Bazaar, Port Douglas
After our woeful Good Friday Seafood Buffet and a waste of a cheat meal for MS and I we were looking for somewhere new to indulge the week after. I had also organised catchups with a friend, AL, that couldn’t make the Good Friday catchups (just his luck) plus a couple more that did. Since I had made such a shitty choice the week before the pressure was on for me to choose somewhere good that we (I) hadn’t been to before. Wanting to stick to the buffet theme so we could all get our money’s worth and so MS and I could eat ourselves stupid I came up with Bazaar in Port Douglas at the QT Resort. I had randomly stumbled across an article about it a few months earlier and after reading up on it Bazaar was on my list of “to do” restaurants in the Far North. Although I didn’t think that my friends would be willing to make the hour and a bit journey to Port and then back again just to go for dinner I asked anyway and slap my ass and call me foodvixen, they agreed! To say that I was excited was an understatement. Nothing gets me more excited than food. Nothing. Except maybe buffets. Yep, still food.
So I called up and made a booking with the restaurant for six people a day earlier. The lovely man on the other end of the phone asked if we had ever been to Bazaar before to which I replied ‘no’. He then said ‘Well you are in for a treat. Make sure you bring your appetite!’ As I hung up the phone I did a little dance in front of MS. He is used to me getting super excited over food. Unfortunately he never really shares my enthusiasm for food and likes to think of it more as fuel for his body. Pfft whatever, who even says that? I was hoping that he would get excited when we actually got there. And boy did he excited! Along with the rest of us when we were greeted by the waitress at the entrance to Bazaar. The first thing you notice is how visually pleasing the place is. The chef’s station is in the middle of three large food stations behind which is a huge double fridge with glass doors filled to the brim with fresh produce on display. Bazaar at the QT Resort in Port Douglas is the sister restaurant to a popular Gold Coast joint with the same name and is a re-creation of the traditional marketplace with a 21st century twist (yep I pulled that straight off the website).
After introductions we were given a detailed ‘tour’ of the buffet by our friendly waitress who for once seemed to be actually happy to be there (a mean feat for a Far North Qld restaurant no?) At the first station there was a selection of cold meats, cheese and salads (I saw MS’ eyes light up at the large wheel of brie or camembert laid out in the centre just waiting for him to eat it). The second station was the fresh seafood station with mounds of mussels in the shell, spanner crab, oysters and prawns. Around the bend from that was the hot selection with a few classic dishes like Osso Bucco, Beef Cheeks, Eggplant Parmigiana and some sort of Asian inspired dish right down the end. The waitress told us that the hot station changed regularly with inclusions such as Pork Ribs and Lamb Shanks to name the only two things I can remember her saying. I was too captivated by the sights, smells and sounds around me to pay close attention. Then lastly was the dessert station filled with Macaroons, Chocolate Tarts, Lamingtons and so much more! Doesn’t sound like much? Yeah I know but I forgot the best part. The best part about the buffet at Bazaar is that they also have an a la carte section where they make many dishes to order – sirloin steak, salmon fillets, wood-fired pizzas, tasting platters (more on that in a minute), dumplings, BBQ pork buns and pasta (all included in the AU$65). You simply head on up to the hot food station and have a word to one of the two friendly chefs about what you want to eat and how you want it cooked! I was already well aware of this having done my research before asking my friends to make the journey to Port and ensuring that we weren’t going to be disappointed. My friends however weren’t really aware of this part of the deal and their tongues nearly fell out of their mouths when they realised the true proportions of the epic feast we were about to embark on.
The waitress then showed us to a table down on the lower deck and without further adieu (we didn’t even sit down) we headed straight for the buffet. Myself? I headed for the cheese and salad bar first, hastily followed by the fresh seafood station. I must admit that after my crab experience the week before I was a little off crab so I loaded my plate with mussels, oysters and prawns and sat myself back down at the table where I was soon joined by the rest of the group, all of whom had managed to pile a plate high with whatever tickled their fancy. I had helped myself to quite a large portion of heavenly Gorgonzola Cheese from the 1st station, because lets face it, cheese is nothing without mold on it! The salads were delicious and fresh and didn’t taste like they had been sitting there all day. My absolute favourite would have to be the marinated eggplant. It was so yummy, even LL commented on how good it was. All in all there was probably about seven different salads to choose from, no boring pasta salads or sh*tty garden salads to waste your time with. These salads were full of colour, herbs and spices and had obviously been well planned out. Cudos to the chef’s at Bazaar.
