Perotta’s At The Gallery, Cairns
I’ve been to Perotta’s At The Gallery a million and one times for breakfast and lunch but I’ve only been there once for dinner way back in about 2004. After a long day in transit on my way home from the NT capital, MS picked me up at the airport and after deciding that neither of us wanted to cook – who am I kidding MS doesn’t cook! – we headed to Perotta’s for dinner. With my Entertainment Book Gold Card offering me ‘buy one get one free’ main meals I figured now was a good a time as any to try out the dinner menu.
The place was about ½ full when we arrived so we chose a seat near the entrance closest to the lagoon. We ordered wine to celebrate the first time seeing each other in 4 weeks and had a squiz at the menus. The menu at Perotta’s has something to suit most people with plenty of variety and not just your standard run of the mill boring dishes. My go to dish when I go there for lunch is the Chilli Salt Squid Salad and although that is featured on the dinner menu I figured it might be time to branch out.
To start with we ordered the Garlic Bruschetta with Fresh Ricotta, Mint and Calabrian Chilli (AU$9) and the Burrata Caprese with Heirloom Tomato, Watermelon, Rocket Pesto and Raspberry Vinegar (AU$21). MS asked me what Burrata was and thinking I was all sophisticated and smart I told him that it was a type of Cured Italian Meat. Boy did we get a surprise when it the Burrata arrived at our table a short while later – a good surprise though! Turns out Bresaola is the Italian Cured Meat that I’d gotten confused with and Burrata is actually an Italian Cheese. Pfft I totally knew that.
In all honesty the Garlic Bruschetta wasn’t really anything to write home about but it was actually perfect for mopping up the last bits of Burrata and Rocket Pesto. I’m normally hesitant to eat watermelon since I was a little kid and my dad told me a watermelon vine was going to grow in my stomach after I swallowed a seed. Thanks dad, way to scar me for life and now I absolutely refuse to eat any type of grape (unless in wine) or watermelon (even the ‘seedless’ variety). The Burrata with juicy Heirloom Tomatoes was a beautiful and tasty dish that we both enjoyed. It was a great start to the night – I highly recommend this one.
Next up for our mains MS had ordered the Pork Spare Ribs with Fennel, Apple Cider Vinegar and Pickled Pineapple (AU$37) which came with a big bowl of chips and I had the 8 Hour Lamb Shoulder, 3 Wheat Salad, Almond, Mint, Pomegranate and Spicy Cumin Yogurt (AU$36).
MS’ Pork Spare Ribs were literally falling off the bone – the way ribs should be IMO – and were covered in a delicious tangy glaze. The Pickled Pineapple was nice but needed to be pickled just that little bit longer. We both thought the serving size was a little bit small for $37 but MS was pretty full by the time he polished them off.
My 8 Hour Lamb Shoulder was super tasty albeit a little on the small side for the price ($36). The added crunchy strips of bacon/pancetta/prosciutto whatever the hell it was really added to the dish. Despite the size of the dish I actually struggled to finish it. I find rich cuts of meat like Lamb Shoulder, Lamb Shanks and Beef Cheeks fill me up really quick and I can’t eat a whole lot although I want to. Give me Garlic Bread however and I can eat that carby goodness till the cows come home! We wanted to stick around for dessert especially after I spotted the Eton Mess on the Dessert Menu (the only one I know of in town) but we just couldn’t fit it in.
It’s got to be the number one place in Cairns for people watching – with wine of course! The wait staff are very friendly and professional, in fact it’s consistently one of the better places in Cairns in terms of service (something Cairns is usually lacking in). I do find that the food, particularly the mains, are a little expensive for what you get and this is something that seems to be reiterated in other online reviews I’ve read. Nearly 20 years of good food and service is certainly a mean feat in this small town. According to their website Perotta’s (as the locals like to call it) has been around since 1997 would you believe? Yes I was a little surprised by that too so I guess you could also call this place a bit of a Cairns institution – seems I’m using that word a lot these days.
Perotta’s At The Gallery
38 Abbott St, Cairns QLD 4870. Ph: (07) 40315899
Opening Hours: 7 days a week 6.30am – 10pm
Petit Cafe, Cairns
Have you ever wanted to try somewhere new to eat out and then arrive there only to take one look at the menu and walk out again? Well that happened to my mum and I yesterday. Unfortunately for you I’m not going to divulge any more the details or give you the name of the place I am referring to because I didn’t try their food and it might just be amazing, it was just the menu didn’t really float my boat. Lucky for me, due to my incessant hourly scrolling through Instagram I already had a backup so mum and I jumped in the car and headed straight there.
My backup lunch destination was the newly opened (as of yesterday in fact) Petit Café on Lake Street. Directly across the road from Woolworths mum and I were both blown away when we entered the schmick Sydney-esque interior with soft blue walls, IKEA type retro furniture and mirror like polished floors (although much to mums dismay no communal table).
The whole place is very ‘not Cairns’ in a very good way! The Petit Café on Lake Street is the second such branch of it’s kind in FNQ with the first one being the ever so popular (so I have heard anyway) shop in Kuranda.
Mum and I took up a table for two in the middle of the floor and had a look over their extensive menus with a page each for Traditional Crepes, Gourmet Crepes and of course Sweet Crepes. With over 30 different types of crepes on the menu it was quite a difficult choice for both of us, even mum who is still – despite my initial thoughts that she would barely last 2 weeks – a vegetarian. Sorry mum!
