Being a Cairns local I’ll admit that I don’t get out to Palm Cove as often as I should. It’s the same old story when you have so many amazing things right on your doorstep and you rarely take the time to visit… Whenever I make the effort and drive the 30 or so minutes out to Palm Cove I often wonder why I don’t visit more often because on a beautiful day Palm Cove is simply magic.
Palm Cove is also, arguably, Cairns’ best beach – we won’t mention Nudey Beach at Fitzroy Island being ranked Australia’s #1 beach – plus it has a plethora of fab cafes and restaurants all within walking distance include Temple of Tastes restaurant at the Pullman Palm Cove Sea Temple Resort and Spa.
Last week Mr Foodvixen and I were invited to dine at Temple of Tastes to check out their new South East Asian inspired menu. On this particularly balmy October evening we arrived at 6pm sharp and were seated on the outdoor terrace overlooking the tropical pool. The flames of the bamboo torches surrounding the terrace certainly added to the ambience and gave the place that real resort feel.
We flicked through the drinks menu including the extensive wine list, beers and weekend worthy cocktails. I was nearly swayed by Temple of Taste’s version of my all time fave drink the ‘Negroni’ featuring Kangaroo Island Wild Gin and Dubbonet but instead opted for a glass of Robert Oatley Pinot Noir. A nice drop and the glass that greeted me was almost literally the size of my head (apparently I have a giant head so believe me when I tell you this glass was massive).
The last time we’d dined at Temple of Tastes was well over a year ago so I was looking forward to giving the new menu a test run. For entrees we dined on Slow Braised Duck Dumplings with Ginger & Soy Broth and the Braised Cape Grim Beef Short Rib with Green Papaya & Crab Salad. Both dishes were generous servings particularly the Dumplings – I couldn’t finish all my broth!
For mains I ummed and ahhed over the Pan Fried Herb Gnocchi with Mushroom Puree having heard good things about it but true to form I chose the Sesame Crusted Tuna with Scorched Miso and Local Deep Sea Prawn. I’m a sucker for any kind of raw fish dish. Just as predictable as me my other half went for the Sous Vide Pork Loin with Apple Gel, Butternut Squash and Pork Crackling because no one in their right mind can resist pork crackling on a menu (I not so secretly hoped he would share). The pork was cooked to perfection and the tuna was picture perfect.
Finally, despite declaring to each other that we were to full for dessert we figured we’d have a look anyway and then typically decided to share one between us. We’re here now so might as well go the whole hog ha! For the Lover of Strawberry struck our fancy with Strawberry Consommé, Strawberry Meringue, Strawberry Panna Cotta and Strawberry Foam – that’s a whole lotta strawberry! Creamy, delicious and the perfect way to finish your meal on a sweet note.
If you’re looking for a romantic dinner spot in Palm Cove with elegantly presented food, a dish to suit every taste, chic service and polished drinks list to boot then the Temple of Tastes will tick all your boxes. Good food, good wine and even better company is the best way to spend a balmy Spring evening in Palm Cove. Is it not?
Tip for diners: Book a table on the terrace overlooking the pool.
Foodvixen was a guest of the Pullman Palm Cove Sea Temple Resort and Spa.
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 a bit of gentle nudging from a couple of my readers to branch out from my usual stomping ground of the Cairns CBD (it’s just far too convenient for MS and I) I thought I would make more of an effort to go north. Anything past Edge Hill is a little foreign to me since I grew up on the south side of town. Anyway so another reader of mine recommended Harrison’s in Port Douglas. Seeing as I had a an Entertainment Book voucher for just the place I figured that MS and I would make the drive up to Port and try the four course menu. Unfortunately getting a booking there seemed to be a little harder than expected. I placed a booking through their website three days out from a Saturday night (yeah ok I probably could have planned that a bit better) and when Saturday arrived I had still not received any notification, confirmation or declination. After numerous phone calls we were just about to wing it and make the drive up there anyway when I got finally got through and it turns out the place was booked out for a wedding (that’s an expensive wedding right there). A reply email telling me that wouldn’t have gone astray. So we went to The Rising Sun in Palm Cove instead.
