NuNu, Palm Cove
Firstly I must apologise for taking a little too long to put up another post on foodvixen. My two month old Toshiba Ultrabook has recently decided that it doesn’t like the Hard Drive that Toshiba gave it and figures it needs a new one. What’s that you say? Should have gotten a Mac. If I wanted to relearn everything that I have learnt about computers since I was 11 years old then yeah maybe but I don’t do Mac. PC for life! Anyway moving on. So after years and years of wanting to go to NuNu and dreaming about it I finally got to go there for mine and MS’ anniversary dinner last month. Yes I know that was last month but did you not read the beginning of this paragraph? So, like I said I have wanted to go to NuNu for a ridiculously long time, since they won the Gourmet Traveller Regional Restaurant of the Year Award in 2008 and I was finally able to fulfill my wish and baby it did not let me down. Before I get down to business I must again apologise for the quality of the photos in this post. I use the iPhone app Hipstamatic for all of my pictures which does not work well when the lighting is dim and the flash photography just doesn’t do the photos justice. I’m not one to pull out an SLR while eating plus it keeps my WordPress costs low by uploading photos that are only a couple of KB’s in size. Righto, you get the gist.
I rang up about 5 days prior and made a booking for two for 8pm on a Saturday. Since we were staying out that way for the night at Sea Temple (don’t waste your time, stay somewhere else) we sauntered on down about 45 minutes early hoping to grab a cocktail from somewhere along the way. So much for that idea since everywhere was absolutely packed and we ended up arriving at NuNu a little earlier than expected. This was no problem as our table was ready for us anyway. As we were walking in a guy stopped in front of the restaurant and told us not to bother because NuNu and the one next door (Bella Baci) were both full. Sucks to be him, lucky we had a booking. The lighting was romantically dim and despite the modern furnishings and pompous Palm Cove atmosphere the place had a cosy relaxed feel to it. The waitress seated us at a table in between two couples at the front of the restaurant. Unfortunately we were seated so damn close to their tables that MS felt like he should introduce himself to the people on either side. This close proximity not only made us privy to their conversations but them to ours. The waitress bought us a Dinner Menu each and a Wine Menu along with some glasses which she filled with water from a silver jug. She gave us a couple of minutes and came back to take our drinks order. We both chose a glass of Clyde Park Sauvignon Blanc (AU$9.50) purely because it was the only Sav Blanc on the menu. Prior to taking our drink order the waitress whose name was Karen told us the specials of the day at NuNu (without us asking) along with a rundown of the seafood on the menu (the fish was Red Throat Emperor caught locally and the Oysters were Pacific Oysters from SA). My dreams had come true. Finally a restaurant with staff that knew the in’s and out’s of the seafood they were selling. It was truly a miracle!
Having sighted the 5 course tasting menu (AU$95 or AU$155 with matched wines) we asked Karen exactly what it consisted of since MS being the big sissy that he is doesn’t like seafood all that much. Karen told us in the nicest possible way that it was supposed to be a surprise and the chefs didn’t like to tell what was on it so we would have to wait and see. That was good enough for me and MS decided that as long as brain wasn’t part of the 5 course menu he would eat it too (there is in fact brain on the menu). I actually kind of liked the idea that we had no idea what was to come out. I felt it really added to the excitement of the meal and anyone that knows me well knows that nothing excites me more than food.
First off, our meal began with some bread. It was fresh out of the oven and as she placed it on the table Karen warned us to be careful of the steam that would escape when we cut it open. We were both surprised at just how large the bread was, taking up almost the entire plate but our surprise turned to relief as we cut it open to find the bread was in fact hollow. The sprinkling of salt and lemon over the top of the crust gave it just that little extra flavour that it needed and we soon devoured the crusty outside both looking forward to the next dish.
Next up two of our dishes arrived at the table. Karen gave us a nice run down of each dish and left us to sample our two entree’s… The Taste Paradise which was Shaved Local Heart of Palm, Melon, Lime, Baby Herbs and Chilli and the Hot Smoked Red Emperor Miang with Chilli, Pink Pomelo, Green Papaya Relish and Salmon Pearls. Both dishes looked amazing and the Taste Paradise even had those cute little edible flowers on the top which I had never eaten before. It was a beautiful dish and the melon mixed so well with the delicately sweet dressing, a slight hint of Fish Sauce just detectable. I really loved the soft and crunchy texture of the Palm Heart and the Melon. MS didn’t think this dish was so amazing (probably because of the Fish Sauce flavour) but I thought it was fantastic.
The two portions of Hot Smoked Red Emperor Miang et al was wrapped up ever so nicely in Betel Leaf. Having had something very similar at Iyara Thai Restaurant on the Esplanade I already kind of knew what to expect. We both ate it at the same time and although MS was a little skeptical because of the seafood content and the Chilli he thought it was a taste sensation and he was right. The mixture of the all the different flavours (sweet, sour, spicy) and textures in this one small bite (ok maybe two bites) was to die for. The Hot Smoked Red Emperor Miang has to be one of my favourite dishes of the 5 course menu.