Moving onto the seafood, I’ll start with the mussels first. Wow! I haven’t seen such large mussels in like forever! These mussels were enormous and even LL and ER were gushing over their size and how delicious they were. According to the waitress who seemed to know her sh*t they were from Tasmania. They were large and meaty with a mild saltiness to them. I couldn’t get enough of them and between the mussels and the oysters I ate plate-loads of the slippery little suckers (whoops wrong type of seafood). Next up the prawns were also beautiful and fresh. Not the biggest prawns in the world but still a good size to peel and dip into a little seafood sauce. YUM! Lastly was the oysters, which were Pacific Oysters from Coffin Bay in South Australia the waitress informed us as she cleared our scrap bowls away and replaced them with new ones (without us asking might I add). I’m gonna go out on another limb here and say that these are probably some of the best oysters that I have ever eaten. I think I only got one oyster with a little bit of grit in it, the rest were just to die for. The plump delicate oyster meat with a small squeeze of fresh lemon over the top just melted in my mouth. These oysters really were something special and again LL and ER commented on how frigin fantastic they were and also agreed they were some of the best oysters they had ever eaten. That’s plate number one for me, back for round two.
In the meantime next to me MS had ordered a whole supreme pizza with extra Chorizo and a Sirloin Steak cooked medium as well as a Tasting Platter for the table to share (because that’s what you do with a tasting platter isn’t it?) In the meantime (while he waited for his pizza and steak) MS hoed into the hot selection of Beef Cheeks and Osso Bucco as well as a huge lump of cheese and dried apricots. Around the table a few more people had ordered Sirloin’s and Salmon Fillets. Someone also put in an order for dumplings and BBQ pork buns to be brought over as well. I had no idea where we were going to fit all this food but one thing I did know is that I was sure as hell going to try. The ‘made to order’ dishes only took about 10 minutes to arrive at our table – you didn’t have to go up to the buffet to get it, it was brought to your table. MS said his steak was excellent. Put it this way he ate two that night and the only reason he didn’t have a third was because he was too full by the end of it. AR, a friend of AL’s up from Sydney for the week, ate three Salmon Fillets over the course of the evening and declared them to be the best Salmon Fillet’s he had ever eaten. Big call but he was chuffed. To my right ER also said that her Salmon was cooked to perfection as she tried to protect it from being stolen off her plate by LL who also gave it two thumbs up. MS’ demolished his pizza, saving a slice for me. It was thin-based and crispy with plenty of yummy toppings scattered over the top. If I had a bigger stomach I would have gotten a pizza but alas I wanted to forgo the bread for a bowl of pasta.
I went up and asked one of the friendly chefs to make me a bowl of pasta. He asked me what I liked and I told him to surprise me but not to put any Capsicum or Celery in it (I know what you are saying, “No one puts celery in pasta”, yeah well smartass my mum does so best to be on the safe-side then isn’t it?) I opted for a rose base with a little bit of tomato and a little bit of cream. He said he would bring it out to me very soon and I moved back along to the seafood and the cheese and salad station piling my plate high with another serve of oysters and mussels with a little bit (okay a huge chunk) of gorgonzola on the side. Damn you moldy cheese! Why do you have to taste so good?! About five minutes passed and the chef approached our table to confirm what I would like in my pasta. Would I like asparagus, how about bacon, some chorizo even? Yes, yes and hell yes! I’ll have all of those thank you to which he returned to the ‘kitchen’ finish off my pasta dish with a little bit more confidence about what I wanted. Another 5 minutes and a large bowl of creamy, tomato-ey pasta was laid out in front of me. The chef said that he had made a little extra in case I wanted to share it with the table. Well I didn’t ‘want’ to share it with the table but my stomach said otherwise and was fast approaching the full mark (or as my dad likes to say ‘pussy’s bow’, I don’t know must be an old person thing). A couple of my fellow diners happily helped themselves to my large bowl of pasta and we all agreed it was delicious and full of flavour with plenty of extras mixed through like sundried tomato and that crispy chorizo that I was so excited about.
