Position, position, position.
Often touted as the key to investing, these are not the only three precepts of real estate. Another is to gain a location as close as possible to your opposition.
Emma Collingwood did better than that. She took over the lease.
Having owned Kirramisu as a family business since 2007 and established a strong and local following, redevelopment meant that in 2015 Kirramisu needed to move a few blocks north along the Kirra beachfront, historically home to one of the most famous surf breaks in Australia.
When the lease of the premises beside Kirramisu became available, Emma snapped up the high visibility corner position restaurant seating 135 diners, opening Haig St in 2019, the café named after one of the streets it fronts.
Originally the site of a petrol station (pictured on the restaurant wall), as the younger sibling to Kirramisu, Haig St has a personality all its own. Bathed in morning sunlight, its golden sponge-painted walls exuding warmth from a welcoming heart (a technique employed by painters since the Middle Ages), the café carries a relaxed Mediterranean sophistication. Somehow it feels arty and timeless yet airy and open due to its abundant greenery and wrap around glass, taking in vistas of the grassed foreshore and bleached white sand just across the street.
“It was like having a new baby after fifteen years,” Emma tells us, obviously relishing the new project. With Kirramisu bustling with regulars and catering, Haig St became a home for her new ideas to take flight.
To consolidate the café’s visual presence, Emma worked on solving the physical problems of the beachside location, the first on the coast to gain approval to place umbrellas in the ground to cope with weather conditions.
Next, her attention turned to the menu. Looking to draw a new audience, Haig Street’s menu is modern and fresh with lots of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options clearly marked.
With Chef Kenneth McPherson (ex-Wine Barrel) in the kitchen, there’s a clear focus on plating and presentation of each dish. Food is vibrant and fresh, even the Pumpkin gnocchi sprinkled with bacon and honey-toasted walnuts, rocket and freshly shaved parmesan to break up a usually monotone dish. It’s a classy act.
There are lots of points of interest in the menu to entice diners, the provenance of ingredients showing that this is a menu of quality. Haloumi breakfast with lemon and turmeric hummus, baby spinach, roast veg and quinoa topped with crispy haloumi, poached eggs and dukkah draws our attention (who doesn’t like haloumi!) as well as Italian house beans with poached eggs and shaved parmesan served with crispy polenta fingers. Sticky date pancakes with butterscotch sauce sounds irresistible!
Frappes, smoothies and cold-pressed juices supplement other cold and hot drinks, loose-leaf tea and coffee, Inception by Dimattina.
At a beachside venue, seafood is always a highlight, our lunch here being no exception. Haig St’s Seared smoked salmon salad is summer in a bowl, the dish we’d come back to again and again, the salmon just one of the colours in this quinoa and salad bowl sprinkled with goats’ cheese and mixed nuts and grains. It’s a beauty. Fish tacos, a light meal, are served with a basket of perfectly crisp chips.
There’s a reworking of some tried and true dishes that (in our opinion) are often maltreated: Fish and chips is Crispy turmeric battered fresh snapper served with a side salad and beer-battered chips, a toasted sandie uses Byron Bay ham off the bone with baby spinach, cheese, seeded and American mustard and pickles, while Calamari is coated with lemon pepper in an Asian-style salad with mint, coriander, fried shallots, nuts and fresh lime drizzled with a sweet chilli caramel dressing.
Out of the ordinary? Yes. Classy? Yes, but entirely approachable, Haig St gives us a fresh take on beachside dining. Stay tuned for further developments: @mr.consistent_ cocktails being added to the wine and beer list, weekend dinners as we push into warmer weather, as well as cake decorating and cooking classes… there are lots of ideas brewing.
One thing is for sure, though. Sitting overlooking the ocean as the sun beams down on a warm winter’s day there’s no better place to be than this, just hanging out at Haig St.
Haig St Cafe, 4/28 Musgrave St, Coolangatta Ph: 0405 659 017
Open: Mon – Sun 5am – 2.30pm
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of Haig St.