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Paleo Cafe, Cairns

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The Paleo Cafe opened on Grafton Street in October last year after much anticipation from many Cairns locals and crossfit enthusiasts. Since it opened I have dined there a few times for both breakfast and lunch. I also regularly drop in for a Cocoa, Honey, Banana, Almond Milk and Coconut Milk smoothie for AU$7 because I think it’s bloody delicious (on the other hand MS thinks it’s revolting). Most recently myself, MS and a couple of my girlfriends went to the Paleo Cafe for a catch up and a healthy breakfast after I had a look over the weekly menu that arrived in my inbox and spotted something that I simply had to try. I’m not an avid follower of the Paleo Diet, nor do I particularly care if what I am eating contains gluten, dairy or all of the above but regardless of what your intentions are there is something on the menu at the Paleo Cafe for everyone. Although it’s technically a cafe half of the shop is made up of a retail section where you can purchase a variety of paleo style goodies including pre-made meals, coconut ice cream, sauces, supplements, cookbooks and even skin care products. If you haven’t heard about the Paleo Diet yet then you must be living under a rock (or in a cave). I’m not going to go into a spiel about what the Paleo Diet is because those that care already know and those that don’t care, well they just don’t care. I’m just here to talk about the food…

Cocoa, Banana, Honey, Almond Milk and Coconut Milk Smoothie (AU$7)

Cocoa, Banana, Honey, Almond Milk and Coconut Milk Smoothie (AU$7)

MS and I arrived first and proceeded to umm and ahh over whether or not it was best to sit inside or outside. In the end inside won because it was a little cold and windy outside (for Cairns anyway). We moved a couple of tables together to accommodate our group of five (it ended up being four), collected a couple more menus from the counter and took a seat. Soon our breakfast buddies arrived and after a bit of a catch up and an explanation why the fifth person didn’t come (apparently ST’s boyfriend is a little shy and chose to stay at home) we each had a look over the menu.

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Since it was MS’ turn to shout breakfast he headed up to the counter to order breakfast and coffee’s for the two of us closely followed by ST and MD. After some confusion at our table as to who was collecting the cutlery we all sat back down and waited for our coffee’s and meals to arrive. Call me a nit picker but if there are items on the breakfast menu upwards of AU$20 (that’s an expensive breakfast) then I don’t think it’s too much to expect cutlery and napkins to be brought to the table by the waitstaff rather than patrons having to collect it from the counter. A good 15 minutes later, mine and MS’ coffees arrived and then another 5 minutes later MD’s arrived and another 5 minutes after that ST’s arrived. The coffee procession was a little disjointed and certainly could have happened sooner but the coffees were good none the less.

My Long Black

My Long Black

About five minutes later three of our four breakfasts arrived at the table. A good five minutes after that ST’s breakfast arrived. She had ordered at pretty much the same time as the rest of us so I saw no reason why hers took that little bit longer, plus she had ordered the exact same thing as MD. Both MD and ST chose the Paleo Free Range Eggs Benedict served on Savoury Bread and Spinach with Smoked Salmon for AU$18. I ordered the Breakfast Special of Pulled Pork with Wilted Spinach, Poached Eggs and Paleo Bread for AU$16 while MS whom I had pinned for the Caveman’s Big Breakfast from the moment we walked in ordered the Bacon and Free Range Eggs served with Spinach and a Sweet Potato Rosti with two extra eggs and avocado for AU$16 + $4 for the extra eggs + $3 for the avocado. It seems there was a little bit of confusion with the extra eggs and they were included with my Pulled Pork breakfast instead of MS’ which we pointed out to the waitress when she placed our plates down in front of us. She said that she could take them back to the kitchen and switch them but we declined and just transferred them ourselves – easy done but a mix up none the less.

ST and MD both enjoyed their Eggs Benedict with the sauce zesty and creamy but not overpowering and sickly like some Hollandaise Sauces tend to be. ST said she wasn’t too sure about the paleo bread (aka she didn’t like it) but MD said that she really liked it although she tried not to think of it as bread. Baker’s Delight sourdough it certainly is not but I tended to agree with MD and really like the taste and crumbly consistency of it. You still can’t beat a couple of freshly toasted slices of ciabatta bread though that’s for sure!

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Paleo Free Range Eggs Benedict served on Savoury Bread and Spinach with Smoked Salmon (AU$18)

The half an avocado that MS ordered as extra was a lovely and fresh, as you would expect since the Paleo Cafe is situated right across the road from Rusty’s Market. The sweet potato rosti was a little bit dry and undercooked while the four poached eggs were well overcooked. The wilted spinach however, was a nice addition. He was pretty happy with it, eating the lot and then eying my breakfast.

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Bacon and Free Range Eggs served with Spinach and a Sweet Potato Rosti with two extra eggs and avocado (AU$16 + $4 for the extra eggs + $3 for the avocado)

The serving sizes were decent – the smoked salmon with the Eggs Benedict was generous and my plate had a huge pile of pulled pork which was delicious and tender with just the right amount of sweetness to it. Unfortunately the eggs were closer to hard-boiled than poached – no runny eggs makes me a sad panda.

Poached?  More like hard boiled.

Poached? More like hard boiled.

In the end I couldn’t quite finish the pulled pork so much to MS’ delight he finished it off for me. It was delicious, just too much for little old me. It’s actually a shame that this dish isn’t included on the regular menu because I think it’s a winner.

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Breakfast Special of Pulled Pork with Wilted Spinach, Poached Eggs and Paleo Bread (AU$16)

We all had a very enjoyable breakfast with the food being both fresh and tasty. The service and the food was however quite disjointed we were always served with a smile. There are a couple of lunch items that definitely caught my eye like the Thai Green Papaya and Cashew Salad and the Slow Cooked Pork Belly but for the most part the lunch menu doesn’t really appeal to me – it’s just all a little too plain. I caught a glimpse of the Spinach, Pumpkin and Pine Nut Salad for AU$15 and there didn’t appear to be a whole lot to it other than spinach (barely any pumpkin or pine nuts). When I went there for lunch a few months ago I had the Curry of the Day which was a Thai Green Curry Served with Cauliflower Rice and Flat Bread for AU$16 and it was pretty ordinary, particularly the Cauliflower Rice. I’m not usually one to pay upwards of AU$15 for something that not is boring but tastes boring. Why someone would want to eat Cauliflower ‘Rice’ or Zucchini ‘Pasta’ by choice is beyond me but I guess it’s each to their own. But… then again that is what the whole concept of eating paleo is – getting back to healthy basics.

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Another thing I’m not a fan of with the Paleo Cafe is the atmosphere, or lack thereof. The retail section over to one side of the shop as well as the stark polished concrete and the white plastic tables make the whole place seem a little sterile. It just doesn’t have the nice, cozy cafe feel to it that most people seek when dining out. Still, if the amount of people who were dining in there today when I walked past is anything to go by then maybe it’s just me that feels this way. There is also a number of franchises in the works around Australia and even inquiries for places as far-reaching as Canada. As I said at the beginning of this post, I’m not going to go into the details of exactly what the paleo diet entails and although it may not appeal to everyone many people consider it to be more of ‘lifestyle’ than a diet. If the current trend towards the paleo diet continues as does the global obesity epidemic then maybe a rise in restaurants that serve basic, healthy food such as the Paleo Cafe isn’t such a bad thing after all?

