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.
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.
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!’
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.
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
I had been wanting to try the banquet at Hanuman at the Hilton for quite some time now so you can imagine my delight when my flamboyant friend HH invited me for dinner with friends one Friday night. I met HH and SR in the lobby at the Hilton at 8pm and after get acquainted (I had never met SR before) and re-acquainted (I hadn’t seen HH since a Christmas Party in December) we headed on into Hanuman to meet three more of his friends waiting inside. DR I already knew but the other two men at the table I had never met before. I cannot for the life of me remember either of their names but it doesn’t really matter since I only initials anyway. The one sitting directly across from me was a dead ringer for Jeremy Clarkson, at least I thought so anyway. I informed him of his resemblance to the tv star and he thought it was very funny. Apparently no one had ever told him that he looked like JC before. I like to think I have a strange knack for comparing peoples looks to celebrities (and sometimes even animals) but then no one else seems to agree with me.
On walking into Hanuman I was surprised to find that half of Cairns seemed to be dining there on this particular Friday night. I know that Hanuman is a very popular restaurant – in Cairns, Darwin and Alice Springs – but because I have only ever been there for lunch before I guess I am only used to seeing a couple of tables occupied. After introductions were made at the table the waitress took our drink orders. I ordered a glass of Squealing Pig Sauvignon Blanc for AU$11 from the Wine Menu while the rest of the men at the table (I was the only female, story of my life) ordered beers. All except for the other guy whose name I can’t remember whom for some reason decided to order a cocktail called a Coconut Kiss. He was horrified to find that when it turned up it was all pink and girlie and subsequently tried to palm it off to me down the other end of the table. The responsible person that I am politely declined his offer since I was driving and one glass of wine was almost more than enough for little old me.
There are three banquet menu’s to choose from on the menu at Hanuman, the Rama Banquet for AU$39.50 per person, the Sita Banquet for AU$49.50 per person and the Hanuman Banquet for AU$62 per person. Each banquet is basically a more grandiose version of the last. HH had already taken the liberty of choosing the Sita Banquet for our table, as he tends to do. It included a selection of entrees, mains and a dessert. Even though our food didn’t take long I was absolutely famished by the time the entrees arrived on two platters placed at either end of the table. This was my one and only cheat meal for the week (FML) so I wanted it to be good. Each platter included three entree dishes including Kashmiri Chicken Tikka marinated with yogurt, ginger, kashmiri chilli and fragrant rose petal garam masala, Vegetable Samosas (Indian pastry filled with potato and peas slow cooked with roasted cumin and spices) and Nonya Pork Rolls flavoured with Chinese five spice and wrapped in bean curd sheets. The presentation was elegant yet simple although if I am really going to nitpick (which I am) then I think they could have removed the seeds from the wedge of lemon on the plate. There was also a yogurt and mint dipping sauce and a sweet and sour type dipping sauce. We ate while we chatted about politics (something I can never escape in my line of work – everyone has an opinion unfortunately), other restaurants in Cairns (my favourite topic of conversation) and the Paleo diet (more on that in another post). The entrees were all delicious with my favourite hands-down being the Kashmiri Chicken Tikka. The yogurt and spices on the chicken gave a nice little burst of flavour when you bit into the chicken which literally melted in my mouth. Each entree was a couple of bites for each person but I could have easily eaten more.
