It’s an awesome location, a place many Gold Coasters remember from the halcyon days of their youth: The Pink Elephant Bar, the party place where friendships were cemented and love affairs begun.
It was that same iconic quality which prompted East Coast Hotels to purchase and revamp the venue.
“It has one of the best locations on the Gold Coast,” one of the owners tells me. “There are so few venues, other than surf clubs, which overlook the water.”
Sitting beside the glistening wide reaches of the Nerang River which fronts Helm’s dining rooms, it’s unbelievable that such a venue could have ever lost its way. In its previous life as the Titanium Bar, it had become a watering hole for tourists, marooned several kilometres away from the heartland of its football team heroes, the Gold Coast Titans and their fans.
As experienced hoteliers and restaurateurs, East Coast Hotels’ job was to claim the venue back as a place where locals of all age groups feel welcome. With a very smart revamp to a nautical theme and the application of winning marketing ideas already tested in its sister venue Helm Bar @ Pier 26, Helm Bar Surfers is firing once again.
Helm is a multi-faceted entertainment precinct with something for everyone: a socialising menu with share platters, a live music venue several nights a week, a place to enjoy a drink with large sports screens, TAB and gaming as well as a place to come with friends for a meal at the bistro.
When we first visited with friends, we’d settled into the comfy couches near the bar for a drink and platters to share without realising the size of the venue. It’s huge. The discrete gaming area is well out of sight, the TAB partially screened from the main area, and there’s as large an area again on the flipside of the main bar.
We dine in the bistro area looking out across the river. It has a range of formal dining tables, dominated by a large communal table for twenty, overlooked by an imposing open kitchen. It would make a fabulous venue for a party or celebration, made more inviting by free parking downstairs and even a courtesy bus. A gondola moves slowly up the river below us, adding to the romance, as we turn our attention to the menu.
The two Helm Bars (Darling Harbour and Surfers) have a lot in common due to a common owner: a view over water to a bridge, identical branding, sizzling daily specials, hip cocktails and similar easy-to-eat modern bistro menus. You’ll find on trend gourmet pizzas and sliders, share plates, salads, good quality steak and (of course) a good range of seafood dishes – something for everyone, with standouts being Peking duck pizza, buckets of prawns, sharing boards and the monster seafood platter.
Already seafood lovers, we’ve tried several of the seafood dishes: Grilled fish of the day, Fritto Misto, and the Ocean Lovers’ Plate.
For a real treat, try the Helm Bar’s Famous Seafood Sharing Stand. Despite its $89 price tag, it’s great value. Spread out across three stacked plates are succulent king prawns, plump juicy freshly shucked oyster, two pieces of melt-in-your-mouth freshly grilled barramundi, crunchy tempura soft shell crab, four huge sweet Moreton Bay bug halves, half a plate of tender salt and pepper calamari, a separate bowl of perfectly cooked crunchy baton chips, a bowl of salad and two seafood sauces. It’s an ample feast for two, suiting the setting of a view over water.
New to the menu this winter are Smokehouse and Chargrill items. With meat supplied by local Jack Sprat’s, we know it’s going to be good – 14 hour slow-cooked brisket, hickory smoked chicken or rib rack, or grass-fed meat. We try the chicken/pork combo (a huge serve for $49) as well as a 300g Angus Scotch Fillet ($34) – so generous that we have to ‘phone a friend’ to help us out! It’s perfect territory to share or to feed the inner man, succulent, tasty, and dripping with sauce, perfectly cooked to order.
Our club membership gives us 10% off drinks. Though the wine list is quite mainstream, we find a few gems. Cocktails are well priced at $12 – S16, or carafes at $25. Beer drinkers too will find some joy, with several local Burleigh Brewing and Byron Bay craft beers on tap as well as several imported beers.
To us, The Helm Bar Bistro @ Surfers has a very reasonably priced bistro menu with some excellent daily specials (check with venue as specials change and are only advertised in house or on the Facebook page), plenty of meat for a cold winter’s night and a seafood platter worth sharing with someone special. Best of all, it overlooks a spectacular view! Bring on date night! We’ll be back to try more seafood, to share drinks and platters, or just to soak up the vibe. The Helm is an iconic location to share good times with friends…
30 – 34 Ferny Avenue, Surfers Paradise Ph: 07 5538 9677
Open: Mon – Sun 10am – 2am
DISCLAIMER: Good Food Gold Coast dined as guests of Helm Bar Surfers on this occasion.
NOTE: We believe that Helm Bar has gained new owners. This is an updated review of an October 2012 post.