A few weeks later again I figured it was time to go to Harrison’s. I made another booking online requesting a table for two at 7pm on a Friday night. Two days later I received a sort of confirmation saying that the restaurant was all booked out for 7pm but would 6.45pm suit us? Silly me but I cannot see how 15 minutes could make a difference to whether a restaurant is booked out or not. Someone in the hospitality industry please explain? I replied that ‘yes 6.45pm would be fine’ and waited for a corresponding email to confirm our final booking. On Friday afternoon when I still hadn’t received any confirmation I was getting pretty annoyed after having the phone ring out a number of times. Around 4pm someone answered the phone at Harrison’s and confirmed our booking. It was a bit of pain in the ass have to chase someone down in order to get a dinner date locked in and frankly I did expect more from Harrison’s. Having an online booking service is great as long as it works not just for the restaurant but more importantly the diner. To be honest I just prefer the old-fashioned way of calling up to make a booking.
So MS and I made the drive from Cairns to Port on the Friday evening with me playing DJ from the passenger seat on my iPhone. Sadly we haven’t been seeing each other very much lately since we are both working away and with me leaving for another three-week stint the following evening it was a special night for us. We arrived at 6.45pm on the dot after having a bit of trouble finding a park in the bustling downtown part of Port Douglas. A waiter seated us up on the veranda of the restaurant overlooking the courtyard type area and the entrance. Harrison’s is an absolutely beautiful restaurant – an old low set Queenslander with a large veranda, cathedral ceilings, positioned right in the heart of Port and a lovely big mango tree right in the middle decorated with fairy lights. The place was pretty much full when we arrived apart from a large table behind us that turned up not long after we did. Our waitress for the evening introduced herself and I’ll be stuffed if I can remember her name but was lovely. She asked us if we would like to order drinks and we had a look over the drinks menu. I chose the only glass of Sauvignon Blanc on the menu (I certainly can’t drink a bottle to myself – not these days anyway), a glass of Ara for AU$12 while MS chose the Rekorderlig Strawberry and Lime Cider for AU$16. We had a look over the a la carte menu and the set menus but I had already chosen weeks before exactly what we were having. Yeah I do tend to ruin dining experiences a little because I have a tendency to trawl the internet for menu’s and restaurant reviews. Maybe we can just call it research?
Before ordering the waitress gave us a rundown of specials for the evening including oysters and scallops and where they were from. Lets just say her accent confused me because again I can’t remember where they were from but most importantly Harrison’s served Australian seafood. We (I) decided on the Menu Gormand 2 – a four course menu for AU$75 a head without wines or AU$125 with matched wines. Like I said we had already ordered drinks so we chose the menu without the wine. The Menu Gourmand 2 was as follows: Amuse Bouche, Malt Roasted Scallops with Veal Sweetbreads, Gingerbread, Pickled Raisins and Warmed Radishes; Tongue and Cheek – Braised and Pressed Pork, Black Pudding, Crispy Ears and Apple; Daube da Boeuf – 9hr Red Wine Braised Ox Cheek, Caramelised Onions, Smoked Bacon, Paris Mash and Bordelaise Sauce; and for dessert Daintree Estate Chocolate Fondant with Creme Fraiche Ice Cream and Hazlenut Praline. Sounds pretty good huh? MS and I lay in wait for the meal that was to come with me revelling in my new-found love that was Strawberry and Lime Rekorderlig Cider, even if MS had ordered it and not me. How the hell have I not tried that stuff before?! It’s frigin amazing!!!
Back to the food – we literally only waited about 5 minutes before our Amuse Bouche arrived. An amuse bouche (something I had no idea about until I saw it on MKR – Jake and Elle totally should have won that by the way) according to Wikipedia is “a single bite-sized hor’s d’oeuvre… served both to prepare the guest for the meal and to offer a glimpse into the chef’s approach into the art of cuisine”. Ours was a Cauliflower and Blue Cheese something or rather with Rye. Again forgive me but I am so shit house at understanding people’s accents. This makes dinner at Harrison’s difficult for me because the entire wait staff seemed to be European. For what it’s worth I can’t even understand my own aunties a lot of the time with their thick Sri Lankan accents not to mention the many foreigners I deal with in my profession. Okay so lets just say it was a fancy word for Cauliflower Soup. It arrived in a small shot glass and was delicious and creamy although I did find the temperature of it to be a little bit off-putting. It was slightly colder than room temperature and I thought it would have been much nicer had it been slightly warmer. The blue cheese however was a winner for me. “You can keep the Cauliflower and just give me a shot glass of blue cheese next time thank you waiter”. A nice dish but nothing spectacular like I was expecting for a Chef’s Hat Winning restaurant’s Amuse Bouche. It didn’t exactly give me a glimpse into anything really.
