The North Room

Every so often a restaurant rises through the mist to say, ‘This is what I’m talking about!’ It’s a place where rhetoric meets practice, where service is genuinely informed without being stuffy; a place where we’re so amazed at its quality that we miss it already.

One of our most exciting openings of 2017 has been The North Room. Chef Tim Stewart, who co-owns the restaurant with his wife Shannon, had previously opened Pippi’s in Yamba before working in Vanitas, Seaduction, Oskars, and more recently Honeyeater Kitchen.

Seating around thirty diners, the tiny space is maximised by the use of clean lines, concealed cupboards and white timber panelling. Luxe blue velvet banquette seating along one wall ties in with the blue ceiling. A gorgeous marble-topped bar houses communal seating for eight. In all, a tiny but understatedly classy venue.

Intimate it may be, but when the place is full, there’s a vibrant buzzy atmosphere. And there’s lots to be excited about!

There’s attention to detail everywhere we look: black stainless-steel cutlery, the mix of wood in the seating (which surprisingly works really well), and Riedel glassware to show off the expertly-curated wine list. There’s many a hard-to-find treasure lurking within, almost all available by the glass!

Printed on a single sheet of paper (read ‘always changing to match the finest seasonal, locally-sourced produce’), each dish sounds so intriguing that making a choice is impossible. We want to try it all!

It’s only too easy to choose the five-course Chef’s Selection tasting menu for two for $59 per person, to which you can add dessert or cheese for an extra $5pp. Wine pairing is also available.

We begin with a crispy, paper-thin chicken skin sprinkled with Tim’s gherkin salt and served with chicken jerky. Sure, we’ve all eaten chicken skin before, but not like this! OMG! It’s such a teaser, and there’s more to come…

Next, a homemade pretzel bread roll with house made cultured butter arrives, fresh from the oven. Tasting just like pretzels should, the temptation to order several more is overcome by the realisation that these are our starters.

Courses follow in triumphal procession, each one containing known elements, but never in these combinations. Innovative, exciting, and completely surprising, the food is next level – a food-lover’s dream:

Four dripping fresh oysters naturale topped with smoked pork crackling are lit up by the tanginess of lemon and thyme. I’ve ordered a fig margarita to go with this dish, the orange perfectly complementing the gorgeous blue plate.

Deboned chicken wings with soured yoghurt, smoked yolk, and a mix of sprouts, seeds and grains is an unusual combination, and one of my favourite dishes. It’s the first use of digestive cultures evident throughout the menu, the pattern established in the next course.

Blue-eyed cod is the fish of the day cooked in a rich cultured buttermilk with bronze fennel and zucchini flower, elegantly presented on a gorgeous blue hand-thrown plate. There’s a lot of dinnerware envy going on at this point…

Lamb with bright purple heirloom carrots cooked in whey with saltbush and sheep’s milk yoghurt is almost as exciting as the Sticky beef short rib with burnt honey and maple jam, shaved cured egg yolk and celeriac. Melt-in-your-mouth delicious! The side dish of shaved sprouts with macadamias and a yeast dressing proves a triumph; another case of ‘known but not like this’, its subtle flavour and acidity are a perfect match for the rich beef.

We finish with a stunning assembly: strawberry sorbet accompanying shards of Beetroot meringue and freshly cut strawberries plunged into a bed of sour yoghurt. Dusted off with beetroot powder, it’s a savoury sweet dessert; a taste sensation. Yet in each of the day’s dishes the line is perfect: a balance of flavour and texture, colour and presentation to excite the senses.

Meanwhile service, led by restaurant manager Ksenia on the day we visit (ex-Heston’s Dinner and The Fat Duck), is faultless; extremely knowledgeable, attentive but not cloying.

This is one polished operation! From the moment we set eyes on the venue until we walk out the door, The North Room oozes class. We leave, already planning our return.

With a new generation of diners frequenting fine dining less, many great chefs have moved into the ‘daylight lifestyle’ of cafés and smaller restaurants. Establishments such as The North Room show us an alternative: owner-operated more casual eateries with fine cuisine that meet the market with a mix of informality, price and quality. While the food is stellar, accessibility is a concept this pair have wholeheartedly embraced in such a relaxed, welcoming venue.

It’s a fine line to tread, but to us, this is the future of dining. After so long away from the ‘culinary’ dining table, the audience has returned. Make sure you book!

Shop 1/2527, Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach Ph: 0468 311 003

Open: Wed – Thurs 4pm – late; Fri – Sat 12 noon – late; Sun 11.30am – 4pm

NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as guests of The North Room.

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Atmosphere Coffee & Tea Degustation Dinner International Licensed Lunch Main course $25 to $40 Mermaid Beach Modern Australian Restaurants Set price Share plates , , , , ,

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1 Review

  1. Lynne warren, 1 month ago

    You had me at oysters. Then you mentioned crackling, fig and margarita with just as much a balance of old and new finesse as you regard and I’ve stepped the North Room up to my top 3 bucket-list of restaurants to get to. Thanks again for sharing.

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