 

Paleo Cafe

Shop 15, 62 Grafton St, Cairns QLD 4870

Ph: (07) 4041 3885

Opening Hours: Mon – Sat 7am – 3pm

Website: http://www.paleo-cafe.com.au

The Clever Duck, Forest Gardens *CLOSED DOWN*

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It’s been a few weeks since my last post, I know.  I haven’t been slack just out of phone range for work and then when I got back I just wanted to spend some time with my significant other without my head stuck in the computer before he left for his new FIFO job.  Now the shoe is on the other foot and it’s me by myself at home for a couple of weeks twiddling my thumbs *sad face*  Oh well I guess this is a perfect chance to catch up on that neglected food blog of mine *smiley face*  Anyway without further adieu here it is… After my last rant regarding the Mother’s Day Brunch at Bazaar in Port Douglas I thought I would do something a little more light hearted this time around. Recently Davy O’Rourke, the man behind the mouth-wateringly good Mama Coco cafe on Aumuller Street, opened up a new venture called The Clever Duck out at Forest Gardens.  The Clever Duck is located in the old sales office just off the main roundabout as you are heading into Forest Gardens.  It’s a little bit off the beaten track for those city folk like me (that’s a joke) but it seems that plenty of people that have cottoned on to this delightful little place.

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Right this way….

Following in the footsteps of Mama Coco, Davy and his team at the newly opened The Clever Duck have again put the emphasis on fresh, local produce served in a relaxed atmosphere.  MS and I arrived at about 1.30 on a Sunday afternoon to meet a couple of friends for lunch.  Initially we had pondered where to meet up for lunch but then I remembered The Clever Duck at Forest Gardens (that I had so eagerly anticipated the opening of) had finally opened and since the couple that we were catching up with (JM and KK) lived in Mt Sheridan then it seemed like the most clever option.

When we arrived JM and KK had already managed to snag one of the last available tables, which was positioned inside the main restaurant area close to the counter and underneath a very large and unusual organic ‘chandelier’.  We caught up on a few things and then got down to the lunch side of things.  On the wall opposite the counter is a large blackboard with all the breakfast and lunch options available.  We each took it in turns to choose our meals and ordered our food and coffees at the front counter.  The menu at The Clever Duck offers a range of tasty, easy to prepare dishes from toasted ciabatta rolls with shaved proscuitto, swiss cheese and tomato relish to poached chicken salad with glass noodles.  There is something for everyone including vegetarians as well as ‘all day breakfast’ over the weekend.

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The organic chandelier

While I was waiting I looked around at the tables of families and friends enjoying their coffees, late breakfasts and lunches.  The place was pretty much full up but because it takes up such a large area with the outside deck and the inside space that’s available it doesn’t feel at all cramped but rather very spacious.  The deck looks out over the duck pond in the heart of Forest Gardens and I remember all too well the evil ducks and geese that used to chase my friend SS and I when we would venture down that way to sneak cigarettes after school (she lived in Forest Gardens at the time and no I don’t smoke anymore).  Nowadays there doesn’t seem to be quite as many ducks or geese as I remember and they are certainly not as hostile as back then – mind you I certainly wasn’t game to find out.  It really is lovely looking out from the deck on the gardens and pond beyond and I secretly wished that we had been able to grab an outside table so we could enjoy it more, but alas those prime positions were already taken.  Inside is still a great spot with lovely high ceilings, recycled furniture and polished wooden floors.

MS, JM and KK returned to the table after ordering lunch and we sat and chatted a little more while we waited for our coffees and food to arrive.  I ordered the Quinoa with Roast Pumpkin, Grilled Zucchini, Mint, Sultanas and Preserved Lemon for AU$16 although I added a bit of chicken in for an extra AU$3 to make sure that I got my required protein.  MS on the other hand who just couldn’t help himself decided that he would have a second breakfast and chose the The Hungry Duck with Two Poached Eggs, Mushrooms, Roast Pumpkin and Tomato, Proscuitto, Baked Beans and Toast for AU$19.50.  JM chose the same dish as myself with the chicken as an extra also.  He always copies me.  About 10 minutes later mine and MS’ flat whites arrived followed closely by JM and KK’s latte’s.  Then about 10 minutes later our lunches and MS’ breakfast arrived.

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KK had chosen the Shaved Proscuitto, Poached Egg, Ciabatta, Blistered Cherry Tomato and Salsa Verde for AU$17 and when it arrived at the table I got food envy.  It looked really bloody good – great presentation and so colourful!  The poached eggs oozed delicious, runny yolk when she sliced gently into them.  KK said it was delicious and fresh with lovely sweet tomatoes.  I made a mental note to return for that dish in the near future.

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Shaved Proscuitto, Poached Egg, Ciabatta, Blistered Cherry Tomato and Salsa Verde for AU$17

Although MS’ breakfast was a little on the steep side at AU$19.50 (seems this is becoming the norm for Cairns unfortunately) it was a fairly decent sized portion with a big serve of beans and nearly half an avocado on the side.  When he was ordering he attempted to change the accompanying prosciutto to bacon but apparently they didn’t serve bacon at The Clever Duck.  He was slightly disappointed by this considering he is such a bacon lover at heart.  Me?  I think prosciutto is just as good if not better but it wasn’t my breakfast.  The eggs were perfectly poached and the creamy homemade beans with just a small shaving of cheese over the top melted in your mouth (I had a little taste).  It’s actually nice to see fresh, crunchy baby spinach on the plate as opposed to wilted baby spinach which just tends to get soggy most of the time.  The fresh baby spinach just jazzes things up a little bit more.  MS was pretty content by the end of his second breakfast that’s for sure.

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The Hungry Duck with Two Poached Eggs, Mushrooms, Roast Pumpkin and Tomato, Proscuitto, Baked Beans and Toast for AU$19.50

JM and I both enjoyed our Quinoa Salads having both agreed that the additional chicken was the way to go.  The woman at the counter did make a comment that all the chicken would be gone after JM and I ordered it in our salads.  Gee sorry about that.  Wtf?  The Quinoa Salad didn’t have any dressing on it nor did it need any because the sourness of the labna and preserved lemon mixed with the sweet sultanas and craisins topped it all off very nicely.  I have only discovered zucchini in the last couple of years (I was a bit of a veggie sook at one point) and now think it’s a worthy addition to nearly every salad, especially grilled and marinated.  The flavours were delicious and the ingredients used in the Quinoa Salad were lovely and fresh.  I did pick a little bit of fresh parsley out of the salad but that’s just personal preference for me because I tend to find it too overpowering.  Next time I will be sure to ask for no parsley with my Quinoa Salad.

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Quinoa with Roast Pumpkin, Grilled Zucchini, Mint, Sultanas and Preserved Lemon and Labna for AU$16 (extra chicken AU$3)

The four of us really enjoyed our meals and it was nice just to chill out in a relaxed cafe in the middle of the gardens without any real formalities and especially without the noise of Sunday drivers making a nuisance of themselves like they do down at the Cairns Esplanade.  My three dining companions and I did find a two of the staff to be quite sour and a little rude when ordering and when one of them brought our coffees to the table – a little smile never hurts anyone.  This was also the case when I went back about a week later for lunch with my mum, sister and a couple of other friends.  Also a couple of the ingredients that appeared in my Quinoa Salad (red onion and parsley) were not mentioned on the menu.  If I had known they were in there I might have opted to go without the parsley but other than that the food, service and atmosphere were excellent.  Mama Coco has already got a huge following of locals that regularly dine there for their mouthwatering salads, sandwiches and freshly baked sweets and now The Clever Duck seems set to raise the bar once again but this time on the south-side of town.  If you are sick of seeing the same old boring cafe menus consisting of Caesar Salad, Greek Salad and the ever present Turkey and Cranberry ‘melt’ then get down to The Clever Duck and experience their intelligent take on delicious, simple and healthy food using fresh, regional products – just make sure you keep an eye out for the evils ducks if you venture down to the pond!

