My friend Baking Myself Happy ordered this Vege Stack during our lunch date at Caffiend early last week and I just had to post to about it. My Quinoa Salad was good but I had serious food envy when her dish came out! How good does it look?! By all accounts it tasted as good as it looks 🙂
5/78 Grafton St, Cairns QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4051 5522
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 7.30am-2pm, All day breakfast, Lunch 12pm-2pm
Last weekend MS and I found ourselves looking for somewhere to go for a late breakfast. After fulfilling my Coconut Water craving with a frigin massive coconut from Rusty’s for only AU$3.50 we headed on down to Grafton St and into well known Cairns dining spot, The Lillipad Cafe. As usual the Lillipad was packed out for Sunday morning with every table bar about two and the manky couch near the front door taken. Unfortunately there were no spare tables outside so MS and I grabbed a table for four inside and made ourselves at home. For once I was surprised that our tables appeared to have actually been wiped down, a first for Lillipad surely! Alas it was a false alarm and it was just that the previous diners at our table hadn’t spilled any obvious food scraps. Unfortunatley I cannot say the same for the floor which looks pretty filthy and needs a good gerniand a scrub with some Sugar Soap. Thankfully I had shoes on.
While we perused the menu my ingrained lack of concentration had me watching quite a few people coming and going, most of them coming inside to see if there were any spare tables for them to sit at. There wasn’t so they either milled around just outside the door waiting for one to free up or I am assuming they went elsewhere. I did notice quite a few people coming and going without shoes and there was a couple of odd ones that even sat down and ate a meal with no shoes on. Now I know that the Lillipad Cafe is full of free-spirited individuals but really? Not only is that filthy and disgusting but I am pretty sure it’s against workplace health and safety regulations. (But hey I’m no expert on the matter.) If anything the staff could maybe suggest that their patrons wear shoes when dining in? I realise that Lillipad isn’t exactly a fine dining establishment but where do we draw the line?
But we weren’t here to criticise, we were here for the food. There are so many yummy items on the menu at Lillipad that I always have difficulty choosing just exactly what I want to eat. MS went with the Eggs Benedict (seems I have rubbed off on him) with the usual fare of Bacon, toasted Turkish Bread, Poached Eggs and Hollandaise Sauce plus a side of Baby Potatoes for AU$15.90. He also ordered a side of Avocado for an extra AU$2.50. Not feeling like any of the breakfast items I went for the Crepe Trip with Sauteed Mushrooms, Zucchini and Onion (I took the onion off) in a reduced Sour Cream sauce wrapped in Crepes with a Greek Salad on the side also for AU$15.90. I also ordered some Green Chilli Sauce on the side of mine for an extra AU$2.50. Since it was MS’ turn to shout breakfast he left me with the Sunday Mail while he went up to the counter to order the food and two Flat Whites.
He returned a short time later with a couple of glasses of water and while waiting for our coffees we secretly fought over the newspaper. After about hmmm maybe 20 minutes our coffees finally arrived. They had taken so damn long that I had actually forgotten that we had even ordered coffees in the first place. Then we watched as three tables that had arrived and paid for their meals well after us received their meals before we did. Not only that but we waited about 40 minutes for our meals all up so by the time they finally arrived we were both pretty damn hungry.
Now onto the food… Despite what I have said leading up to this paragraph the food was great and perfect for a Sunday breakfast/lunch affair (brunch). MS’ Eggs Benedict was a pretty significant portion size, even for him. The eggs were well poached, the potatoes slightly crispy, plenty of bacon and a nice big dollop of thick Hollandaise Sauce. He was pretty pleased with his Eggs Benedict and managed to polish off the entire thing while I stole a couple of Crispy Potatoes off the side of his plate.
My Crepe Trip was just as good, if not better in my opinion. The soft, floury goodness of the Crepes was exactly what I had been craving and the reduced Sour Cream sauce was so yummy that I decided that I didn’t even need the Green Chilli Sauce that MS had paid a whole AU$2.50 for! (Much better than the dry Mushrooms Crepes that I had at Lime Tree a few weeks ago). The Crepes were filled with big chunks of Mushroom and Zucchini and even MS who normally turns his nose up at any dish that has absolutely no meat in it was impressed. In fact, I could go some Crepes right about now.
I have been putting off writing this post for quite some time because I knew it was going to be a difficult one to write. I’m trying to be diplomatic because there are some good points but also a sh*tload of bad points. I’ll start with the bad. Apart from the non-shoe wearing diners, the long wait for your food, the dirty floors, the fact that you always always always have to ask to get your table wiped down and as a result of asking you get met with a steely glare (or the burnies as I like to call it), the majority of the staff at the Lillipad are just plain rude. Three in particular and I’m pretty sure that anyone that has dined at this establishment will know exactly who I am talking about. These free spirited individuals are angry at the world and wouldn’t even crack a smile if Paul Watson called them up tomorrow and asked them to join his crew on the Steve Irwin. MS has even witnessed one of them call a diner a murderer for ordering Bacon with their meal. Wow.
