I’d say out of all the restaurants and cafe’s that I dine at I only actually end up blogging about a quarter of them. I always have the best of intentions to do all these posts and then time gets the better of me. One thing I do find that in order to write these posts I need to be in the ‘zone’ so to speak. There must be no noise (especially not wind chimes) or other distractions in the nearby vicinity when I decide to get my laptop out and do something other than stalk people on Facebook or make a vain attempt to log into my work email.
I’m not one of those people that could ever study with headphones on or the TV in the background. When I was studying at uni the only time I was actually able to get any study done at all was when I took my pen, paper and bag of textbooks to the Cairns City Library and basked in the silence of like-minded people. Even then I found myself staring out the window all too often.
When I was in Grade 6 I played soccer in an all girls team. We were terrible and only got one goal all year – unfortunately against another team from the same school. We screamed like a bunch of girls none the less. My dad would claim that our pathetic goal scoring abilities were not aided by the fact that during our games I was more concerned with who was playing on the field next to us than my own game. So the point of my story is that my attention span is about that of a gold fish. It’s not my fault that I need to hear the deafening sound of tinnitus in my ears before I can actually concentrate on writing a post and unfortunately for me lately that’s been few and far between. Lucky for me I’m currently on the other side of Australia with nothing but time on my hands (in the evening anyway) and having run out of episodes of Ray Donovan I guess I have no other choice but to concentrate on writing a post about what has recently become one of my favourite cafes to visit in Cairns…
After a late Sunday coffee and homemade lemonade at one of Edge Hill’s newest (ok newish) cafe’s, Ten One Twenty, I vowed to return the next day for lunch since the menu sounded ridiculously enticing. Sadly for me though the next day was Monday and Ten One Twenty isn’t open on Monday’s. Tuesday it was! Named after it’s address on Collins Avenue Ten One Twenty is the newest brainchild of the good folks at Caffiend. On Ten One Twenty’s Facebook page it’s touted as a gelati and espresso bar but after visiting for lunch last week I found the food was also worth a mention.
MS had promised to take his elderly father out for lunch before he left for work later that afternoon. It’s something we both like to do about once a month since his dad isn’t very mobile and doesn’t get the chance to get out much so he gets a bit lonely. A little after midday the three of us shuffled into Ten One Twenty and took a seat at one of the tables near the window. We had a look over the menu whilst not so secretly trying to figure out what meals the two ladies next to us were eating – in the end they overheard us talking about their food and kindly divulged what they had ordered, followed by how delicious it was. Finally we all made a decision and I moseyed on up to the counter, next to the large cabinet of baked sweets, to order lunch and coffee for the three of us.
Like clockwork the coffees came out first of all and with a smile from the guy that took my order. A friendly guy with good calves to boot. Another 10 or so minutes later our meals arrived. MS had ordered the Poached Free Range Chicken, Chilli Mayo, Tarragon and Rocket Gourmet Toastie for AU$11.90. $11.90 is a little on the steep side for a toastie in my humble opinion but I guess you are also paying for their prime location in Edge Hill. I’ll admit I did have a taste of MS’ toastie and it was jam packed with flavour – plenty of sweetness from the Chilli Mayo to go with the bitterness of the rocket. MS gobbled his toastie up that fast that I’m not sure if it even touched the sides going down. It was probably only a light meal for a man his size but more than enough for the average eater.
Over on my side of the table I had ordered the dish that I spied on the menu two days prior that prompted my stealthy return – the Healthy Green Salad with Raw Kale, Broccoli, Corn, Herbs, Preserved Lemon (AU$14.50), plus I added some Poached Chicken for an extra $4.50. When it arrived I did think it was a little bit smaller than what I had pictured in my head. This salad was the best salad I have had in a long time. The flavours were subtle but it was lovely and fresh with a beautiful mix of crunchy veggies, cherry tomatoes and herbs with small pieces of poached chicken flaked amongst it. I have to admit that this is only the second time I have ever eaten kale. The first was a shitty attempt at making kale chips in my oven at home. They ended up tasting like a big bowl of salty ash. This time my kale experience was much more enjoyable and I am keen to get back and try Ten One Twenty’s breakfast version with a poached egg on top in place of the chicken.
MS’ dad, who shall go by the alias of Papa S, had chosen the Japanese Style Smashed Chilli Egg on Sourdough with Ponzu Cucumber and Zucchini Salad (AU$15.90). I’m not quite sure why he chose a dish with chilli in it because he can’t really handle chilli that well. He then proceeded to add extra chilli from the small bottle of chilli sauce that was placed on our table – before tasting his lunch mind you. He’s a little forgetful in his old age bless him but he did get a nice little surprise with his first mouthful, and second, and third. etc, etc. Not quite sure why this dish was called Japanese Style Smashed Chilli Eggs because I thought they somewhat resembled what I would call ‘Scrambled Eggs’ but hey they still looked great. His dish was also lightly scattered with Goji Berries – at least that’s what MS and I thought they were. Funnily enough Papa S swore they were kidney beans. I can assure you they definitely weren’t but MS and I weren’t about to correct with him and were just happy to leave him enjoy his lunch – kidney beans and all. After we had all finished our lunch Papa S raved about this Chilli Eggs. You know the ones sprinkled with ‘Kidney Beans’? It’s easy to tell when he likes something because he raves about how ‘lovely’ it was time and time again.
