Heating up Winter Dining

Winter is comfort time.

Shorter daylight hours and cooler temperatures tempt us to retreat bear-like to our caves, snuggling up, hands cupping a mug of soup in front of the tele. Our hibernation is made easier by UberEats and Netflix, a deadly combination for our social life, providing comfort food and entertainment at call as we retreat for the winter.

However, there are many reasons to get out of the house, despite the cooler weather, to socialise with friends. It’s a time to enjoy heartier meals, to embrace the season, revelling in all that winter dining offers.

Embrace the season

Winter is the season of meat, red wine and truffles. It’s a time we can relax around a table eating good food and drinking great reds as we enjoy the company of friends. Heartier dishes are popular in winter, as our bodies require more sustenance to maintain heat.

Our best restaurants feature seasonal winter menus that utilise and celebrate our special winter foods. Comfort foods such as ribs and roasts grace winter menus.

Others celebrate the culture of colder climates, The D’Arcy Arms bringing out Beef and Guinness pie, washed down with an Irish ale.

Winter is also truffle time, with truffles prized for their uniqueness and rarity. A season of only nine weeks beginning in late June in Australia, truffle season is awaited with anticipation and excitement. The intense aroma and hypnotic earthy flavours are enough to send foodies into a frenzy.  Little Truffle features truffles in several dishes, as well as holding a Truffle Degustation Dinner.

Spice it up

Winter gives us the chance to spice it up in cooler temperatures. It’s a great chance to indulge in flaming dishes such as Eggs Brulée at Hot Shott (a winter-styled Eggs bene featuring housemade Parmesan gnocchi sautéed with veg, topped with poached eggs and torched hollandaise), pizza and pasta dishes, including the specialty Flaming Cheese Wheel at Salt Meats Cheese (Sacio e pepe – Caserecci pasta in a three-cheese sauce of pecorino, asiago and provolone mixed in a wheel of parmigiano lit up with flaming grappa, then topped with parsley and ground black pepper).

“If you want to be bad, be good at it,” says Renzo, the chef, as he flames this delicious dish, a bit like an Italian Mac ‘n’ cheese with a generous hit of grappa! Whammo!

Heat up your family celebration with a trip to Misono at the Marriott, warmed up by the teppan grill and the antics of the chef.

Curries and their accompaniments make great winter dining, banquet style with a group of friends. Soup is another winter favourite. Hot Shott, for example, sells a daily soup from their counter-top tureen, available for takeaway or dine in.

Winter Celebrations

Winter is the time for three of our favourite celebrations: the Winter Solstice, Christmas in July and Bastille Day.

The Winter Solstice in June is the shortest day of the year. From this turning point, days get longer, and we get closer to the sun each day as we approach warmer weather and the December summer solstice.

Mavis’s Kitchen offers a Winter Solstice Dinner celebration, a time to don winter woollies, rug up with scarves and boots and go out to brave the elements. With tables set up in the big shed, fairy lights hung from the rafters, magnolia stems and vases of roses gracing the tables, a place set for each of us to dine with strangers who, by the end of the evening, may become new friends.

By July, we’ve hit the middle of winter. The chill has set in!

Christmas in July gives us the chance to celebrate the Christmas we miss in the summer season with a winter banquet, abundant decorations and a cosy crackling fireplace. The D’Arcy Arms provides a real Christmas banquet for groups with all the traditional foods:  roast pork and turkey, ham off the bone, cranberry and apple sauce, stuffing, gravy and of course a traditional plum pudding with brandy custard and vanilla bean ice cream. It’s a great chance for a social celebration!

Bastille Day on 14 July is France’s National Day, a celebration of French culture, including French products, food and drinks. You’ll find Bastille Day celebrations across the Gold Coast, including at The Little Truffle, Le Café Gourmand and Citrique at the Marriott.

Hot Chockies and Flaming cocktails

We may not be in an après ski environment downing schnapps and spiced salted caramels, but it’s cool enough to enjoy some hotter drinks.

Winter is the time to wrap your hands around a hot chockie, mulled wine or flaming cocktail. Try a hot toddie at Hot Shott, where you can enjoy peppermint or coconut rough versions, or add some fire to your cocktails at El Patio de Cuba. Winter never tasted so good!

Dine to the season

Winter’s a great time to dine according to the season.

Many of us dine out earlier or catch up with friends at lunch to make the most of daylight hours. Bask in the winter sun at summery venues such as The Collective, which boosts evening temperatures with heaters and winter warming dishes.

You would think that restaurants have their own EOFY sales, with dining prices being hot, hot hot! There are many winter specials available, such as the winter mid-week and lunch specials. Many other venues have ‘early bird’ specials available when dining at lunch or before 6.30pm. With less people on the street in winter, early dining is a ‘win-win’ for diners and restaurants, leading to keener prices and greater patronage.

Huddle to the heat (fire or outdoor heater)

There’s something enticing about a fire that draws us together. While some restaurants feature outdoor heating, making it huddle territory, from June 1 every year, some of our favourite winter restaurants light their fireplace. Snuggle up to a blazing fire at The Woodchoppers Inn, The D’Arcy Arms, Potager, The Verandah Bar and of course The Fireplace Restaurant at The Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove Resort.

Winter. Heat up your winter dining. Get out and about. It’s time to celebrate. Time for an adventure!

Venues listed (with links to our reviews)

Citrique, The Marriott, 158 Ferny Avenue, Surfers Paradise Ph: 07 5592 9772

The Collective, 1128 Gold Coast Hwy, Palm Beach Ph: 07 5618 8229

The D’Arcy Arms, 2923 Gold Coast Hwy, Surfers Paradise Ph: 07 5592 0882 (Watch out for our review, coming soon!)

El Patio de Cuba, Chevron Renaissance, 3240 Surfers Paradise Blvd., Surfers Paradise Ph: 07 5538 3099

Hot Shott, 3/17 Tedder Avenue, Main Beach Ph: 07 5532 3275

The Fireplace, Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove Resort, Manor Circle, Sanctuary Cove Ph: 07 5530 1234

Le Café Gourmand, 36 Cronulla Avenue, Mermaid Beach Ph: 07 5572 7793

The Little Truffle, 2444 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach Ph: 07 5526 5033

Mavis’s Kitchen, 64 Mount Warning Rd, Uki Ph: 02 6679 5664

Misono, The Marriott, 158 Ferny Ave., Surfers Paradise Ph: 07 55929770

Potager, 502 Carool Road, Carool Ph: 07 5590 7403

Salt Meats Cheese, The 4217, 10 Beach Road, Surfers Paradise Ph: 07 5661 1517

Woodchoppers Inn, 64 Railway St., Mudgeeraba 07 5525 3500