Don’t you just love it when you find a gem of a restaurant while on holidays? I visited the Gold Coast for a few days where a bunch of us stayed in Surfers Paradise to attend a friend’s wedding. Being busy with work and other commitments, I hardly had time to do any research about the Gold Coast’s foodie scene. After some reading, I decided on Social Eating House + Bar in Broadbeach. The fact that we’d hired a car meant we could get out of Surfers Paradise and into a bigger foodie hub. Another reason why I chose Social is because it specialises in a range of shared plates that’s regularly changed. To me, that means more dishes to try!

Social is a modern eating house with a comfortable and sleek fit out. Being a Monday night, we didn’t make a booking and hoped we could just walk in. The only seats available were outside or at the bar. We gladly chose the bar where we could watch the chefs in action.

A crate of fresh tomatoes sits on the bar – a good sign that fresh produce is used in all dishes.

Fresh herbs are also used.

I was happy to see cured meats hanging in the charcuterie and cheese cabinet.

Our friendly waitress asked if it was our first time there, and since it was, she happily took us through the menu and popular dishes. The menu has so much variety and different sized share plates to choose from. There are oysters from South Australia, bar snacks ($4 to $20), small share plates ($16-$26), and large share plates ($28-$75) including a massive 1kg lamb shoulder. There are also specials on the blackboard menu that change pretty much daily. We ordered some drinks – a red wine for my partner and a grapefruit, strawberry and pineapple mocktail ($9) for me. Tap water was also provided.

One of the recommended starters was the rye toast with trout mousse, fennel, creme fraiche, pickled onion and Yarra Valley salmon pearls ($5 each). This looked stunning and I’m so glad we ordered it. It tasted just as good as it looked. The trout mousse was sexily smooth and full of flavour contrasting beautifully against the crispy rye toast. The salmon pearls were bursting with juiciness and added extra punch while the pickled onions provided a nice tartness to the dish. Together, this was one wicked combination. Such a smooth and delicious starter to our night.

I love cured meats so the house charcuterie plate ($32) with a mix of all meats available was a must try. This included large slices of jamon from Spain (aged 24 months), prosciutto Di San Daniele (aged 24 months), truffle salumi and fennel and chilli salumi, a farm house terrine with cornichons and mustard fruits, and soft slices of baguette with extra virgin olive oil. I thought this was well worth the money with generous portions of each item served on a wooden board. I absolutely loved the truffle salumi where the truffle flavour really came through.

The terrine consisted of chicken and pork belly which were lean cuts and tasted great with the horseradish cream in the middle of the platter. The mustard fruits gave a lovely sweetness to the other salty elements. I was really happy with this dish.

More bar snacks were ordered – the sobrasada and potato bombas ($4 each) with mojo picon and aioli. These were stuffed with soft and fluffy potato and wonderfully deep fried. The mojo picon (red pepper sauce) on top gave a bit of spice to the potato goodness.

The braised lamb empanadas ($4 each) were little soft pockets of heaven. A light and crispy outer pastry filled with the softest tender lamb. Absolutely delicious! The empanadas were served with aioli sitting in a sherry reduction which was the perfect accompaniment. I loved that sherry reduction – sweet and tangy at the same time.

The Head Chef kindly provided us with a complimentary tasting plate of the 1kg salt bush lamb shoulder, slow roasted in sheep’s milk yoghurt and lamb stock with slaw. The lamb’s very distinctive taste was prominent and the meat was so tender that it pulled apart easily. The stock was amazingly thick and full of flavour. I’d love to bottle it up. The fresh slaw on the side was crunchy and cold to balance out the richness of the lamb. I think the 1kg lamb shoulder dish should be ordered if there’s 4 or more people at the table as that small tasting portion was enough for the both of us.

We decided to choose a dish from the specials menu – the smoked wagyu beef with goats curd, shaved heirloom beets, truffle vinaigrette and warm toast ($22).  The wagyu beef was indeed smokey and was paired brilliantly with the truffle and goats curd. The fresh beets were crunchy adding an extra texture to the dish. Rockmelon leaves are used as a garnish and actually do taste like the fruit.

The spiced soft shell crab with Asian slaw, peanuts, fried shallots and chilli caramel ($20) was ordered. The crab was covered in a nice crispy batter but the slaw was the stand out for me. It consisted of a mix of fresh greens such as Chinese cabbage, mint and shallots. Nothing but freshness and it packed a punch in flavour. Since my partner hates coriander, we asked for no coriander in the slaw (but I think it would’ve tasted even better with it!) The cumin and wasabi aioli on the plate was a lovely twist to your usual aioli.

Now to the desserts. The milk chocolate marquise, salted caramel, chocolate and hazelnut soil, and banana ice cream ($16) sounded too good to pass up. I love the texture of the soil and the fact that chocolate coated popping candy was mixed in giving off a nice little sensation. The peanut shavings on top of the marquis gave this a ‘snickers chocolate’ like taste too. Yum!

Inside the dark chocolate coated marquis is a layer of milk chocolate and a layer of gooey thick salted caramel. Seriously sinful.

The coconut and lime sponge, mango, creamed rice, coconut ice cream and citrus curd ($16) was a citrusy dessert with lots of different textures. Presentation was beautiful and my partner really enjoyed this dessert.

It was a pleasure to speak with Head Chef Daud Kendall while watching him and his team do their thing. Daud first started cooking in Canberra before going on a raft of cooking adventures and moving overseas. He’s worked as Executive Sous Chef at the Park Hyatt in Abu Dhabi and Grand Hyatt in Qatar. He mentions he discovered Social during a holiday visit to the Gold Coast, where he ordered the rye toast with trout mousse. Tasting that dish made him realise what a great restaurant it was. He later moved back to Australia and, what do you know, got a job at Social. His passion for the restaurant is clear as well as his admiration for owner and chef Matt Jefferson. He mentions a collection of chefs moving to the Gold Coast from Sydney and Melbourne, and bringing along their culinary skills, providing the Gold Coast with several options for foodies.

Head Chef Daud Kendall doing his thing

Staff are friendly, knowledgeable about the food on the menu and water is regularly topped up without asking. The restaurant is filled with lively chatter but it’s not loud enough that you can’t hear your dining companions. It feels like a great place to kick back with a wine or two and enjoy some great quality food.

Social Eating House + Bar brings a whole new level of culinary sophistication to the foodie scene, and it’s in the heart of Broadbeach. I was very impressed with each dish and I honestly couldn’t fault anything. Amazing food, great staff and an awesome vibe. I only wish I had discovered this place earlier so I could’ve gone back a second time to try out more of the menu. This is definitely a must visit restaurant if you are ever visiting the Gold Coast.

Check out Social’s website and Facebook page for more information. Social’s sister restaurant is Rocksalt Modern Dining, also located in Broadbeach (which I dined at the next day). Social is also mentioned in Gourmet Traveller’s Gold Coast Food and Travel Guide.

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Foodgasm 9/10
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