Lizzie Loel reviews Rick Shores, Gold Coast
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.