So… apart from all I have written in the paragraph above MS and I along with half of Cairns continue to dine at The Lillipad Cafe and the place is absolutely flat out pretty much any time of the day and for good reason. The food is not only delicious (disclaimer: 95% of the time) but the portion sizes are out of this world and the prices are ridiculously low (and have been since the place opened). Where else can you get a fresh grilled fillet of Atlantic Salmon and salad for less than AU$20? The people behind Lillipad have never put the prices up even though they probably know that they could and it would still be packed out. The meals have never downsized and are just as big as I remember them to be (unlike Sushi Train at Cairns Central). The menu is many and varied with literally something for everyone from the meat eaters (murderers) to the vegos and they are open 7 days till well into the afternoon. I guess these are the reasons, despite all the bad points, that we keep coming back to The Lillipad Cafe time and time again, with shoes on.
The Lilypad Cafe
72 Grafton St, Cairns QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4051 9565
Opening Hours: 7 days 7am- 3pm
I have been a little bit slack with my posts lately. My sister texted me a few days ago to so eloquently inform me that my last post was on the 8th of January! Shock! Horror! Who would have thought?! But seriously a girl has to work and I just haven’t been able to get a quiet minute with my laptop. That’s not to say that I haven’t been eating out though. On our latest quest to find a new breakfast spot following recent disappointing meals at two close-by but unnamed establishments MS and I rolled on into local haunt Caffiend. Tucked down the arcade and facing onto the graffiti filled alley way Caffiend is cool, relaxed and very Melbourne-esque. On a wet and drizzly Saturday afternoon Caffiend was only about half full but I’m pretty sure we arrived not long after the rush of the market-going diners. No complaints here.
We perused both the breakfast and lunch menu since it was 12.30pm but neither of us had had breakfast as yet so we opted for the breakfast options. Again, being a big, hungry man MS opted for the closest thing to a Big Breakfast on the menu – The Morning Glory which consisted of Two Poached Eggs, Streaky Bacon, Slow Roast Pumpkin, Oven-Dried Tomato, Crunchy Chat Potatoes, Rocket Salad for AU$17.90. Having only recently discovered omelettes (up until about 4 months ago I thought that omelettes were horrible, nasty things full of onion and capsicum – oh how wrong I was) I chose the Basil and Goats Cheese Omelette with Roma Tomato and Sourdough Toast for AU$13.90, along with a side of Chilli Jam for an extra AU$3. In the meantime our coffees arrived (it was goooooood coffee) and our attentive waitress bought us a jug of water and some glasses. Our breakfasts took just a little bit longer than desired to arrive but in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t too long. In the meantime we drank our coffees, admired the graffiti art and read the ‘Letters to the Editor’ in The Weekend Post.
On arrival of our meals we inspected the two poached eggs on MS’ plate. More often than not I am disappointed with overcooked poached eggs. As I have said in previous posts poached eggs should have runny yoke, not hard boiled yolk (that’s my opinion anyway). The eggs were perfectly poached… HALLELUJAH! The Roast Pumpkin and Crunchy Chat Potatoes provided something different to the meal and gave it a bit more pizazz rather than the usual Big Breakfast staples like Baked Beans and a greasy Chipolata.
The Omelette was always going to be a winner with me, mostly because it had lots of yummy goats cheese on it (my new favourite cheese) but also because it was cooked to perfection and the Chilli Jam was the perfect accompaniment. According to the menu the Chilli Jam is made in house and although you only get a small dish of it that is all you need because it certainly has a bit of bite to it. Much more than the Chilli Jam I knock up at home anyway. The omelette was light and fluffy and a generous size despite how the picture may appear below.
Caffiend is a funky little out of the way cafe that is definitely worth dropping into even if it’s just for a coffee to enjoy with the secondhand book you just purchased in the arcade. The staff are friendly, the coffee is made with love, the food is delish, the goats cheese is plentiful and there is a huge graffiti art of a girl with no top on right outside in the alleyway. What more could you want with your breakfast? A word of warning though: Be careful of the slippery floors if it’s been raining.
5/78 Grafton St, Cairns QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4051 5522
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 7.30am-2pm, All day breakfast, Lunch 12pm-2pm
Last week MS and I were looking for somewhere else to go for breakfast (somewhere other than our usual options anyway) so we decided on new cafe Candy in Grafton St. Candy is a new venture by owners of The Raw Prawn on the Esplanade, a restaurant that I have been to many times for an enjoyable and scrumptious lunch. This new little cafe/bar is located a couple of doors down from the ever busy Lilypad Cafe with a couple of sets of chairs and tables out the front, a big open window looking onto the coffee machine and heaps of chairs and tables inside. Situated where the old Italian restaurant Il Sorrento was (if my memory serves me correctly), Candy has been newly fitted out with green artificial topiary walls on the shop front and green artificial planter pots around the tables on the footpath as well as inside, just for something different. The fitout, although unfinished, seems to have a bit of vintage theme to it and you certainly can’t miss the place when you walk past.
