$17.95 Quick Lunch at Dundee’s, Cairns
(^Yes I did use the same Dundee’s photo I have already used). After hearing a few people rate the Quick Lunch Menu at Dundee’s over the last twelve months or so I decided it was about time I gave it a go. I did vow to never go to Dundee’s again after a run of crappy dinners there for various friends birthdays but I figured lunch may be a different story. Another reason I hadn’t dined at Dundee’s for lunch until recently was because I expected the meals to be too small to satisfy my rather large hunger pangs (turns out I was right and wrong). Dundee’s have a $17.50 Quick Lunch Menu available from 11.30am till 4.30pm Mon – Fri, $21.95 Sat & Sun. The whole 5 hours, 7 days a week thing is certainly something I must commend them on since most Cairns lunch specials are only available Monday to Friday and up until around 2.30pm. I almost always manage to miss the 2-2.30pm cutoff for lunch so MS and I end up scouting around for somewhere to have a late lunch sometimes ending up at the Crepe place at Cairns Central because we are out of ideas (or Crape as they like to spell it). Since my first Quick Lunch at Dundee’s just before Christmas I have dined there another two times for lunch. I’ll explain the reasoning for that a little bit later…
My first lunch date was with my ex boyfriend’s parents BC and JC whom I have remained close with since my relationship with NC ended just over 5 years ago. Some people might think it’s a little weird that I still ‘hang out’ with my ex’s parents on occasion but I don’t really mind because the relationship ended on good terms and I also think they are cool to hang out with – NC now lives in Perth and no we don’t keep in touch. On the plus side MS doesn’t seem to mind either however he does find it a little odd that BC and JC want to have us over for dinner one night. Something we are yet to do but fine with me since JC cooks the best goddamn Steak Diane I have ever had. Enough about my ex and let’s talk about Dundee’s.
So BC, JC and I ended up at Dundee’s on a Saturday afternoon for lunch. We walked in and took up a seat near the back of the restaurant. One of the female waitresses came over and poured us some water and handed out some menu’s while we chatted. There is a selection of 11 dishes to choose from in total with pretty much something for everyone from Pasta, to Seafood to Steak Burgers and Salads. I must admit I was quite happy with the menu and there was certainly more than one dish that I wanted to try. I do however think that there were too many Pasta Dishes on the menu with 5 out the 11 dishes being pasta. I guess it is a ‘Quick Lunch’ menu and what’s quicker to whip up than pasta? BC decided to go with the Steak Burger – Char Grilled Rib Fillet, Fresh Grated Beetroot, Roma Tomato, Balsamic Onion, Swiss Cheese, Lettuce and Paw Paw Chutney in a Toasted Turkish Roll with Chips and Smokey BBQ Sauce. JC went with the Fish and Chips with Aioli Dipping Sauce and although I really wanted Chips and Bread with my lunch I figured since Christmas was only a few days away I would choose a less stodgy option so I went for the Calamari Rocket and Apple Salad which was Calamari Coated in Dundee’s Special Seasoning, Lightly Fried and Served with Tom Yum Mayo and Rocket and Shredded Apple Salad. Prior to ordering this I asked the waitress if the Calamari was local to which she replied that she didn’t know but she would find out. She returned not long after and assured me that the Calamari was indeed local squid. Ok then.
BC, JC and I continued chatting away after our lunch orders were taken whilst exchanging Christmas and birthday gifts (I had celebrated my 21st birthday only a few days before, haha). After about 15 minutes another waitress returned to confirm our order because apparently it had been confused with someone else’s. She assured us that our meals were not too far away. We waited about another 10 minutes and our meals finally arrived. So much for the whole ‘Quick Lunch Special’. Maybe they ought to change it to simply the ‘Lunch Special’? (Sorry about the shitty photos in the post. They either turned out crap or I forgot to take them altogether).