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The Clever Duck

Cnr Sawpit and Forest Gardens Blvd, Forest Gardens QLD 4868

Ph: 0402 459 095

Opening Hours: Wed – Fri 7.30am – 2.30pm, Sat – Sun 7.30am – 3.30pm

Breakfast @ The Edge Food Store *CLOSED DOWN*

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After some encouraging words from one of my readers regarding the new breakfast menu at The Edge Food Store I figured I would bury the hatchet and head there last Sunday with MS in tow. We really needed to dine out for breakfast (for our psyche) since it was something that we used to do at least twice a week before we starting eating nothing but broccoli, chicken and brown rice about 12 weeks ago. Currently my breakfast consists of two pieces of rye bread and four eggs (two whole, two whites) so I figured that they would surely have something similar that I could munch on and still get my dining out ‘kicks’. To be honest I can’t even remember why I had been holding a grudge towards The Edge but something about rude staff and waiting nearly 20 minutes for two coffees seems vaguely familiar. I am definitely one to hold a grudge and it takes quite a bit to get off my sh*t list once someone or something is on there.

We arrived just before midday and headed inside to have a look over the menu and order before we sat down. For those of you that haven’t been to The Edge you have to order food and drinks at the counter, grab a number and they bring it out to you. Inside there is a multitude of gourmet products from truffle oil to curry powders to cheeses to ready-made meals. I could spend a ridiculous amount of money in there since gourmet foods are a huge weakness of mine (along with platters and other homewares – would they just hurry up and open a Wheel and Barrow in Cairns already?!) My ex mother in law JC and I drool over the Cherry Balsamic Vinegar that they stock. Buy it, dip some fresh bread in it and eat it. It’s life changing. Anyway so after drooling over the sweet biscuits and chocolates in jars and bowls on the counter we quickly decided on what we wanted. Was there ever any doubt? MS went for the closest thing to a Big Breakfast that he could find and ordered The Edge Signature with ‘The Lot’ – Poached eggs, Byron Bay bacon, locally made cheese kransky, garlic roast field mushroom, roasted tomato, herbed sweet potato, tomato apple relish and wood fired Italian ciabatta for AU$21.50. While I, looking for the closest thing (but tastiest thing) I could find to my ‘at home’ breakfast chose the Vegetarian Brekky with poached eggs, roasted tomato, sweet potato, dukkah crusted avocado wedge, sheep’s feta and spinach on toasted rye bread with truffled hollandaise for AU$20.50. Initially I asked them if I could have the hollandaise on the side but was met with a side ways glance from MS so then I just asked the man at the counter to leave it out altogether *sad panda*.

While MS and I were being served at the counter I saw some diners seated near me receive their meals. Although all three were the same they looked really damn good. I had another look over the menu and saw that they had ordered the Olive Bread Toasty with Avocado, Fresh Tomato, Basil with a Poached Egg on top for a very reasonable price of AU$10.50. Something else that caught my attention on the breakfast menu was The Edge Omelette with Avocado, Gruyere, Spinach, Caramelised Onion, Pumpkin and Cheese Kransky for AU$19.50. Are they frigin serious? I think I just died and went to breakfast menu heaven. Not to mention the ‘Bacon Jam’ (AU$3.50) that I didn’t actually read on the menu until we were outside and seated, otherwise I would have ordered it just to see what the hell it was.

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Okay so enough about the actual sound of the items of the menu I haven’t even told you if they tasted good! So we waited about 5 – 10 minutes for our flat whites to arrive and then soon after our breakfast’s arrived. The place was about 2/3 full for this Sunday morning and we were sitting outside on the pathway after initially sitting at one of the benches next to the road and decided it was too uncomfortable. Also my six-foot something love was much too big for it. When the food arrived I have to say that initially I was surprised because I didn’t expect it to look so visually pleasing or so big! Mine was enormous and far bigger than I needed as was MS’ but he is more than double my size anyway so he needs that much.

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Straight away MS transferred the roasted tomato from his plate to mine (he has something against roasted tomato, strange but at least it means more for me). MS wasn’t too impressed with the tomato apple relish but I think it was because I had made the mistake of telling him about the Bacon Jam, again after we had already ordered our food. MS’ eggs were a little on the hard side but it turns out that is actually the way he prefers them not 2 seconds away from undercooked and running all over the plate like I prefer them. He practically inhaled the bacon and after eating half of the cheesy kransky and then deciding that he probably shouldn’t be eating cheesy sausages he left it on the side of his plate, only to succumb to his primal instincts and eat the rest of it about five minutes later. In the words of MS ‘Oh god it tastes so good!’

The Edge Signature -

The Edge Signature with ‘The Lot’ – Poached eggs, Byron Bay bacon, locally made Cheese Kransky, garlic roast field mushroom, roasted tomato, herbed sweet potato, tomato apple relish and wood fired Italian ciabatta for AU$21.50

Me – I loved the dark rye bread which was a little dry without the buttery goodness of hollandaise sauce that it was supposed to come with although that was my own fault for not getting it. The egg yolks were a little on the hard side and not quite perfectly poached. The sweet potato was delicious and yes you guessed it, sweet. I really loved the dukkah crusted avocado which was more like half an avocado than a wedge. I shared half of my half with MS who was kind enough to share a taste of his big thick kransky with me (pardon the pun – I couldn’t help myself). The sheep’s feta that I had vowed to leave on the side of the plate (as wasteful as that is) got the better of me after I had just a tiny taste and I ended up gobbling up the entire ramekin of it along with the spinach. It was beautiful and creamy but not too salty like I tend to find most types of feta. It was a generous dish, both in taste and serving size.

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Vegetarian Brekky with poached eggs, roasted tomato, sweet potato, Dukkah crusted avocado wedge, sheep’s feta and spinach on toasted rye bread with truffled hollandaise for AU$20.50

Yum, it was truly a great breakfast. I have said in the past that I think paying over AU$20 for a breakfast meal is almost a joke in Cairns and having said that anywhere really but I am leaning towards acceptable on this particular occasion since the meals were huge and the quality of the food was excellent. If the meals had been crap then I probably would have lost my sh*t but we left smiling and our bellies were full. If I can give one criticism, the coffee wasn’t too exciting. Unfortunately although this breakfast menu has only recently been refurbished these breakfasts might soon be a thing of the past since The Edge Food Store has been up for sale for a couple of months now. Hopefully if and when it does sell things will only get bigger and better for everyone involved because I would certainly like to enjoy some more breakfasts there. I can almost hear you saying ‘I’m pretty sure she said they were having the closest thing to an at home type breakfast’. Well I can assure you that feta cheese, bacon and cheese cransky is definitely not on the list of things we eat at home but I’ll live with the guilt just this once don’t you worry about me.

A special thanks goes to one of my reader’s RH for steering me in the right direction with The Edge Food Store 🙂

The Edge Food Store

1/138 Collins Ave, Edge Hill QLD 4870

Ph: (07) 4053 2977

Opening Hours: Mon – Sat 7am – 5.30pm, Sun 8am – 3pm

Website: theedgefoodstore.com

Seafood Laksa @ Parap Markets, Darwin

I’ve been hearing about Mary’s famous Laksa at Parap Markets for a couple of years now and being up here (Darwin) regularly it’s always been on my ‘to do’ list I am just normally really busy on a Saturday.  This Saturday however was a different story (let’s just say we weren’t very busy) so I rallied two of my crew and we headed down to Parap to try this famous Laksa that I had h eard so much about.  Parap Markets are a little a little bit like Rusty’s Markets in Cairns with plenty of fresh produce but heaps more food stalls in a village-like setting.  For those of you that haven’t been to my second home of Darwin picture Rusty’s Markets in Edge Hill and you might have an idea of what Parap Markets are like.  The food stalls are mostly Asian type cuisine with a few others thrown in.  Walking through reminded me of being in Thailand with the aroma of char-grilled chicken satays and fresh coriander.  We arrived early in the morning, not long after 8am, but the place was still bustling with people buying fresh fruit and veg, fresh fruit smoothies and spring rolls.

