Lunch at The North Room is an exquisite pleasure.
Without the distracting clamber of other conversation, our senses are heightened to the appreciation of Tim Stewart’s amazing cuisine.
We’ve popped in to check out his use of native ingredients in dishes, such as local Pottsville pippis with fresh squash, pickled green tomatoes and coastal greens (pig face) giving a mouthful of opposing textures; but of course we venture further…
Veal tongue with anchovy, cucumber and mustard leaf, proves to be one of our favourite dishes. Without actually being aware of the anchovy or cucumber, how did Tim ever decide to put these elements together, we wonder.
“Tim’s a man of few words,” his wife Shannon tells us, “but he speaks through his food.”
She tells us how he often gets a whole box of one ingredient delivered and he will work with it for a week or more until she’s offered a first taste…the process of creativity remaining a mystery.
Brooklet springs chicken with native Bunya nut, persimmon dressing and olive is also amazing, the quality of the chicken blowing us away. Where else do we get chicken that tastes like this?
We finish with fig leaf ice cream and toasted rye crumble topped with fresh plum, a plum and amaretto syrup and fresh thyme.
Satiated, I wonder how we ever manage to stay away from The North Room. It’s such an intense culinary pleasure, especially when you slip away while the rest of the world is working!
It’s relatively easy to find food for comfort or food for freshness on the Gold Coast, but far more difficult to find food for inspiration.
The North Room has it all: the comfort of known ingredients, impeccably sourced produce, presented with a twist to entice and surprise both the eye and the palate. It’s a place where rhetoric meets practise, where service is genuinely informed without being stuffy; a place where we’re so amazed at its quality that we miss it already.
Since opening in 2017, The North Room has gone from strength to strength. Chef Tim Stewart, who co-owns the restaurant with his wife Shannon, had previously opened Pippi’s in Yamba before working in Vanitas, Seaduction, Oskars, and more recently Honeyeater Kitchen.
Seating around thirty diners, the tiny space is maximised by clean lines and uncluttered décor set against white walls. Luxe blue velvet banquette seating along one wall ties in with the blue ceiling. A gorgeous marble-topped bar houses communal seating for eight. In all, it’s a tiny but understatedly classy venue that allows the food to be the feature.
Intimate it may be, but when the place is full, there’s a vibrant buzzy atmosphere. And there’s lots to be excited about!
There’s attention to detail everywhere we look: black stainless-steel cutlery and Riedel glassware to show off the expertly-curated wine list. There’s many a hard-to-find treasure lurking within, almost all available by the glass!
Printed on a single sheet of paper (read ‘always changing to match the finest seasonal, locally-sourced produce’), each dish sounds so intriguing that making a choice is impossible. We want to try it all!
On a menu bridging both lunch and dinner, it’s only too easy to choose the five-course Chef’s Selection tasting menu for two for $64 per person, to which you can add dessert or cheese for an extra $5pp, as well as matching wines for an extra charge.
A homemade pretzel bread roll with house made cultured butter arrives, fresh from the oven. It carries a caramelised flavour all too tempting to order seconds, but this is just a starter.
Next comes a crispy, paper-thin pig’s skin sprinkled with Tim’s gherkin salt. It’s such a palate teaser, and there’s more to come…
Courses follow in triumphal procession, each one containing known elements, but never in these combinations.
Oysters naturale from Merimbula topped with salsify, lemon and pigs ear are presented on a bed of river stones.
Housemade crumpets are familiar, drawing memories of a New Zealand childhood, yet bone marrow is Tim’s savoury tweek, topping the crumpets with local mudcrab, cultured cream and dustings of bright yellow salted yolk.
Jewfish from Evans Head is the fish of the day, served with parsnip, radish and cape gooseberry (again from my childhood). It’s food that ‘takes us to a happy place’, as Shannon so aptly put it, the dish so carefully balanced in texture and flavour, the crunch of foraged ice plants brightening the velvety parsnip cream and the richness of the fish.
Roast duck breast is laced with shavings of persimmon, beets and scattered linseed and nasturtium juice, roast pork jowl is topped with fresh pear, crispy sage, five-day fermented cabbage and roasted hazelnuts on a feijoa and pear pureé.
An unexpected hero is shaved brussel sprouts with grated macadamia and savoury yeast dressing accompanying beef short rib.
Innovative, exciting, and completely surprising, the food is next level – a food-lover’s dream. Melt-in-your-mouth delicious, the side dish of shaved sprouts with macadamias and a yeast dressing proves a triumph; another case of ‘known but not like this’, its subtle flavour and acidity are a perfect match for the rich, malty beef short rib.
We finish with a stunning assembly: Strawberry sorbet accompanying shards of beetroot meringue and freshly cut strawberries plunged into a bed of sour yoghurt. Dusted off with beetroot powder, it’s a savoury sweet dessert; a taste sensation. In each of the day’s dishes the line is perfect: a balance of flavour and texture, colour and presentation to excite the senses.
Meanwhile service is faultless; extremely knowledgeable, attentive but not cloying.
This is one polished operation! From the moment we set eyes on the venue until we walk out the door, The North Room oozes class. We leave, already planning our return.
The North Room can be booked through Open Table. Bookings are essential.
Shop 1/2527, Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach Ph: 0468 311 003
Open: Wed – Thurs 4pm – late; Fri – Sat 12 noon – late; Sun 11.30am – 4pm
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as guests of The North Room.