There have been a few places I have been wanting to go and eat in the last few months but being so restricted food wise all I could do was dream about them and lay in waiting for the time when I could eat real food again. That time has finally come, well about a month ago anyway. Two of those such places were The Clever Duck and Mama Coco who coincidently are run by the same people. I have previously written posts on both of The Clever Duck and Mama Coco however Davey, Bill and co are doing exciting new things at both establishments and I thought that called for a brand new post. Besides if I was going to eat there then I was definitely going to post about it! I’ll have to save the Mama Coco one for another day because this post is reserved for The Clever Duck.
Having only been open since April this year The Clever Duck has already developed a huge following of locals and fellow foodies because of it’s delicious food and breezy, serene location in Forest Gardens. Only recently they have come up with The Clever Canteen on Saturday’s and Sunday’s from midday to 4pm. This particular time we went was for the Labour Day Long Weekend on the 6th of October (yes I realise that was nearly a month ago but I have been overseas, no not working but on holiday). More on that very soon.
I got a group of friends together and we headed out to Forest Gardens for an afternoon of eating and drinking. When we arrived the TCD was only about a third full but our group of 9 filled the place up a little bit more. Bill, the host, politely showed us to our table and explained the menu to us. The menu at The Clever Canteen is designed for grazing with a choice of four different types of meats for $9 per portion and salads, grains and veggies $5 per portion. There is also the option of three tasty sauces for $1, grazing plates with sour dough and antipasto for $25 plus things for the ducklings (kiddies) at around the $5 mark.
Since The Clever Canteen is currently BYO with no corkage MS and I took full advantage and planned to get absolutely wasted so we pulled out our bottle of tequila and some shot glasses. Haha, just kidding. A couple of Rekorderlig Ciders on a Sunday afternoon at TCD was just what the doctor ordered (I think Rekorderlig is amazing or as my good friend TW would say are ‘like angels peeing on my tongue’).
After having a look over the menu which true-to-form I had already looked over many times on TCD‘s Facebook page we ordered a few plates each and went from there. First up I went for the Dry Rubbed Smoked Pork Shoulder with Southern Style Whiskey and Sweet Onion Sauce and a side of Saffron Basmati Rice, Dried Cranberries, Pistachios and Mixed Herbs all for $15. Shit yeah! Pretty good if you ask me. MS ordered the same except instead of the Basmati Rice he chose the Pink Eye Potato Salad, Radish, Dill, Sour Cream and Horseradish as his side. Across from me my favourite sweet toothed blogger Baking Myself Happy ordered the Prosciutto Wrapped Rosemary and Chicken Thigh with Thyme Roasted Pumpkin, Mushroom, Tomato and Shallot. With the delicious aromas of the BBQ sizzling away outside with Davy at the helm our first round of food didn’t take long to arrive. Initially I thought the portion size was a little small but then I looked at the size of the cut of Pork Shoulder that was in front of me and remembered that it had cost a mere $15 and soon realised what awesome value The Clever Canteen was.
The Dry Rubbed Smoked Pork Shoulder was probably some of the best, if not the best pork I have ever had. All too many times I have had dry, chewy pork but this… this was something else. It was juicy and succulent and the Southern Style Whiskey and Sweet Onion Sauce was that good that I pretty much licked the ramekin clean to finish it off after my pork was gone. The Saffron Basmati Rice was also a hit at our table with just the right amount of sweetness from the cranberries, crunch from the pistachios and herbs to flavour the dish. MS and I also ordered some Wood Fired Sour Dough with Wattle Seed Dukkah and EVOO for AU$5 because lets face it, who can resist dukkah and sour dough! Everyone declared how excellent their respective meals were and after we finished our first plate half the table was already looking at the menu for what they were going to have for their next plate – not because we were still hungry (well I was but I am an eating machine to put it lightly) but because we wanted to try more of the amazing dishes that were on offer.