It doesn’t take a foodie like me to know there is more than a handful of places of go in Edge Hill for breakfast, lunch and a caffeine fix but Ten One Twenty is my pick of places to go. Best part is it’s not overwhelmingly busy unlike a couple of other popular places in Edge Hill – they shall remain nameless. Although this was only the first time I had been to Ten One Twenty for food I have been there multiple times for coffee and always found the service friendly and efficient. The atmosphere is relaxed with a rustic but eclectic vibe and an interesting mix of people coming and going including plenty of families stopping by for a scoop or two of gelato. The food at Ten One Twenty is simple, fresh, innovative and a little bit fancy all at the same time. Another thing to look forward to other than gelati sandwiches and ‘sketti jaffles’ (with two different types of cheese) is their gelati parties including live DJ’s on Saturday afternoons. Get amongst it!
Ten One Twenty Café
10/120 Collins Ave, Edge Hill QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4032 1010
Opening Hours: Tues – Sat 7am – 4.30pm, Sun 8am – 4.30pm
I’m out at sea (well I was when I wrote this) and bored out of my frigin brain so I figured I might as well attempt to kill a couple of hours by starting my next post. Recently a friend of MS’, and subsequently mine, invited us out for dinner to celebrate his birthday with his new wife and a few mutual friends. They tossed around a few ideas in a group message on FB as to where to go and in the end went with Linga Longa. I was happy with that decision (not that it was up to me at all) because I had heard good things about Linga Longa but I hadn’t yet been there (story of my life).
Saturday night came and MS and I arrived at Linga Longa to find we were the last ones to get there. We were seated down the back of the restaurant at our table of 8 (4 couples). After a bit of chit chat, me filling people in on how awesome Shanghai was and oohing and ahhing about a friends new Dashund puppy we ordered some drinks and had a look over the menu. The restaurant was full for a Saturday with a couple of waitstaff working overtime to keep all the tables happy.
I ordered my usual glass of Sauvignon Blanc while MS, after finding out that the only Cider that Linga Longa had on the menu was Strongbow (why haven’t restaurants caught onto the whole cider thing yet and who the hell even drinks Strongbow?!), decided he would have a Black Russian. Yeah I had no idea what it was either or maybe I’m just not with the times, who knows. So… apparently a Black Russian is Coke with Vodka and Kahlua. I didn’t think it was something that would appeal to me at all – especially considering that I haven’t touched vodka with a 10 foot pole after an entire day spent with my head in a bucket after only 5 vodka’s during a State of Origin night at the Courthouse a few years ago (okay okay they were the more than lethal Smirnoff Black’s but still!). Turns out that Black Russian’s are actually alright, well the sip that I had of it anyway. The birthday boy, SG, liked the idea of a Black Russian so much that he ordered one for himself after consuming what I can only say is a girlie drink – a mojito (yes SG if you are reading this mojito’s are for girls).
Three out of four couples at the table had some sort of voucher to use for dinner. When I say ‘some sort’ I mean 2 x Table 52 cards plus MS and I had our Entertainment Book Gold Card. I wasn’t sure if we would be able to use all three together. Apparently there was quite a bit of commotion caused when some of the guys at our table had tried to use a few Table 52 cards at Wink 2 a few months prior to this birthday dinner – to put it lightly the waiter/owner whatever he was (I wasn’t there) was quite rude and as a result none of them will ever go back there again, and that is on top of the ordinary food that they had already had. Anyway, it remained to be seen how we would go with our vouchers, but I figured we would just wait till it came time to pay the bill to find out.
We all ordered entrees and mains with MS and I ordering a Salt and Pepper Squid and sourdough with a trio of dips (Hommus, Babaganoush and Tzatziki) to share between the two of us. The Salt and Pepper Squid seemed to be the most popular entree at our table with four servings ordered in total, however it took a good 40 minutes from when we arrived to when we received our entrees – hell we didn’t order until thirty minutes after we arrived! Just that little bit too long if you ask me. I had high expectations for Linga Longa since I had heard a lot of good things about it and people are always harping on about the fantastic service they receive there, but all was not lost.
In between waiting for our entrees and chatting we watched the torrential downpours outside from the warmth and dryness of our cosy table for eight. Our entrees arrived in a procession bought out by two of the waitstaff. The sourdough and dips were placed in front of me whilst the Salt and Pepper Squid which, let’s face it were actually meant for MS, were placed in front of him. There was a small pile of lightly seasoned squid next to a small garden salad with a lemon wedge and some tartare sauce. The squid was delicious, tender and an okay sized serving however for the AU$18 we paid I would have expected a little more. My trio of dips came with 6 slices of grilled bread, some a little burnt around the edges which didn’t get eaten.
The presentation of both the squid and the bread and dips was very homestyle and not nearly as fancy as I was expecting but then again the more I think about it I am pretty sure that homestyle cooking is part of the concept and the appeal at Linga Longa. The bread and dips weren’t anything to write home about – just bread and dip really. A couple of others at the table had chosen the Deep Fried Camembert with Tropical Fruit and Berry Coulis for AU$19.50 (didn’t get a photo) as their entrée. I was lucky enough to snavel a piece from someone else’s plate and it was very decadent – but good. Very good.
We waited another 15 or so minutes, ordering another round of drinks in the meantime (Black Russian #2) and then our mains arrived. MS had ordered the Chicken Breast Stuffed with Camembert, wrapped in Streaky Bacon, and finished with a Creamy Parmesan Sauce and Mashed Potato for AU$31.50. Although the Chicken Breast was stuffed with oozy Camembert Cheese MS found it to be very dry and chewy. The vegetables on the side of his plate were cold as though they had just been taken out of the fridge. He was pretty disappointed with his meal and didn’t finish it all, leaving about 1/3 behind. For what he got I think that $31.50 was a little steep – it’s just a chicken breast, really. In my opinion it’s really just one of those boring, ‘standard’ dishes that every restaurant has on the menu for the tame and unadventurous individuals like MS.