MS and I perused the menu, which seemed to be both a breakfast and lunch menu in one. There was a total of 14 items on the menu, 6 of which could be considered breakfast items and there is even a selection for the kiddies such as a Ham and Cheese Sandwich, Lamb Sticks with Cucumber, Chicken Skewers and Grilled Fish with Salad (don’t know how many kids eat cucumber and salad but hey) all for AU$9. I was tossing up between The B & E Stack – Bacon and Egg Stack, Tomato Relish, Aioli and Toasted Turkish for AU$11 or The Madam – Mushroom Tart, Roast Garlic, Thyme, Spinach, Poached Egg, Pesto Goats Curd for AU$16 and after some umming and ahhing I ordered The Madam. MS went with the closest thing to a big breakfast that he could find on the menu so aptly named The Usual – Bacon, Poached Eggs, Garlic Mushrooms, Rosemary Tomato, Black Pudding and Truffle Oil for AU$15 but being the big sook that he is decided to forgo the Black Pudding in exchange for some extra bacon as confirmed by the waiter. I was happy to steal the Black Pudding off his plate and eat it myself but he wanted extra bacon. We ordered two cappuccinos and waited for our breakfast. Our cappuccinos took a little while to arrive and when they did the Barista apologised and explained that he was still getting used to the coffee machine. We appreciated the apology but our coffees were cold. One thing I did notice about the coffees was the ornate collector stirring spoons that came out on the saucer. Very cute and a nice little added touch to go with the vintage theme of the restaurant.
Our meals arrived not long after. MS thought his breakfast was very disappointing and I tend to agree with him. I’m not sure if they gave him extra bacon or just took the black pudding off because if that is the chefs idea of extra bacon well he is going to have some tough opposition from the bacon lovers out there. The bacon that MS did have was nice thick cut bacon but he would have liked just a couple more rashers for the price.
My meal was small but nice. I guess I had different expectations when I read ‘Tart’ on the menu. I was expecting some sort of pastry tart but instead it was a tart made only out of mushrooms (I know that is also considered a tart in some culinary circles). The mushrooms that made up the ‘tart’ however were big and juicy and the pesto goat’s curd matched perfectly with them. But, one of the things that I do judge a restaurant or cafe on is their ability to poach an egg properly. Poached eggs should be runny. When you pierce a poached egg with your knife the yolk should ooze out of it onto the plate. Unfortunately the eggs that we were both served were more like hard boiled eggs and there was certainly no oozing yolk in sight.
All in all the meals were good but the servings were very small and we were both pretty disppointed by this. In stark contrast, the Lilypad Cafe next door serves ridiculously large breakfasts and although I wouldn’t expect the same from Candy they may need to up the ante a little if they are going to try and steal some of their customers. I know that the owners are still waiting on their liquor license to be approved and are also planning on opening up for dinner in the near future. The fitout of the restaurant hadn’t been completed yet and I did noticed that the place looked very unfinished. Just a suggestion but maybe they should have waited until the Barista’s were trained up properly and the fitout had been finished before opening their doors. I will come back to try the enticing lunch menu in a couple of months when they have smoothed out a few creases. Having said all that heres hoping that considering the success of The Raw Prawn, Candy will come into its own soon enough.
Candy Cafe Bar
70 Grafton St, Cairns QLD
Ph: (07) 4031 8816
Last Friday night while trying to avoid the usual Friday night town affair two of my good friends and I ventured into the city in search of somewhere to go for dinner. As we wandered aimlessly along Spence St tossing up a few places in and around that area to dine at someone suggested the Swiss Inn. The Swiss Inn is actually a restaurant that I regularly drive past and continue to say ‘I must go there one day’ so on this particular day we went there.
On arrival we were greeted by a gentleman by the name of Peter who ushered us into the restaurant area and told us we could have the pick of all the tables since we were the only ones there. I thought it was a bit of a disappointing turnout for 7pm on a Friday night but as we ate our meals a few more people did turn up. Peter gave us our menus and we ordered some drinks. Ever the wine drinker with dinner I ordered a glass of Giesen Sauvignon Blanc while LL stuck with a glass of coke (in preparation for OctSober) and AL asked for some recommendations for a bottle of red wine. Peter recommended a bottle of Cimicky Shiraz from the Barossa Valley which AL promptly ordered. We looked around at the decor of the restaurant which is rather dated with white lace curtains that could only be described as vintage and the fake plants hanging in baskets in each of the corners. But all this along with the candles burning on each of the tables and the booth in the corner added to the overall atmosphere and made the whole restaurant feel really warm and cosy (in a non-temperature kind of way).
