MEDITERRANEAN cuisine is on the menu at Broadbeach’s 1two3 Dining and Lounge Bar, but there’s also a few surprises too.

Andrew McElhone is the first to admit the term ‘Mediterranean cuisine’ opens the door to new cultures and possibilities.

The former Sydneysider opened Sage Cafe Restaurant in 2004 and then founded Yellowfin Seafood Restaurant in 2006. 1two3 Mediterranean Dining & Lounge Bar is the youngest of the three.

“Each one of the restaurants has its own niche, but 1two3 was founded when I noticed a gap in the market,” says McElhone.

“No one was really specialising in Mediterranean, which covers a broad range of cuisines from Morocco to Turkey, Greece through to Spain. It works because there’s something for everyone.”

To start, we sample the restaurant’s mezze platter that includes toasted Turkish bread served with a trio of house made dips. The hummus, pesto and olive tastes pre-empt a diverse yet nicely balanced dinner menu. Almost every meal at 1two3 is available in ‘taster’, entree and main sizes.

“We were one of the first restaurants to truly offer most meals in three serving options,” explains McElhone.

“It’s really about customer convenience. There is the flexibility there to sample different dishes and try different entree/main combinations each time they come back to the restaurant.

“The taster size is also very popular when we host functions or corporate meetings and events. Often people prefer to have a few dishes to snack on without wanting a larger sized meal.”

A seafood appetiser soon tempts and we are served a half shell with a herbed polenta gateau, chorizo and lemon butter sauce and discover that 1two3’s sautéed scallops dish is uniquely Mediterranean.

A serving of garlic and chilli tiger prawns are OK, but the salt and pepper calamari dish is the clear winner for the entree stage.

While a rib eye pork cutlet looks enticing for the main event, the menu’s ‘pollo prosciutto’ gets the nod.

Wrapped in crispy prosciutto and plum sauce, the marinated chicken fillet is moist and flavoursome and is complemented well with oven baked buttered potatoes and thinly sliced vegetables.

1two3’s signature, the noissete of premium Australian lamb, is accompanied with roasted potatoes, caramelised onions and glazed mushrooms.

It’s the chermoula marinade however that really gives the lamb a unique flavour. Traditionally used to flavour seafood, the garlic, coriander and lemon flavours of chermoula are standard in many Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian dishes.

“One thing we really love doing is taking an Australian favourite and giving it that unique Mediterranean twist,” says McElhone.

“Most people are looking for something a bit different when they go out for a meal. You can buy a good lamb dish at most restaurants, but we’re presenting that classic dish with interesting original flavours.”

Dessert includes vanilla pannacotta and sticky date pudding. The waitress recommends the Spanish doughnut churros, served with a dark chocolate sauce – a great choice for a shared sugar night cap.

Broadbeach has fast become a restaurant-goers paradise, but despite increased competition and the rapid re-development of the precinct, McElhone says the secret to his success are found in four key focuses.

“It all comes down to service, value, food quality and dining ambience,” he says.

“You can’t focus too heavily on one area and risk neglecting the others. Patrons expect excellence across the board and that’s what we constantly strive to deliver to them.”

1two3 Mediterranean Dining and Lounge Bar took out the ‘favourite flavours of the world’ category at the national I Love Food Awards 2010.

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