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At The Helm

Women walking down Cavill Ave in bikinis at Srfers Paradise, Queensland. 1967.

I’ll admit that when I was invited* to check out The Helm Bar & Bistro in Surfers Paradise, I had some reservations. As someone who’s spent many a summer weekend at the Gold Coast, Surfers has never been a feature.  I’m a Burleigh Heads or Greenmount girl. Surfers is strictly for the tourists and Schoolies.  Touts convincing you to sign up for a jet boat or paraglide, waxworks museums, people wandering around grocery shops in their togs, traffic snarls and more ice cream shops than you can poke a stick all contribute to a ‘Las Vegas by the Sea’ feel. The last time I visited Surfers was in 1994 when I went to a free concert in one of the parks on the beach.  So it’s been quite a while then.

The Helm Bar is located slightly away from the mayhem, on the other side of Ferny Avenue (Gold Coast Highway) overlooking the canal estates on the Nerang River.  It’s a modern take on a pub with plenty of windows, doors and skylights that let the light flood in and can be flung wide open to let in the breezes and the view.  Did I mention the view?  Down the river and out towards the Gold Coast hinterland, we’d chosen the best day of Winter to visit.

The menu is a jazzed up version of pub items as well as some ‘of the moment’ trends, such as sliders and sharing plates and that’s where we started with a cocktail each and a Trio of Sliders ($16).  We chose the Wagyu Cheeseburger, Pulled Pork w Apple Coleslaw and the Grilled Barra w Lime Aioli. I’m not sure why anyone would grind up perfectly good Wagyu into what is essentially a rissole, as it ended up tasting like any other small burger but good nonetheless. The Grilled Barra was enjoyable though with a mild flavour, perhaps a little overwhelmed by the lightly pickled cucumber. The Pulled Pork was the standout of the trio with the Appleslaw and honey mustard giving the right amount of sharp tang.  If you’re just having a snack, this is a good option with a drink as it’s a decent sized portion in comparison with some of the sliders I’ve seen around town.

4 views of the interior of The Helm Bar in Surfers Paradise & a photo of a tropical drink served in a mason jar.

For mains we ordered the 200g Eye Fillet ($25) and the Poached Chicken & King Prawn Salad w Nahm Jim Dressing ($17). Steaks are always a good test of the skills in the kitchen and these days, most pub steaks are horribly over priced and woefully prepared.  Even in the best ‘steak pubs’ around Brisbane, I have found the standard  is regularly below par. The Eye Fillet arrived with the obligatory beer battered chips and salad as well as a Red Wine Jus. It was tender and cooked exactly as requested (medium) so our faith in pub steaks was once again restored. Give the Red Wine Jus a swerve though. It was acrid and I could taste an overload of Worcestershire sauce in it. Neither of us enjoyed it but the steak was good on its own so we could do without the sauce.  Other sauces may be better but this one needs work.

Steak, chips, side salad and sauce on a plate.

The salad was a tumble of greens, snow pea shoots, capsicum strips and just a little too much onion. It was surrounded by four enormous king prawns. I’ve had quite a lot of good seafood lately as a result of befriending a seafood wholesaler but I must say that these prawns were simply superb. They were fresh, sweet and juicy and I admit this was a pleasant surprise. A finger bowl wouldn’t have gone astray as though the prawns were peeled, the tails and heads needed to be removed so it was a bit fiddly. Poached chicken had been diced and tossed through with the Nahm Jim dressing. I think the chicken pieces were too small and were lost in the dish but it tasted fine and overall, this would be a refreshing alternative on a Summer day.
Prawns w Nahm Jim Dressing & side salad

We couldn’t see any desserts on the menu but were offered the blackboard special of the day Sticky Date Pudding w Hazelnut Gelato, Butterscotch Sauce & Chantilly Cream ($9).  How could we say no? I thought I wasn’t in the mood for a warm pudding on a warm day but how wrong I was.  The pudding itself was remarkably light and the hazelnut gelato was a very good accompaniment.  We split the pudding and it didn’t even touch the sides.

With the exception of the SS Minnow as you walk in the door, the decor is beachy without being over the top.  It’s a venue for friends and family to catch up, celebrate or while away an afternoon.  There are plenty of snacks for under $15 and nothing on the menu over $28, with the exception of the massive Helm Seafood Sharing Platter for Two which is $85.   Drinks are at pub prices and there’s a selection of cocktails as well as some larger carafes for those settling in for a Sunday session.  Casual dining and reasonable pricing, it’s proximity to Cavill Avenue and that lovely view provide a winning combination.  The test for me is would I go back or recommend it to friends?  The answer is yes.  So if you find yourself in Surfers, avoid the crowds and head away from the beach and over to the other side of the highway for a relaxed meal.

Canal in Surfers Paradise, Queensland.

After lunch we walked over to Cavill Ave and whilst the accents of the tourist may have changed, everything else was pretty much the same.   And of course, though it’s winter here in Qld, we saw a girl walking through the mall in her bikini.  When was the last time you visited Surfers Paradise? Leave a message in the comments and tell me your Surfers story.

*TIFFIN was media guest of Wasamedia and invited to eat at Helm Bar & Bistro Surfers

Helm Bar & Bistro Surfers
30 – 34 Ferny Avenue
Surfers Paradise   Qld   4217

Visited: Saturday 6th July 2013 – Lunch Service

Helm Bar Surfers on Urbanspoon

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