Vanitas Restaurant at Palazzo Versace
Sea World Drive, Main Beach, QLD 4217, Australia
Telephone: 07 5509 8000
Food is an important part of culture and when I travel, I enjoy shopping at grocers, liquor stores and vineyards. When I come home, I like to have dinner parties and replicate authentic dishes from the destination I have returned from. However, it would be impossible for me to personally replicate the feast I had at Vanitas restaurant. Vanitas was awarded the Most Stylish Restaurant in the World by Harper’s Bazaar in 2015. According to TripAdvisor, it overlooks the 5th Most Luxurious Pool in the World. What should be celebrated though is the creative food and impeccable service.
The Palazzo Versace was built as an extension into the luxury travel market by the fashion house. Besides the Gold Coast, there is also Palazzo Versace in Dubai. Both are stunning 5 star properties that are decorated in classic Italian opulence—adorned with gilded and crystal chandeliers, marble mosaics, rich plush furniture and bespoke artwork.
I started my evening off with a cocktail at Le Jardin—the quintessential lobby bar. Though it took a while to get service, I was impressed with the menu. I kept it classic and ordered a Manhattan. Then I sat back and watched the bartender elegantly, and correctly, assemble my martini. It was the perfect Manhattan...in Australia. As someone with a decade of bartending experience, I appreciate when someone can master a classic.
Stepping into Vanitas, the jewel of the dining options at the Palazzo, you step back into time where the maître d' greets you and welcomes you to be their guest. The heavy wood paneled entrance is a juxtaposition to the clean lines and modern ambiance of the actual dining room. The restaurant was very quiet the night that I dined with only 3 couples there. The maître d' saw that I had brought a book and showed me to a quiet table by the windows. The view was stunning as I looked directly out on to the hotel’s lit lagoon. The room itself was sparse and the main focus was a mural on the back wall that depicts moments in Gianni Versace’s life.
My server came and introduced himself and presented me with the menu options. The servers, sommeliers, and the rest of the front line staff were all male and looked more like Versace runway models than waiters. Throughout the the night, the service was impeccable—professional, polite and personal. My server answered all my questions regarding the 9 course degustation menu and the kitchen was willing to make one substitution for me based on a preference. I also opted to add the wine pairings to the dinner bringing the total to approx. $250 US dollars.
The menu as I recall it: (Note to self - take photo of the menu)
Amuse Bouche: Parmesan and gruyere fritter, blackened salmon on a tapioca chip and a beetroot macaroon
Heirloom tomato salad with fresh baked breads
Main Entree: Lamb & Bacon
International cheese board
Dessert with pears, poprock candy, sorbet and foam
Chocolate course: Desserts served with grilled sweet corn
Petite fours and coffee
The dessert courses were inventive and playful. After an amazing meal, to take a bite of dessert and have the poprock candy begin to explode on my tongue was surprising. I also enjoyed the grilled corn served alongside to chocolate—a subtle nod to the Mayans.
Caprese salad is one my favourite dishes so when I saw the heirloom tomato salad on the menu, I was excited. What I was served could not have been further away from what I was expected. The flavours nonetheless, were incredibly bright, fresh and well balanced.
The wine selections were exceptionally paired to the courses. The pours were very generous but that might be because the sommelier and I got into a conversation about wine. He appreciated that I knew wine and gave me a great introduction to each pairing. The wines included both local and international selections that were uncommon and interesting. Considering the quality of the wines, I think the wine pairing price was extremely good value.
I expected big things from Vanitas after I read the reviews and saw the heap of awards and accolades it has received. When a bar is set to high, I tend to come in with higher expectations and notice the smaller things more. My evening at Vanitas was faultless. It is the perfect location to celebrate a special occasion or for a romantic evening out. If you are going to be on the Gold Coast, a stop at the Palazzo Versace is an absolute must.