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Published July 17th 2016
Rustic French-inspired Cuisine in Casual Coolum
The food here is very special. It is luscious, bountiful and just a little bit quirky. The menu is extensive, with unexpected offerings of whole de-boned quail, lamb wellington, chicken mignon, macadamia-encrusted barramundi, and braised sticky pork with Asian greens, grilled scallops and green pawpaw. But can the local bowls club bistro pull it off? The answer is YES, they sure can!
Chicken mignon wrapped in bacon & puff pastry, filled with Swiss cheese & apricots, on a bed of creamy mash & greens, topped with grilled prawns, finished with avocado cream sauce $21.50
Chef Craig runs a tight ship It's a testament to skill and experience that Craig's team can produce such a range of dishes, in such high volumes, at such a cracking pace, without chaos and high drama. The menu contains many fiddly dishes requiring lots of preparation, but it's also very cleverly designed. Most of the hard work is complete before service starts, so when it gets busy every dish can be plated very quickly.
And there is something so very homely, and very European, about a chef who takes the time to do the rounds of the restaurant and talk to his guests. This can only happen because the kitchen is so well organised and he is proud of the food. And the food is good, better than good. It's delicious. Each component tastes the way you hope it will, but only better. As Craig says, you need to start with fresh produce, and you can definitely taste the difference. Even the tiny grilled prawns on top of the chicken mignon erupt with the flavour and texture of fresh prawns! No wonder this is one of the most popular dishes on the menu.
Even in winter, the place is packed with hungry locals and a smattering of new faces. The tables are fully booked, with the rise and fall of happy chatter permeating the room. Full dinner plates arrive quickly from the kitchen and return empty. The atmosphere feels celebratory, but it's just another Friday night. There is definitely something very special happening here, and everyone can feel it. This unassuming little club bistro has a certain je ne sais quoi, and the locals love it. While the decor is rowdy Aussie pub, the food has a playful touch of French Provincial. What more could you want?
Marshmallow pavlova, with cream and a passionfruit and berry coulis $7.50
Chef Craig has been producing French-inspired modern Australian fare at the Coolum Beach Bowls Club for the past 8 years. He is passionate about food, and it shows. His approach is simple: "Good food is not hard, if you use a fresh product and cook from the heart. If you don't have passion, don't cook."
Craig's kitchen pedigree is impressive, and includes a 10-year stint in Britain. In London he worked in a little Kensington restaurant called The French Horn. The French chef was Raymond Blanc, who is renowned for having employed and trained talented chefs like Marco Pierre White, who in turn trained Gordon Ramsay. Craig's next move was to Executive Sous Chef of Valentino's in London. He later moved to the Channel Islands to take up the role of Executive Chef for La Grande Mare Hotel, a luxury island resort and country club on Guernsey. "I never thought I would end up at a bowls club", says Craig, "But I lease it, so it suits me. I'm not told what to cook, or how to cook it."
Chef Craig Must
Open every day for lunch and dinner This little bistro may be punching above its weight by producing these rustic French-inspired delights, but the simpler Aussie favourites are still available. Lunch is served every day from 12noon-2pm. For a fast weekday special, you can choose from a selection of hot meals in the bain-marie (served with chips & salad or vegetables) for a tiny $7. Dinner is served from 6-8pm every night, with regular themed-night discounts and blackboard specials. A La Carte Menu available every night except Thursday