Next up was the Malt Roasted Scallops with Veal Sweetbreads, Gingerbread, Pickled Raisins and Warmed Radishes. The presentation of the dish was clean and eye-popping. The veal absolutely melted in your mouth (it kind of reminded me of a pork riblet – nothing wrong with that because pork riblets rock! At least they did when I was in grade 6.) The pickled raisins were to die for. Those things on a cheese platter would be sh*t hot. Not sure about the warmed radishes. They weren’t particularly warm and I just pushed them to the side since I don’t really like radishes anyway. I think they were really just there to look pretty? Like chokoes people don’t really eat radishes do they? My cousin PD is an exception but he also drinks Lime Milkshakes (who does that?!). Anyway cutting to the chase and without saving it for later on in this post, this dish was the standout one for both MS and I.
The third course was the Tongue and Cheek – Braised and Pressed Pork, Black Pudding, Crispy Ears and Apple. Before this dish even came out MS was full of questions for the waitress. After seeing a mention of Black Pudding on the menu he was a little concerned and wanted to know if it was separate on the plate so if he didn’t want to eat it then he wouldn’t have to – he had already made up his mind long before that he didn’t want to eat it. I on the other hand had never tried black pudding nor did I have any idea what it was going to look like so I just figured I would give it a go and see what I thought. Our Tongue and Cheek dishes arrived and the Black Pudding was two large ‘globs’ of black stuff on the edge of the food. MS pushed his food away from it but I incorporated it in with mouthfuls of my food. It was… okay. I guess it wasn’t really the taste I didn’t like but more the texture. It was just a bit runnier than I expected, sort of like a really thin pate. Not something that I would order by choice. The Braised and Pressed Pork reminded MS and myself of the brawn that you see in the deli section at Coles but then again maybe that’s what it’s supposed to be like? MS didn’t like it while again I thought it was ok. The best part of the dish was the pigs ears which were all crispy and cut thin just like crackling. YUM! Those decorative radishes made another appearance on this dish and again I pushed them to the side.
About 10 – 12 minutes was all that stood between our Braised Pork and our Daube de Boeuf. The braised ox cheek was lovely and rich which was offset perfectly by the sweet caramelised onions and the creamy Paris mash. It reminded me of a similar dish that is the signature dish at Wink II on the Esplanade. I do love cheeks – they get so damn tender and just melt in your mouth. Last work rotation I made a delicious Beef Cheek Pappardelle with a recipe I found on the Gourmet Traveller website that was so damn decadent I could only eat half of what I wanted to. Sad face. But, it was amazing. Happy face. This dish was excellent but I think a little bit out-of-place in the set menu. It was very filling, extremely rich and left MS and I shifting uncomfortably in our seats and adjusting our waistlines.
When the waitress arrived to take our plates she asked us if we wanted dessert to be brought out. We happily accepted although I had no idea how I was going to fit it in. She informed us that it would take 20 minutes presumably because it had to cook. About 8 minutes later our desserts arrived. Either they have a stellar oven or the 20 minutes had started before we finished our mains. The dessert was Daintree Estate Chocolate Fondant with Creme Fraiche Ice Cream and Hazlenut Praline – it was warm and oozy. I placed my spoon into a corner and scooped off a piece and the rich chocolate gently oozed out from the inside. The chocolate was quite dark and bitter, probably a little too much for me but that didn’t stop me from destroying the entire plate. MS couldn’t quite finish it, the Ox Cheek had pretty much put him out for the count (light weight). I really loved the Hazlenut Praline, it gave a lovely crunch and added sweetness to the bitter chocolate.