After tossing up a few different dishes on the menu I ended up going with the Roasted Pork Special (especially after finding out that it was pork belly because I have a major weakness for anything with crackling attached to it). It was Roasted Pork Belly with Sliced Apple and Sauerkraut on the side for around the AU$39 mark. I have to say that my dish was delicious. The Pork Belly was succulent and juicy with just the right amount of fat to meat ratio and shock horror the crackling was actually crispy (a mean feat for restaurants, and even myself sometimes). The sweet apple and sauerkraut were beautiful additions to my dish – I really, really enjoyed it!
Across the table from us the newlyweds were enjoying their own meals. After wondering if the Bugs were a little too messy for a dinner with friends, AM decided to order them anyway following a few words of encouragement from myself and SG. The Chargrilled Bugs with Lemon Butter, Peri Peri Sauce and served with Steamed Rice and Veggies for AU$38 was a more than generous dish with two and a half bugs in total nestled next to the rice and veggies. Turns out that AG didn’t make too much of a mess after all but she sure as hell enjoyed her meal and was more than happy with her choice of main.
Next to her SG had the Duck Al’Orange – Half Semi De-Boned Duck twice cooked with Buttered Pomme Landaise and Orange and Cointreau Sauce for AU$34.50, a dish that I had also tossed up getting because let’s face it “duck is the shit!” No, not “shit”, “the shit”. I love duck… but not as much as I love pork belly. Anyway, so again we were all surprised with the portion size. One reason that I didn’t order it was because I assumed it would be just a small duck leg and I would be left hungry but no, not this Duck Al’Orange. I think there was a little jealousy around the table when SG’s main arrived. It has to be said that SG thought it to be pretty tasty too. Sizeable and tasty = winning!
To be honest I don’t remember a whole lot about the dessert part of the night. Most likely because neither MS or I decided to have any (there was no Sticky Date Pudding *sad face*). I do recall something about the rest of the table ordering Chocolate Fondant’s in proliferation around us though and by all reports they were full of gooey, chocolate-y goodness.
So to wrap things up for our Saturday night dinner at Linga Longa… It appears that good old fashioned service and home style food is the biggest draw card for diners at Linga Longa. The owner personally welcomes people as they arrive at his restaurant and from what I observed it seems that a lot of them are regulars at his restaurant. The owner and his staff have obviously taken the time to get to know many of these people whom most likely live in the immediate Edge Hill area, or close by.
The majority of the food (except for MS’ chicken and my sourdough) was exceptional albeit a little on the pricey side but I think that’s what most diners are happy to pay for good French style, home-cooked food, often generous portions (well for fine dining anyway) and service in a relaxed and cosy but still classy atmosphere. Also worth mentioning was the fact that we were able to use our Entertainment Book Gold Card and the others also used their Table 52 cards without a single word of protest uttered by the waiter who organised the bill. Another win! Linga Longa certainly lived up to it’s name because we were there for over two and a half hours but unlike the horrible Smirnoff Black’s that will never see the light of day with me again this restaurant is well worth a revisit.
120 Collins Ave, Edge Hill QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4032 2136
Opening Hours: Tues – Thurs 5.30pm – 10pm, Fri 11.30am – 2.30pm & 5.30pm – 10pm, Sat 5.30pm – 10pm, Sun 11.30am – 2.30pm & 5.30pm – 10pm
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
Nearly two weeks since my last post, gee I am getting slack but in my defence I have been back at work and with work means no phone or internet range, not just for 1 or 2 days like Queensland experienced a little over a week ago (you poor things) but for up to two and a half weeks. That means if I don’t have my posts prepped and ready before I head out into oblivion they don’t get posted. Excuses, excuses, yeah I know but I am back in the swing of things now (for a couple of weeks anyway) so without further adieu…
While having lunch with a friend recently they asked me if I had been to the newly opened Japanese restaurant at the five ways in Edge Hill. Strangely enough it was the first I had heard of it at the time and they told me that it had opened where the old Fruit and Veg shop used to be. I do go to Edge Hill quite a lot when I am home from work but usually down the Red Arrow end so I made a point of driving down towards the Pease Street end to have a look for myself. Sure enough there was a new Japanese place opened up called Ok Sushi. A few days later MS and I found ourselves there for a late lunch on a Sunday. We were greeted by a friendly young Japanese man who showed us to a table and bought us out a menu each. He was very friendly and I am assuming it’s either his parents or relatives that own the place. I asked him how long they had been open for and he said only a couple of weeks (this was a couple of weeks ago, obviously).
He brought (not ‘bought’ thanks TW) us out a couple of glasses of water with ice while MS ummed and ahhed over what he wanted, again. I had already chosen the Kaisen Don – Salmon/Tuna with Rice for AU$14.50 with Takoyaki Balls as an Entree for us to share for AU$6.80. I was just hoping that MS didn’t know that it was Octopus inside the balls or he might not eat them. In the end he went with the Tori Karaage Curry for AU$16 because it looked bigger than everything else on the menu and because he is forever searching for a Japanese Curry to emulate an amazing Japanese curry that he had at some mythical ‘Japanese Curry House’ in Melbourne a couple of years ago. Here’s hoping. When he heard me order the Takoyaki Balls he asked me if that was Octopus Balls to which I replied that it wasn’t. The young waiter gave me a strange look to which I again slowly replied that ‘no it definitely wasn’t Octopus’. I think the waiter got the joke and kept his mouth shut but had a funny, complete give away, smirk on his face to which MS was completely aware.