About 15 minutes later our mains arrived with a parade of waiters. There was two plates/bowls of each dish placed on the table in front of us followed by a large platter of whole fish right in the middle. SR (who just happens to be a chef) asked what kind of fish it was. The waitress said that it was barramundi. SR and I looked at each other with a deeply puzzled look because even though we didn’t know what kind of fish it was we knew that it sure as hell wasn’t a barramundi. The fish before us had no signature ‘curved head’ or elongated body as barramundi tend to. SR assured the waitress that she was indeed mistaken to which she looked surprised and said that it was probably a rock cod. Nope, still wrong. The menu doesn’t actually specify what type of fish it is it just says ‘Crispy Whole Fish’. The waitress was a little flustered when we continued to question her and I felt bad but waitstaff at a restaurant as prominent and popular as Hanuman should know what kind of fish they are serving. I’m sure plenty of people would have been happy to think that their fish was in fact a barramundi but not us. The waitress said that she would check with the chef and get back to us. In the meantime another waiter came over to fill our glasses so SR asked him what type of fish it was to which the reply was also Barramundi and then cod. Anyway to cut a long story short in the end the waitress came back and told us that it was a Goldband Snapper. Problem solvered more than 30 minutes later when our fish no longer resembled a fish and hopefully the waitstaff won’t make assumptions about what they are serving next time. You probably think it’s quite a petty thing to question but as someone whose parents owned a wholesale seafood business for a significant portion of my life and works on a boat it’s not to me.
Anyway so we all dug into a our food… I piled a mountain of rice onto my plate to soak up all the juices from the delicious curries laid out in front of me because like I have said before rice and sauce is the best part. Who cares about the meat (except for the purpose of this post), I want the sauce! My family used to have Sri Lankan curry nights when I was little (still do) and all I used to eat was bowls of rice and sour cream (now I eat curry). Lucky for me each dish came with copious amounts of sauce/gravy with them. The dishes included Kapitan Prawns a rich curry of fresh turmeric, lemon grass, galangal, coconut and ground dried shrimps, Thai Crispy Whole Fish served with three flavoured sauce – hot, sweet and sour, Butter Chicken silky cashew and tomato curry, infused with cardamom and cumin, Beef Massaman aromatic curry with potato, ginger, nutmeg, tamarind and peanuts and Kang Kong Greens water spinach, stir fried with yellow soya beans, garlic and chilli. I’m not going to go into ridiculous amounts of detail about the taste, creaminess and spice infusions of each dish but I have to say that I couldn’t really choose a favourite other than the obvious creamy Butter Chicken (food of the God’s!) The Butter Chicken was exactly as it should be… f**king awesome!
The Kapitan Prawns were sweet and flavoursome and they left the tails on the prawns for presentation and because it retains the flavour, an absolute must. I’ve had arguments out at sea with crew members while making prawn curry about leaving the prawn tails intact. It’s something that my parents have always done no matter how we have the prawns and I think it makes the dish more visually appealing, not mention the prawns look bigger than they actually are. One criticism for the Kapitan Prawns… It was too small! I could have eaten that entire bowl by myself no questions asked. C’mon Hanuman surely throwing another 3 or 4 prawns in there won’t break the bank?
The Massaman Curry (another favourite of mine) was in fact not Massaman Curry but more like a Lamb Korma. Well okay it was a Lamb Korma smartass. The chunks of lamb were a little bit on the chewy side which is not really what you want when the chunks are large because it makes the risk of choking that much higher (one of my greatest fears other than centipedes). It was disappointing that the Massaman didn’t turn up because a rich peanut-ty Massaman can be almost life changing. I don’t know, maybe they ran out of Massaman and figured that the Lamb Korma, which is served in the more expensive banquet would be a step up? Not in my books it’s not.
The Thai Crispy Whole Fish was very good, nothing too fantastic I didn’t think but whole fish on a platter doesn’t really turn me on. It was met with ooh’s, ahh’s and photos on it’s arrival at the table. Meh. Call me simple but I think you really just can’t beat a good piece of battered fish with lemon and tartare sauce. While the rest of the table was busy dividing up pieces of Crispy Whole Fish I was busy sampling and re-sampling the other dishes.
Lastly there was the Kang Kong Greens which well, they were fresh and crisp in a light garlic and chilli sauce but because there was so much other yummy stuff on the table and because I have been eating broccoli and beans for three of my five meals a day for nearly 12 weeks now I didn’t feel too much like eating more greens. I had limited room in my stomach and it wasn’t being taken up by vegetables that’s for sure.
