Win a coast week­end away

The Coffs Coast Advocate - - LIFE - Letea Ca­van­der The writer was a guest of The Kitchens, Robina Town Cen­tre and Mantra Sierra Grand.

THE foodie move­ment has rolled into a shop­ping cen­tre and the re­sult is The Kitchens.

Opened in Novem­ber last year, it is mar­keted as a $160 mil­lion food play­ground fea­tur­ing cafes, bars and restau­rants at­tached to the Robina Town Cen­tre in the Gold Coast.

A wan­der through the two lev­els of the food hall takes the senses on an in­ter­na­tional jour­ney.

There was a waft of fry­ing meat from the chef work­ing the tep­pa­nyaki grill; a com­pe­ti­tion of colours from the yel­low taco and avo on a plate at the South Amer­i­can bar-restau­rant; the per­fect char on top of a line of le­mon meringues; and brew­ing herbs and spices from a re­tailer ded­i­cated to sell­ing tea that caused some ol­fac­tory con­fu­sion.

There is some­thing for just about ev­ery taste bud.

Even the ve­g­ans are taken care of at a bar and restau­rant ded­i­cated to meals that hero veg­eta­bles and leave the pod­dies off the plate.

But to work up an ap­petite there was some shop­ping to be done first.

With more than 400 re­tail­ers to choose from and a $50 voucher to burn, I was spoilt for choice when it came to up­dat­ing my wardrobe with an ac­ces­sory and new bag at the Robina Town Cen­tre.

Shop as­sis­tant San­dra Pel­ham, a re­tail ex­pert with 13 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence, said those who want to up­date their ev­ery­day hand­bag should stick to clas­sic tones and make sure they choose the right size.

"For a work bag you could go for a long tote with strong straps," she said.

"Go for a black or brown that will keep it go­ing through sea­sons, or you can go for a colour that will up­date the look."

Ms Pel­ham said blocks of colour were a great ad­di­tion to a night bag.

"Some ladies don’t like car­ry­ing much at all so if it’s just a phone, lip­stick and keys, use (some­thing smaller) that will go from day into night," she said.

Af­ter the re­tail ther­apy, it was back to The Kitchens where the theatre of the tep­pa­nyaki chef com­mand­ing the flat-plate grill was too hard to ig­nore.

My part­ner and I took our seats and felt the heat of the bar­be­cue as the chef lifted a siz­zle from the plate when he threw the meat and veg on.

Af­ter the meal, we stocked up on some fancy cheeses, crispy sour­dough and a lit­tle tart for dessert from the deli to take back to the 14th floor of the Mantra Sierra Grand, in Broad­beach, where a big bal­cony and ocean view awaited.

De­spite a mo­ment of mad­ness when I thought I might in­vest the left­over food voucher on some great look­ing avos and limes, in the spirit of pay­ing it for­ward I de­cided to give away the re­main­der of the voucher so some­one else could en­joy The Kitchens.

Turns out some peo­ple are quite afraid of free stuff.

My first at­tempt was to hand the voucher to an older woman. She shooed me away like an an­noy­ing fly. Strike one. But af­ter years of forc­ing peo­ple to an­swer ques­tions they want noth­ing to do with, I would not be per­turbed.

Very well, I thought, as I marched back through The Kitchens doors, I’ll find some­one.

I homed in on a sec­ond woman wait­ing out­side a su­per­mar­ket.

Af­ter a brief chat, turns out she was not the best choice ei­ther, as she had had a few teeth re­moved and was in a fair bit of pain. What I thought was a sym­pa­thetic smile was a gri­mace from pain. Strike two. I thought my ex­per­i­ment in gen­eros­ity was over.

We were walk­ing back to our car and had to go through a depart­ment store, which was closed.

A kind staff mem­ber still let us through to save us walk­ing around the out­side of the cen­tre, and in re­turn I hap­pily gave her the voucher.

I hope she and a few of her co-work­ers en­joy a cof­fee and cake, or maybe a high tea that is also on of­fer at the foodie haven at­tached to the shop­ping cen­tre.

We went ‘home’ to the Sierra Grand and spread our things out across two rooms in the spa­cious apart­ment.

Then we tucked into a cheese plat­ter for sup­per while watch­ing the lights of the Broad­beach high-rises turn on as the set­ting sun turned the ocean from a blue to black ex­panse.

PHOTO: MUR­RAY RIX

FINE DIN­ING: The Kitchens is a $160 mil­lion 'food play­ground' that was opened at Robina Town Cen­tre in Novem­ber last year.

The Mantra Sierra Grand at Broad­beach.

Robina Town Cen­tre has more than 400 re­tail­ers.

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