While we were at Ok Sushi there was probably about two other tables occupied and another two groups of people came in for takeaway. It seems quite the popular little place, particularly for a Sunday. We didn’t wait long for entree of Takoyaki to arrive. It came out piping hot with a generous drizzle of Kewpi mayonnaise and those little fishy flakes that are sprinkled over the top (I forget what they are called). Kewpi mayonnaise could be considered a staple in our household since we go through about one squeezy bottle every couple of weeks and after MS saw it drizzled all over the Takoyaki he soon forgot about its eight tentacled content and dug in. Turns out that Octopus Balls aren’t quite so bad after all and he ate more than half of his fair share. They were crunchy on the outside and warm and gooey on the inside, reminding me of the freshly made Takoyaki that I had eaten from a little stall in Osaka. Obviously nothing compares to the experience but for a little shop at the Edge Hill five ways about 10,000 km’s away these were pretty good.
Next up our main meals came out and what was supposed to be a light lunch had pretty much gone out the window. MS’ Tori Karaage Curry came out with the chicken on one plate accompanied by cabbage and salad, a small bowl of rice and a small bowl of curry sauce. MS was happy with the size and said that the pieces of Tori Karaage were actually nice meaty bits of chicken with hardly any fat on them unlike the Karaage pieces they serve you at Sushi Train at Cairns Central which are pretty much just pieces of fat thrown in seasoning and deep-fried. He did however complain that he needed a separate bowl to put some rice, curry and chicken in a little bit at a time. I thought that this was just a completely ridiculous complaint and told him to stop being a big baby and eat his curry. Good old voice of reason. MS enjoyed his Tori Karaage Curry and although I don’t think it was quite as good as his mythical Melbourne one.
My Kaisen Don also had a generous drizzle of Kewpi mayonnaise which for me was probably a little bit too much but for someone like MS wouldn’t have been enough. I am a little bit more traditional with my Japanese food and don’t really like the whole Western take on it. I have been enjoying the delights of Japanese food since I was only small (smaller than I am now) at a little place under the stairs where The Heritage nightclub now is, next door to the Condom Kingdom (I think that’s what it was called). My mum used to take my sister and I there and we would eat Rice Balls to our little hearts content. Does anyone remember that place? Still I did enjoy my Kaisen Don. The generous amount of Salmon and Tuna was fresh and cut in small bite sizes pieces. I think it was ok value for AU$14.50 although the rice underneath was just plain old unseasoned rice not Sushi Rice like I was expecting. That left me a little disappointed with my meal because Sushi Rice is pretty much one of my favourite foods (that and Potato Salad) – some of my tastes are very simple, like anchovies out of a jar for instance.
Last weekend MS and I found ourselves back at Ok Sushi for a second round and while MS ordered the same old thing as last time – the Tori Karaage Curry, while I searched the menu for something a little healthier than I had eaten last time or at least without the addition of rice. In the end I went the Small Mixed Sashimi (AU$12.50) and the Agedashi Tofu (AU$6.80) because I absolutely love raw fish and tofu, so much so that sometimes I forget how healthy it is. Again MS enjoyed his Tori Karaage Curry but it did seem to be a little smaller compared to the last serve that he’d had a few weeks prior. Again, I thought the rice was disappointing and although I wasn’t expecting him to be served Sushi Rice with his Karaage the rice he did get seemed a little… dry perhaps?
My Small Mixed Sashimi seemed to be just that… small. The fish was lovely and fresh with decent, thick pieces but I guess it just looked a little bit bigger in the picture on the menu and for $12.50 I thought they could have chucked at least another piece of Tuna or Salmon in. It made me wish that I hadn’t have been cheap and just opted for the Large Mixed Sashimi for AU$20.50.
My Agedashi Tofu was delicious and quite a large serve for an entree, then again it is only Tofu and cheap as chips. However, I’m no Agedashi Tofu expert and maybe one of my readers (Vagabond) might have to give me her take on it. Is it better than Kanpai?
It’s nice to see a Japanese place like Ok Sushi opened up at the five ways in Edge Hill to go with all the other fare that is available on Collins Avenue. Edge Hill is certainly becoming its own little Cairns foodie destination in its own right with quite a few restaurants and takeaway’s over that side of town now. I think Ok Sushi is going to be hugely popular, being open 7 days till 9pm with both dine in and takeaway and it’s certainly going to take away a little of the business from other restaurants and cafe’s nearby. I am very interested to see how busy they will be of the evening but there will probably be quite a few people coming off their afternoon jog/Red Arrow climb heading in for a quick and healthy feed (hold the Kewpi). The prices are reasonable (particularly the entrees) and the service is good but I did have a couple of hangups with the food and serving sizes. I’m going to stick with the theme and as the name suggests the sushi is just ok at Ok Sushi.
Shop A 139 Collins Avenue, Edge Hill QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4053 5751
Opening Hours: 7 days 11am – 9pm
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1/116 Collins Ave, Edge Hill QLD 4870
Ph: 0409 624 355
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun 7am till 4pm
Thinking of ideas for Friday lunch with MS’ dad this week I remembered a recommendation from a good friend of mine for the newish Chinese Restaurant opened up in Edge Hill, Xanadu On Collins. Who doesn’t love Chinese so off MS and I trotted (drove) to the leafy suburb of Edge Hill with his dad in tow. Xanadu, for those that haven’t been to Edge Hill lately, is just past El Mundo and Linga Longa as you are heading towards the airport. It’s positioned at the bottom of a truly hideous block of apartments on Collins Avenue. But hey I’m no architect it was the Chinese food we had come for!
Upon arrival we were greeted by the friendly Chinese waiter and took a seat at a table outside so we could enjoy the beautiful day (the weather is too good not to comment on). This is the reason that we live in Cairns! Am I right or am I right? The waiter asked us if we wanted some tea. I accepted as did MS and his dad KS. He bought us some menus with Xanadu’s lunch specials which contained quite a long list of things to choose from including two different Set Menu’s for AU$15.00 each, as well as Rice and Noodle Dishes for AU$9.90 and Dim Sum for AU$6.00. The waiter that was serving us was so authentic that I don’t think he actually spoke any English at all. I asked him if we could ‘order’ and he went to fetch us some ‘water’. I thought that was quite funny. He did however, understand the universal language that is ‘Coca-Cola’ when asked for a glass by KS. It was all good, I did want some water anyway and not long after that the owner of the restaurant (who speaks good English) came out and took our orders.