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The Parap Markets are held every Saturday from 8am till 2pm rain, hail or shine, unlike Mindil Beach Markets which are only on in the dry season and like the Mindil Beach Markets they are also a Darwin institution.  The Parap Markets are a lot smaller than the Mindil Beach Markets with probably only about a quarter of the amount of stalls and a sh*tload less people to contend with.  That’s not to say it’s not busy but Getting there early in the morning as we did is definitely a good idea, plus that way you don’t get too beaten down by the god-awful Darwin sun and humidity.  Thankfully summer is over so it wasn’t too bad while we were there.

When we arrived we were both elated and horrified to find that there were in fact no less than 8 stalls selling Laksa.  Mary’s stall could have been anyone of them so we decided that each of us would have to get a different one (that makes three out of eight but still a better chance of getting ‘the one’).  Then, randomly enough I ran into a guy I used to go to school with (only random because I went to school in Cairns) and while chatting to him and doing a bit of catching up I asked him just which stall was Mary’s famous Laksa stall.  AM said that he hadn’t had this famous Laksa before as he chowed down on a Satay Stick but was pretty sure he knew which one I was talking about.  He pointed towards the middle of the stalls and told us to walk down the end and look for the large queue of people.  So that’s exactly what we did.  We soon found a large group of people hovering around a small stall with about 6 people working busily behind the counter ladling hot soup from humungous pots into containers, chopping fresh coriander, prepping noodles and dealing with the throngs of people that all wanted a piece of the action, or should I say Laksa.

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Prepped and ready to go

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Myself and DC had soon made up our minds that we were getting the Seafood Laksa (even though the seafood was imported, yes).  It seemed to be the one that everyone was getting and I’m no sheep but I figured that if I was going to try one of Mary’s reputed Laksa’s then it had to be the one that everyone else was having.  MJ on the other hand changed his mind at the last minute and ended up wandering off to some Greek stall to buy something else for breakfast where I had earlier eyes off pastries with Haloumi in them.  Oh well his loss (and mine so it seems for not getting one of those damn pastries).  Despite the long line DC and I waited less than five minutes to be served.  They have containers already prepped with the noodles and greens inside which the well oiled machine of workers behind the counter add the steaming hot Laksa to, followed by whatever additions you have chosen (in our case seafood).  The lady collecting your money adds your choice of coriander, sambal chilli paste and fried onions.  DC went the whole hog and had all three whereas I opted for no coriander.  Yuck I hate that stuff.

Fried Onion, Sambal Chilli Paste and Fresh Coriander

Fried Onion, Sambal Chilli Paste and Fresh Coriander

The ladling lady with her enormous pot of Laksa

The ladling lady with her enormous pot of Laksa

Afterwards we wandered back through the market searching for somewhere to sit but it seems that we weren’t the only one with that idea.  There are a few tables and chairs scattered around the market but they appeared to all be taken with people eating nutella crepes, ladies sipping their coffees and various people happily slurping down their own Laksa’s.  In the end DC and I decided that rather than save our Laksa’s till we got back to the boat (that would take away from the experience) we would just sit on the edge of the gutter to eat our Laksa.  I have no aversion to sitting on the ground, especially when I’m gagging to get hot Laksa in my belly.  We sat down and opened up our containers to be met with a rich and fragrant aroma of coconut milk, fish, chilli and in DC’s case coriander.  Both of our Laksa’s were piled high with noodles, tofu, BBQ pork, a wanton and seafood (imported but I’ll come back to that).  The seafood included prawns, squid and seafood extender.  Apparently that comes with the Laksa territory but hey I’m no expert.  I left that to the side and didn’t eat it.

Seafood Laksa AU$8

Seafood Laksa AU$8

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The Laksa was delicious and flavoursome particularly with the addition of the Sambal Chilli paste on the top.  I only wish that I had gotten more chilli paste because this stuff was the business!  It had just enough kick to it without making you wish you didn’t eat an entire soup spoon full.  The seafood, albeit imported, was nice and not chewy or overcooked as were the noodles.  The best part for me was the tofu and the wanton as they had both soaked up the rich soup and were full of juice and flavour.  DC sitting on the gutter to my right didn’t like the tofu at all but then again most men don’t.  It was a large serve for AU$8 but not too large since by the end of it I was content but not bursting.

The only thing that I can fault the Laksa on is the lack of chilli.  I really would have liked more so that the dish had a little bit more bite to it because it just seemed a wee bit sweet without the chilli.  I realise that I am a little bit of a chilli fiend though and a lot of people don’t really dig it.  Also I have to take points off for using imported seafood.  C’mon Mary there is just no excuse for it, especially in a place like Darwin where local seafood is plentiful.  By the time MJ returned with his spinach/pastry thing from the Greek stall DC and I were halfway through happily enjoying our Laksa’s in the gutter.  I wouldn’t say it’s the best Laksa I have ever had (nor am I am expert on Laksa) and upon doing a bit more research it appears that the Rendezvous Cafe in Darwin actually holds the title according to numerous comments posted on the world wide web.  DC and I m0re than enjoyed our breakfast Laksa’s.  If you are ever visiting Darwin on a Saturday morning then forget the greasy bacon, eggs and hash brown from one of the dodgy cafe’s on Mitchell Street with the seedy backpackers and the street cleaner hosing the leftover kebab off the sidewalk.  Stick with the locals and opt for a fresh and piping hot Laksa from Parap Markets washed down with a fresh fruit smoothie.  I guarantee it’s a much better way to start your day.

Parap Village Markets

Every Saturday 8am – 2pm

Website: http://www.parapvillage.com.au

Where is the Best Eggs Benedict in Cairns now?

It has been brought to my attention that the Botanical Gardens Restaurant and Cafe no longer serves the Best Eggs Benedict in town.  I have read a few really bad reviews on the place and how downhill it’s gone.  What the hell happened?!  I would hate to think that my previous post “Best Eggs Benedict in Cairns” is directly people to a now defunct Eggs Benedict so I am putting a call out to find the new “Best Eggs Benedict in Cairns” .  Any ideas?

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Ozmosis, Edge Hill

A few weeks ago after a couple of laps of the good old Red Arrow with two of my girlfriends we stopped in for coffee at relatively new Edge Hill Cafe, Ozmosis. Ozmosis is halfway down Collins Avenue between overrated and overpriced cafe The Edge and the Botanical Gardens. Ozmosis offers Modern European food at very reasonable prices in a laid-back friendly but urbane atmosphere. At the moment they are only open for breakfast and lunch but they have plans to open for dinner in the near future hence their inclusion in the 2013 Edition of the Table 52 cards. The cafe itself is fresh and vibrant with a slightly bare interior (I actually prefer the non-cluttered look). The large wooden windows open out onto the pathway where the dining is allowing for a very open aired dining experience and certainly helps if you need to get one of the waitstaff’s attention. Anyway so we stopped in for a coffee, well I did, my two friends got a juice each instead. While we were sitting and having a chat I had a look over the menu and although we had all decided that we weren’t sitting down for breakfast at the time I did spot a couple of items on the menu for both breakfast and lunch that I simply had to come back and try. As luck would have it some other friends of mine, MB and AA, wanted to go somewhere for lunch to catch up that weekend so I suggested Ozmosis. We met up at Ozmosis on a Sunday afternoon while the love of my life (MS) was off galavanting with the other woman in his life (his motorbike).