It wasn’t long till I was full as a goog after eating about 2 and a half plates of rice, meat, seafood and sauce. There was quite a bit of food left over at the table however the Butter Chicken and the Kapitan Prawns were all gone. Easily the best two curries of the night! Then as the waitress was clearing the tables I remembered that we still had dessert to go, which arrived soon after the clearing of the plates with offers of tea and coffee to finish off the evening. Everyone at the table declined tea and coffee as I think we had all eaten more than our fair share at the main course and a mug of hot tea or coffee just wouldn’t go down well.
Dessert was Thai Basil Cheesecake with Kaffir Lime Leaves and Strawberries and I have to say that it was, well, disappointing. I expected some sort of Asian flair in a cheesecake but it was just plain, boring old cheesecake that they had pulled out of the fridge and plopped on a plate. In fact it was probably already on a plate in the fridge waiting to be served. There was nothing special about it and no one at the table really even ate it. I also think there was too much gelatine in it. I was full but I still could’ve fit a good dessert in. It was a shitty end to a great meal. Something more fitting to what we had just eaten like a Coconut Sago or Mango Pudding would have been more appropriate than cheesecake. Oh well, I didn’t really need it anyway.
We all finished up not long after our mediocre cheesecake and after spending about 10 minutes assuring HH that I didn’t want to kick on at the Salt House I headed home. My company and I were well satisfied and I think that the Sita Banquet was certainly a fitting ‘cheat meal’ despite a couple of hangups. To wrap it all up the service at Hanuman is excellent without being overbearing. Good service in Cairns is as hard to find as an outside table at the Lillipad Cafe on a Sunday. Our receptive waitress for the evening ensured that our water glasses were kept filled, beers were flowing and any other needs met with a smile. Hanuman is definitely doing something right on the Cairns scene judging by the turnout of diners on the evening. The atmosphere is classy but not snobby with a beautiful outlook onto the Hilton’s manicured gardens adjacent to the chapel and beyond to the inlet. The food is flavoursome, filling and indulgent however still reasonably priced for a fine dining restaurant. The banquets are definitely good value for money because you get to taste a little bit of everything, although you must dine with a group because they are only available for six people or more. To be honest I was expecting a little more out of Hanuman and I think the size of some of the dishes, the lack of some dishes, as well as the lack of knowledge by staff as to what was being served to the final dish was a bit of a let down, although I did have very high expectations. I would still love to go back and try the more expensive Hanuman Banquet which includes oysters, two types of prawn dishes, fish, two types of lamb dishes, wok tossed seafood, Thai Crispy Whole Fish, Butter Chicken and vegetables but until then I’m wondering if I should tone down on the banquets and buffets for a little while, well for this week anyway.
Hilton Hotel Cairns, 34 Esplanade, Cairns QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4051 6075
Opening Hours: Lunch Mon – Fri 12pm – 3pm, Dinner 7 nights from 6pm till late
It’s 1.25am and I am at work struggling to put pen to paper so to speak but I know that if I don’t get this post done then it could be a good two and a half weeks before I get one up. I figure now is as good a time as any to write about my dining experience at one of Cairns’ favourite restaurants, Waterbar and Grill. A couple of friends and I were pondering over where to go with a group of us for an early dinner on a Sunday evening so I decided on Waterbar and Grill since I had been pining to try this particular dish that my sister had recommended, I knew the food was good and they were happy to split the bill there. It seemed like the perfect suggestion. Everyone else happy with it (not that they really had a choice) and a group of nine of us met there at 6pm last Sunday.
I had already rung up and made a reservation a couple of days before knowing full well how popular and busy Waterbar is on any given day due its waterfront location and great food. I have dined at Waterbar and Grill countless times since they opened around six years ago and have never had a bad meal. In fact if anyone ever asks me where to get a good steak in Cairns I always recommend Waterbar and Grill before any other restaurant. It had, however, been over a year since I last dined there and I was hoping that nothing had changed, in fact I pleasantly surprised because things seemed to have only gotten better since my last time.
