Steampunk brings something different to Surfers Paradise: a retro industrial world that exists only in the imagination.
Opened in April 2017, the venue brings us the age of machines, of retro-futuristic inventions, robotics and air travel, recreating a world of science fiction inspired by the steam-powered industrial period of Victorian England.
Modelled on the Romanian bar Enigma, co-owner Grant Rodgers tells us that the family and tourist-friendly bar is a first for Australia.
“This will be something many people will never have seen before … at a time when the Steampunk movement is really gathering momentum in Australia,” he tells us.
Historical fantasy in genre, this is a carefully themed venue mixing old and new in its Victorian-era fit-out of fascinating metal gadgets and sculptures, including a metal penny farthing and even film projections of old New York City.
The former hotelier spent around $1 million refurbishing the Cavill Lane premises after selling his Victorian-style bar, Hotel Soho, in Hobart to move to the Gold Coast.
“I have a strong Victorian era background coming from Hobart,” he says, referring to convict-built sandstone buildings.
Although seating 400, the venue is inviting, emanating warmth and cosiness in its hidden corners due to the mix of booth seating, bespoke Crank seating and leather Chesterfield couches.
So, what of the food? Steampunk gives little indication of what its food should be like, so we’re unsure what to expect when we go there to dine.
With Beau Irvine (ex-Chill on Tedder) and Jamie Henderson (ex-Club Burleigh), the food is on point for an upmarket venue.
There’s a touch of class to the menu, with something for all diners. You may be eating bar-style snacks, but there’s more than a twist of difference in their execution. Moreover, they’re served on Luzerne plates, to be eaten with Amefa gold cutlery. Stylish!
Starters include turkey nachos piled high on a plate, oysters, crispy chicken ribs (not wings), arancini – with corn and crab, jalapeno poppers, and pork and prawn potstickers. Larger share plates and a range of pizzas (classic, gourmet and dessert) with innovative toppings fill out the body of the menu.
With a keen price point, the venue is enticing for a business lunch. Our Scotch fillet with Diane sauce and bad boy fries in gobbled in a moment. Chilli salted cuttlefish with a tangy Thai salad is refreshing and delicious. Both are priced well, coming in under the $20 mark. Topping it off, Chef Beau’s light and fluffy housemade Gnocchi pan-fried on a bed of wilted spinach, cubes of haloumi, baby tomatoes and fried sage is a flavour-filled modern Italian classic; our dish of the day.
We’re impressed with the drinks offerings as well, with great choices of local beer on offer – Balter, Great Northern, Black Hops and Burleigh Brewing by the can, as well as some of the most dramatic science fiction-themed molecular cocktails we’ve seen (think smoke, flames… the works)!
“We are keen to attract locals who have been waiting for a more chilled-out bar where they can experience live music and relax with friends in Surfers Paradise,” Grant says. “We want to build a top-class venue that people will walk into and say ‘Wow!’
Wow it is, including the specials. To boost custom, there are lots of incentives: $10 jugs and $10 espresso martinis all day, Industry Night Mondays with great discounts for the ‘hospo’ crew and Sunday Fundays with $15 jugs of sangria.
“We’ve opened up the venue to the street to give off an open, airy and contemporary vibe,” Grant tells us. “The venue is more streamlined, with lots of smaller function areas suitable for groups of 8 to 10 people,” he adds.
And just so you can have a good time and be responsible, Grant adds: “With the light rail just outside the front door, this is a great spot for locals.”
Grant sees the rejuvenated Surfers Paradise hub as an ideal location for the innovative venue, as well as a timely move.
“This is the right time to contribute to the growth that’s occurring in Surfers Paradise in the lead-up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games,” he tells us.
“We hear that you have a lot of foodies here. I see Surfers Paradise as a new challenge, and I am eager to make the lifestyle change to the Gold Coast. This is our baby now.”
Cavill Lane, 3113 Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise Ph: 07 5538 1650
Open: Mon – Sun 11.00am – late
NOTE: This review has also been published in Blank GC.