She chose a Traditional Crepe with Creamy Goats Cheese, Homemade Onion Jam, Toasted Almonds, Cherry Tomatoes, Cheese and Spinach while after a tough choice I ended up choosing a Gourmet Crepe with Medium Rare Roast Beef, Homemade Tartar Sauce, Egg, Cherry Tomatoes, Cheese, Cornichons and Baby Spinach. Initially I did think that the prices were a little high – a couple of the Gourmet Crepes are around the $23 mark I instantly changed my mind when I saw the sheer size of the things and the generous toppings.
Mum’s Traditional Crepe came out pizza style whilst mine was folded up a little like a calzone. I’m going to try and keep this short and sweet because there’s not a whole lot that needs to be said other than both of our crepes were absolutely delicious. Mum thought her crepe had a few too many almonds on it but I tasted it and disagreed with her.
My egg was runny and the homemade tartar sauce along with the cornichons gave my Gourmet Crepe a lovely zing! It was so big that I was in fact full for the rest of the afternoon but I am looking forward to my next visit to try the Kangaroo Prosciutto Crepe and of a course one of their amazing sounding Sweet Crepes – and yes of course they have Nutella Crepes for those of you that were wondering!
Attentive service, knockout decor, beautiful fresh ingredients and crepes made with love I have absolutely no doubt that it’s going to be on for young and old at the newly opened Petit Café.
Lake St, Cairns
Opening Hours: 7 days 7.30am – 3.30pm
Eating Ourselves Stupid in Tasmania – Hobart (Part 2)
Last but not least … My fourth and final post about my foodie adventures in Tasmania. The next morning we woke bright and early for our trip back to Hobart. We were served a lovely home cooked breakfast in the cosy front room of the Freycinet Waters BnB overlooking the Great Oyster Bay. MS turned his nose up in disgust when our host Karen asked if we wanted some black pudding with our breakfast fare but I happily obliged. What was yesterday a beautiful sunny day was now a miserable wet and windy day but we had no plans to be outside just yet. An hour later we said goodbye to our Freycinet Waters hosts and were on the road headed to Hobart.
We didn’t get far down the road – say about 8 minutes – before we spotted Kate’s Berry Farm to our right. Stopping at a berry farm was non-negotiable so we turned off the main road and drove up to Kate’s for our second (shared) breakfast of Mixed Berry Pancakes on the patio.
Kate’s Berry Farm is perched up the top of the hill overlooking Swansea with more breathtaking views of the Great Oyster Bay and Kate herself is an absolutely delightful lady. We spent a small fortune on chocolate covered berries to take home for loved ones and also snack on in the car for driving sustenance.
Back on the road again we passed some absolutely stunning scenery and out of all the roads we travelled on our short stay in Tassie we both found the road from Swansea to Orford to be the most breathtaking and picturesque route of our journey. All up the drive back to Hobart took just over 2 hours which included two toilet stops for me and MS driving in the wrong direction as he came across the Tasman Bridge (twice) resulting in the one and only argument of our 5 day driving tour of Tasmania. I then gave him the silent treatment for the next hour.
Being lunchtime I took heed of the words of my Foodvixen followers and we made a beeline straight for Hobart bakery institution Jackman and McRoss for a bite to eat. Most of the parking nearby is permit only but being a Sunday we took the risk. As the sign out the front says “bakers of fine breads, cakes and pastries” and damn they weren’t kidding.
Upon entering J&MR we were met with the smell of freshly baked delights and cabinets of mouth-watering sweet and savoury goods.
As well as a ‘takeaway’ section Jackman and McRoss has a dining room which is exactly where MS and I parked ourselves for lunch.
The dining room was packed and there was a steady stream of people stopping in to take some treats home with them. What surprised me the most was how reasonable the prices were with everything on the specials board being no more than about $14.
After the great despair of finding out that they had run out of Scallop and Wakame Pies I settled for the second best offer of Pulled Pork Fillet in Roti Bread with Kale and Veg Vermicelli and Smoked Cherry Mayo for AU$12.50 while MS, the fatty, ordered a Meat Pie and the Lamb Rack Topped with Herbed Lemon Crust on a Stone Fruit and Salted Balsamic Tart for a mere AU$13.50. The Meat Pie was good but it had nothing on the one I had at JK’s in Ingham plus I wanted scallops godammit.
We waited a little longer than we both would have liked but in the meantime we buried the hatchet of our fight earlier that day caused by MS’ shitty driving and actually began to talk to each other again. The Pulled Pork Fillet Roti thing, which for some reason I didn’t get a photo of, was divine although I did find the filling a little on the sweet side.
MS decided that the Lamb Rack was a little too rare for his liking despite me insisting that was how it was supposed to be and instead helped himself to my Pulled Pork Roti. It was quite a large serving so I didn’t mind sharing it just this once.
We returned to our car just over an hour later and were pleasantly surprised to find that it hadn’t been towed. For something less food orientated we did a one hour tour of the harbour with Hobart Historic Cruises onboard the ‘Emmalisa’. It wasn’t nearly as flashy as the fandangle camouflaged cat that hurriedly ferries tourists across the Derwent to and from MONA but this boat had plenty of ‘character’. MS confessed he was a little concerned that it wasn’t particularly sea worthy but I assured him I had been on far less sea worthy boats in my time and the Emmalisa certainly wasn’t one of them. Again I feel like a dumba** that I didn’t get a photo of our Titanic BUT I did get a photo of the MONA cat.
With only four ‘tourists’ onboard, including us, the hour long tour took us past Salamanca Place and the CSIRO Marine Laboratories with their newly commissioned and impressive ship the ‘RV Investigator’ docked out the front, then onwards past the million dollar homes at Battery and Sandy Point, Bellerive, Kangaroo Bay and back to Franklin Wharf for an absolute steal of only AU$20 per person.
