While certain areas of Burleigh are hotly contested space, you don’t have to stray far off one side of the highway to become a ‘dining destination’. Even on the other side of the road, up an alleyway or 50 metres away, Burleigh provides such a range of casual dining choices that unless diners are drawn to that place, venues will come and go.
In its three years since opening, Ragdoll has proved to be a keeper in a scene that is too often transient.
After taking over the former ‘secret’ dining room, the first task of co-owner Kieran Jensen (who formerly managed The Fish House), was to open it up, giving visibility from the street, letting in the light and filling the dining area and bar with greenery. A new paint job, classic furniture, sexy artworks by local painter Moty Grau, and the addition of table linen all added to the venue’s calming surroundings.
“I wanted the venue to reflect a sense of elegance and sophistication, more like a restaurant than a cocktail bar,” Kieran tells us, “a place to enjoy exceptional food and wine.”
It’s a setting that appeals to a mixed generation of diners; one equally suitable for an evening cocktail, lunch with friends, date night or a special celebration.
A mix of high and low tables populate the light-filled restaurant where you can sit just off the street front to ‘people watch’ the top end of James Street. Chesterfield lounges provide an intimate setting to enjoy a quiet chat over drinks. Formal seating in the restaurant accommodates traditional dining, or singles and duos can be entertained at the bar watching their cocktails being made as they chat to the barman.
Ragdoll’s menu lists over a dozen entrées and mains, from Pan-seared free-range quail to Zucchini fritters served with polenta and black sesame dressing as entrée to Charred kangaroo or Korean crispy free-range chicken for main.
It’s a menu designed to be shared. With Chef Baroch (BoBo) Shamis in the kitchen there’s an assurance of modern Mediterranean-influenced cuisine, delicious and pleasing to the eye without being overworked.
Inspired by his recent trip to Israel, his parents’ birthplace, Chef BoBo has just returned home to the Gold Coast where he has lived for the past eighteen years.
“We have such amazing produce here,” he says, “but often the food lacks flavour because it’s commercially mass produced instead of being prepared by hand. For example, chips don’t come out of a packet,” he adds, referring to the bowl of hand-cut chips he’s seasoning ready to plate, itself a rarity on the coast. “All our sauces, dips etc. are made in house,” he adds.
With access to fresh seafood daily via the Tasman Star, and fruit and vegetables sourced daily from a local supplier, seafood is the star, comprising over half of the menu. Specials add extra delight to the menu with lobster, crab and duck are featured when available. Several desserts and a cheese platter are on offer to complete the meal.
To make the choice easier, Ragdoll presents a Signature Seafood Degustation menu for a minimum of two guests for $79pp including two drinks, an additional $25 for matching wines with each course.
We dine on a range of dishes: Freshly shucked Pacific oysters from Coffin Bay, sparkling with freshness;
Gin-cured kingfish and turmeric-cured Tasmanian salmon with wakame and black sesame teriyaki sauce;
Crispy salt and pepper calamari with house-made aioli;
WA Blue spanner crab croquettes with wasabi-infused lime caviar and black sesame dressing;
Fresh Blue Swimmer crab and local prawn spaghetti with white wine and a bite of chilli;
Pan-fried Tasmanian salmon on sweet potato purée with garlic, ginger and lime dressing.
Ragdoll is also becoming widely known as the home of the $10 cocktail, all day, every day! There is also an admirable wine and beer list.
A light and breezy venue by day, with candles lit, Ragdoll turns into date night territory at night, live music adding even more ambience to the dining experience.
“There are not many places on the Gold Coast to get a dining experience,” Kieran notes, and it’s true. We have plenty of cafés, casual dining venues and bars, but try to think of a place where you can dine in comfort with tablecloths and serviettes, where conversation is not lost in a din of bar noise and you’ll be hard-pushed to come up with more than a handful of places.
It’s fabulous to see this venue shine. With attentive service and excellent food, Ragdoll is a great addition to Burleigh’s burgeoning dining scene, one where traditional dining and the art of the table are valued, where we can enjoy a great meal, wine, a $10 cocktail or two, including the best espresso martini in town!
49 James St, Burleigh Heads Ph: 07 3184 8891
Open: Mon – Thurs 5pm – late; Fri – Sun 12noon – late.
NOTE: This is an updated review. Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of Ragdoll.