That pretty much concluded our 4 course meal at Harrison’s. Although we would have politely declined tea or coffee we weren’t actually asked if we wanted any, something I thought to be a little odd. Our meals were done and dusted by about 8.30 and I have to say that it felt a little rushed for a four course menu. There was hardly any time between us ordering the Menu Gormand 2 and our Amuse Bouche’s arriving. I know that they would have been pre-prepared anyway but surely it’s nice to create the illusion that they are made to order? Following that there was no longer than 10 minutes between each of our courses and even when we were told that dessert would be a 20 minute wait it arrived well under the 10 minute mark. I’m not sure if they wanted to clear the table in hope to get another couple in before closing or that’s just how they do things at Harrison’s. The food, time taken and the overall experience fell well short of what I was expecting. My expectations were a little closer to the decadent dining date we’d had at NuNu’s late last year where we were there for over two and half hours and literally wallowed in the fantastic food and service. Now not to compare apples to oranges but they are the only two fine dining, highly regarded, award-winning restaurants that I have eaten more than the standard three courses at in the last financial year, so for me it seems ideal to compare the two. The service at Harrison’s was very good although we were served by no less than 4 different wait staff during our time there, something I thought was a little excessive and each were at varying stages of giving a sh*t, i.e. the explanation of the each dish that we were being served right down to their general friendliness and apparent care factor.
Our Entertainment Voucher got us AU$50 off our total bill but when the standout part of the meal was MS’s Strawberry and Lime Rekorderleig Cider then it makes me wonder what I had been looking forward to for so many weeks and why we had made the long drive up there (should have gone to Salsa Bar next door). Again I don’t dine at places like Harrison’s often but when I do, I expect nothing but the best from the service, to the food, to the overall experience and the booking system. The food was good not amazing, the service was great but not personable and the whole thing just wasn’t quite up to that imaginary bar that Harrison’s had set so high. It takes a lot to get me away from dining at mid range restaurants and step up to the fine dining restaurants, not because I have no class, but because lets face it – there are so many fantastic mid range restaurants out there these days sometimes going fine dining begs the question ‘is it really worth the extra money?’
22 Wharf St, Port Douglas QLD 4877
Ph: (07) 4099 4011
Opening Hours: Tues – Sat 6pm – 10pm
First cab off the rank with my new Tropical Far North Queensland Entertainment Book was The Rising Sun Bar and Bistro at Palm Cove a couple of weeks ago. A few months ago MS and I attended a friend’s engagement party on the rooftop terrace at the hotel Sarayi where the two of us were smacking our lips at the delicious canapes that were being brought around by the waitstaff from the restaurant below. That restaurant below was The Rising Sun, somewhere I had never heard of before and after a little research I found out that it is also co-owned by co-owner and head chef at NuNu, Nick Holloway. After our fantastic five course degustation menu at Palm Cove in August last year I was keen to come back and try just what The Rising Sun had on the menu and see if it was anywhere near as good as I had cracked it up to be.
Initially, after hearing some great reviews I tried in vain to get a table for two at Harrison’s in Port Douglas for the night but alas it was booked out for a wedding so I made a last minute booking for my second choice, The Rising Sun, and we headed out to Palm Cove. It was a drizzly night out in Palm Cove and it was difficult to find a park out there because the place was chockers with diners. We managed to find ourselves a park a little out off the beaten path and made our way to the restaurant. The staff had reserved us a nice little table right at the front of the restaurant overlooking the outside tables (unoccupied due to rain) and the footpath beyond. The Rising Sun Bar and Bistro was probably about 3/4 full when we sat down at our table but quickly filled up to close to capacity in the hour or two we were there. A friendly waitress came to take our drink orders – I ordered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc while MS ordered some sort of Cider (whoops I took no notice of either). Due to the drizzle outside all the windows had been closed up to keep any water out but in order to counteract the lack of breeze the staff had turned the ceiling fans up ‘full bull’ making it a little chilly for us especially considering our table was right in the middle of two large fans. We asked the waitress if she would mind turning them down which she happily obliged, never mind what the other diners wanted this was about us (that’s a joke).
