It was a dream come true for Lauren Hogg, a dream she had carried since teenage. Growing up in Palm Beach, every day Lauren walked home from school past the Boatshed Restaurant.
“One day I’ll have that restaurant,” she said to herself. And in August 2018 it was hers.
The venue has gone through many transformations since the 1950s when it traded as former Thrower’s Petrol Station ‘Purr-Pull’, but none are more beautiful, both visually and soul-wise, than its present persona.
Buying into the business with a silent partner, Lauren, who had spent 15 years in hospitality at Oskars and Bellakai, set about renovating the deck and bar area and installing new furniture. She’s put her own mark on the place, maintaining the beachy feel but adding little touches such as fresh flowers to the tables.
“I dreamed of having a place where locals could come, feel welcome and relaxed; a place to meet,” she tells me as we sit looking out across sparkling water.
When we think of Currumbin, we often think ‘beach’, forgetting about the gorgeous river that meanders down to its shores. First surveyed in 1839, the 20km-long Currumbin Creek begins at Mt Cougal National Park, populated by freshwater fish and platypus before wending its way down past the restaurant and under bridges to the Pacific Ocean just north of Currumbin.
Today a quiet backwater, it’s hard to believe that until the 1970s, the Gold Coast Highway passed just in front of the venue and across the bridge in Thrower Drive.
Beside SaltWater, in the lower reaches of the estuary, dolphins visit, frolicking in the water. Paddle boarders glide past as cyclists and walkers hurry along the riverside walk.
There’s something calming about the water here, away from the restless tide. It’s refreshing, sweeping away the old and ushering in new life.
For Lauren, too, the venue is a new start, beginning life as a first-time restaurant owner.
With Alex Sneesby as Head Chef (ex-Avvia and Burleigh Social), the meals are generous in size, light, accomplished and well-suited to the clientele, spread across different menus covering breakfast, lunch, dinner and tapas.
With local regulars the restaurant’s main clientele, favourite dishes fit in with an active Currumbin lifestyle, including the healthy start breakfast, tacos and salads, with the addition of burgers and fish and chips for lunch. Tapas provide grazing food in between, flowing over into the dinner menu with larger dishes of grilled fish, chicken confit, fillet steak and vegetarian moussaka.
“Our Queensland scallops with prosciutto are really popular, and families keep coming back for our traditional fish and chips; especially on weekends,” says Lauren.
“We try to source local ingredients as much as we can – local fruit and veg, Norco milk, Australasian fish and Vittoria coffee’s smooth Nero blend,” she tells me.
There’s capacity to hold group functions in separate areas, the upstairs room seating thirty with audio-visual available, while the main restaurant can seat eighty for corporate functions, birthdays, baby showers or weddings, the terrace often used for pre-dinner drinks and canapés.
“For me, it’s all about our community and our people,” says Lauren, describing how she is open to supporting local groups and fundraisers, such as the Christmas in July event this year.
“People love coming to our Sunday live music sessions too. It’s pretty special to see people enjoying themselves here,” she says, adding that in the joy of sharing great food and good times in this beautiful space, she hopes that people will build a lifetime of memories.
In this ‘place of tall trees’ (one of the meanings of ‘Currumbin’ in the Yugambeh language) and quiet water, Saltwater at Currumbin is a unique local haven.
We could think of nothing better than watching the sun set over Currumbin Creek from the venue’s open veranda, a refreshing sundowner in one hand, the hand of someone we love in the other.
Thursday night: $25 pizza and two drinks special.
Sunday Session: 2pm – 5pm Live acoustic music
Happy Hour: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 2pm – 5pm, $5 beer and house wine & some $10 cocktails.
2-4 Thrower Drive, Currumbin Ph: 07 5659 1423
Open Tues, Wed 7am – 3pm; Thurs – Sat 7am – 8.30pm; Sun 7am – 4.30pm
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of SaltWater at Currumbin.