavours, the little touches of flowers, the superb well-informed service, all provided for a very reasonable price.

 

Take the plunge and enjoy the adventure of dining with strangers, or book in your own table of guests for a special occasion. It would be perfect for a big birthday, work Christmas or small engagement party.

 

Commune 6 Your only problem is getting a seat, as Commune will close on December 24. Maybe not as tough a gig as getting tickets to the Stones concert, but extremely satisfying indeed!

 

NOTE: The menu comprises two set menus of five or six courses priced at $54 and $66 respectively for members; $58 and $70 for guests.

 

DISCLAIMER: Good Food Gold Coast was a guest of Southport Sharks. Food and beverages were provided by the establishment.

Southport Sharks, Cnr Musgrave & Olsen Ave., Southport, Queensland 4215 Ph: 07 5532 1155

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