We both decided well before we arrived that we were going to go the whole hog and get an entree, main and dessert each but when we had a look over the menu we were a little disappointed. The entrees looked fantastic! In fact I would have been happy to build my entire meal just out of the entree part of the menu since MS and I quite a difficult time choosing only two, and which two to be more precise. After considering the Roast Duck Rolls with Cucumber and Plum Sauce as well as the BBQ Sugar Cane Pork with Chilli Vinegar we settled on the Crispy Fried Squid with Hot and Sour Dressing and Peanuts for AU$16 and the Coconut Roasted Pork Ribs with Ginger Caramel and Thai Basil for AU$18. After assessing the mains over and over again… To be honest there was just nothing in the main menu that grabbed me. I mean there was only 6 items on the main menu to choose from aside from the Fresh Reef Fish or Steak which was another section of the menu and the 2 or 3 specials on the board which didn’t excite me. It was a choice between the 6 main dishes – Chicken Parmigiana (it IS a bistro after all), Crispy Duck Leg, Roast Chicken Masala, BBQ Lamb Cutlets, Grilled Pork Chop and Paella. Ultimately the Crispy Duck Leg with Jasmine Rice, Papaya and Young Coconut Salad for AU$34 was the pick of the litter, or so I thought. MS however ended up choosing the ‘Pasta of the Day’ from the specials board which was Fusilli with Feta, Olives, Sausagei (or was it Chorizo?) and Croutons. That isn’t actually how it was described on the board but I cannot for the life of me find where I wrote it down (my description was still pretty damn close). The price wasn’t written up on the board so we never actually found out how much it was but I am assuming around the usual AU$25 mark.
So we ordered and sat and drank our wine and cider while we waited. By this time the drizzle had stopped and the waitress opened up a couple of the windows at the front of the restaurant to let some breeze through. The atmosphere at The Rising Sun was second to none and everyone seemed to be having a great time whether it be enjoying a cocktail at the bar or a glass of wine with friends over dinner. The lighting however, was just dim enough to make it difficult for me to take photos of the food that was to come (I hate it when that happens). We waited about 15 minutes before our entrees arrived and as the waitress carefully laid them down in front of us she said that she would go and fetch a share plate for us since that is what we had planned on doing. We waited about 17 seconds until we decided that we couldn’t wait any longer for the share plate and dug in (luckily because she only returned with it about 10 minutes too late).
The Crispy Fried Squid was absolutely scrumptious (the below photo just doesn’t do it justice). I mean this squid was so good that it was on par with probably the best squid I have ever had. For all my regular readers you know I compare all squid to my mum and dad’s salt and pepper squid. It was cooked to perfection with just a slight dusting of flour and spices on the outside to give it just a little bit of crunch but still delicious and tender on the inside. It was, in essence, the sauce that made the dish so damn good. It was just the right mix of hot and sour sauce drizzled over the squid and mixed in with the cucumber and peanuts with a generous ‘sprinkling’ of Thai Basil leaves. We ate every last piece of squid, peanut and cucumber in that dish and if I was at home I would have licked the dressing clean off the plate but I figured it probably wasn’t appropriate while out at a restaurant.
The Coconut Roasted Pork Ribs with Ginger Caramel and Thai Basil were up next and like the Crispy Fried Squid they didn’t disappoint. The fall off the bone pork with the ginger caramel sauce was a match made in heaven. Again I wanted to lick the plate clean (like Manu Fieldel I’m a sauce girl). The dish was generously decorated with Thai Basil and also finely chopped birdseye chillies which were eye-wateringly spicy. The birdseye chillies weren’t mentioned on the menu description so MS (the big pussy) got quite the shock when one accidentally made it’s way into his unsuspecting mouth. He then dared me to eat one which being the tough ‘I can do anything’ kind of girl that I am happily accepted the challenge only to declare/pretend that they ‘weren’t very hot at all’. THEY WERE HOT!