About ten to fifteen minutes passed before our next meal was bought out – our 3rd entrée of Crisped Pacific Oysters with hand rolled Green Tea Noodle, Jellyfish, Sesame and Ginger Caramel. I almost knocked my glass of wine over in excitement. I had spied this dish on the Entrée Menu and my mouth literally salivated at the thought of it. I had no idea that I was actually going to get the chance to eat it though! This dish was OMG so good. The Crisped Pacific Oysters had a slight batter around them that was deliciously crispy and light and the oysters literally melted in my mouth. Even MS who again doesn’t appreciate the sheer delight that comes with eating seafood (yet) thought the oysters were delicious. The green tea noodles and the sesame and ginger caramel were the perfect accompaniment to this dish. It was another absolutely stunning course in NuNu‘s 5 course menu.
Right about now was when we moved onto the mains of the evening. Next up, our 4th course (or was it?) was the Local Line Caught Reef Fish with Ricotta Dumplings, Tomato Essence, Fennel, Crispy Sage and Lemon. The Red Throat Emperor was cooked perfectly as you would expect from such a notoriously good restaurant as NuNu. The portion size of the fish was not too little and not too big. Again, the fish melted in my mouth along with the small balls of cheesy Ricotta-y goodness. MS ate the lot so that says something for what he though of it. This dish was the perfect way to showcase the freshness of the Red Throat Emperor without marring the flavour. The accompaniments were not overpowering and allowed the subtle flavour of the fish to shine through.
By both our calculations the 5th course was next but for some reason I didn’t think that was it for our 5 course menu. Karen arrived with the Mushroom Poached Cape Grim Tenderloin, Jerusalem Artichoke, Assorted Fungi, Whipped Feta and Bacon Broth. MS nearly fell off his chair when she returned with a jug containing Bacon Broth to pour over the top of our Tenderloin offering over his water glass for Karen to fill up. Karen laughed at his joke but I think he was only half kidding. The Tenderloin was medium rare in the middle and so damn tender, in fact I think it was the most tender steak I have ever eaten in my life. The Bacon Broth was rich and hearty and we both slurped it up with the soup spoon that was provided, no doubt for that very reason. MS was in Carnivore Heaven with this dish and I think it’s safe to say that this was his favourite of the 5 course menu.
Much to our delight after clearing away our plates and finding amusement in MS’ new found love for Bacon Broth Karen bought us out a palate cleanser in the form of a small scoop of Rose Petal Sorbet. It was sweet and tangy and although the Rose Petal Sorbet was something unlike any Sorbet I have ever tasted before it was superb. If NuNu started selling this stuff at Coles tomorrow I would buy it by the tub. It was exquisite and just what we needed to cleanse our palate after our rich and hearty main.
Last but not least, our dessert emerged (that’s 6 courses, 8 dishes in total). It was Roast Banana Souffle with Coconut Caramel Sugar, Banana Twinkie and Coconut Sorbet. Wow. I was surprised by just how big the dessert was and the fact that we got one each! I love Banana Bread, Banana Cake, Banana Smoothies, etc, so this was always going to be a winner for me. The Roast Banana Souffle was light and eggy and the added touch of Coconut Caramel Sugar at the bottom of the Souffle made it all the more delicious. My absolute favourite had to be the Banana Twinkie, something we both agreed on. According to Karen this Banana themed dessert is the most popular dessert item on the menu at NuNu and with good reason. It was so damn good but because of the sheer amount of food that we had consumed both MS and I struggled to finish it.
The 5 course menu at NuNu is most certainly in my Top 10 most memorable dining experiences along with Hot Ramen at a Kiosk in Osaka, Freshly Shucked Oysters in the Gulf of Mexico (before the oil spill) and Peking Duck with all the theatrics in Beijing. By the end of our 5 course menu we were one of only two occupied tables in the restaurant since everyone else had finished up. We had been eating for just over two hours, arriving a little before 8pm and finishing up after 10pm. It honestly didn’t feel like we had been there for anywhere near that long! The service that we received from our waitress Karen was outstanding from the moment we walked into NuNu to the moment we left. Our water glasses were never empty, for each dish she gave us a run down of what it was as it was placed in front of us, she always had a friendly smile on her face and she even managed to get MS’ quirky sense of humour (a struggle for some). Her service was attentive without being intrusive on our intimate evening together. Dining at such a classy restaurant I was expecting very small portion sizes with an emphasis on presentation rather than content and even partly expected to be hungry at the end of the night. Man was I wrong. The portion sizes were perfect for each of the 5 (or 6) courses, not too little and not too big and like I said previously we were both stuffed by the end of it all. The 5 course menu for AU$95 represents amazing value for money since adding up each of the items equates to just over AU$300 if you order them individually from the Dinner Menu, plus this way you get to sample a bit of everything. Our evening at NuNu was a truly memorable one that I will never forget, not only for the food and the service but also for the company. Happy Anniversary baby x
123 Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove QLD 4879
Ph: (07) 4059 1880
Opening Hours: Mon – 11.30am till late, Tues – Closed, Wed – Fri 11.30am till late, Sat & Sun 8am till late