Typically, we all ended up choosing the same thing – Set Menu A (although the Honey Roasted BBQ Pork and Rice nearly swayed me). Set Menu A consisted of Steamed Pork and Prawn Dumpling (2 pcs), Steamed Seafood and Chive Dumpling (2 pcs), Golden Fried Crab Meat Ball (2 pcs), Pan Fried Shanghai Dumpling (2 pcs), Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup, Salad and a Dessert of either Almond Jelly or Coconut Sago (there was only Coconut Sago available). All that for AU$15.00. I had to wait till the food came out but I was pretty damn sure that was a good deal!
Turns out I was right. We didn’t wait long for our meals to make their way from the kitchen to our table but in the mean time we just enjoyed out leafy surroundings. After spending about 5 minutes defending my dumplings from MS’ dredded chopsticks I finally got to have a taste of what was in front of me. According to the article on the window from The Cairns Post all of the Dim Sum is made in house by the chef. The Dumplings and the Crab Meat Ball were super tasty especially dipped into the Chinese Black Vinegar on the side. I wasn’t too sure about the other side sauce that tasted a little like Seafood Sauce and I wasn’t too keen on it. Not to say that it wasn’t good but I was more than happy with my Chinese Black Vinegar to dip my Dumplings into. I particularly liked the Steamed Pork and Prawn Dumpling and the Steamed Seafood and Chive Dumpling because of their soft texture as opposed to the crunchy texture of the fried ones. It’s the soft and juicy dumpling goodness that I love!
The other two were good but just not as good as the steamed ones. My dining companions (MS and KS) appeared to have the opposite opinion and preferred the Golden Fried Crab Meat Ball and the Pan Fried Shanghai Dumpling. Each to their own.
The side salad with lettuce, carrot and cucumber was only small and fairly standard but I have to say the dressing was awesome. Probably just bottled dressing but really good. I ate all of the carrots and cucumber out of my salad plus I snuck some of MS’ while he wasn’t looking. I’m not a big fan of Iceberg Lettuce (ok I just don’t bloody like it, I’m more of a Baby Spinach or Rocket kinda gal) so childishly I left it on the side of my plate.
The Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup was enjoyed by all of us although the other two did add a little bit of salt to theirs but they do tend to add salt to anything that they eat. I didn’t add any seasoning and enjoyed it just the way it was. It was thick, delicious and topped off my meal nicely, or so I thought.
After our meal we were chatting away when the waiter bought out the Coconut Sago desserts that I had somehow forgotten about. I was so excited I nearly fell off my chair. Anyone of my friends or family that knows me well knows that food surprises are my favourite surprises. I truly am a fat person trapped in a little persons body. That Coconut Sago ‘got in my belly’ and lucky for MS and I his dad decided that he had eaten enough prior to the dessert coming out so we finished ours and then shared his. The Sago wasn’t too sweet like many a Sago I have had before but more like Coconut Cream. It was decadent and I have to say the highlight of my meal at Xanadu.
At Xanadu On Collins their MSG-less food is memorable (in a good way), the service is attentive but not obstrusive and the atmosphere is Edge Hill’s finest. An online review I read says that Xanadu is too expensive for dinner and it may just well be but since I didn’t go their for dinner nor did I get a chance to read the dinner menu I can only vouch for the value of the lunch menu which by all accounts (the three of us) was excellent value for money. And here I was thinking that Xanadu was just a cringe-worthy 80’s song by Olivia Newton-John.
Xanadu On Collins
120 Collins Ave, Edge Hill QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4053 7303
Opening Hours: Lunch – Thur & Fri 11.30am – 2.30pm, Sat – Sun 10.30am – 2.30pm, Dinner – 7 days from 5.30pm till 10pm
By complete coincidence I was invited by friends (BC, JuC and JoC) to dine at El Mundo Tapas Bar in Edge Hill on the same day that they made the front page of The Cairns Post and voted by Trip Advisor to be the number 1 restaurant to dine out in Cairns out of a whopping 177 restaurants. Do we really have that many restaurants in Cairns? Sheesh! I was certainly in luck to be going to El Mundo and also lucky that my friends had booked a few days prior because the place was absolutely packed out. I have noticed that when El Mundo first opened mid last year there was a couple of tables inside and a couple of tables outside. Since then that number has grown and now they simply cannot fit anymore tables outside. The entire sidewalk is now taken up by tables and chairs full of happy diners enjoying their tapas. I have dined at El Mundo previously and even attempted to review it but the pictures I took were so damn dodgy (even more so than usual) due to the poor lighting where I was seated that I decided it wasn’t worth doing a post. On this occasion however I had ample lighting to take pictures of the delicious plates of tapas that were arriving at our table. Now for those that haven’t been to El Mundo Tapas Bar before every month they feature a different type of cuisine. This month (December) is Turkish Month, while a few months ago when I last dined there it was Sri Lankan month. Along with their regular menu of mouth watering tapas they feature a selection of dishes from that particular country and instead of having waiters coming around and taking your order (they do take your drink order in a very timely fashion and regularly replace your water bottles) each table gets a little blackboard and some chalk to write down a selection of tapas of their choice from the tantalising menu. The waiter then comes and retrieves the blackboard from your table and ‘VOILA’! Your order has been placed. The blackboard ordering system is a fun and unique way of ordering your dishes.