So onto the food… I was extremely surprised at the size of the lunches placed in front of us. BC’s Steak Burger and Chips was huge and looked absolutely delicious giving me a pang of food jealousy. The Onion Rings on top looked so good I was hoping he would offer me one but he didn’t *sad face*.JC’s Fish and Chips was also very large with Crispy Golden Pieces of Battered Fish presented ever so stylishly in a wire rack on top of a large serving of Golden Chips. My Calamari and Rocket Salad was also very large. So much for the small lunch serves that I was expecting because these serving sizes were almost too big but in a good way… My tender Calamari was piled high on my plate next to a delicious crisp Rocket and Apple salad. It was some of the best Calamari I have eaten in a very long time! The three of us really enjoyed our meals and I couldn’t fault any of it except for a few minor mishaps with the service. We finished our meals and said our goodbyes after a good 1.5 hours of chatting and I went home to MS and told him how I couldn’t wait to take him there. Lunch #2
The next time around MS, myself and my good friend MD who was visiting for Christmas from Brisbane went to Dundee’s for lunch on Boxing Day after I had talked it up to the two of them. We arrived to a pretty much empty restaurant and were seated by a very friendly young man that seemed pleased that he had a group of English speaking diners. Apparently Christmas Day had been a very busy day for Dundee’s especially for Chinese and Japanese diners. I asked if there would be a surcharge on our bill since it was a Public Holiday to which the waiter replied that there wasn’t. Something I was most surprised about and apparently they don’t have Public Holiday Surcharges any time of the year. Nice.
We all had a look over the menu and MS being true to form with his current phase of ‘bulking’ or as I call it ‘his excuse to eat whatever the hell he wants’s ordered a pasta dish. He ordered the Bacon and Mushroom Linguine which was Sauteed Bacon, Mushroom and Baby Spinach in a White Wine and Creamy Sauce Finished with Green Eschallots. He ordered Chicken with it as well and was told by the waiter that it would be an extra $5 for chicken. Hmm I guess that is reasonable.
MD, feeling just as crap as me with our post Christmas physique’s, went for a more healthier option and ordered the Roast Sweet Potato and Artichoke Salad from the Entree section of the Main Menu with an extra of Chicken as well. The Roast Sweet Potato and Artichoke Salad came with Red Peppers, Bocconcini and Baby Spinach coated with a light dressing and Toasted Pine Nuts for AU$17.50 (the same as the Quick Lunch Menu but then with an added AU$5 for the chicken).
After overlooking it the last time I dined at Dundee’s with BC and JC and developing a bit of a penchant for Baby Octopus at a pre Christmas BBQ I decided to order the Octopus Salad – BBQ Marinated Octopus tossed in a salad of Sweet Onions, Roast Red Pepper, Black Olives and Wild Rocket with Crumbled Feta. I swapped the Roast Red Pepper for Sundried Tomato since Capsicum is another item on the short list of things that I don’t like to eat along with Celery and (sometimes) Onion. While we waited for our meals to arrive we made small talk about the Boxing Day bargains that MD and I had bought with our Christmas Gift Cards and how our dedication to being at Cairns Central at 8.30am had paid off and meant that we weren’t caught up in the horrendous Boxing Day crowds, particularly at Myer. We also had a laugh about all the silly girls waiting in huge lines to try on clothes in the Miss Shop area while just across the way MD and I had free reign over the children’s dressing rooms with arm fulls of clothes to try on.
There weren’t many people dining at Dundee’s on Boxing Day so we got our meals fairly quickly, only about 10-15 minutes of waiting. Our meals arrived and I could tell that my two dining companions weren’t impressed with the food that I had talked up over the last few days. MS’ Bacon and Mushroom Linguine just looked like it had been slopped into the bowl. The linguine was overcooked, the presentation was poor and MS wasn’t sure if there was even extra chicken in the dish. After careful inspection and calling over the waiter he was assured that yes there was chicken in there somewhere. A little disappointing considering he paid an extra $5 for it. He did eat the whole thing but said it was pretty disappointing.MD’s Roast Sweet Potato and Artichoke Salad was ridiculously small with her loudly questioning how small it would have been if she hadn’t ordered the extra chicken to go with it. I tended to agree with her and although it did sound nice on the menu I was glad I didn’t order it. Though in Dundee’s defense she did order it from the Entree Menu. MD ate her salad but I could tell that she wasn’t happy and I felt bad that I had suggested to go to Dundee’s in the first place. My Octopus Salad was at the opposite end of the scale and I really enjoyed it. There was plenty of Octopus in the Salad, something I was a little wary of when ordering it. The salad was crisp with just the right amount of dressing, nice juicy sundried tomatoes and the sweet onions really topped it off. Well that’s 1 out of 3 meals that were good however my other two dining companions were not so happy with my meal and I think MD was starting to wonder if I really knew anywhere good to eat in town at all since our last lunch date at Mondo a few weeks before was truly disgusting. Lunch #3
The week after Christmas my mum, sister and a friend of ours went to Dundee’s for lunch after a suggestion from me. Mum wanted to go to Splash but I really wanted to test the waters again and try and get a final yay or nay with my so far 1 for 1 lunches at Dundee’s. We grabbed a table for four and had a look over the menu’s. Our friend VF being a non adventurous diner decided to order the Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli while my mum ordered the Cajun Ocean Trout – Ocean Trout Spiced with Cajun Spice on a Wild Rocket, Avocado, Tomato and Red Onion Salad with Dill Creme Fraiche Dressing. My sister (TW) ordered the Calamari Rocket and Apple Salad that I had a couple of lunches ago and I ordered the Roast Duck Spring Rolls – Shredded Roast Duck, Rice Noodles and Mixed Julienne Vegetables Rolled in Spring Roll Pastry with Chilli, Lime and Coriander Dipping Sauce and Asian Coleslaw.