It was a bit of a catch up dinner for my friends and I since now ALL of us are in relationships and have our own shit going on we don’t get to catch up with each other as much as we would like (translates to: now we have to be responsible and not go out on the town every weekend till all hours of the morning), plus I work away so that makes things just that little more difficult. Thankfully we were seated inside because it was still stinking hot outside and the air conditioning was a welcoming cool change from having drops of sweat running down your spine. Two of our friends were already seated with drinks and as we sat down the waiter asked us what we would like to drink. True to form MS and I went for the glass of coke and glass of Sauvignon Blanc respectively (Angel Cove I think was on the cards for me tonight). Within minutes the rest of our crew had arrived and promptly ordered drinks from the waiter. About five minutes later our drinks ensued and I was elated at just how quickly the whole event had taken place (drink service that is).
While we chatted and caught up on new ventures, diets, birthday weekends away at Mt Quincan and harrowing tales of Steve Irwin’s final moments (still to this day makes me want to cry like a baby) we had a look over our menu’s and told the waiter what we wanted. Before I start I will say that I’m not going to write a book about everyone’s meal at the table, as there was nine of us in total and to be honest I really just couldn’t be arsed especially since most people at the table ordered a variation of the same dish, aka a steak. A steak is a steak in my book, as long as it’s a good steak and in the case that it’s not then I’ll write about it. I was really only concerned with the entrees and what MS and I were having for this particular post as I don’t want to rattle on too much. MS ordered an entrée of Salt and Pepper Squid with Coriander and Lemon for AU$16 while after a big day of eating and the day before I was to start my new ‘mass gain’ eating plan (the implications that will have on both me and my blog will be explained in a later post but seriously FML). I opted for no entrée figuring that MS would share some of his with me. Unbeknownst to the rest of us at the table my beautiful friend MG, being the lovely and overly generous hostess with the mostest that she is (our own personal one anyway), ordered a couple of dishes as entrees for the entire table to share. I was delighted but also felt bad at the same time. MG chose a Selection of Dips – Walnut and Chilli Pesto, Roast Beetroot and Hummus with Warm Crisp Bread for AU$15 and the Boerwors – Traditional South African Sausage served with Garlic Mash for AU$26.
No longer that fifteen minutes passed before the entrees arrived at our table. The Selection of Dips were yummy but it’s pretty hard to balls up a dip platter unless of course you try to make your own organic dairy free pesto for a Trivia Night like I did, because lets face it, pesto is no good without cheese in it. MS’ Salt and Pepper Squid was probably some of the best Salt and Pepper Squid that I have tasted while dining out for a very long time (Mum and Dad’s squid still reigns supreme though). It was tender and fresh with just a light dusting of flour and was a very reasonable sized serve (much bigger than I was expecting). I managed to snavel a couple of pieces off MS’ plate but to be honest I was way too captivated by the large sausage in front of me to pay attention to the squid.
Luckily for me the humongous Boerwors was placed directly in front of me and with much encouragement from MG to eat it I simply couldn’t help myself along with the rest of the table. MG also ordered a side of Red Wine and Chilli Sauce as a dipping sauce to go with the Boerwors. I have to say that this dish was absolutely delicious and I was deeply saddened by the fact that I had to share this dish with the rest of the table and also the fact that I hadn’t ordered it for my main course. Fail. The Red Wine and Chilli Sauce is so good that I could literally drink it and a mouthful of that ‘oh so smooth’ Garlic Mash with this sauce drizzled over the top is heavenly. Admittedly I’m not normally a fan of mash (I just don’t see what all the fuss is about) but I thought I was off mash for life after tasting my crew mates ‘Mash Surprise’ into which he literally puts anything and everything. Last time he made it not only was there potato in it but ginger, garlic, chilli, coriander, parsley, pepper, spring onions, red onion and at least another three items that fail to spring to mind at 2am on this fine morning. Now you know why myself and the rest of my crew call it ‘Mash Surprise’. Unfortunately I’m yet to convince my crew mate that less is more in the mash department. But back to Waterbar’s Garlic Mash… I don’t know what they do to it, it’s smooth, it’s creamy, it’s garlicky and it must be really bad for you but it’s so damn good that who really cares? I could shower in that shit! The chunky Boerwors curled up in a big meaty pile on the plate also didn’t disappoint in all it’s mouthwatering fleshy goodness. The nine of us (minus one who is a vegetarian) absolutely annihilated the entire dish.
