Kirra, Coolangatta and Tweed Heads

Friday 18 July 2014

Govindas Restaurant

Vegan Happiness for $9.90 at Surfers Paradise

This is possibly the best-kept vegan secret on the Gold Coast. All the rich creamy dishes you’ve come to know and love from this long-established vegetarian chain with not an ounce of dairy in sight. No butter. No milk. No cream. No dairy products in any of the dishes.* A pure vegan Govindas. Hallelujah!

We're in Cavill Avenue in the heart of Surfers Paradise, recently reimagined as an iconic international tourist destination. The new “Soul” precinct has revitalised the area and brought in a sea of tourists. It looks like everyone here has just stepped off a plane from somewhere. The Q1 Skyscraper is quite the tourist drawcard and the 77th floor is a good place to be on a clear blue day.  Forty-three seconds in the express lift (and $22) will have you up there on the Observation Deck swaying gently in the breeze as you take in the sweeping views out to Byron and beyond.

“$9.90 All You Can Eat”.  I read it not once, not twice, but 5 times. The message is signposted at the entrance and throughout the restaurant, beckoning the hungry into its welcoming reach.  It works its magic on me and I order the buffet, "A bit of everything, thank you". Take your pick from the deliciously creamy rosemary potato bake, tofu vegetable curry, penne pasta bake, and traditional Govindas fare such as kofta balls, pokaras, rice and dahl.  Samosas and spring rolls are available at a modest extra charge.  Ramp up the deliciousness factor with tomato relish and sauces.  Then add some salad; there’s the kofta bean and pesto pumpkin, and from the non-buffet side of the salad ledger, a leafy rocket and avocado and a fresh and lively garden green.

The blackboard menu tempts with the promise of the famous Govindas sweets: cakes $7.50, chocolate mousse $5, sago pudding $5, cupcakes for $3 and gluten-free cupcakes at $4 a pop. Alas!  I’ve come at the wrong time or on the wrong day and the sweets cabinet is bereft of all but a few remaining goodies.  I console myself with 2 frosted poppy seed cakes, leaving but one lone cupcake in the dessert cabinet for the next cake-loving customer to enjoy.

The drinks fridge is plentiful and all is forgiven. There are bottles of sparkling pinks and orange: a chilled Bundaberg grapefruit drink; a sparkling Bundaberg “blood orange” drink; Bundaberg Sarsaparilla; bottles of lemon ginger and lemon myrtle drinks from Wort Organics; and homemade lemon ginger laced with lashings of gingery sweetness. Order take-away, pack the knapsack and head straight to the beachfront for a picnic in the winter Surfers sunshine. Perfect!

This is a classic Hare Krishna eatery that offers a comfortingly inviting atmosphere with good, cheap and tasty food. This Govindas is unique, in Australia at least, in its choice to go vegan. The friendly staff tell me the restaurant, now in its 7th year, switched to a dairy-free menu 2 years ago in a decision that mirrored the owners own vegan conversion.

Govindas at Surfers is one of four Hare Krishna style restaurants on the Gold Coast: there’s the hugely popular Govindas at Burleigh Heads, the gorgeously eclectic Cardamom Pod at Broadbeach, and the newest of the lot, Giri Kana Café at Southport.  These 3 vegetarian hot spots do a superb job in keeping many a Gold Coast and Brisbane vegan gratefully and happily indulged.  But creamy vegan potato bake – that’s hard to beat. And on a clear sunny day, worth a trip to Surfers.

*A final note: the mixed berry and mango lassi drinks in the fridge are the only “off-limit” item in the whole of the restaurant to the vegan sojourner. These are the traditional yoghurt-based drinks of India - no doubt once made from the milk of happy, hormone-free and beautifully tended cows.

Address: 3120 Gold Coast Highway, Surfers Paradise (from October 2014)

Phone: (07) 5538 3788

Facebook:  GovindasSurfersParadise

Hours: 11am to 10 pm seven days.

In a nutshell:  Karma-free Vegan Joy.

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24 Oct 14


Govindas has moved to its new venue at Surfers (3120 Gold Coast Highway) and the "all you can eat" buffet is now $12.90 - still excellent value. I look forward to revisiting.
7 Aug 14


I visited again a fortnight later and found many desserts on offer including a gorgeous melt-in-the-mouth peanut chocolate mousse cake. Worth a return visit just for that!