Why does a state boasting almost 7000 kilometres of coastline have so few true beachside restaurants?

Literally on Burleigh beach, Rick Shores opened on New Year’s Day last year in the iconic bathing pavilion building. It has an Indochine meets coastal chic decor that is the absolute antithesis of its sister restaurant, the dark and moody LONgTIME in Fortitude Valley. Every seat in the house has a view, but it is worth trying to bag one of the plum tables at the front, where the breeze carries a tang of sea salt and floor to ceiling bi-fold doors frame beach views all the way to the Surfers skyscrapers.

Like LONgTIME, Rick Shores’ food is contemporary pan-Asian, matched by an equally smart wine list with a strong focus on spice friendly aromatics – in particular the three Rs – Rhone, Riesling and Rose. The menu is sectioned from light to heavier, from bar snacks to hearty hunks of protein designed to share.

From the bar snacks section, start perhaps with an origami-folded dumpling filled with shitake mushroom and tiny cubes of crunchy water chestnut. It comes in a broth of brown onion, beer and a touch of chilli oil that is so good you could drink it on its own. Or maybe try the disks of crisp iceberg lettuce carrying an umami-rich, miso-caramelised sauce of eggplant and a cube of crisp-on-the-outside, marshmallow-soft inside silken tofu.

Smoked tuna from the ‘raw’ section scores on good looks and taste – tissue paper pieces of translucent bonito flakes garnishing rectangles of sashimi tuna on an earthy macadamia paste. The richness of the fish is balanced by tangy yuzu, the saltiness of soy and a judicious amount of mustardy heat from the wasabi.

From the selection of ‘meats and curries’, a vibrant yellow curry with king prawn, kaffir lime and fine shreds of crisp golden garlic proves the most appropriate choice for a Queensland summer’s day. The sauce is perfectly nuanced, with a pleasant muted heat. Apparently, it’s made off-site, by a “mate of the chef” the waiter tells us, which seems a bit odd considering head chef Jake Pregnell’s (ex-Golden Fields, Melbourne) pedigree. Then again, if it were mine, I probably would not share the recipe either.

Other curries include a massaman lamb shank with potato and pickled onion and a dry spiced curry with beans, water spinach and lemongrass. Portions are not huge if you intend to share, and you will need to order rice separately. Otherwise, there are more substantial dishes to satisfy two, such as half a twice-cooked duck with spiced mandarin or a wagyu scotch fillet and pork shoulder with miso.

Dessert includes a sweet ginger curd with raspberries, herbaceous vivid-green sorrel sorbet and shards of white pepper meringue as well as a nutty black sesame pavlova with creamy green tea parfait, a tangy yuzu curd and crunchy half-moons of dried mandarin. Both are equally good.

It is remarkable that Rick Shores’ owners have been able to ensure that holy trinity of hospitality – food, wine and service all deliver to the same high standard. Add the good-looking fitout and perfect beachside location and it adds up to a pretty special dining experience.





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