Next up our main meals arrived and on the recommendation of my sister I had committed the ultimate sin and ordered a salad at a steak restaurant. She insisted that every time she dined at Waterbar she ordered the Grilled Lamb Salad with Rocket, Cous Cous, Haloumi Cheese, Lavosh and Goat’s Cheese Dressing and raved about how good it was. I tend to think that my sister knows what she is talking about when it comes to good food (not as much as me of course but hey) so I went with it and boy did I regret it. It’s crap watching everyone around you chow down on beautiful big, juicy steaks with oozy Red Wine and Chilli Sauce and giant skewers of Espatada when you are munching on slivers of lamb and squeaky bits of haloumi. I’m not going to blame Waterbar for making a shitty salad, although it was, but myself for ordering a salad at a steak restaurant. Both the lamb and the haloumi were cold and there just didn’t seem to be a whole lot to the dish other than rocket. I am a big fan of the Rocket Salad at Waterbar but that’s when I have it as a side salad with a big juicy steak, not an entire bowl of it. Thanks for the bum steer TW. Sad panda. I’m going to liken ordering salad at a steak restaurant to eating Western food in Thailand. You just don’t do it (sorry to all those vegetarians out there).
MS on the other hand was happily munching away on his 250g Prime Rib Eye with Garlic Mash, Red Wine and Chilli Sauce AND Blue Cheese and Caper Butter for AU$34. Apparently the mixture of the Red Wine and Chilli Sauce and Blue Cheese and Caper Butter with lashings of Garlic Mash is a taste sensation according to MS and after tasting a forkful I think I am going to have to agree, but lets face it, everything tastes better with Blue Cheese. To my left everyone’s eyes nearly popped out of their heads when they caught a glimpse of AA 400g Prime Rib Eye on the Bone for AU$42. All steaks at the table were cooked to everyone’s liking, as you would expect at a steak restaurant, but as we all know can not always be expected. MS thoroughly enjoyed his meal, as did everyone else at the table apart from yours truly.
Apart from the delicious food (forget about the salad ok, just forget it) what impressed me the most while dining at Waterbar and Grill was the outstanding service. It was, as the website says, exceptional and in my opinion probably some of the best service that I have received when dining out in Cairns in a very, very long time. Our glasses of water were topped up regularly, our water jugs replaced before they were empty an without asking, our drink orders were filled numerous times without us having to summon any wait staff and when our meals were brought out the each member of the wait staff knew exactly who ordered what and exactly whom to put it in front of. It was certainly a breath of fresh air and those that dine out regularly in Cairns know how rare it is to find such superior service. However, this particular Sunday wasn’t a one-off occasion, Waterbar and Grill continues to deliver great food and service day in, day out which is probably why they have been named FNQ’s Best Steak Restaurant numerous times over the last few years (except for last year for some reason). If you are looking for a succulent steak, great atmosphere and service that is second to none then get yourself down to Waterbar and Grill at The Pier if you haven’t already although I suspect most of you have. Just don’t make the same mistake that I did and order salad. Also, watch out for those darn ceiling fans.