The commentary by the Captain was informative and entertaining and MS and I both really enjoyed the cruise although for us one hour was enough.
After our high sea adventures we were both famished – no not really but we ate anyway. We ended up across the road at new Hobart pleaser Frank – from the same people that run Smolt. Earlier that day I had tried in vain to get a booking at Frank for the evening but alas they were all booked out. Shock horror I would have to forgo a meal at a South American influenced restaurant whose menu I had already perused online so we went there for an afternoon ‘snack’.
MS and I took a seat adjacent to the front window just in time to see the Australian ice breaker ‘Aurora Australis’ coming into port. From the Frank menu I ordered the Prawn, Scallop and White Fish Ceviche, Leche De Tigre (AU$21) washed down with a glass of Smolt Pinot Noir 2013 from Tasmania.
MS who is undoubtedly always that much more hungry that I am ordered the Entrana – inside skirt steak with chimichurri and salsa picante (AU$32) and the Charred Sweet Potato, Goat’s Curd, Muddled Almonds, Garlic and Coriander to share (AU$11).
I found the Ceviche to be pretty ‘meh’. More flavour would have been a treat but I think I had built the whole dish up a little too much by drooling over pictures of it on Instagram a few days before.
MS’ steak was certainly better than you’re average steak but the real star of the meal for both of us was the Charred Sweet Potato. I only yesterday wrote to the Gourmet Traveller recipe request section to see if they will publish the recipe because this dish was simply sensational. In fact I would go as far to say that it’s one of the best things I think I have ever put in this big mouth of mine.
Fast forward a few hours (after a nap and some more tennis) and we were dressed and on our way to dinner at Tassie favourite Smolt – another restaurant recommended to me by some of my readers. We couldn’t get a booking but decided we would try out luck with a walk in. Things were coming up Milhouse for our last meal in Tassie we managed to snavel ourselves an intimate table for two down the back of the Italian eating house.
More wine and cider ensued with a complimentary starter of fresh baked bread with olive oil and balsamic for dipping. The flavour of the olive oil was exceptional – so much so that I went straight to Victor’s to find my own dipping oil upon returning home. We had the Jamon Croquettes with Smoked Peppers and Aioli for entree and then backed it up with a couple of pizzas as our main.
The White Anchovy, Olive, Calamari, Watercress, Bechamel and Reggiano Pizza came up trumps for me because as some of you may know I’m a sucker for anchovies (and pickles) while MS loves the sausage so he chose the pizza with Pork Sausage, Chorizo, Chilli, Red Onion, Peppers, Lemon and Reggiano (both AU$25.90). The service at Smolt was excellent and the atmosphere was laid back yet sophisticated plus neither of us could fault the food – I can’t recommend that place enough if you’re in Hobart.
Well there you have it… our trip to Tasmania in a nutshell – or should I say about 1500 words (this post). I’ve travelled overseas and around our beautiful country many times but I can put my hand on my heart and say that Tasmania has been one of my absolute favourite destinations. In the short time that MS and I spent down there we barely scratched the surface of all the things to see and do (and of course eat) in the Apple Isle. MS enjoyed the place so much that he wants to move there permanently. In a state where Scallop Pies are the norm, there’s a vineyard on nearly every corner, world famous oysters, award winning cheeses and cherries are the size of a baby’s fist it’s no wonder that Tasmania was just named in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Regions to visit in 2015.
Eating Ourselves Stupid in Tasmania – Hobart (Part 1)
No longer a ’20 something chick who likes to eat out in and around Cairns’ I recently celebrated my 30th birthday and MS who knows the way to my heart (food and travel) took me to Tasmania a couple of weeks ago to celebrate. Having travelled to Tassie a few times to attend the Maritime College in Launceston and Beauty Point for various work courses I hadn’t actually had the opportunity to spend any ‘leisurely’ time down there until now.
With jaw dropping scenery, a thriving food culture built on a diverse range of produce, a plethora of vineyards selling some of the finest drops of pinot noir you’re likely to ever taste, excellent roads and sh*tloads of native roadkill it’s easy to see why Tasmania has been named in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Regions to travel to in 2015. For such a small state there is much to see and do in Tasmania and in an ideal world two weeks would be a perfect amount of time to spend there however due to work schedules and upcoming surgical procedures (no I am not getting a boob job) five days in Tassie was all we could muster.
We flew in and out of Hobart via Melbourne on Jetstar, somehow managed to bypass the Jetstar baggage Nazi’s for the entire trip down and back to Cairns. I must have just been lucky because my carry on was 8.5kg before I even left home – slightly above the 7kg allowance. We picked up our rental and headed into the city to our room at the Travelodge on Macquarie Street. Clean simple rooms around the $120 a night mark within good walking distance to pretty much everything and most importantly Salamanca Place is only about a 10 minute walk.
That night I had booked us in for dinner at lovacore restaurant Ethos, a place I picked after reading about in a recent issue of Gourmet Traveller. For those of you wondering what a ‘lovacore’ restaurant is according to Wikipedia it’s a ‘person that’s interested in eating food that is locally produced, not moved long distances to market’ with the term being ‘spawned as a result of interest in sustainability’. From the sounds of it we were certainly in the right place because there’s no shortage of this type of thing in Tasmania.
The restaurant itself is housed in a space over 190 years old and illustrates an important part of Hobart’s history. We were impressed from the moment we entered the arched laneway to Ethos, walking through the thriving veggie garden and onwards into the main part of the restaurant.