When we were finished the waitress cleared our plates and our mains arrived about 15 minutes later. MS looked down at his dish and wondered where the sauce was for it. I poked around a bit and noticed some resemblance of a sauce in the bottom of the bowl. MS was disappointed even though he hadn’t tasted it yet. I thought it looked quite nice. He dug into his big bowl of fusilli and his opinion didn’t change to much. The croutons were just a very random edition and apart from that it didn’t have much else going on. MS said that without the feta the dish wouldn’t have had any flavour at all. The sauce at the bottom was a bit like a very mild vinaigrette I guess but nothing like what he was hoping for. In the end he ate about two thirds of it and left it. I actually liked his dish with it’s slight vinegary taste but that doesn’t say too much. Here’s a hideous confession: I used to be about 15 kg’s overweight (a mean feat for someone who’s 5ft nothing) and used to binge on pasta with vinegar and feta cheese. Wait… maybe I should divulge that kind of embarrassing stuff on here. Too late. Anyway my point is that my opinion is a little skewed when it comes to pasta and vinegar because it’s always going to get the thumbs up when realistically it’s not actually very good at all.
Now my dish – well I wasn’t sure if there even was a Crispy Duck Leg under the mountains of bean sprouts and Thai basil (again). I dug underneath and sure enough it was there but how was I supposed to get to it? Now I’m all for the use of fresh ingredients and what not but the using Thai basil in 3 out of the 4 dishes that we ordered is a little too much don’t you think? And the fact that neither the bean sprouts or the Thai basil were actually mentioned in the menu description just pissed me off since I frigin hate bean sprouts. If I had of known they were going to be so liberally included in my dish I would have opted to not have them. Even more annoying was the fact that due to the dim lighting they blended into the young coconut salad so I couldn’t tell if I was eating nasty bean sprouts of delicious young coconut until I bit into whatever it was. In the end I gave up and just went for the duck which disappointingly was dry and overcooked. The creamy curry-like sauce that it was encased it was delicious but that didn’t make up for all the other areas in which this dish failed for me. I think I ate about half of it and then left it. It’s a bad night when I only eat half of my dish and then eye off my partners meal. Okay, okay, I normally eye off my partners meal but I still only ate half my dish.
So after our lacklustre main meals following our standout entrees we didn’t really know what to think but we did know one thing for sure – we wanted dessert. The waitress brought us out a menu each to peruse the dessert menu. MS ordered the Roast Pineapple, Bread and Butter Pudding with White Chocolate and Macadamia Brittle Ice Cream for AU$16. I didn’t think that sounded very nice to be honest although I was definitely going to taste it when it came out. I was pretty keen on the Crispy Fried Banana Fritters but Chocolate Brownie is always going to come up trumps against any competitor so I chose the Hot Chocolate and Turkish Delight Brownie with Chocolate Sauce and House made Vanilla Ice Cream for AU$15.
Another 10 minutes later and out came our desserts, placed in the middle of the table. Disappointingly though they both looked exactly the same, except one was a light caramel colour and one was a dark chocolate colour. We had a taste of each of our own desserts and then the others, both decided with 100% conviction that we had each made the right choice in respect to our desserts and then positions our prospective plates firmly back to each side of the table. The hot pineapple in MS pudding just didn’t do it for me. I thought it was weird and nothing like a bread and butter pudding but MS liked it.
My brownie on the other hand was warm and soft with oozy chocolate sauce but a severe lack of Turkish Delight. I think I only found one piece. The brownie was just okay and nothing like the ‘Best Brownie in the World’ from the Pedlar’s Inn Cafe in Galle, Sri Lanka that I had while on a tour last year. TO. DIE. FOR.
So what can I say… The atmosphere at The Rising Sun was nice and relaxed but still classy as was the service but the mains definitely let the whole experience down. By the time it came to pay for the bill we got 25% off the total up to a maximum of AU$35 which resulted in it all costing us just over AU$100. I thought that was a pretty good deal for a wine, a cider, two entrees, two mains and two desserts although for a restaurant that advertises itself as a bistro I think that some of the menu items are a tad overpriced. I wouldn’t say that our meal at The Rising Sun was particularly bad but it failed mostly because I’d had such high expectations about the place. After the gorgeous canapes we had at the engagement party a few weeks prior and reading about their affiliations with NuNu it was a little hard not to get a little excited. Our meals certainly peaked too soon with excellent entrees, ordinary mains and then ‘just ok’ desserts. The over use of Thai basil was a little bit too much in the end. I get what they were trying to do with all the fresh ingredients but hey, ease up a little on the Thai basil there tiger this is Palm Cove not Patong.
The Rising Sun
95 Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove QLD 4879
Ph: (07) 4059 0889
Opening Hours: 7 days 11am – 12pm