Next up I chose the Herb Crusted Roast Tableland Sirloin this time with Smokey Chimichurri for the sauce and the Pink Eye Potato Salad and MS got Sirloin also except he chose the Roasted Pumpkin and Mushroom Salad. As we finished off our first cider and moved onto our 2nd (I had 2, MS was driving so he only had one) our second plates of food arrived at the table. My big cut of sirloin, like the pork, was cooked to perfection and had that lovely grilled/BBQ taste. The chimichurri sauce was the perfect accompaniment and the potato salad was definitely my favourite side dish of the day. I have a massive weak spot for potato salad. And macaroni cheese. I loved the sirloin but I just couldn’t go past the pork. That was an absolute standout for me whilst MS thought the sirloin was better. Different strokes, different folks but they were both awesome.
Across from me KK who was still relishing in her first meal of Dry Rubbed Pork had ordered a Grazing Plate of Soft, Hard and Blue Cheese with Chutney Fruit and Sourdough for $25. The Grazing Plate served on a large wooden bread board was presented beautifully and neatly and I secretly wished that I had ordered one. Lucky for the rest of us at the table KK ate as much as she could (hardly any) and then moved the board into the middle of the table for the rest of us to devour. I went straight for the blue cheese because lets face it, a cheese platter isn’t a cheese platter without that mouldy goodness. The soaked dried fruits were delicious and I am now kicking myself for not finding out what they were soaked in.
Although I wanted to keep eating savoury dishes and get through all four of the main BBQ portions – fish and chicken still to go – I knew that it was time to check out the dessert dishes inside the cabinet near the counter. MS and I went over and had a look and after at least 10 minutes of umming and ahhing what each of us should get and then what the other could get so one could taste it and then consulting the waitress as to which one was better than the other. We finally chose a small slice of the Chocolate and Sultana Brownie with Ice Cream, the Almond, Pear and Frangipane Tart and a slice of Banana Bread, warmed up with butter. It was a hard choice and if I could have had my way I would have eaten one of everything in the cabinet but alas I have to exert a little bit of self control. Yes MS and I are fatties (on the inside) but we workout *insert chorus for the song I’m sexy and I know it*. A lot. All three of the desserts were fantastic with the exception of the Almond and Frangipane Tart which was exceptional. There is something about the texture of the tart that just did it for me. MS was content eating his boring slice of Banana Bread (good but boring) and left me to my own devices with the entire tart and the brownie.
About halfway through our lunch more people started to arrive until the place was chock a block. Not too many people but enough to fill the place up both outside on the deck and inside where we were sitting. The amazingly talented and beautiful singer Amy Chase and her guitarist set up outside on the deck and played some lazy tunes whilst families set up picnic blankets in the afternoon sun out on the lawn in front of the deck. It was the perfect afternoon to end finish off a perfect Sunday with fantastic food, great service and great friends in a relaxed atmosphere by the pond. I really like the concept of The Clever Canteen – being able to mix and match your food. There are exciting times ahead as the team at The Clever Duck and Mama Coco are doing some great things for the local food scene with pop up restaurants and weekend BBQ’s like The Clever Canteen. I only hope that other cafe’s and restaurants take a leaf out of their book to help create a more diverse Melbournesque food culture for our vibrant city. Bring it on!
PS: If you haven’t got your tickets for the Melbourne Cup Soiree at TCD then you better get in soon. With canapés, a bountiful banquet and a dessert pony (whatever that is) it’s the winning trifecta for a kick ass day.
PPS: After all the ranting and raving I have done about these guys I just want to say that I have no ties or links to Mama Coco or TCD. I do however believe that if a café or restaurant in Cairns is up to scratch then I will shout it from the rooftops, or at least from the safety of my couch and my Toshiba Ultrabook. As many of my readers should know it’s hard to find good food, good service and good atmosphere in Cairns so when you find all three you know you’re onto a winner.