The menu at Ethos is determined by the seasonal produce and offerings that arrive that day therefore each day it is different. MS and I chose the 6 courses for AU$85 without wine ($160 with a wine pairing) and instead chose our own drinks from the menu. I chose a Pinot Noir from the Huon Valley while MS ever the non wine drinker chose the locally made Pagan Apple Cider.
Over the 6 courses we dined on dehydrated kingfish, rats tail radish, Bruny Island goat and bonito just to name a few things but my personal favourite was without a doubt the Egg, Asparagus, Kombu (kelp), Magentaspreen (some weird leafy vegetable) and Chickweed (another plant) dish. I know it sounds complicated but it really wasn’t. The flavour combination of the of the egg yolk, tempura asparagus and seaweed was exquisite.
The entire meal was excellent with exceptionally knowledgeable, albeit seemingly nervous staff to boot but more importantly I love eating somewhere with such an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients. It really excites me and by excited I mean the ‘gosh what’s going to happen next’ kind rather than the piss your pants kind. Before I move on I must give a mention to the house made sourdough with butter that is churned in house for a week before serving. Yes typical me, I go to an expensive restaurant and the most memorable thing for me is the bread.
The next day we headed up the road to highly recommended café Ginger Brown. I must admit we were both a little disappointed when we arrived. To put it bluntly it was an unassuming café on a random backstreet of Hobart.
I was kind of hoping to have some delightful harbour views while sipping my morning flat white but the predominantly brown vintage décor would have to do. I chose the House baked crumpets with whipped vanilla bean butter, caramelised nectarines and honey whilst MS chose the Red wine braised beef cheek omelette with sweet chilli, avocado, fried shallots and bean shoots (with a side of bacon of course).
Despite the immense ‘heaviness’ of his breakfast MS enjoyed it but couldn’t finish it, I however nearly licked my plate clean. My breakfast of House baked crumpets was in fact one of the best breakfasts I have ever had the pleasure of eating.
Next up we headed to Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) which houses the largest privately owned art collection in Australia and without going into it too much because no doubt it’s either somewhere you have already been or heard of, neither of MS or I particularly enjoyed it. Call me uneducated, call me ignorant, call me what you like but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. According to the lady at the front counter apparently peoples views on MONA are few and far between – some love it, some hate and some just leave confused. Having said that I highly recommend that anyone visiting Hobart takes a trip to MONA to see it for themselves.
Beyond the art the museum itself is very impressive having cost over $70 million to build, including a winery, a brewery and a restaurant as well as a sweet a** outdoor area where you can sit on bean bags whilst drinking wine and eating cheese. Pretty sure that right there is my lifelong dream.
At the MONA’s above ground Wine Bar (yes there is a below ground one also) MS ordered a Lemon Tart that he didn’t realise was a Lemon Tart (he sure is special sometimes) while I ordered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and some cheese and biccies to ‘nibble on’.
After our MONA visit we headed up to the top of Mt Wellington for stunning 360 degree views and if it wasn’t for little bit of cloud cover to the north I am pretty sure we could have almost seen Melbourne the views are that vast. Before we made the two hour drive to Launceston where we were booked in for the next night we drove in completely the other direction (stupidly at my request) to Peppermint Bay for a bite to eat.
The Peppermint Bay restaurant in Woodbridge was also suggested by one of my readers (thanks Bernard) as somewhere to visit and after having a look at it online I decided it was a must-do. The food there was great with an exciting lunch menu and a few specials on the board but the best part was probably the location.
The former resting place for Tassie favourite ‘The Stackings’ Peppermint Bay looks out over the pristine Tasmanian waterway towards Bruny Island where you can watch the barges making their way in and out of Hobart whilst enjoying a glass of wine and lifes simple pleasures.
Peppermint Bay would also be a fantastic place to go for dinner and drinks during winter. With the fire crackling in the background and the cold chill of the outside air pressing up against the floor to ceiling glass windows I think it would be absolute magic. Yes it’s a tough life but someone’s got to do it.
Stay tuned for my next post about Launceston and the Tamar Valley Wine Region xox
To plan your own trip to Tasmania check out the Discover Tasmania website here
The Rising Sun, Palm Cove
A couple of weekends ago I put up a post on my Facebook page not long ago asking for suggestions for a birthday breakfast out at the beaches – my birthday breakfast in fact. I received numerous suggestions from my followers and despite what the majority said I ended up booking a table at The Rising Sun at Palm Cove. I figured I had an Entertainment Book voucher and I enjoyed dinner there (mostly) a couple of years ago so it was worth a try right? I made a booking for 6 people and we met out at Palm Cove early one Sunday morning. When we turned up we were the only people in the restaurant bar one other occupied table – a couple of what looked like tourists. I found this a little strange considering everywhere else I passed on the way in seemed to be quite busy, especially the Chill Cafe which was almost spilling over it was that full. Couple that with the stunning weather that day and by all my calculations The Rising Sun should have had far more people dining there. I briefly considered going to the Chill Café or Vivo down the road but I figured we were here now and I’d already made a booking.
Half of my family were already there when I arrived however two were running about 10-15 minutes late. The waitress handed out some menus and walked away with absolutely no mention of ordering coffees in the meantime. She returned about 5 minutes later asking if we were ready to order yet. Umm well no because two people still hadn’t arrived. She returned on two more occasions asking if we were ready to order yet each time sounding a little more annoyed than the last. She came back again no more than a minute after the last person turned up and asked one last time. Lets for a moment consider that maybe this person hasn’t even had a chance to look at the menu yet? Alas common sense did not prevail that day.