Now the restaurant was packed this particular Thursday night (I even saw them turning people away) but the food still arrived in ample time and we weren’t waiting long for our first batch of blackboard choices to arrive. First up we went with a mix of both Turkish themed tapas and some of the usual thoroughfare that they have every month. Ever the chilli lovers BC and I both gushed about the ‘Chilli Rellenos’ on the menu, having tried them previously and I have to say they are my favourite item on the menu. First to come out was the C & L Garlic Beef, Soy marinated tender chunks of bite sized beef served with zesty lime and peanut dipping sauce (AU$7.50). The beef was tender and juicy and although JoC had a bit of trouble getting the pieces onto her fork she certainly enjoyed this dish. JuC announced that having previously tried this dish it was in fact one of her favourites.
Next came the Chilli Rellenos, Jalapeno Chillies stuffed with Cheddar and Bacon and lightly fried in Tempura Batter (AU$6.90). These are a little bit spicy but OMG they are amazing and I could eat them, as my mum would say ’till the cows come home’. Apparently they are one of the favourites on the menu with customers. These were so good that we just had to order another plate because one chilli was not enough! I could have even gone a third plate! YUM just doesn’t cut it!
The vegetarian Gozleme, Crispy Turkish Style Pastries stuffed with a Fresh Spinach, Herb and Fetta Centre (AU$7.90), was the next item brought to our table. These were simply delicious and everyone at the table commented on how tasty they were. You could taste the fresh herbs that were enveloped in the crispy pastry and they tasted authentically homemade.
After round one of our tasty tapas we were ready to order some more. Our resident scribe JuC neatly wrote down some more dishes that we collectively chose and sent the blackboard off with the next available waiter. Soon after the first dish of our second round of tapas arrived, The Turkish Dips, described as a Trio of flavoursome Turkish inspired dips: Roasted Red Pepper and Fetta Hummus, Eggplant and Black Olive and Spinach and Yogurt served with Grilled Flatbread (AU$7.90). There was eight pieces of flatbread all up, enough for two each which was handy because I’m not the best sharer. The dips were delicious but the spinach and yogurt one was definitely my favourite.
Following closely after this dish was the Pistachio Crusted Trout described on the menu as ‘Fresh trout pieces coated with a crispy pistachio and thyme crust, served with spicy herbed yogurt (AU$8.90). One of my pet hates is overcooked seafood , whether it be at a friends place or out at a restaurant some people just can’t get it right (not me of course because I AM a fantastic cook) but here at El Mundo they certainly got it right. The trout was cooked perfectly, not overcooked, not undercooked but just right. It literally melted in my mouth and my dinner buddies who sometimes aren’t too fond of seafood ‘oohed’ and ‘ahhed’ about how yummy the bite sized morsels of trout were.
Keeping with the seafood theme we continued on with the Calamari (AU$7.90) and the Coconut Prawns served with Mango and Lime Salsa (AU$9.90). The Calamari was cut into strips and lightly fried with a salt and pepper coating. A very simple dish but again so many places stuff it up. Not El Mundo though, their Calamari was superb and a really generous serving (still I was glad we chose to order two plates).
The Coconut Prawns were nice and big with crunchy coconut on the outside and juicy and tender prawn on the inside, accompanied perfectly with the zesty Mango and Lime Salsa. These little babies were snapped up pretty damn quickly and even after the prawns were long gone I was eating the salsa on its own because it was so yummy and I just couldn’t let it go to waste!
Our last savoury dish of the night was the Camembert, bite sized pieces crumbed and lightly fried, served with Roasted Pepper Sauce (AU$7.90). Well, what more can I say because who doesn’t love cheese and even better… melted cheese? Perfect melt in your mouth morsels of cheese! BC even finished off the Roasted Pepper Sauce after the cheese was gone so that didn’t make me feel so bad for finishing off the Mango and Lime Salsa.
Having finished our tapas selection for the evening (I still could have eaten some more of those Chillis) we looked towards the dessert menu which was personally brought out by the man of the moment co-owner of El Mundo Tapas Bar Mark. He had a bit of a joke and a laugh with us and thanked us for coming along before introducing us to the dessert menu and giving us a bit of a rundown of what was what. There was five options to choose from on the menu including Pavlova, Creme Brûlée, Sticky Date Pudding and Affogato. While BC opted for the ‘I will have a taste of everyone else’s and not order my own’ approach, the remaining three at the tabe including myself ordered two Plum Pudding Ice Creams and a Chocolate Brownie (that was me).
It didn’t take our desserts long to arrive and when they did our mouths all watered at the size of the warm Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream that was placed in front of me. I did have this Brownie on my previous visit to El Mundo and it was mouthwatering. This time was no different except this time I am sure the serving was much bigger. The Brownie literally melted in my mouth and it was light and fluffy and not too rich. Everyone else at the table had a taste and agreed it was delectable. Needless to say despite the portion size I finished the entire dish spurred on by the huge effort I had put in at the gym earlier that day (hey I deserved it!).
JuC and JoC both tucked into their Plum Pudding Ice Cream, which again was a nice big serve and they most certainly enjoyed it. I’m not the biggest fan of currants and the like so I had a small taste but it wasn’t for me (probably because I was way too distracted by the giant Brownie). Since its so close to Christmas it was nice to have a little bit of festivity on the menu along with the other yummy but classic dessert options.