Waterbar and Grill
Pier Shopping Centre, Pierpoint Rd, Cairns QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4031 1199
Opening Hours: Mon – Sat 11.30am – 11pm, Sun 11.30am – 9.30pm
My friend Baking Myself Happy ordered this Vege Stack during our lunch date at Caffiend early last week and I just had to post to about it. My Quinoa Salad was good but I had serious food envy when her dish came out! How good does it look?! By all accounts it tasted as good as it looks 🙂
5/78 Grafton St, Cairns QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4051 5522
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 7.30am-2pm, All day breakfast, Lunch 12pm-2pm
JUST A LITTLE RANT: I have been following the food trends down south via the Qantas Magazine, Delicious Magazine, Gourmet Traveller Magazine and a witty Melbourne food blog I discovered about six months ago called The Very Very Hungry Caterpillar. By all accounts from these four sources it seems that there are quite a few food trends that Cairns is missing out on. Well, lets see there is the hotdog one, the Mexican one (no I don’t mean Montezuma’s and Cactus Jack’s) and now the Dim Sum one? I don’t now what food trend Cairns is stuck on but I am pretty sure we are still stuck back at the Macaron or the Cupcake somewhere. I recently read about a place in Melbourne called Wonderbao that has people queued out the door for these things called ‘Baos’, which I am pretty sure are the same thing as a Steamed Pork Bun. Since reading about Wonderbao and it’s wonderous ‘Baos’ I have made it my life’s mission to go to Melbourne and eat a Roasted Pork Belly Bao. I don’t just want one, I need it. Apparently this Bao trend is not only a Melbourne thing as I recently found during a work trip to Brisbane.
Upon researching just where and what to eat in the city of Brisbane I stumbled across a review of a place not too far from where I was staying in the city called Steamed. After reading up on it a little more I was overjoyed to see that Steamed not only had Bao’s but it also had dumplings on the menu. A combination? Well roll me in dim sims and call me Mrs Chang! So the next day after knocking off early (who am I kidding we knock off early every day) I hurried my little feet down to Turbot Street and found myself at Steamed. It was a sparse but busy little place with office workers strolling in and out carrying armfuls of dumplings and Bao’s no doubt to take back to the office. There was even a woman sitting off to the side making fresh dumplings with a large ‘vat’ of mixture and a stereo, not just any old woman, she worked there.
On the menu they had three different flavours of dumplings to choose from and Pork Cloud, aka Bao, aka Steamed Pork Bun. Whatever it was, I wanted it! I had been for a run that morning and I deserved it (at least that is what my friend TW would say as she shovels a cupcake into her mouth). I chose a sample of the three types of dumplings and a Pork Cloud for around the $10 mark and took my seat at the bench to devour my freshly steamed delights. A man sat down across from me and started talking to me about my dumplings and my Cloud. I shot him a ‘You are ruining my oriental experience here goddammit’ look and politely told him that I wasn’t from Brisbane. I think he got the picture. Since when were Brisbane-ites so damn friendly anyway. I figured none of them since not one person had said good morning to me on my run (damn rude city people) and I nearly got hit by a bike rider – I swear that guy came out of nowhere! Sheesh.
Anyway back to my dumplings and Cloud. The dumplings flavours were: the Harbin Pork with Chives, ground Pork and diced Ginger; the Lovabull with Red Onion, Ginger, ground Beef and spices; and the Zen with Shitake Mushrooms, Chinese Cabbage and seasoned Tofu. I have to say that I didn’t particularly like the Lovabull flavour. The Red Onion just tasted nasty and I think that I make better dumplings at home. I did however really like the vegetarian one with the Tofu in it. It was super yummy and I kinda wished that I had more of those ones instead of the other two flavours. I wasn’t too impressed.
My Cloud however was fluffy and delicious. It didn’t have Roasted Pork Belly in it like I had been dreaming about but a rather tasty mixture of Pork, Ginger and Shallots. It was good but still didn’t satisfying my yearning for Wonderbao. At least I had come just that little bit closer. Yeah I know, I know we have Golden Boat where they have those Yum Cha trolley’s they drag around and you get to choose what want off of it. They have Steamed Pork Buns there I know but it’s the novelty of having a whole shop dedicated to steamed goodies with meat in them! Oh god!