When we arrived at about 12.30pm the restaurant was about half full with people sipping their cappucinos and reading the Sunday Mail. The waitress brought us out some glasses of water and a jug with a couple of menus for us to peruse. I already knew what I was having thanks to my coffee break earlier in the week and a bit of snooping on Ozmosis’ Facebook page. After about half an hour of catch up chatter and numerous polite requests from waitstaff to take our order (AA can really talk!) AA and MB chose a dish and we ordered our lunch. AA ordered the Ozmosis Beef Burger with Provolone, Tomato Relish, Green Pickle and Handcut Chips for AU$17 while MB decided on the Panko and Paprika Crumbed Schnitzel with Spicy Slaw and Seeded Mustard for AU$16. AA and MB also ordered Toasted Flatbreads with Smoked Aubergine, Beetroot, Horseradish and Olives for AU$9 from the Starter Menu for the three of us to share. I was almost swayed by the Marinated Beets, Toasted Walnuts, Quark and Watercress Salad for AU$13 but in the end after my massive rant about the lack of decent Mexican food in Cairns I went for the Soft Shell Taco with Prawn, Black Bean and Herbed Sour Cream for AU$16. I asked for rocket on my taco since if you read this blog regularly then you know that I am not a fan of iceberg lettuce. I have no idea if iceberg lettuce was even to be included on the taco in the first place but having learnt my lesson far too many times I got in first.

After about 10 minutes the Toasted Flatbreads arrived which I managed to get a photo of but only after MB had jumped in for a taste. Lucky for her we managed to re-position everything and get a quick photo before we tucked in. The bread itself didn’t resemble any type of flatbread that I have had before, bit more like a non-flat bread. The Flatbread (or was it?) was lightly toasted and out of the three dips the Beetroot was the one that we all thought was the nicest. It was a very decent serving size and we didn’t get to finish it all before out lunch order arrived.

Toasted Flatbreads with Smoked Aubergine, Beetroot, Horseradish and Olives (AU$9)

All the meals were beautifully presented as they were set down in front of us by the slightly clumsy waitress. It turns out that although a bread board might be an innovative and trendy way to present a burger it isn’t exactly practical because the items on top just want to slide right off. Something that I am sure the waitstaff have become most familiar with. As AA tucked into his meal I eyed off the green pickles laid out on top of his burger bun. I love the fact that pickles have made a come back! No more are they doomed to being thrown on McDonald’s windows from people picking them off their cheeseburgers, but instead they are now being re-introduced to menu’s in all their tasty glory – and so they should be! AA enjoyed his burger and also commented on the fact that he loved inclusion of the pickles. AA said that the only drawback of his Ozmosis Beef Burger was that the beef pattie was very under-seasoned and just tasted like a big lump of meat. Also I am little suspicious of their handcut chips, which didn’t look at all handcut to me.

Ozmosis Beef Burger with Provolone, Tomato Relish, Green Pickle and Handcut Chips (AU$17 )

Next up was MB’s Panko and Paprika Crumbed Schnitzel which arrived with the inclusion of fries although the menu didn’t state that fries were included. MB said that the golden Panko and Paprika crumbing was light and crunchy. Come to think of it I actually have no idea what type of meat was in the Schnitzel, I am assuming it was pork but it wasn’t written on the menu at all. The powers that be at Ozmosis might need to consider including that information for the uneducated people like me. I did notice that MB ate the Schnitzel and the fries however she all barely touched the Spicy Slaw. Probably because there was no dressing on it whatsoever. It was basically just chopped up cabbage and carrot. It wasn’t spicy like written on the menu. I’m also not quite sure what happened to the Seeded Mustard (also stated on the menu) but MB got a small serve of Tomato Relish on the side (not stated on the menu). MB said that she liked her dish although she didn’t think it was anything to write home about and it looked pretty darn boring to me.

Panko and Paprika Crumbed Schnitzel with Spicy Slaw and Seeded Mustard (AU$16)

Lastly was my Soft Shell Taco with Prawns. I had been looking forward to this dish since I had spied it on the menu a few days before. Again, although not stated on the menu this dish also came with fries. Something that I was a little annoyed about seeing as I chose the taco over a couple of other items because I wanted a relatively healthy lunch. It’s nice to have a bit of extra stuff included in your meal that you are not expecting I guess (depending on what it is) but I just didn’t want chips with my ‘healthy’ lunch. What’s that you say? I didn’t have to eat them? Pfft, as if. Each taco had three prawns delicately placed on it with Rocket and the Black Beans. I smeared a bit of Herbed Sour Cream on the Tacos, picked one up in my hands and took a bite. The taco was tasteless. The Herbed Sour Cream gave the taco absolutely no depth and the semi crushed Black Beans underneath the rocket didn’t help the situation. The whole thing just tasted very bland and I think maybe they were relying on the subtle flavour of the prawns to shine through but to be honest the prawns were so damn bland that I actually think they were farmed prawns. I have to say that I was really, really disappointed with my Soft Shell Taco. Traditionally, tacos have salsa on them to give them a bit more of a zesty flavour or maybe just any flavour. I think this dish would be a lot better if salsa was included or even some diced tomato but right now I’m giving my Soft Shell Taco with Prawn’s a thumbs down.

Soft Shell Taco with Prawn, Black Bean and Herbed Sour Cream for AU$16

We finished up our meals, paid our bill and left and although that the service we received was both friendly and attentive, the food just wasn’t up to scratch. Maybe my expectations were too high. I vowed that I would return for breakfast in the coming weeks and give that a go…

A couple of weeks later MS and I returned to Ozmosis for breakfast. He was wanting to go out for breakfast and actually suggested to me that we go there since he had to listen to me ramble on about my disappointing Prawn Taco. We arrived to an almost full cafe with all the tables on the deck full as well as the ones on the footpath. All except the one right in front of the window to the coffee machine so we sat down and the waitress brought us some menus. While we had a look over the menu I spied the clumsy but very sweet waitress that had served AA, MB and I only a couple of weeks before. Seems the two weeks waiting on tables had done her a world of good because she was a lot more skilled and confident at waitressing. Good for her! I for one would make a terrible waitress (far too clumsy).

MS chose the Buttermilk Pancake Stack with Ricotta, Caramelised Apple and Canadian Maple for AU$13 with a side of Streaky Bacon for AU$4. I was tossing up between the Crushed Avocado, Cherry Tomato, Quark and Preserved Lemon on Sourdough for AU$9 or the Smoked Salmon, Horseradish Yogurt, Poached Egg, Grilled Rye and Burnt Butter Hollandaise for AU$14. In the end I went with the Smoked Salmon dish since I was hungry and I figured it would probably be a bit bigger than the Avocado one. While seated at our table both MS and I noticed quite a lot of flies flying in and out of the cafe. Since Ozmosis is an open air cafe with big wooden sliding windows there really is nothing to keep them out. They were everywhere on the counter behind the coffee machine where they were making the smoothies and I shudder to think what the kitchen was like. No doubt everything would be covered up (I hope) but it’s still a food prep area! I went in to order and pay at the counter and while I was in there I had a chat to one of the waitresses (potentially the owner) of Ozmosis about the flies and what they could do about them. I suggested a natural fly catcher out on the footpath to lure the flies outside and away from the food. Something had to be done but she seemed very blase about it all which I thought was pretty ignorant because I am sure I wasn’t the only one that noticed.

My Flat White

Anyway, we waited about 10 to 15 minutes for our meals to arrive with Flat White’s arriving in the meantime passed out the window by the bubbly barrister. There really was no point in bringing them all the way out when he was literally less that a metre behind me inside the open window. I did watch in interest the way that he carried coffee’s to other people’s tables, precisely balanced on three fingers. A mean feat in my book! The man certainly knows his way around a coffee machine because the coffee’s were delicious. MS’ Buttermilk Pancake Stack was as you would expect, a stack of three pancakes with some ricotta on top and a jug of Canadian Maple to drizzle over the top. We were shocked to find that the ‘Caramelised Apple’ was in fact five pieces of browning apple spaced evenly around MS’ pancakes. It hadn’t been ‘caramelised’ but merely cut up into bite sized pieces of apple.