Anyway so we ordered our breakfasts finally (heaven forbid should the waitress have to wait on others) whilst I sipped on my horrendously bad coffee which took far longer than it should have to arrive. About 15 minutes later our breakfasts arrived in dribs and drabs. First of all my mum’s breakfast, the Baked Mexican Eggs, arrived. Mum, who has recently decided she wants to be a vegetarian (although I support her in her endeavours I give her till Christmas Day), asked if there was any meat in the Mexican Eggs when she ordered. Apparently there was so she asked if there was a vegetarian alternative. The waitress got the confirmation that was ok from the chef however mum had a sneaking suspicion that they simply scooped the bits of meat out of her dish and then served it to her. Considering how our breakfast was paning out, I actually wouldn’t be at all surprised. Mum said that it lacked flavour and didn’t enjoy it very much.
Next up my brothers girlfriend GH had ordered the Rainforest Honey Granola with Poached Fruit and Mungalli Yogurt for AU$10. Now despite the fact that the near incompetent waitress had given her a fork to eat the damn thing it was literally a bowl of nuts with yogurt on it. Just to be sure I did a quick Google search to check that the rest of the world agrees on what I think granola is – yep just as I suspected… it’s muesli although I didn’t spy any form of grain in this so-called granola. GH said that the yogurt was very sour and had to ask the waiter for some honey to put on top to sweeten it up. Wasn’t it supposed to be Rainforest Honey Granola, I’m confused…
To my left my dad ordered the Benny Royale – poached eggs, smoked salmon, muffin and lime hollandaise for AU$19. He said it was pretty good although he said he didn’t like the plain old ‘straight out of a packet’ English Muffin that was underneath. I personally think the portion size was far too small for $19 – a rort if you ask me.
And then sitting towards the end of the table was myself, my sister and my brothers girlfriends mother KH. We all ordered various versions of the Stockman’s Free Range eggs – poached eggs on toast for AU$9 with a few sides to ‘jazz it up’. My house made beans were forgotten and then when they arrived they were still cold in the middle, the roast cherry tomatoes were also forgotten and we got two dishes of minted labne when we only ordered one. It really was the most visually lacking breakfast I think I have ever laid eyes on. I will however say that the Zucchini Pickles that I ordered on the side were quite delicious but this didn’t make up for the sheer lack of organisation that should go hand in hand with eating out.
So there you have it – despite the awesome company my birthday breakfast turned out to be quite a disaster. It seems quite ironic that the person (me) that lives, eats and breathes dining out chose one of the worst places to go for her own birthday breakfast. I must also give a small mention to the presence of ants in the dining area. All three people sitting across from me complained on ants crawling over them while they ate (and yes although we were technically at the beach, we were sitting inside). And whilst the food left a lot to be desired, it was the service that was most lacking. Both the wait staff on hand appeared to be lacking certain ‘people skills’ that I think are mandatory when serving in a restaurant.
You may think I am being a little harsh but frankly my dear I don’t give a damn. This sort of thing sh*t’s me to tears. It’s because of restaurants like this that I started this blog in the first place – I like to call them tourist traps. These tourist traps are located in well frequented areas of Cairns with clientele that are mostly tourists who most likely won’t return. These restaurants seem to have missed the point of serving decent food or providing half decent service because it doesn’t really matter to them either way. Any Cairns local reading this knows there are plenty of restaurants that fit this description in the Cairns area and you know what? It’s not ok. It doesn’t matter if you’re a tourist or a local, if you pay the money to dine out you should reap the damn benefits! Such a shame because the last time I dined at The Rising Sun (for dinner) it was actually pretty good. It turns out I learnt a valuable lesson that day… When you ask your readers for advice on where to go for a birthday breakfast out at the beaches, majority rules and I’m still kicking myself for not listening.
P.S: For those of you wondering what the majority ruled on… It was the Lime Tree out at Trinity Beach.
Like most people I am always in search of somewhere new to eat out and experience. In the past few days I’ve had two different people mention a newish café on Grafton Street that I had not yet heard of called Eato’s. True to form I did a drive by late yesterday afternoon to scope out the place and stalk their menu – MS is well used to pulling over the car so that I can look at menu’s in the windows of random restaurants and cafe’s around the city. Then, yesterday after hearing about it from my friend HH the second time we decided to stop in for lunch.
Eato’s is not just a ‘newish café on Grafton Street’ but also a non profit organisation funded by the Australian Government that employs school leavers and people that have been unemployed for 12 months or more – it’s also sponsored by Neato Employment Services and Power of Pellets (more on them at the end of this post). According to Wikipedia a non profit organisation is ‘an organisation that uses surplus revenues to achieve it’s goals rather than distributing them as profit or dividends’ and proceeds of all sales at Eato’s go to FNQ Hospital Foundation, YAPS, Harald’s House and Ruth’s Women’s Shelter. Down the southern end of Grafton Street Eato’s occupies the old space that was once the long standing, fondue serving Swiss Inn. (Possibly also a Thai place for a short time?)
Back to our lunch… HH and I were greeted at the door and shown into the dining area by the friendly waitress who provided us with menu’s and water and directed us towards the counter for when we were ready to order. HH who’d had coffee there earlier in the week gushed about the pallet furniture that is not only part of the décor at Eato’s but also up for sale, again with profits going to charity. In fact according to their menu everything is for sale, including their staff. Sadly though for HH the white three piece set that he wanted so badly for his garden had already been sold – yet to be picked up, although there is more on it’s way.