In my Foot Falcon searches of Brisbane City and the Valley for the perfect cute dress I spied many a bustling Mexican eatery, two in particular Mad Mex and Guzman Y Gomez. I was already well aware of the Mexican food fad that had swept through Melbourne. (MS if you are reading this, please take me to Mamasita one day… I’ll be your best friend?) Apparently it’s sweeping through Brisbane now and while getting my hair done at Toni and Guy the entire salon gushed about how amazing Mexican chain eatery Guzman Y Gomez was and how they ate there nearly every day. I thought to myself ‘Holy sh*t I need to get to this damn Mexican place and fast!’ But alas, I already had a stomach full of dumplings and Cloud, no matter how far I had run that morning I did not deserve to eat Mexican as well as a Cloud. The girls claimed that the place is queued out the door most days and it has taken the city by storm. I was most upset that I wasn’t going to get to try one of these amazing burritos before I flew back to Cairns the next day since I already had dinner plans and I wasn’t eating a burrito for breakfast. And again, I know, I know we already have Mexican eateries in town, the likes of which I mentioned earlier but um ‘Hello’? Do you see anyone queuing out the door to go to these places? Never. I am really surprised that Montezuma’s is even still open because there is never anyone there. So if I am hearing about people regularly queuing out the doors to get their hands on a Quesadilla and hairdressers gushing about this so called gourmet Mexican food at Guzman Y Gomez then it must be good right? To tell you truth I think I was more upset that I didn’t get to see just what all the fuss was about rather than not getting to try a burrito. Now I have also made eating at one of these Mexican eateries my other mission in life. Yep, I’m certainly driven to succeed.
I have to admit it I love a good food trend and I guess I probably enjoy the novelty of it more than anything else but what upsets me is the fact that all these food trends happen everywhere but Cairns? Any why does it take us so damn long to catch up? I mean I know Townsville is still back in the stone age, they only just got a Myer for Pete’s sake so at least that makes me feel a little better but if they get a Mad Mex or a Guzman Y Gomez before we do then I am gonna lose my sh*t. For real yo. Do I really have to fly all the way down to Melbourne or wait for my next work trip to a capital city just to enjoy some decent Mexican food or visit an eatery made up entirely of dumplings and clouds? I am waiting with baited breath hoping that one day, just one day they might make their way up to little old Cairns and I can have my Bao and eat it too.
95 Turbot St, Brisbane QLD
Ph: 0432 933 423
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 10.30am – 3pm
After a big weekend of adventures for MS and I (no Amateurs for us) we didn’t feel like cooking nor going anywhere for dinner last night. With a penchant for something deep fried we both decided on a good old serve of fish and chips for dinner. We tried the Earlville Fish Bar but their phone rang out. We drove down to Sheridan St to Sheridan Gourmet Seafood to see if we could get some there but by all accounts they appear to have closed down. So we went a little further along to another Fish and Chip shop on Sheridan St near the IGA (can’t think of the name) but apparently they had run out of squid. That was a deal breaker (I WANTED SQUID) so we drove further along to Ocean World but they close at 7pm. After a bit more driving around we ended up on Pease St at Ramsden’s Fish and Chips and after some umming and ahhing we ordered a serve of chips, two pieces of battered Spanish Mackerel, 5 pieces of Salt and Pepper Squid, 5 pieces of Calamari and some Tartare Sauce for AU$24.40. It was good, not amazing and the serving size was ok but I guess I am still stuck in 1998 when a couple of bucks got you a mountain of chips from the takeaway shop across the road from my high school. Anyway, the purpose of this post is to find the Best Fish and Chips in Cairns. As a local I am ashamed that I have no idea where to get good Fish and Chips anymore so I am calling on my readers to help me out. Where can I get the Best Fish and Chips in Cairns?
The truth is that I dine out a sh*tload and there are a few things that get on my goat when I do. Some are just personal preferences but others go without saying. I’m not demanding and bossy (that’s what one of my work colleagues told me a couple of days ago) I just know what I want and if I pay good money for it then why the hell shouldn’t I get it?
