We’re dining tonight at The Glenelg Public House, a moody man cave if ever there was one. With its masculine industrial vibe, it’s a fitting home for a mythical beast, ‘the other David’ (not Bowie) the labyrinth-dwelling minotaur, poised on one wall. It’s the place I’d take a bloke on a first date, if I was choosing – now one of our favourite retreats – the perfect dark and dusky spot to meet friends, to catch up on a few drinks or to prelude the romance of date night.
Our usual fare at the Glenelg is seasonal modern classics: starters which may include rabbit, squid, local prawns, bone marrow or the not-to-be-missed Ham hock terrine, a worthy prelude to our choice of fine provenance steak and delectable rustic desserts.
Tonight, though, we have the chance to celebrate a Nordic feast matched to Balter Beer (a local brewery linked to famous surfers and good times) – a perfect fit for this venue. Head Chef Aaron Smith (ex-Oxley’s on the Wharf, Clos Maggiore – Covent Garden and Aria – Sydney) knows his way around a piece of meat; so much so that the Glenelg has become somewhat of an industry haunt – always a good sign!
The restaurant is well-suited to the theme of the evening. Minus some tapestries hung from the walls, a few hounds awaiting the scraps from the tables, and the odd flaying or two, it’s a really fitting heritage venue. Weathered sleepers from the old Laidley Bridge hang from the dark ceiling framing the bar. Electrical cords are draped around them, ending in pendant lights which drop lazily towards us. A leather couch hugs the brick wall beside the bar, with under-lighting to accent edging, cabinets and chiseled chins. This is carefully thought out territory, telling us to expect ‘modern classic’ generous fare.
After starters of Triple twist pretzels and Pork and sage chipolatas accompanied by an Xperol Spritz (XPA and Aperol), we sit at tables lit by candelabras to enjoy a rustic feast.
Platters of banquet meats are laid out across the table: Hot spiced roast leg of lamb garnished with parsnips, Beer-braised Wagyu shin shank from Robbins Island garnished with mushrooms and baby onions, and Roast Balter Beer butt chicken served with Brussel sprouts, pine nuts and voodoo bacon. We carve off abundant, fall-off-the-bone juicy meat (far more ceremonially than the Vikings, I’m sure) as the meat and vegetable platters are passed around the tables.
Meanwhile, several of the founders of Balter Brewing tell us about their brewery as we move from XPA to Alt Brown, then Baba Rouge Red Ale across the main course.
Head Brewer, Scott Hargrave (ex-Stone and Wood) shares his beer philosophy, such as the two speeds to drink XPA – smash it when it’s hot, but then take your time and appreciate the layers of hops in more moderate weather. Scott, a former concreter, says that making beer is a calling; his hallowed ground. He discusses the challenge of consistency to a brewer, trying to produce a great ‘agricultural’ product despite changing variables, sourcing hops from Australia and the US, England and Czechoslovakia to maintain quality.
We launch into ‘Black Metal Disco’ Sweet Stout to match Black Forest gateau and Apple crumble baked apples for dessert. The stout is dark and caramelly; a great match for the rich caramel sauce and Balter stout-infused chocolate gelato from Heven-Yah served with sweets.
“The stout is made to be ‘inclusive’”, Scott says. “You don’t want to knee people in the face, just to crack the door open and let them have a look at a new style; to bring people along on the journey.”
The restaurant is packed for the occasion, but we’re still able to hear conversation and catch the jokes flying from presenters. (‘You only ever rent beer!’, a lightning quick comment accompanying a diner’s back door exit.)
There’s a really comfortable vibe, encouraging us to stay, chat and make a long night of it. Dark, sophisticatedly carnal yet cool and relaxed, this ‘public house’ is a worthy watering hole for such an amazing feast of food and matched beer.
Serving share plates or single meals, whether you visit to have drinks and nibbles outdoors in the afternoon sun, to celebrate an occasion with a group, or to enjoy an intimate date with a friend, The Glenelg is a mighty fine venue which pays attention to detail at every turn. Watch out for their wine and beer dinners held on a regular basis. There are also two and three-course ‘earlybird’ specials available during the week. Details are given on The Glenelg’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of The Glenelg Public House.
Cnr Glenelg Ave., 2460 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach Ph: 07 5575 2284
Lunch Fri – Sun from 12 noon; Dinner Wed – Mon 5pm – late