Buttermilk Pancake Stack with Ricotta, Caramelised Apple and Canadian Maple (AU$13)

His side of Streaky Bacon was a bit on the small side and barely took up the small dish that it was brought out on. MS said that the pancakes were nice but in the end he didn’t finish them all, which says a lot about his meal. He regretted his Buttermilk Pancake decision but overall MS was a disappointed with the lack of bacon he got with his meal.

Side of Streaky Bacon (AU$4)

My Smoked Salmon dish was yummy with perfectly poached eggs needing only a small poke from my fork to ooze their yolky goodness all over the Grilled Rye underneath. I did think that the serving of Smoked Salmon was also a tad on the small side, another slice would have been nice. The Horseradish Yogurt however was horrible. It tasted more like Vanilla Yogurt than Horseradish and was far too sweet to eat with my eggs and Smoked Salmon. Maybe they should stick with the Burnt Butter Hollandaise and omit the Horseradish Yogurt altogether because it certainly didn’t taste like Horseradish. I couldn’t eat it and left it on the side of my plate.

Smoked Salmon, Horseradish Yogurt, Poached Egg, Grilled Rye and Burnt Butter Hollandaise (AU$14)

I know it’s early days but after two and a half rounds at Ozmosis I am a little disappointed with the food. The service is outstanding with a few minor hiccups at the beginning (to be expected) but these had been ironed out by the time MS and I went there for breakfast. The plethora of staff are super friendly, greeting you as you arrive and waving you off as you leave. They continue to top up your water throughout your meal and even come out to ask if there is anything more that you need. The food however, sounds a lot better on paper. When I first looked at the menu there was not a dish on it that I didn’t think sounded absolutely scrumptious and wanted to try. Unfortunately the food wasn’t as delicious as I had been hoping for. Nearly every meal that I had or my company had either had something missing or something extra that wasn’t included on the menu. I don’t know about you but I like to know what is coming out and I expect just that, nothing more, nothing less. The items on the menu at Ozmosis are very reasonably priced to a point where I was actually surprised that a cafe in that position (I mean Edge Hill) would charge so little for what to me sounded like trendy, fresh and innovative food (for Cairns anyway). Ozmosis has everything going for it and already serves as a popular breakfast and lunch spot in the heart of Edge Hill. If their dinner menu sounds as delicious as their breakfast and lunch menu then I’ll be there in a heartbeat. A few tweaks to the food that is currently being served and I think they definitely have a recipe for success.

Ozmosis

1/116 Collins Ave, Edge Hill QLD 4870

Ph: 0409 624 355

Opening Hours: Mon – Sun 7am till 4pm

The Lillipad Cafe, Cairns

Last weekend MS and I found ourselves looking for somewhere to go for a late breakfast. After fulfilling my Coconut Water craving with a frigin massive coconut from Rusty’s for only AU$3.50 we headed on down to Grafton St and into well known Cairns dining spot, The Lillipad Cafe. As usual the Lillipad was packed out for Sunday morning with every table bar about two and the manky couch near the front door taken. Unfortunately there were no spare tables outside so MS and I grabbed a table for four inside and made ourselves at home. For once I was surprised that our tables appeared to have actually been wiped down, a first for Lillipad surely! Alas it was a false alarm and it was just that the previous diners at our table hadn’t spilled any obvious food scraps. Unfortunatley I cannot say the same for the floor which looks pretty filthy and needs a good gerniand a scrub with some Sugar Soap. Thankfully I had shoes on.

While we perused the menu my ingrained lack of concentration had me watching quite a few people coming and going, most of them coming inside to see if there were any spare tables for them to sit at. There wasn’t so they either milled around just outside the door waiting for one to free up or I am assuming they went elsewhere. I did notice quite a few people coming and going without shoes and there was a couple of odd ones that even sat down and ate a meal with no shoes on. Now I know that the Lillipad Cafe is full of free-spirited individuals but really? Not only is that filthy and disgusting but I am pretty sure it’s against workplace health and safety regulations. (But hey I’m no expert on the matter.) If anything the staff could maybe suggest that their patrons wear shoes when dining in? I realise that Lillipad isn’t exactly a fine dining establishment but where do we draw the line?

But we weren’t here to criticise, we were here for the food. There are so many yummy items on the menu at Lillipad that I always have difficulty choosing just exactly what I want to eat. MS went with the Eggs Benedict (seems I have rubbed off on him) with the usual fare of Bacon, toasted Turkish Bread, Poached Eggs and Hollandaise Sauce plus a side of Baby Potatoes for AU$15.90. He also ordered a side of Avocado for an extra AU$2.50. Not feeling like any of the breakfast items I went for the Crepe Trip with Sauteed Mushrooms, Zucchini and Onion (I took the onion off) in a reduced Sour Cream sauce wrapped in Crepes with a Greek Salad on the side also for AU$15.90. I also ordered some Green Chilli Sauce on the side of mine for an extra AU$2.50. Since it was MS’ turn to shout breakfast he left me with the Sunday Mail while he went up to the counter to order the food and two Flat Whites.

He returned a short time later with a couple of glasses of water and while waiting for our coffees we secretly fought over the newspaper. After about hmmm maybe 20 minutes our coffees finally arrived. They had taken so damn long that I had actually forgotten that we had even ordered coffees in the first place. Then we watched as three tables that had arrived and paid for their meals well after us received their meals before we did. Not only that but we waited about 40 minutes for our meals all up so by the time they finally arrived we were both pretty damn hungry.

My Flat White

Now onto the food… Despite what I have said leading up to this paragraph the food was great and perfect for a Sunday breakfast/lunch affair (brunch). MS’ Eggs Benedict was a pretty significant portion size, even for him. The eggs were well poached, the potatoes slightly crispy, plenty of bacon and a nice big dollop of thick Hollandaise Sauce. He was pretty pleased with his Eggs Benedict and managed to polish off the entire thing while I stole a couple of Crispy Potatoes off the side of his plate.

Eggs Benedict – Bacon on toasted Turkish Bread, topped with Poached Eggs, Hollandaise and a side of Baby Potatoes (AU$15.90) with Avocado (AU$2.50)

My Crepe Trip was just as good, if not better in my opinion. The soft, floury goodness of the Crepes was exactly what I had been craving and the reduced Sour Cream sauce was so yummy that I decided that I didn’t even need the Green Chilli Sauce that MS had paid a whole AU$2.50 for! (Much better than the dry Mushrooms Crepes that I had at Lime Tree a few weeks ago). The Crepes were filled with big chunks of Mushroom and Zucchini and even MS who normally turns his nose up at any dish that has absolutely no meat in it was impressed. In fact, I could go some Crepes right about now.

Crepe Trip – Sauteed Mushrooms, Zucchini and Onion in a reduced Sour Cream Sauce wrapped in Crepes accompanied by a side of Greek Salad (AU$15.90) with extra Green Chilli Sauce (AU$2.50)

I have been putting off writing this post for quite some time because I knew it was going to be a difficult one to write. I’m trying to be diplomatic because there are some good points but also a sh*tload of bad points. I’ll start with the bad. Apart from the non-shoe wearing diners, the long wait for your food, the dirty floors, the fact that you always always always have to ask to get your table wiped down and as a result of asking you get met with a steely glare (or the burnies as I like to call it), the majority of the staff at the Lillipad are just plain rude. Three in particular and I’m pretty sure that anyone that has dined at this establishment will know exactly who I am talking about. These free spirited individuals are angry at the world and wouldn’t even crack a smile if Paul Watson called them up tomorrow and asked them to join his crew on the Steve Irwin. MS has even witnessed one of them call a diner a murderer for ordering Bacon with their meal. Wow.