We had a look over the menu and although there is an All Day Breakfast Menu that sounds bloody awesome (Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict anyone?) it was nearly 2pm so I decided on something from the lunch menu. I ordered the Shredded Organic Chicken in an Ash Roll with Mixed Baby Leaf, Lime and Yuzu Mayonnaise (AU$15) while HH went with the Risotto Special for AU$21. Not long after ordering one of the lovely ladies at Eato’s who goes by the name of Shannon came out to inform me that they had run out of organic chicken and wanted to know if I would like pulled pork on it instead. Shhhh-yeah! Not exactly a bad thing in my book!
Whilst waiting for our lunch HH and I discussed important matters such as chewing gum at the table and phone etiquette. Although I am known to be on my phone and in particular social media quite a lot I do know when to put my phone down and am a strong believer in ones phone being on silent as well as no texting or checking Facebook whilst dining in the company of others. It’s just plain rude and I’m forever telling my younger brother to stop scrolling through Instagram (*insert shameless plug* follow me on food_vixen) and put his phone down whenever I have dinner with him. Low and behold it turns out HH shares my same ‘no phones allowed’ views as I am sure would much of the *ahem* older generation. But quick just let me take a photo of my lunch…
Our beautifully presented lunch dishes arrived during the course of our conversation and we dug in. The plentiful pork in place of the chicken was definitely a winner with just the right amount of mayonnaise mixed through it – although I am sure the organic chicken would be just as nice. The roll was fresh and the salad was crunchy. I also really enjoyed the little side salad topped off with some crunchy pepitas.
HH’s Risotto Special was, well, forgive me but I actually have no idea because I didn’t ask however we both decided that it was Pumpkin Risotto. The portion wasn’t particularly big but with creamy, rich food like risotto smaller portions are usually better unless you want someone to roll you out the front door and back to the office after your hefty lunch. HH ate the lot and said that it was lovely.
Halfway through our lunch we caught sight of an epic tiered pavlova that another customer had ordered at the table right behind us. Unfortunately for us though, it was the last one left for the day and instead Shannon recommended the Frangipane Tart which she said was so good the chef was making it for her wedding on Christmas Day. Sounded pretty irresistable so HH and I ordered a Frangipane Tart to share between us. This tart was absolutely beautiful to look at so much so that I almost didn’t want to stick my fork in and mess it up. It was crunchy on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside – yum!
All this yummy food yet I have failed to mention one important part about Eato’s… The kitchen is run by Thala Beach Resort’s ex Head Chef Catherine Pacey. As Shannon (who is also Catherine’s cousin) explained to HH and I, Cath took up the position at Eato’s to do something a little different and give back to the community. She is using her skills from many years as an Executive Chef to create a hands on learning environment where she can teach different cooking techniques to students and those that are unemployed. It’s a unique concept that I am pretty sure is new to Cairns and even better when their focus is on using fresh local ingredients and supporting local suppliers.
This is a really great initiative and I urge you guys to get behind it however please be mindful that this is a training kitchen and things may not always go to plan but good things are happening at Eato’s I promise you that! At Eato’s the staff are lovely, the menu sounds so good it’s hard to settle on just one thing and the atmosphere is well, caring and friendly I guess are the best words to describe it. The only bad thing that I can really say about Eato’s is that because it’s a government run organisation that means government hours. ‘Monday to Friday 7am – 3pm’ translates to ‘you better get down there today to get your feed of Pulled Pork Egg’s Benedict or you will have to wait till next week’. I personally don’t think I can wait that long…
PS: The Power of Pallets is an organisation that is recycling timber pallets into useful items for local charities and organisations. Be sure to check them out on Facebook!
45 Grafton St, Cairns QLD 4870
Opening Hours: Mon to Fri 7am – 3pm
Wharf One, Cairns
One place that I have been frequenting of late is the little café located at the Cairns Wharf so aptly named Wharf One. Opening in June this year with stunning uninterrupted views of Trinity Inlet, Wharf One has a position that most cafes could only dream of. What’s more is it’s a great spot for parents to grab a coffee as it’s right next to the fig tree playground that reminds me dearly of my favourite Enid Blyton book – The Magic Faraway Tree. For the non-parents it’s just enough out of ear shot for you to enjoy your morning or afternoon in peace.
I discovered Wharf One how I discover most new restaurants and cafe’s – through Facebook when I saw the Taste Paradise page’s picture of the Salmon Poke (one of the menu items on offer at Wharf One). I was there the very next day. With nothing on the breakfast or lunch menu over AU$14 Wharf One is a breath of fresh air in the current Cairns café climate. I don’t know about you but frankly I am getting a little over the over-priced breakfasts around Cairns. This is a rant I have been on before but some Cairns cafes are charging over $20 a dish, something I think is absolutely absurd. This is Cairns not bloody Surry Hills FFS!
Back to Wharf One – With an emphasis on local produce such as Mungalli Creek Yogurt, Madella Coffee from Mourilyan and local cane cured salmon the menu quickly caught my attention. Breakfast includes items such as Pomodoro Sardines on Toast (apparently sardines are making a comeback) for only $8, Quinoa and Brown Rice Chai Porridge with Mixed Berries ($8) and Smashed Local Avocado, Ricotta, Lime Oil on Ciabatta, also for $8. Lunch is even tastier with items such as the Wharf One Local Prawn Burger for $13 and Shredded Chicken, Avocado and Mango Baguette for $10 and my personal favourite Local Salmon Poke with Avocado and Woodfired Ciabatta – a Hawaiian Sashimi (not Sushimi) style salad for a mere $9.