While eating my dining companions and I discussed our current Mayoral situation, BC’s new stereo system and T-Box and the risks associated with opening a new restaurant in Cairns particularly in a residential area. Owners of El Mundo Tapas Bar Mark and Carlie have obviously overcome any hurdles that may have stood in their way by creating a fantastic owner run establishment with a homely, friendly and laidback feel to it. Mark chatting with us while he took our dessert orders gave our dining experience that nice personal touch and its easy to see that although he is a very busy man he still takes time out to show appreciation to his diners. The food is delicious, the service is personal and the prices are reasonable as are the serving sizes. The people have spoken and if the packed tables of happy customers are anything to go by El Mundo is soon to become a Cairns institution. Well done to Mark and Carlie on your little gem of a restaurant in the heart of Edge Hill!
El Mundo Tapas Bar
3/124 Collins Ave, Edge Hill
Ph: (07) 4032 0550
Opening Hours: Wed – Sun 5.30pm till late
It’s a big call but I have consistently said that the Botanical Garden’s Restaurant and Cafe have the Best Eggs Benedict in Cairns! The eggs are perfectly poached (not too runny, not too hard), the bread is fresh, there is just the right amount of hollandaise sauce with just the right hint of lime and the Salmon Eggs Benedict has capers are sprinkled over the top. What is a salmon eggs benedict without capers huh? YUM! But seriously, it is seriously good Eggs Benedict right in the heart of the Botanical Garden’s.
A bonus for the coffee lovers is the so-called ‘Fish bowl’ of coffee that is also available here at the Botanical Garden’s Restaurant and Cafe. MS and I actually thought the waitress was kidding when she said fish bowl but on being bought our cappucino’s we realised that she was indeed telling the truth. The fish bowl is a bowl, not a cup as there are no handles, of pure unadulterated coffee for only $6 and finishing it is no mean feat!
Botanical Garden’s Restaurant and Cafe
Collins Ave, Edge Hill
Ph: 4053 7087
Open: Daily 7am – 4.30pm
My family and I first went to The Edge Fruit and Vege Cafe about two weeks after they began their dinner menu in May of this year and although the food was exceptional, the service that we received on the night was somewhat of a let down. To quote a previous post about dinner at The Edge… “The food was great however the service was not. This may be because the restaurant had only been open a couple of weeks and the staff were still learning the ropes and hopefully this will smooth over in the next few weeks because I will be back.” I had finally found the time to return to see if this was the case. We booked a table outside the restaurant up on the platform next to the road as last time we sat inside and found it to be quite noisy and to sound a bit strange, well, I don’t like the shape of the tables they have inside the restaurant.
Our booking was for 7pm but we arrived at 7.15pm as seems to be the norm for my family. The restaurant was about half full and the waiter informed us that everyone had arrived at once and we needed to “bare with him for the moment”. About 10 minutes later he came back with the drinks and dinner menu and proceeded to tell us that they had sold out of a few things on the menu. There was no steak, no fish of the day (salmon fillet) and no osso bucco. So out of the nine or so dishes available for main meals, three were unavailable and this was at 7.30pm on a Saturday night. We were flabbergasted and almost got up and left the restaurant in search of somewhere that did have all the food mentioned on the menu. We did, however soldier on and ordered our drinks and meals 25 minutes after we arrived. It didn’t take long for our drinks to arrive but the waiter forgot to pour the red wine and instead bought out an empty cup, returning midway through serving our drinks to get the bottle of red. We also ordered a beer and a bottle of Crowded House Sauvignon Blanc which was left in the cooler and we had to pour the wine ourselves along with the beer. Our entree was Grilled Turkish Bread with Herb Confit Garlic Oil and Local Spiced Dukkah (AU$6.50) and that arrived about 15 minutes after we had ordered. It was quite a big serve, good for the price of only $6.50 and quite tasty too.
Our mains arrived approximately half an hour after our entree but we couldn’t help but notice that the four people seated next to us that had actually arrived before us were left waiting long after our mains turned up and they didn’t look happy about it. Dad ordered the pasta of the day which was a Fettucine Seafood Marinara full of mussels and prawns. It was a good sized serving and dad said that it tasted great but he was surprised to find a prawn head in it. The prawn head didn’t appear to be for dish presentation as it was buried underneath the pasta and mussels. My mum and sister both ordered the Caramelized Ribs – Pork and Beef with Vietnamese Salad and Taro Chips (AU$27.50), which they also ordered last time we dined at The Edge. Last time the ribs were plentiful and succulent however this time around they were disappointed by the fact that there appeared to be no pork ribs, only beef ribs and the serving size was about half of what it was last time. Mum even had a large rib bone that had been placed on her plate without even one sliver of meat on it. Not only that but the meat that was served was extremely fatty and most of it got pushed to the side of the plate.
Lastly, I ordered the Herb Braised Field Mushroom with Cacciatore Sausage and Goats Cheese on Wilted Rocket with Green Olive Puree and red wine caramel (AU$28.00) as a main dish. We had ordered this dish as an entree last time we had dined at The Edge and it was fantastic in fact I said that I would come backjust for a main of that dish. So it seemed I was true to my word! The second time around I very disappointed and althought it was tasty it was no where near as tasty as the last time we had shared it as an entree. The portion size was that of the entree and upon asking the waiter if what I was served was a main size, the waiter counted the mushrooms (I had three on my plate) and I was told that entrees have one while mains have three. About five minutes later the waiter returned and said that after a discussion with the chef in the kitchen he was only going to charge entree prices for my ‘main’ because I was supposed to have five mushrooms instead of three. He said he could arrange for the extra mushrooms to be served to me but I refused as I was actually a bit full by that stage. Having said that it would have been nice to have received all five mushrooms upon the intial serving of my ‘main’. The waiter also informed us that the usual chef for the restaurant was in fact sick on this particular evening and that was attributing to the slight confusion in the size of the dishes as well as what was actually being served to the customers.