So… apart from all I have written in the paragraph above MS and I along with half of Cairns continue to dine at The Lillipad Cafe and the place is absolutely flat out pretty much any time of the day and for good reason. The food is not only delicious (disclaimer: 95% of the time) but the portion sizes are out of this world and the prices are ridiculously low (and have been since the place opened). Where else can you get a fresh grilled fillet of Atlantic Salmon and salad for less than AU$20? The people behind Lillipad have never put the prices up even though they probably know that they could and it would still be packed out. The meals have never downsized and are just as big as I remember them to be (unlike Sushi Train at Cairns Central). The menu is many and varied with literally something for everyone from the meat eaters (murderers) to the vegos and they are open 7 days till well into the afternoon. I guess these are the reasons, despite all the bad points, that we keep coming back to The Lillipad Cafe time and time again, with shoes on.

The Lilypad Cafe

72 Grafton St, Cairns QLD 4870

Ph: (07) 4051 9565

Opening Hours: 7 days 7am- 3pm

Breakfast in the Northern Beaches?

On my last morning in Cairns before I was due to fly out for work MS and I decided (upon advice from a foodvixen reader) to venture out to Lime Tree at Trinity Beach for breakfast.  Now silly me for just assuming that it would be open on a Thursday morning.  I really should have rung up and checked first before driving that far (from the city).  Anyway so we drove out there and much to our dismay Lime Tree was closed for a function.  And even more annoying across the road the Blue Moon Grill is not open for breakfast between Monday and Thursday.  We drove down the road to Fratelli’s and alas, Fratelli’s was also closed.  What is the world coming to when three out of three places are closed for breakfast?  I don’t know if the Trinity Beach Tavern serves breakfast nor do I care because I have had one too many sh*thouse meals there and I will never return.

MS and I were left wondering just where the hell to go for breakfast out at the northern beaches.  MS suggested Coolums at Holloways Beach.  Coolums has been closed for about a year now.  How he did not know that is beyond me, since he has been a resident of Holloways Beach for six years until we ‘officially’ moved in together in April.  I took a stroll into Strait On The Beach, also at Holloways Beach a couple of months ago to grab something for lunch when I was helping MS pack up all his crap (*ahem* I mean belongings) and was so unimpressed by the menu and the sheer price of it all that I promptly left and went to the takeaway shop down the road.  We didn’t want to drive north to Palm Cove purely for the fact that I had a flight to catch in a few hours and had already lost valuable time.  One of the boys at Rehab on Lake Street told us a couple of weeks ago that apparently one of his customers told him that the ‘Best Eggs Benedict’ was at a Cafe in Smithfield but I would be darned if I knew where, since he had no idea either.

Having grown up on the Southside of Cairns (Southside for life!) I am a little out of my depth when it comes to knowing my way around the Northern Beaches area.  A little disappointed with our failure to find anywhere to have breakfast out that way we ended up back in Edge Hill at the Botanical Gardens Restaurant and Cafe.  They even let us ring ahead and order a Bacon Eggs Benedict (for MS) and a Salmon Eggs Benedict (for me), without any hesitation or problems.  We arrived and only waited about two minutes and our Eggs Benedict’s were ready.  I have already said in the past and I will say it again… The Botanical Gardens Restaurant and Cafe in Edge Hill still serves the Best Eggs Benedict in Cairns.  Upon paying I asked the owner why their Eggs Bennie is just so damn good and she claims that it is because they make the sauce themselves, whereas a lot of other places don’t.  Works for me.  Now I am straying a little off my usual path with this post because I would really some opinions on just where people think the Best Eggs Benedict in Cairns really is (or if they agree with my claim on the Botanical Gardens) and where the hell can I get a good breakfast at the Northern Beaches?  And not just on the weekends.  I am intent on trying the breakfast at Lime Tree but I guess I will just have to get there another time when they’re not closed for a function.  Suggestions people… Pretty please?

Bang Espresso, Cairns *CLOSED DOWN*

On Monday morning MS and I went into town to grab some breakfast but unfortunately the place that we were heading to (Mr Wolf formerly Ever After) hadn’t quite re-opened yet.  This was much to our dismay after reading that Monday was the day that this was to happen.  So off we trotted down Lake Street in search of somewhere else.  We walked past the Gingerbread House (that place doesn’t excite me), we thought about Caffiend (went there a couple of days before), we ummed and ahhed about Rehab (just didn’t feel like it) and then we ended up around the corner at Bang Espresso.  Before we met on that fateful night, MS was a frequent breakfast diner at Bang until one day when he wandered in for his usual omelette only to find that they had changed the menu and were not serving proper food between this time and that time… Blah blah blah I stopped listening.  Anyway ever since that day (about 4 months ago) MS has staged a silent protest and not even gone there for a cup of coffee.  That was until I said that I wanted to go there on Monday.

So we strolled into Bang on a very busy Monday morning.  There was a few business types discussing businessy type stuff over their laptops, the ubiquitous male and female couple that always leaves me wondering if they are just friends or something more and then there is everyone else.  We stood at the counter for what seemed like forever while MS deliberated over just what to order, long after I had decided on the Mexy Eggs (AU$12.90).  More on that one in a minute.  I think he actually deliberated for so long because he was hoping that I would change my mind and decide to go somewhere else.  Poor little lamb did have quite the chip on his shoulder about the whole affair but eventually he did find something to order.  He ordered the Fry Up which consisted of Two Eggs, Bacon and Fried Tomato which he swapped for the Mushrooms.  As I already said I ordered the Mexy Eggs for AU$12.90 (Chilli Eggs, Guacamole, Sour Cream and Salsa on Turkish Bread) which isn’t on the paper menu but on the wall behind the counter.  When I ordered it the waitress turned to whom I can only assume was the Cook and said “Your first Mexy Eggs”.  I wasn’t quite sure if she meant that it was his first of the day or his first one ever.  Was I the guinea pig in this whole situation?  I figured that being the first person could only be a good thing because the Cook would want to make the first one the best to ensure it’s longevity on the special’s board behind the counter.  If it sucks then I assume that the Mexy Eggs won’t be hanging around for long.

We took a seat at the long bench-like table at the back of the cafe since there were no other available seats, it was that busy.  I didn’t particularly want to sit at the long table because that means that other people are sitting there too and I have already gone through my hesitance to share things.  Apparently it doesn’t just stop with my food.  Sure enough not long after we sat down, three more people came and sat directly in front of us, rather than the other end which was as far as I could see void of all life.  Ah, never mind.  While we were reading Monday’s edition of The Cairns Post MS pointed out that there seemed to be a lot of staff doing pretty much nothing and just standing around watching the one on the coffee machine.  Meh.  As long as our coffee and food arrived in ample time I didn’t really care.  Our coffees did arrive in ample time and our food not long after.

My Skinny Cap

The cappuccinos were good, not too hot, not too cold.  Not much more I can say really because I’ll readily admit that I am no coffee expert but they do make great coffee at Bang I’ll give them that.  MS ordered his eggs poached and they were a little overcooked (no runny eggs *sad face*).  It was a pretty decent sized serving with two pieces of buttered toast on the side and a big mound of mushrooms in place of the Fried Tomato.  They certainly aren’t stingy with their breakfast sizes at Bang and for the price (AU$13 ish) I think his was good value.

