The bright button on Maroochydore’s new keyboard, Market Bistro with its electric atmosphere and big-city vibe heralds a whole new look to what once was a quiet beachside town on the Sunshine Coast.
Promising to be the high-tech heartbeat, financial hub and CBD of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore is developing into a fascinating destination.
It’s not very often that you get to see a city emerge in front of you, or to experience the pioneer species that choose this newborn concrete jungle as their habitat.
But that’s exactly what it’s like at Market Bistro, the latest venture of a quartet of the country’s most experienced and masterful hospo heads.
Owners Tony Kelly and Luke Stringer, along with Harry Lilai and Peter Marchant, all of whom have some serious restaurants, hotels and bars under their belts and Chefs Hats on their heads, have brought the first taste of the big city to what promises to be Queensland’s first true coastal city.
Talk of super-high-speed internet to a development laced waterways, parklands, retail and commercial space, a convention centre and over 4,000 residential apartments means Maroochydore is about to transform Optimus Prime-like into a cyber-hero of the region.
But commerce and city planning aside, what’s it like to dine at Market Bistro?
Market Bistro, Maroochydore
There are so many superb places to eat around the Sunny Coast. Check out our montage of some of our favourite restaurants—including Market Bistro—here:
Christina and I are met at the door by co-owner and restaurant manager Luke Stringer, who seats us at the bistro’s beautiful bar of white marble and gleaming brass for a pre-dinner cocktail.
The bar is pumping and there’s a steady stream of drinks going out on trays to a busy Saturday night crowd seated at tables and plush art deco booths around the restaurant.
Luke, the bellwether for the restaurant’s energy, appears at our side and recommends two of the most popular cocktails from the menu: the coconut caramel espresso martini and the strawberry and passionfruit martini, a special of the week.
We sip our cocktails and take in the restaurant from our corner bar seats—the patrons, their food and the machine of well-trained staff working their ballet of a service.
The romance and high energy of this big impressive European style bistro is infectious, and reminds us of a couple of places we’ve been to in San Francisco.
Perhaps Maroochydore is indeed set to be the Silicon Valley of Australia.
Dinner at Market Bistro
At our table—a comfortable corner booth by the window—we sip the last of our cocktails as our excellent waiter Nick takes us through the menus.
Connected to Market Bistro is the Market Wine Store, a physical embodiment of resident sommelier Peter Marchant’s passion. The wine list in front of us is therefore gargantuan, so we decide to leave the wine decisions up to Nick. He doesn’t disappoint.
With our entree order of vitello tonnato and wood-fire grilled calamari, Nick brings us a superb Hunter Valley Semillon from First Creek. It’s a perfect match for the food.
Vitello tonnato—a traditional Italian dish that was a complete revelation for me—is literally veal and tuna mayo. But that sells this dish so far short. The veal is so thinly sliced it’s almost translucent, as is the seared tuna. The mayonnaise is clearly made in-house and is incredible.
As for the calamari, it comes perfectly braised with an unctuous oily sauce you need all the bread you can get to mop up. And Nick is happy to reload our basket.
Next, I’m brought a Shiraz from Head Wines in the Barossa. It’s a robust, smoky—almost ashy—wine, packed with red currants and anise.
It’s the most sublime match for my spectacular 350g scotch fillet that’s charred perfectly to the point where its salt content flows through the meat and the fat is all rendered, yet inside is a glowing medium-rare.
My steak also comes with shoestring fries, a pickled onion, cabbage and parsley salad and a choice of sauces. I go for the veal jus.
Christina’s Pinot Noir is set with meticulous structure that sets up her duck tortelloni perfectly. The duck, which fills every pasta parcel completely, is rendered to the point where every mouthful is dense and luxuriant. The pasta, all of which is made fresh in-house every day, is light yet somehow robust.
The tortelloni comes with a rich butter and cheese sauce that we wish we had a bowl of.
To finish us off—we’re already bulging at the seams—Nick brings us dessert in the form of a New York baked cheesecake with a slice of marinated orange and an incredible burnt butter orange sauce, and a pavlova roulade with a rich lemon curd and fresh blueberries.
The sticky he picks for us is a delicate Muscat that cuts through the sweet while still owning its place at the dessert table. Superb.
Check out some of our other stories about the Sunshine Coast—where to eat, what to do and where to stay:
After a hot busy day (we’d spent the afternoon exploring the waterways around Mooloolaba with Saltwater Eco Tours) we were honestly running out of gas by dinner time.
But meeting Luke, seeing how hard the Market Bistro team all work in such unison and experiencing the artwork that Executive Chef Harry Lilai has created lifted us and put us on a real high.
Market Bistro is in the newly established Foundation Square on Market Street, right at the heart of what will be Maroochydore’s new high-tech CBD. And if Market Bistro is any kind of indicator, this town is going to be amazing.