Unfortunately the atmosphere and the tasty sounding menu are really the only positive things I could find about Wharf One. My fellow blogger friend Baking Myself Happy is one person’s opinion that I rely heavily upon, usually because she takes the words right out of my mouth. Her recent text regarding Wharf One reads as so… “I’ve been to Wharf One four times now and am so disappointed with their food and their presentation. The food had been average at best. Such a shame as it’s the prettiest spot.”
Sadly I tend to agree with everything she wrote. I, myself have been to Wharf One no less than five times prior to writing this post hoping that things would improve despite really enjoying my initial visit – the Salmon Poke was innovative, fresh and flavoursome. Alas since that first visit Wharf One seems to be on a steady decline. The service which was dubious on my initial visit has only gotten worse with meals arriving up to 15 minutes apart and although the owner seems lovely and always keen for a chat, the young staff (in between texting on their phones) appear to have absolutely no idea what’s going on nor do they care about providing even remotely reasonable service.
The coffee has often been terrible but considering they use what I assume are world-class beans from Madella Coffee in Mourilyan I can only assume that it’s the barista that provides the burnt and bitter aftertaste. The Kale and Quinoa salad I had as a side serve to my Salmon Poke was so bland and tasteless that even one mouthful was all I could stomach (a little seasoning wouldn’t go astray) and I just can’t omit the hair that my friend found in her baguette that was removed at the table by the waitress who expected her to continue eating said baguette.
Despite what some may think I am always loathe to write non-positive things about restaurants and cafe’s but as I said above, I went back five times in hopes of improvement because I want to like Wharf One so much. Most recently my sister went to Wharf One last Saturday morning. She ordered poached eggs with salmon which arrived on a broken plate with eggs that were almost raw and the salmon was forgotten completely. How many chances do you give a place? I started this blog because I tell it how it is and I think my readers deserve that. At Wharf One the menu is great (in theory), the location is second to none and the prices are probably some of the best I have seen in Cairns but the very thing they are setting out to do – provide good service and serve good food – is being overlooked. Like the old Queenslander on Martyn Street that MS and I looked at buying recently, Wharf One has plenty of potential but in the end there are tonnes other places that require far less work.
The Wharf, Wharf St, Cairns QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4031 2840
Bagus Cafe, Cairns Esplanade
Only yesterday I was told about this hidden gem so I went down to grab a bit of lunch for my family who are doing some reno’s just up the road. The Bagus Café has been open since December last year so I don’t know how I hadn’t bloody heard of it. Living just up the road I have driven past this place many times however I had no idea they sold Indonesian food (even though Bagus means good in Indonesian). The lovely owner Sri moved up from Melbourne with her family in 2013 to open the Bagus Café.
I ordered takeaway this time however there is a handful of tables of chairs out the front should you choose to ‘dine in’. All the food is made fresh on-site which meant about a 15 minute wait for the three dishes that I ordered. Knowing the food is cooked to order I didn’t mind the wait at all. With traditional dishes like Nasi Goreng, Satay and Rendang it’s one of only two places I know in Cairns that sells Indonesian food (the other being the Bayleaf of course). For the non traditional eaters there is also a selection of Western breakfast and lunch fare including a Smoked Beef Breakfast Burrito with Jalapeno’s that sounds right up my alley.
Occupying a small space out the front of the backpackers across the road from Muddies the Bagus Café is quaint, unassuming and kind of like the real roadside experience in Indo. Located at 149 The Esplanade Bagus is open daily for breakfast and lunch from 6.45am – 3pm and for dinner on Tuesday, Thursday – Sunday from 5.30pm – 8.30pm with nothing on the menu over AU$16. Don’t forget to ask for some of their spicy Anchovy Sambal!
Ten One Twenty, Edge Hill
I’d say out of all the restaurants and cafe’s that I dine at I only actually end up blogging about a quarter of them. I always have the best of intentions to do all these posts and then time gets the better of me. One thing I do find that in order to write these posts I need to be in the ‘zone’ so to speak. There must be no noise (especially not wind chimes) or other distractions in the nearby vicinity when I decide to get my laptop out and do something other than stalk people on Facebook or make a vain attempt to log into my work email.
I’m not one of those people that could ever study with headphones on or the TV in the background. When I was studying at uni the only time I was actually able to get any study done at all was when I took my pen, paper and bag of textbooks to the Cairns City Library and basked in the silence of like-minded people. Even then I found myself staring out the window all too often.
When I was in Grade 6 I played soccer in an all girls team. We were terrible and only got one goal all year – unfortunately against another team from the same school. We screamed like a bunch of girls none the less. My dad would claim that our pathetic goal scoring abilities were not aided by the fact that during our games I was more concerned with who was playing on the field next to us than my own game. So the point of my story is that my attention span is about that of a gold fish. It’s not my fault that I need to hear the deafening sound of tinnitus in my ears before I can actually concentrate on writing a post and unfortunately for me lately that’s been few and far between. Lucky for me I’m currently on the other side of Australia with nothing but time on my hands (in the evening anyway) and having run out of episodes of Ray Donovan I guess I have no other choice but to concentrate on writing a post about what has recently become one of my favourite cafes to visit in Cairns…
After a late Sunday coffee and homemade lemonade at one of Edge Hill’s newest (ok newish) cafe’s, Ten One Twenty, I vowed to return the next day for lunch since the menu sounded ridiculously enticing. Sadly for me though the next day was Monday and Ten One Twenty isn’t open on Monday’s. Tuesday it was! Named after it’s address on Collins Avenue Ten One Twenty is the newest brainchild of the good folks at Caffiend. On Ten One Twenty’s Facebook page it’s touted as a gelati and espresso bar but after visiting for lunch last week I found the food was also worth a mention.