As we perused our menus LL was delighted that snails were on the entree menu and I too was just as delighted that he decided to order the 6 De-Shelled Snails Covered in Garlic Butter, Grilled and Served with Garlic Toast (AU$12.50). This is another case of ‘I have always wanted to try snails but never gotten around to it’ but at the same time I wasn’t game enough to order snails for myself. For his main LL ordered the San Dominican Rabbit which is White Rabbit, Artichokes and Black Olives cooked with Herbs and White Wine (AU$29.50). Seated in front me AL skipped the entree and went straight for the main ordering the Crumbed Pork Fillet Filled with Swiss Cheese, Lean Leg Ham and Pan-Fried ($29.50) or as its more commonly known ‘Cordon Bleu’. Peter also recommended a side of Spaetzli (small egg-noodle dumplings) to go with AL’s Cordon Bleu.
I was almost sold on the duck until I turned the page and spotted the Traditional Swiss Cheese Fondue described on the menu as a Combination of Imported Swiss Cheeses, melted in Dry White Wine and served with Cocktail Onions, Gherkins and Crusty Bread (AU$37.00). On ordering our mains Peter informed us that all main meals received a complimentary salad bar and bread.
While waiting for our mains LL and I ventured over to the Salad Bar and helped ourselves to the selection of, um, salads. There was a nice little array of salad type things to choose from – a bean sprout salad (not my cup of tea), beetroot salad, boiled eggs, cucumber salad, a type of Greek salad, marinated artichokes and green salad. The boiled eggs and artichokes got my attention and I ate them while I awaited my fondue.
It didn’t take long for our meals to arrive, LL’s snails came first in a ‘purpose built’ porcelain snail dish and Peter told LL that because the snails were a little small he got 12 snails instead of 6. We were all happy with that explanation as AL and I reached over for a snail each to try. They were very nice and I really couldn’t taste much of a difference in the taste and texture between a garlic snail and a garlic prawn. I decided that I would order them if the opportunity ever arose again. LL ate the rest along with all garlic butter sauce mopped up by the garlic toast.
My fondue arrived almost at the same time as LL’s snails because I guess it is kind of a mixture between an entree and a main, although I had made it my main. The fondue came out with little squares of toasted crusty bread, as well as cocktail onions and gherkins.
In hindsight I probably should have ordered the Beef Fondue Bourguignonne which includes beef tenderloin because my dish was really just melted cheese with bread. It was nice but not really worth the $37 that I paid for it, still there was plenty for the three of us to munch on and I was pretty full afterwards. Having said that the cheese wasn’t too heavy even as I was scraping the bottom of the dish for the very last bit.
Peter bought out the two remaining meals – LL’s rabbit and AL’s Cordon Bleu. LL was extremely pleased with his rabbit and even shared a bit with his dining buddies to try since I have never tried rabbit and well AL just wanted some. I didn’t mind the rabbit but I found the colour of the meat a little bit off putting. It had the texture of chicken but didn’t taste like chicken. It was however plump and juicy and as I have been informed rabbit tends to be tough and gamey.
AL however has given me a blow by blow account of his encounter with his Cordon Bleu, enough so that I feel it is necessary to let him extend his creative flair over his Swiss Inn experience on this post. ‘The first bite was succulent enough to know I was in for something special. Each layer of the Cordon Bleu was perfected in the amounts used, the way it was used and the combination of the ingredient with the other ingredients. The Spaetzli had it’s own unique flavour that didn’t overpower the original dish and created a perfect side dish that stood on it’s own merit. We enjoyed tucking into it long after the main dishes were finished’. There you go. Speaks for itself really.
To conclude our Swiss Inn experience we shared a Creme Brulee for dessert with ice-cream on the side. The Creme Brulee dotted with clearly visible vanilla beans was fluffy, decadent, not too eggy as you can find with some Creme Brulee’s and presented oh-so beautifully.
When we first sat down at our table I asked Peter how long the Swiss Inn had been open for because it seems to have been around ever since I can remember. He informed me that the Swiss Inn had been open in Cairns for over 34 years and in that time it had had 4 different owners. It’s most certainly a restaurant that has stood the test of time. The service provided by our host of the evening Peter was exemplary even though we were the only people in the restaurant but his fantastic service still did not faulter when more diners arrived. Peter happily chatted with us and his suggestions from the wine to the best side dish to have with a main meal proved excellent. The restaurant is cute and cosy and the food is both flavoursome and satisfying. I might just have to go back for that Beef Fondue.
Swiss Inn Restaurant + Bar
45 Grafton St, Cairns
Ph: (07) 4051 6020
Opening Hours: Open for lunch and dinner Tues-Fri, dinner Sat