Brimming with fresh produce, from the land to the sea, the Southern Great Barrier Reef puts the reef into reef and beef. Here’s 16 delectable dining experiences in the region.
Suzie Clarke launches each of her Bundy Food Tours by handing each guest a plump passionfruit, a symbol of her “passion” for the fresh food that Bundaberg North Burnett produces.A former commercial cook and Home Economics teacher who has studied the art of French cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, join Suzie on her award-winning tours which take you from paddock to plate sampling in-season food and meeting those who grow it in this fertile region.
You could be forgiven for thinking you are in Paris in this art deco, hole-in-the-wall style café along Bundaberg’s Bourbong Street. Grab a table at this innovative establishment and feast on meals made from Bundaberg macadamia nuts, Childers peaches, and Burnett Heads spanner crabs. Indulge has recently added tapas and wine events to its repertoire.
Not only are the sunset views superb at this Burnett River-front restaurant, but so are the meals at this seafood market and takeaway. Home cooks will enjoy foraging through the market section which is home to wild-caught prawns, Bundaberg scallops and fresh reef and estuary fish. Diners with a little more time or money will enjoy the open-air dining experience on the deck while selecting from menu items such as lobster mornay and grilled Moreton Bay bugs.
It started out as an establishment which delivered fresh local produce from the paddock to the plate and on to the desk of busy workers. Now, Water Street Kitchen also boasts a restaurant with some fine fare indeed. Try the pulled lamb or black onyx tenderloin here. And yes, it still specialises in corporate and bespoke catering, and gourmet lunch delivery, this is an ideal innovation for Bundaberg with everything from sliders, sandwiches, salads and platters.
A new entrant into Bundaberg North Burnett’s burgeoning dining scene, Eleven Acres is a former family property which serves breakfast and lunch. Go the Whole 11 Acres breakfast of bacon, two eggs, smoky beans, roasted mushrooms, roasted tomato, hash brown and pocket storehouse organic bread. The 11 Acres house made 100 per cent Australian beef burger is tempting too.
There’s a striking mural on the wall of Vue, along the Yeppoon esplanade which serves everything from tapas to pastas and pizzas. For something more filling, try the grilled snapper with prawns and green coconut curry; or the aged ribbed fillet served on a baked potato stack with broccolini and red wine glaze.
An exciting new addition to Rockhampton’s dining menu, check out Boathouse, an attractive building with an expansive deck overlooking the Fitzroy River. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you can start your day with a crab omelette; before moving on to Szechuan baby squid for lunch; and finishing with Nolan’s Private Selection 1kg tomahawk rib for two, for dinner.
It’s not just the views of Keppel Bay Marina that keep diners coming back for more here. It’s the service, and the steak. Owned by beef barons Richard and Libbie Wilson, who own a cattle station out at Banana, The Waterline serves the likes of Cowboys Benedict for breakfast. For lunch and dinner, try the Signature Banana Beef Station beef tataki with black garlic salsa and smoky ponzu; the 24-hour sous vide Banana Station beef tongue, criolla salsa, brioche and tomato fluid gels; or Banana Station grass fed beef tenderloin, daikon galette, Keppel Bay bug stuffed marrow bone, parsley salad and bordelaise sauce.
You’ll spot the crowds outside this popular Yeppoon establishment before you even set eyes on the menu. And no wonder. With an all-day breakfast and lunch from 11.30am, this is where Yeppoon’s cool set congregates. Try the Whisk Beef Burger, a special recipe beef patty on a charcoal brioche bun with shredded iceberg slaw, Monterey jack cheese, streaky bacon and spicy barbecue sauce, served with sweet potato chips.
If you like some live bull riding with your steak dinner, you’ve come to the right place. This firm favourite on Rockhampton’s dining scene serves plenty of beef dishes in its Bullhead Steakhouse – try the 500g Beaumont t.bone 100-day grain fed steak - and if you’re there on a Wednesday or Friday, you can witness live bull riding too.
It doesn’t come any fresher than this. Beaches Bistro owner Ross O’Reilly originally set up an organic garden to service his Kemp Beach restaurant, down at Yeppoon. Now, it’s spiralling into a full-blown farm. Feast on fresh herbs, garden salads and vegetables plucked straight from Ross’ 56ha farm, perched five minutes away, and paired with sustainably-caught seafood, and local beef, while enjoying the views over the Capricorn coastline. Head here on a Sunday for a flaming Argentinian barbecue.
For a taste of Bali right in the heart of the Town of 1770, the Getaway Garden Café delivers from the moment you enter the yawning Indonesian teak doors into this gorgeous garden. There’s lush foliage and gushing fountains here as you sit on the deck and dine on the likes of cakes, slices, tortes and pastries.
For one of the best café views along Australia’s east coast overlooking a beautiful stretch of sand, Holidays Café at Agnes Water Beach is ideal. Feast on fish and chips, burgers, salads, fresh juices, smoothies and organic coffee while you watch the waves here.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and set amid the luscious lagoon at Lagoons 1770 Resort & Spa, feast on seared scallops with cauliflower puree, prosciutto crisp and salmon roe for entrée, and try the crispy roasted pork belly with coconut rice, Asian slaw, nam jim and fresh lime for main.
There’s a little bit of everything on the menu of this Gladstone establishment from charcuterie boards to small plates, large plates, side bowls, sweets and pizzas. Embrace the spirit of the Southern Great Barrier Reef and try the Reef and Beef pizza, a concoction of banana prawns, pulled beef, heirloom tomatoes, basil pesto, fresh mozzarella and lemon aioli. You’ll love the vertical garden in this former alley way.
In the heart of Gladstone’s CBD, check out Rocksalt with its small plates including nam jim, coriander and sesame crocodile ribs; or mains such as the Grilled North Queensland barramundi. Dessert here pays homage to Queensland with a chocolate and macadamia nut brownie. For a brew with a view, there’s also a Rocksalt Bar & Restaurant at nearby Tannum Sands.