1. The person taking the order should know the menu – If you are getting paid a wage to work at the restaurant/cafe/dining establishment then you should know exactly what is being sold there down to whether or not there is anchovies in the Chicken Caesar Salad. Enough said.
2. One should smile upon giving service – There is nothing worse than having a miserable and mean person serving you. Good service is usually what people remember. If you go out for a meal and the food is mediocre but the service is excellent chances are you will come back. If you go out for a meal and the food is outstanding but the service is terrible you probably won’t.
3. Poached eggs should always be runny – Please don’t hard boil my poached eggs. If I wanted hard boiled eggs with my meal then I would ask for them and usually if I do eat hard boiled eggs I eat the white and give the yolk to my dad if he’s around (hey what are dad’s for?).
4. Seafood should always be sourced locally or at least in Australia (when available) – Please don’t support imported seafood. Not only is it poor quality compared to our own (cue Vannamei prawns yuck!), we should be supporting Australian fisheries.
5. Wait staff should know off the top of their head where the seafood comes from -Maybe this is just something that bugs me and my family I don’t know but it’s kinda the same as knowing what’s on the menu. If I ask where the oysters are from the waiter/waitress shouldn’t have to go and ask the chef. Even worse when the chef doesn’t even know (*ahem* Mondo).
6. Split bills should not be frowned upon – Come on this is 2012 people. I understand that there is an extra credit card surcharge incurred or something like that but for those paying cash or by eftpos is hell really going to freeze over if my friends and I try to split the bill? It’s just makes dining out with friends and large groups so much easier (kudos to the restaurants that do it already – Barnacle Bills, Waterbar and Grill and Dundees to name a few).
7. Sauce should not cost extra – It sucks when you order fish and chips and the fish and chip shop expects you to pay 25c each for those little squirty things of tomato or tartare sauce that always seem to explode everywhere but on my piece of fish. Fish and chips is already well overpriced these days. Surely you can just provide the sauce at no extra price in those big squirty bottles for those dining in? If you order a steak from a restaurant the sauce should be included in the price. Paying $35 for a steak is pricey enough without having to pay an extra $2.50 for Red Wine Jus. PS: Yes I am a sauce lover.
8. If certain foods are not available then diners should be made aware of this before they try to order their meal – There is nothing worse than umming and ahhing over a menu only to finally choose whatever it is you want and then having the waiter/waitress tell you that there isn’t any left. Maybe you should make sure you have enough avocados before you open for Sunday brunch or that you have enough Steak for diners on a Saturday night (especially if your establishment is nextdoor to a butcher). Just saying.
9. Butter should be on the side – This is a personal one really. I always forget to ask for no butter when I order my meal (usually breakfast) and get super annoyed when my toast comes out already buttered. I noticed at Beethoven’s they are starting a no butter movement and automatically serving their sandwiches with no butter unless you ask for it. Bravo!
10. If dining somewhere nice you should only be served by one waiter/waitress. Not three – It really sucks when you go to a restaurant and get served and waited on by the entire fleet of waiters. I’m pretty sure that good hospitality requires one to work one section and one section only. Stick to that section dammit.
11. A jug/bottle of water is a given– You know how nice it is when you dine out and a bottle of water and some glasses just gets bought to your table and you don’t have to ask. To me this sets the standard for the entire meal. Ahhh.
12. Tables should be wiped down – You shouldn’t have to get up and ask for the leftovers and chunks of someone elses meal to be removed from your table. Do I really need to say anymore? (*cough* Lilypad *cough*)
14. Meals should be brought out together – Don’t serve someone at the table 10 minutes before everyone else. It’s rude.
15. People arriving after you should get their food after you – Again, this one goes without saying. There is nothing more frustrating than having people that arrived well after you getting served their meals before you. There’s an invisible line people!
I could really go on forever here but I won’t. Anyone else got some pet peeves for dining out?
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?