Dundee’s was unsurprisingly busy for lunch time on a Friday but our meals arrived relatively quickly and all together which is always nice. My mum was instantly disappointed at the size of her Cajun Ocean Trout. It was so small that she contemplated taking it back but then decided that she would just eat it. (My mum’s New Years resolution should be to speak up for herself). In the end she enjoyed her Trout and decided that it was indeed enough for lunch although she wasn’t the slightest bit full however after finishing off my side of Asian Salad she was a lot more content.To my right I noticed just how small TW’s Calamari, Rocket and Apple Salad was. It was nothing like the one that I had eaten only about a week earlier. There was only half the amount of squid and half the amount of salad that I had on my plate when I had ordered it. TW was no doubt disappointed with the size of her meal as was I. Although I did breathe a sigh of relief that I didn’t order it and went with the Spring Rolls. She enjoyed the squid and the salad but she wanted more. VF’s Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli was a generous serve of fluffy pillows full of ricotta-y goodness and swimming in Napoli Sauce, just like any pasta should be. I was hoping that she would offer me a taste but alas she did not so I just had to sit and watch while inhaling the sweet smell of my friends lunch across the table. Again, I really enjoyed my lunch. The Duck Spring Rolls were crisp and golden and the dipping sauce was perfectly suited. I cut TW off half of a Spring Roll to try and her response was ‘That’s really good’, and she was right but I don’t think they actually tasted like duck nor did I really see any evidence of duck inside. I ate half of the generous serve of Asian Slaw on the side while my mum still starving from her Cajun Trout polished off the rest. I was so eager to eat my lunch that I actually failed to get a photo of my Roasted Duck Spring Rolls. Whoops.
That’s two out of two meals that were disappointing on conclusion of my third lunch within a couple of weeks at Dundee’s. I wrote about my experience on Trip Advisor under the ‘guise’ of foodvixen around a week ago, along with about 13 other restaurants in Cairns. I was inboxed the next day from the Dundee’s Managing Director apologising for my bad dining experience and offering me a Gift Voucher to make up for it. If I accepted she wanted to know the date of when I would be dining there so she could follow through with the ‘front line staff’. I wrote back and pretty much said thanks but no thanks. It was a nice offer but I wasn’t going to accept a Gift Voucher to dine at Dundee’s again although my sister said she was happy to accept it on my behalf (sorry TW not this time). Also, the front line staff should be up to standard any day and every day not just the day that they were expecting me. It was a nice gesture though.
I dined at Dundee’s for lunch three separate times over two weeks during the Christmas period and each time my fellow diners were left disappointed with their meals. I noticed a total lack of consistency each time between the meals that were served particularly in regards to the serving size. The service still continues to be well below par with up to four waitresses/waiters serving you at once – resulting in our order being misplaced on the first occasion and the staff knowing little to nothing about the food being served by the restaurant they are working in. After my first lunch at Dundee’s a few days before Christmas I was super impressed with the meals and the value for money that the Quick Lunch Special offered so much so that I took my two friends for lunch only a few days later. As a result I was left disappointed and annoyed that I took them there. The third occasion was as I said ‘just to make sure’ it wasn’t all a fluke and to be honest, it seems all a bit hit and miss to me. Some days are good, some days are bad, some meals are good and some meals are bad. I want to like Dundee’s I really do but unfortunately I am going to have a hard time convincing my lunch buddies to go there again.
Dundee’s Restaurant on the Waterfront
*Quick lunch specials $17.95 Mon – Fri, $21.95 Sat, Sun and Public Holidays 11.30am – 4.30pm*
Cairns Harbour Lights, 1 Marlin Pde, Cairns QLD 4870
Opening Hours: Lunch 11.30am – 4.30pm, Dinner from 5.30pm till late
Ph: (07) 4051 0399