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Published October 2nd 2013
Get your animal groove on
Restaurant manners compel us to keep our elbows off the table, to chew with our mouths closed and to start from the outside of the cutlery and work our way in.
But thornier etiquette questions arose when I spent two nights at glorious Currumbin Beach while attending the Swell Sculpture Festival 2013. That is, how many visits to a single restaurant in a single weekend is too many? And shall I sit upstairs or downstairs this time?
Elephant Rock Cafe is about as close as you can get to the ocean without wetting your toes. Image courtesy Elephant Rock Cafe facebook page.
I have adored the Elephant Rock Café since it opened in 1990. It's been through a few incarnations since then, but it's always retained that cool beach vibe. And, having re-emerged after a complete renovation in 2007, I reckon it's better than ever these days.
Situated just across the road from the pristine white sands and patrolled surf of Currumbin Beach, your food is served with complimentary side orders of salty air, sea breeze and ocean views.
The décor rocks the effortlessly chic Hamptons look, all wooden floors, dark wicker chairs, white ceilings and walls. The floors are fetchingly, if unintentionally, dusted with sand.
The menu? Where to start? Breakfast options are, in keeping with the philosophy of this gourmet gem, fresh, healthy and with a splash of surprise.
Bircher muesli, banana bread (house baked with vanilla mascarpone, strawberries and maple syrup) and avo toast (fresh avocado on Turkish with sea salt, cracked pepper a wedge of lime) are among the lighter options.
Those with a more substantial early morning appetite will enjoy scrambled eggs or tofu, eggs benedict or breakfast bruschetta (pesto-covered ciabatta toast with roasted Roma tomatoes, grilled haloumi, field mushroom, rocket and a poached free-range egg).
Freshly-squeezed juice and just-blended smoothies are always available - the watermelon laced with mint is especially sublime. Lunch can be as informal as burgers, wraps and sandwiches, or a substantial three-course affair.
Lunch and dinner menu items change according to the seasons, but typically entrees include tempura oyster with wasabi mayonnaise and wakame salad, sweet potato seafood chowder, confit duck risotto, or the 'longboards' we sampled, which offer a tapas-style tasting plate of olives, meats, seafood, dips and bread.
Main course items include whole field mushroom stuffed with ricotta, home-made tofu and sweet peppers; prawn, lemon & pea risotto topped with crispy prosciutto; seafood linguini (with just the right amount of chilli) and the ubiquitous fish of the day (which on our visit was a generous fillet of barramundi).
The service at Elephant Rock Cafe has been up and down over the years, but on our three most recent visits, it was fresh, fast and friendly. The only minor niggle was a spotlight attached to a rogue motion sensor above us one night - the vagaries of which meant we were periodically plunged into darkness (making us all the more grateful for the tealight candle on our table).
The view from Elephant Rock Cafe is the perfect backdrop to a meal. Author image.
The Elephant Rock Cafe is also a great place for people-watching. Diners can enjoy a passing parade of surfers, sunbathers, dog walkers, skateboarders and other assorted sand-dwellers - all of which contribute to the prevailing theme of 'life's a beach'.