MS had promised to take his elderly father out for lunch before he left for work later that afternoon. It’s something we both like to do about once a month since his dad isn’t very mobile and doesn’t get the chance to get out much so he gets a bit lonely. A little after midday the three of us shuffled into Ten One Twenty and took a seat at one of the tables near the window. We had a look over the menu whilst not so secretly trying to figure out what meals the two ladies next to us were eating – in the end they overheard us talking about their food and kindly divulged what they had ordered, followed by how delicious it was. Finally we all made a decision and I moseyed on up to the counter, next to the large cabinet of baked sweets, to order lunch and coffee for the three of us.
Like clockwork the coffees came out first of all and with a smile from the guy that took my order. A friendly guy with good calves to boot. Another 10 or so minutes later our meals arrived. MS had ordered the Poached Free Range Chicken, Chilli Mayo, Tarragon and Rocket Gourmet Toastie for AU$11.90. $11.90 is a little on the steep side for a toastie in my humble opinion but I guess you are also paying for their prime location in Edge Hill. I’ll admit I did have a taste of MS’ toastie and it was jam packed with flavour – plenty of sweetness from the Chilli Mayo to go with the bitterness of the rocket. MS gobbled his toastie up that fast that I’m not sure if it even touched the sides going down. It was probably only a light meal for a man his size but more than enough for the average eater.
Over on my side of the table I had ordered the dish that I spied on the menu two days prior that prompted my stealthy return – the Healthy Green Salad with Raw Kale, Broccoli, Corn, Herbs, Preserved Lemon (AU$14.50), plus I added some Poached Chicken for an extra $4.50. When it arrived I did think it was a little bit smaller than what I had pictured in my head. This salad was the best salad I have had in a long time. The flavours were subtle but it was lovely and fresh with a beautiful mix of crunchy veggies, cherry tomatoes and herbs with small pieces of poached chicken flaked amongst it. I have to admit that this is only the second time I have ever eaten kale. The first was a shitty attempt at making kale chips in my oven at home. They ended up tasting like a big bowl of salty ash. This time my kale experience was much more enjoyable and I am keen to get back and try Ten One Twenty’s breakfast version with a poached egg on top in place of the chicken.
MS’ dad, who shall go by the alias of Papa S, had chosen the Japanese Style Smashed Chilli Egg on Sourdough with Ponzu Cucumber and Zucchini Salad (AU$15.90). I’m not quite sure why he chose a dish with chilli in it because he can’t really handle chilli that well. He then proceeded to add extra chilli from the small bottle of chilli sauce that was placed on our table – before tasting his lunch mind you. He’s a little forgetful in his old age bless him but he did get a nice little surprise with his first mouthful, and second, and third. etc, etc. Not quite sure why this dish was called Japanese Style Smashed Chilli Eggs because I thought they somewhat resembled what I would call ‘Scrambled Eggs’ but hey they still looked great. His dish was also lightly scattered with Goji Berries – at least that’s what MS and I thought they were. Funnily enough Papa S swore they were kidney beans. I can assure you they definitely weren’t but MS and I weren’t about to correct with him and were just happy to leave him enjoy his lunch – kidney beans and all. After we had all finished our lunch Papa S raved about this Chilli Eggs. You know the ones sprinkled with ‘Kidney Beans’? It’s easy to tell when he likes something because he raves about how ‘lovely’ it was time and time again.
It doesn’t take a foodie like me to know there is more than a handful of places of go in Edge Hill for breakfast, lunch and a caffeine fix but Ten One Twenty is my pick of places to go. Best part is it’s not overwhelmingly busy unlike a couple of other popular places in Edge Hill – they shall remain nameless. Although this was only the first time I had been to Ten One Twenty for food I have been there multiple times for coffee and always found the service friendly and efficient. The atmosphere is relaxed with a rustic but eclectic vibe and an interesting mix of people coming and going including plenty of families stopping by for a scoop or two of gelato. The food at Ten One Twenty is simple, fresh, innovative and a little bit fancy all at the same time. Another thing to look forward to other than gelati sandwiches and ‘sketti jaffles’ (with two different types of cheese) is their gelati parties including live DJ’s on Saturday afternoons. Get amongst it!
Ten One Twenty Café
10/120 Collins Ave, Edge Hill QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4032 1010
Opening Hours: Tues – Sat 7am – 4.30pm, Sun 8am – 4.30pm
Breakfast @ Betty Blue + The Lemon Tart
A friend of mine recommended Betty Blue and The Lemon Tart for breakfast while in Townsville over the weekend and I have to say ‘holy crap what an awesome place!’ The table surfaces were blackboards and each table had a selection of coloured chalk to keep you amused while you waited for your breakfast.
The menu was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! I really wanted to order the Waffles with Ice Cream, Chocolate Sauce and Lollies but I restrained myself and had the Corn, Cheddar and Spring Onion Fritters with Soy Soaked Bacon, Avocado, Capsicum Jam and Sour Cream for AU$21. The prices are a little steep (maybe that’s normal for Townsville) but it was totally worth it. I wish we had somewhere like this in Cairns – now I just have to justify the 350 odd km drive back to Townsville for those bloody waffles!
Betty Blue and The Lemon Tart
Unit 8 No.95 Denham St, Townsville Qld 4810
Ph: (07) 4724 2554