To finish off our meal we perused the dessert menu and ordered the Elegant Persian Sweet Plate (AU$13) to share amongst us while I ordered a long macchiato since I had a long night ahead of me and was feeling a bit flat. The sweet plate consisted of Persian fairy floss, nougat, biscotti, turkish delight, affogato and a few other odd sweets that we forgot to ask about. Mum delighted in the turkish delight which she claimed was delish and scoffed the lot. The sweet plate was yummy and good for sharing amongst the table.
So the verdict: I had said that I would return to give the The Edge Fruit and Vege Cafe another chance after dining there previously. The second time around the service was better than last time but then again the waiter didn’t have all that much to work with and obviously didn’t work well under pressure. To run out of ‘big’ main meal items such as the fish of the day, steak and osso bucco at 7.30pm on a Saturday night is pretty poor and certainly disappointing for diners especially when the dinner part of the restaurant is only open three nights a week. I understand that the usual chef for the restaurant was sick on the night and this only added to the overall bad dining experience. As the popular saying goes ‘If you can’t handle the heat, then get out of the kitchen’. The Edge Fruit and Vege Cafe? You’ve had your second chance.
Saturday night and looking for somewhere nice to eat out I thought I would try The Edge Fruit and Vege Cafe in Edge Hill, which started doing dinners Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights only a few weeks ago. My sister works in Edge Hill and said they had passed some sample menu’s out to the nearby shops to drum up some support and she reckoned the menu looked pretty good. The Edge Fruit and Vege Cafe isn’t exactly known for doing dinners however not long ago this cafe was hosting sushi nights a few nights a week with ex Head Chef from Yama Sammy Kawano. Don’t know what happened to that…
The sign inside claims the restaurant to have ‘Rustic World Food in the Heart of Edge Hill’. Sounds good to me. So we arrived and I informed them that I had made a reservation. The girl claimed that I had said it didn’t matter if we sat inside or outside and asked if it was ok if we were seated inside as there was no room outside. I had actually asked for a table outside but never mind, inside it was. We took our seats and waited and waited and waited for someone to come to our table and even just offer us drinks. Granted it was a bit busy but the waiters and waitresses seemed to just not notice us sitting right in front of them. It took over 20 minutes before someone came along and poured us some water, took our drink orders and gave us a menu each to peruse. There are quite a lot of specials mention on the menu but the waitress didn’t tell us the specials. We did however ask someone what the specials were and we were met with a “Oh, hasn’t the waitress told you the specials yet?” No she hadn’t. So he said he would sent her over. The waitress came over and told us the specials but I got the feeling that she had no idea what she was talking about or even what half the food on the menu was. We ordered some artisan bread to start with as suggested by the waitress. The bread platter came out with 3 types of rye bread on a bread board: rye bread with walnuts, rye bread with caraways seeds and a rye bread roll with some little packets of butter on the side. The bread was cold and hard and there was nothing special about it at all.
Next up we ordered two entrees to share between the five of us (we had eaten to much bread by that stage). Despite the waiting around to be served earlier the entrees did actually come out in a timely manner. The first entree was Herb Braised Field Mushroom with Cacciatore Sausage and Goats Cheese on Wilted Rocket with Green Olive Puree and Red Wine Caramel (entree AU$3.90, main AU$28). This dish was absolutely fantastic and it was certainly enjoyed by everyone at the table except for my sister since she claimed that the sausage was too spicy for her. The portion size was great and the flavours really were wonderful, particularly the green olive puree. I would come back to The Edge Fruit and Vege Cafe just for a main of that dish, YUM!
Next up our second entree was Lamb Shank Soup with Careme Puff Pastry Closure and Lemon Gremolata (AU$15.90). It was quite a decent serve for an entree and it certainly was rustic. This dish was nice, however the pieces of lamb shank underneath the pastry weren’t very big, I guess it wasn’t chunky enough but one could be mistaken for thinking that its a pie and not a soup because of the presentation. Having said that the Careme Puff Pastry on top was light, flaky and delicious.
Our mains followed soon after finishing our entrees. I ordered the Confit Duck Leg with pommes sarladaise, rocket and pistachios, red wine poached pear and port fig jus (AU$28.90). The duck was cooked just right, crispy skinned on the outside and just pink on the inside, the pear melted in my mouth and the potatoes were lovely and crisp.
Two of the people I was dining with ordered the same dish and when it came out I got a bit of food envy and kind of wished that I had gotten their dish, not to knock mine in any way but it did look and taste delicious! They ordered the Caramelized Ribs – Pork and Beef with Vietnamese Salad and Taro Chips (AU$27.50) and it was a huge serve. The ribs were piled high on the plate and were falling off the bone. They really did melt in your mouth and my two fellow diners couldn’t even finish their meals, even with the other three at the table trying to help! Now I really tried to get a good picture of these ribs before my family hoed into them but alas it didn’t happen so the one below is all you have to work with.
And lastly, the my other two family members had also ordered the same thing on the menu. They ordered the Sicilian Veal Osso Bucco with House Spaetzle and Green Beans in Beetroot Vinegar and pan fried almond flakes (AU$24.50). The veal was very meaty with heaps of succulent marrow (that’s what osso bucco is all about isn’t it, sucking the marrow out) and the beans were crisp and not overcooked.
Not too sure about the House Spaetzle, it kind of just tasted like little chunks of batter with roasted garlic. I looked it up and apparently that is what it is supposed to taste like. Meh.
Ok so the verdict: The meals were reasonably priced with fairly big portions and I do have to say I was pretty impressed by the food. Like I said I would be back just for the mushroom entree. The service did let the whole experience down a bit. When we finally did get our water that is all the water that we got. No jugs, no refills and we even had to refill our own wine a couple of times. The food was great however the service was not. This may be because the restaurant had only been open a couple of weeks and the staff were still learning the ropes and hopefully this will smooth over in the next few weeks because I will be back.