Fry Up – Two Eggs, Bacon and Fried Tomato (swapped for Mushrooms) AU$12.90

My Mexy Eggs looked a lot like Bruschetta Bread with scrambled eggs on top and to be honest tasted a lot like it.  It didn’t really look, feel or taste anything like what I would want for breakfast (if anyone has had the Egg’s Benedict at Tosca’s they might have an idea of what I am talking about).  Although I did nearly eat the lot I would have preferred to have more eggs with it next time since there really didn’t seem to be a whole lot.  Like I said the Mexy Eggs was more like a Bruschetta Bread with a bit of egg in it and a sh*tload of something spicy.  The bread definitely needed to be a little more toasted because it pretty much wasn’t at all.  Unfortunately for me my Mexy Eggs was smothered in parsley.  It’s not that I don’t like parsley because I always ask for tabouli at the Kebab Shop but I just think it’s a little overpowering for some dishes and would prefer to be informed if it is such a big part of my meal.

Mexy Eggs – Chilli Eggs, Guacamole, Sour Cream and Salsa on Turkish Bread (AU$12.90)

So, I can’t say that our Monday breakfast adventure was particularly bad just a little disappointing.  I also used eat breakfast at Bang a few months ago before they decided to change their menu and I have to agree with MS when he stresses that they used to have such a good menu and then they canned it for a standard/everyday/boring menu.  Yeah, ok there is one uncommon breakfast dish on the wall behind the counter (Mexy Eggs) but nothing that really floats my boat.  I can make a Bacon and Mushroom omelette at home.  It’s disappointing because now for me (us) there are just so many other better places to go for breakfast (cue Rehab, Caffiend, Mr Wolf and my old favourite Perotta’s) when Bang was once one of them.  The one thing that I can say is that Bang does keep their prices low.  Everything on their breakfast menu, bar one item, is below the $15 mark, something I find refreshing considering the ridiculous price that some places in town are charging for breakfast these days.  When we went out for breakfast last week the place we dined at (*cough* Caffiend *cough*) was charging $22 for one of their breakfast dishes!  Absurd!  Keeping their prices low is obviously working for the crew at Bang.  Myself?  Well I kind of prefer a little more choice than the standard breakfast fare otherwise I’d dine at Coffee Club.

Bang Espresso

Shop 8, The Bolands Centre 14 Spence St, Cairns QLD 4870

Ph: (07) 4051 7770

Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 6.30am – 4.30pm, Sat 7am – 3pm

Website: www.bangespresso.com.au

Rehab, Cairns

Last Saturday MS and I took a wander through the city in search of somewhere to go for a late breakfast. Scratching our heads and tossing around ideas neither of us could come to an agreement on just where we wanted to go until MS suggested Rehab. Of course! I had been there for coffee a few times but had been meaning to try their menu since it came online a few months ago so off we went to Rehab. For a Saturday afternoon, Rehab was as I had expected… busy. Upon entering Rehab we were greeted by the two friendly owners whose names slip my mind at the present but it was nice to be welcomed by such smiling faces. We ordered off the menu on the wall and upon ordering were told that it would be about a 40 minute wait for food. Neither of us were too concerned as long as we had a cappuccino and The Weekend Post we weren’t in a hurry to go anywhere. It was nice to be told of the wait so we had the option to go somewhere else but we stayed at Rehab.

The tables were full of diners and there was only the bench outside that was free until one nice man who was dining by himself gave up his table for so MS and I could sit together and stare into each others eyes (I’m kidding!) But seriously, it was a nice thing to do. Seems strangers with manners do still exist in 2012. In the end after we managed to coax the friendly solo guy away from his outside table we decided to sit inside at one of the larger tables. 1) Because it was a little bit too cold outside and 2) Because I felt that the tables outside were a little bit too intimate. Other diners were literally centimetres from our table and it felt like we just wouldn’t be able to have a conversation without people hearing the entire thing and us hearing theirs.

The decor at Rehab is super funky with grandma’s brown velvet couch in the corner, weird-ass chalk drawings on the walls of bald men and chemical structures (shit, it’s been a while since I did second year Chem), red glowing chandeliers and even a bit of astro turf out the front. Like another popular cafe in Cairns *cough* Caffiend *cough* it’s very Melbournesque except with Caffiend it’s more alley way setting that makes it rather than the decor. I did find Rehab a little bit dark inside but as a bonus at least MS couldn’t see how dry my skin was from being out at sea for the last few weeks. No I am not an old sea hag, it’s the airconditioning I swear! We weren’t waiting long for our cappuccino’s to arrive and when they did we were super amazed by the super amazing coffee art on top that can only be described as pure genius. I get excited when the barista does the whole palm frond/leaf thing on the top of my foam but wow… this was a face. A very delicately drawn face. MS and I admired both of our cappuccino’s wondering how on earth the barista managed to do it but in the end we figured we would just ask him when we payed for our meals. Now the only problem with the coffee art is that our coffees were actually cold. Maybe because they weren’t particular hot in the first place or maybe because the coffee art took just that little bit too long. The coffee, however, was a damn fine cup of coffee I just would have preferred it to be hot rather than luke warm.

Coffee art in my cappuccino

The 40 minutes that we were told to wait for our food flew by pretty quickly while MS and I fought over who got to read which section of the newspaper first and why one turned the page while the other was still reading it. Ah, young(ish) love. Just to be a little different with our breakfast choices, MS went for the Eggs Benedict with Bacon for AU$15 while I went for the 3 Eggs Scrambled with Gypsy Ham and Roasted Tomato (AU$12) with a side of Avocado (AU$3). Both were good sized servings with big thick pieces of toast. MS’ bacon was nice and crispy with the poached eggs delicately perched on top. Slight problem was that the poached eggs were just a little overcooked, something neither of us are a fan of (they need to be runny). The hollandaise sauce had just the right amount of tang to it and wasn’t overpowering, nor was it slathered on. It was exactly as it should be.

Eggs Benedict with Bacon (AU$15)

Having swayed from my usual choice of Eggs Benedict I was more than happy with my 3 Scrambed Eggs with Gypsy Ham and Roasted Tomato and for only AU$12 that seemed like a pretty good deal to me. The side of avocado (an entire half an avo) was the perfect accompanying extra to my breakfast and although I think the scrambled eggs could have been a little fluffier (yes, ok, I am super fussy about eggs goddamnit!) they would have been perfect for MS who “doesn’t like fluffy eggs” and prefers to “cook the sh*t out of them” (pardon my French but it’s getting late). I actually had no idea what Gypsy Ham was although I figured if it had anything to do with Gypsies then it must be stolen. Upon Googling it about 1 minute ago it appears that Gypsy Ham is pretty much just smoked leg ham which got that name from its dark colour and tender texture. Yawn. Ok, it tasted like ham but good ham at that.

3 Eggs Scrambled with Gypsy Ham and Roast Tomato (AU$12) plus a side of Avocado (AU$3)

Despite a couple of egg gripes our all day breakfast experience at Rehab was tantalisingly tasty. The young, vibrant owners are nothing but friendly and accommodating and they even showed us how the Barista does the awesome coffee art that MS and I ummed and ahhed over. I’m not going to tell you how it’s done, you are just going to have to go in and see it for yourself. The fitout and decor is funky and fresh, something that so many Cairns restaurants and cafes are lacking, and the atmosphere is cosy. Seems Rehab is not just somewhere that my low-life alcoholic ex-boyfriend needs to go (whoops that’s a different kind of rehab) but it’s also the name of a cool little coffee shop/cafe on Lake St that I’ll be checking into again very soon.

Rehab

46 Lake St, Cairns QLD 4870

Ph: 0439 831 824

Opening Hours : Mon – Fri 7am – 6pm, Sat – Sun 8am – 3pm

Website: www.rehabcafe.com.au