Lizzie Loel re­views Rick Shores, Gold Coast

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - INSIDE THE WEEK - LIZZIE LOEL

For a land girt by sea and a cli­mate that begs you to dine by the wa­ter, it’s as­ton­ish­ing there are so few ocean­front restau­rants. One of them was Oskars on Burleigh, now re­born as Rick Shores un­der the di­rec­tor­ship of Ty Si­mon, who also co-owns Bris­bane’s pop­u­lar Long­time in For­ti­tude Val­ley. Long­time ex­ec­u­tive chef Ben Ber­tai and head chef Jake Preg­nell make up the dy­namic kitchen duo.

Com­bin­ing flavours from wider Asia, the pair zooms in on Thai­land and Korea and there’s no bet­ter ex­am­ple of this than the lit­tle bug roll that wraps up the “bar snack” sec­tion of the menu. A whole, lightly bat­tered bug sits crisp and glint­ing, dressed with a house-smoked sriracha sauce and hot and sour slaw in a soft, glazed bun. It’s as much about the tex­ture as it is the taste and vivid fresh­ness of the bug.

There’s plenty to love about the duck bao with plum sauce and thin slices of cu­cum­ber, and also the ocean trout tartare wedged into a tiny crisp taco. As bite-size starters go, these are hard to beat. Next up, a “raw” sec­tion and then sal­ads, the high­lights an egg net salad of pork belly and cut­tle­fish, and king­fish sashimi with white soy and avo­cado, but we’re go­ing for the beef mas­saman tartare topped with a raw egg yolk and pick­led gar­lic. I’m not get­ting much spice in this dish and there’s also some­thing amiss with the slip­pery tex­ture, but the ar­rival of our mains soon rec­ti­fies things. Just-cooked prawns swim in a co­conut-based yel­low curry sauce, heav­ily im­bued with kaf­fir lime leaves and turmeric. It’s beau­ti­fully bal­anced, as is the spe­cial fish of the day: a whole flat­head served with lash­ings of sweet, pick­led onions, fried eschal­lots and a lib­eral sprin­kling of holy basil. Much more del­i­cate than the curry, the fish falls from its frag­ile skele­ton, the flesh juicy and vir­tu­ally bone­less, in need of noth­ing more than a squeeze of lemon.

The room has a sub­tle Bri­tish colo­nial air and the floor is grad­u­ated to­wards the wa­ter so even the back row can en­joy the view and the very wel­come salty breeze. A thought­ful and well-cu­rated wine list and beach-friendly staff tie this pack­age to­gether so well it will help fur­ther ce­ment the rise of Gold Coast din­ing from the touristy ashes where it lan­guished for too long.

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