In between all this kerfuffle over creamy pasta, delicate oysters and mussels the size of hub caps our Tasting Platter, dumplings and BBQ Pork Buns arrived. The dumplings were pork and some sort of vegetarian one that the waitress said was edamame (I think she was wrong but she can think that if she likes). They were lovely but the outer casing was a little too thick for my liking and took over from the taste of the savoury inside a little too much. We didn’t end up eating them all. As for the BBQ Pork Buns they were demolished and I may or may not have had three all to myself. Let’s be honest here though you can’t really stuff up a pork bun. At least I don’t think you can. The Tasting Platter had one bite sized morsel of three different things for the six of us including BBQ’d Scallops (without the roe *sad face*), Zucchini’s Stuffed with Bacon and Mushrooms with Thyme and Parmesan Cheese. We passed the platter around until we had a gotten our share apart from MS who gave me his scallop to eat much to my delight. It was an almost unanimous decision that the BBQ’d Scallops were the best followed closely by the soft and slightly crispy mushrooms. The Stuffed Zucchinis were nice but not the greatest I don’t think.
Lastly, it was time to hit the dessert bar, since I had little to no room left in my stomach I had to do it quickly so AL and I headed over to scope it out. I grabbed five bite sized desserts after colluding with AL about what was what and we sat back down to devour our sweet choices. I chose a pink macaroon, a chocolate tart, a lemon slice, a chocolate cupcake and some sort of biscuit with what I think was pecans in it. I didn’t really like the macaroon, I think it might have been strawberry flavour and just not my cup of tea. Also the lemon slice was a little too tart for my little taste-buds (but AL seemed to think it was nice). The other three were excellent though the standout had to be the pecan cookie. It was extra crumbly and literally melted in my mouth plus it was the only dessert that I convinced myself I had enough room to have a second one of. After that I was so stuffed ER and I sat there groaning too afraid to even have a sip of water for fear of pushing ourselves ‘over the edge’ of fullness. I wanted to eat more but I just couldn’t fit it in.
We sat there for another 20 minutes or so chatting and waiting for our food to subside a little before realising that we had to drive all the way back to Cairns on a windy road. MS joked that he would be making plenty of sudden movements in the car to aid us with our digestion. Yay. We made our way to the counter to pay and after thanking the chefs, waitresses and host for a lovely evening we made our way back through the lobby towards the car park admiring QT’s own Mini Moke parked near the front entrance. I’d love a Mini Moke but they really look like death traps. My friends commended me on choosing Bazaar and admitted they were a little concerned after our last encounter at the ‘Buffet of Death’ (aka Canecutters). Each of them said they really enjoyed the meal from beginning to end and also remarked on the quality of the food that Bazaar had on offer. To be honest I really loved the variety. The service was excellent with our scrap bowls and empty plates cleared regularly and without any prompting from us. Each of the waitstaff and the chefs seemed genuinely happy to be there, always had a smile on their face and were happy to help with any queries that we had. One of the chefs even made LL a wasabi paste with wasabi powder since they didn’t have any wasabi paste on hand to go with his oysters. Mixing some powder up probably takes about 3 seconds but I thought that was still pretty cool.
There are only two things that I can fault Bazaar on: 1) The lack of labels on the food. I am sure that the buffet was designed that way but none of the food had any labels so if you are like me and lack any form of concentration what-so-ever or things go in one ear and out the other then most of the time you had no idea what you were actually looking at. Okay that’s an exaggeration but labels certainly go a long way in helping you choose exactly what you want to eat. For an example, was that cheese brie or camembert? How will I ever know? These are the first world problems that keep me awake at night. 2) There were quite a few mozzies around the places, probably because the restaurant is located literally on top of a large pond. They didn’t bother me but a couple of my friends had to borrow some insect repellant from the bar to spray themselves with. A little disconcerting when you know there is a bit of a dengue outbreak in the Far North at the moment. For you Cairns folk, Bazaar is most certainly worth the drive or you could even stay the night at the uber cool boutique resort that is QT. I am looking forward to my next Bazaar visit for breakfast on Mother’s Day, which is sure to be another epic feast of monstrous portions. Just look for the brunette in the baggy pants with an expandable waistband piling her plate high and stuffing her face.
87 – 109 Port Douglas Rd, Port Douglas QLD 4877
Ph: (07) 40 998900
Opening Hours: 7 days, Breakfast 6.30am – 10.30am, Dinner 6pm – 9.30pm