The Clever Duck
Lakeside, Forest Gardens Blvd, Forest Gardens QLD 4868
Ph: (07) 4036 3936
Opening Hours: The Clever Canteen – Sat and Sun 12pm – 4pm, normal hours Wed – Fri 7.30am – 2.30pm, Sat and Sun 7.30am – 4pm
It’s been a few weeks since my last post, I know. I haven’t been slack just out of phone range for work and then when I got back I just wanted to spend some time with my significant other without my head stuck in the computer before he left for his new FIFO job. Now the shoe is on the other foot and it’s me by myself at home for a couple of weeks twiddling my thumbs *sad face* Oh well I guess this is a perfect chance to catch up on that neglected food blog of mine *smiley face* Anyway without further adieu here it is… After my last rant regarding the Mother’s Day Brunch at Bazaar in Port Douglas I thought I would do something a little more light hearted this time around. Recently Davy O’Rourke, the man behind the mouth-wateringly good Mama Coco cafe on Aumuller Street, opened up a new venture called The Clever Duck out at Forest Gardens. The Clever Duck is located in the old sales office just off the main roundabout as you are heading into Forest Gardens. It’s a little bit off the beaten track for those city folk like me (that’s a joke) but it seems that plenty of people that have cottoned on to this delightful little place.
Following in the footsteps of Mama Coco, Davy and his team at the newly opened The Clever Duck have again put the emphasis on fresh, local produce served in a relaxed atmosphere. MS and I arrived at about 1.30 on a Sunday afternoon to meet a couple of friends for lunch. Initially we had pondered where to meet up for lunch but then I remembered The Clever Duck at Forest Gardens (that I had so eagerly anticipated the opening of) had finally opened and since the couple that we were catching up with (JM and KK) lived in Mt Sheridan then it seemed like the most clever option.
When we arrived JM and KK had already managed to snag one of the last available tables, which was positioned inside the main restaurant area close to the counter and underneath a very large and unusual organic ‘chandelier’. We caught up on a few things and then got down to the lunch side of things. On the wall opposite the counter is a large blackboard with all the breakfast and lunch options available. We each took it in turns to choose our meals and ordered our food and coffees at the front counter. The menu at The Clever Duck offers a range of tasty, easy to prepare dishes from toasted ciabatta rolls with shaved proscuitto, swiss cheese and tomato relish to poached chicken salad with glass noodles. There is something for everyone including vegetarians as well as ‘all day breakfast’ over the weekend.
While I was waiting I looked around at the tables of families and friends enjoying their coffees, late breakfasts and lunches. The place was pretty much full up but because it takes up such a large area with the outside deck and the inside space that’s available it doesn’t feel at all cramped but rather very spacious. The deck looks out over the duck pond in the heart of Forest Gardens and I remember all too well the evil ducks and geese that used to chase my friend SS and I when we would venture down that way to sneak cigarettes after school (she lived in Forest Gardens at the time and no I don’t smoke anymore). Nowadays there doesn’t seem to be quite as many ducks or geese as I remember and they are certainly not as hostile as back then – mind you I certainly wasn’t game to find out. It really is lovely looking out from the deck on the gardens and pond beyond and I secretly wished that we had been able to grab an outside table so we could enjoy it more, but alas those prime positions were already taken. Inside is still a great spot with lovely high ceilings, recycled furniture and polished wooden floors.
MS, JM and KK returned to the table after ordering lunch and we sat and chatted a little more while we waited for our coffees and food to arrive. I ordered the Quinoa with Roast Pumpkin, Grilled Zucchini, Mint, Sultanas and Preserved Lemon for AU$16 although I added a bit of chicken in for an extra AU$3 to make sure that I got my required protein. MS on the other hand who just couldn’t help himself decided that he would have a second breakfast and chose the The Hungry Duck with Two Poached Eggs, Mushrooms, Roast Pumpkin and Tomato, Proscuitto, Baked Beans and Toast for AU$19.50. JM chose the same dish as myself with the chicken as an extra also. He always copies me. About 10 minutes later mine and MS’ flat whites arrived followed closely by JM and KK’s latte’s. Then about 10 minutes later our lunches and MS’ breakfast arrived.
KK had chosen the Shaved Proscuitto, Poached Egg, Ciabatta, Blistered Cherry Tomato and Salsa Verde for AU$17 and when it arrived at the table I got food envy. It looked really bloody good – great presentation and so colourful! The poached eggs oozed delicious, runny yolk when she sliced gently into them. KK said it was delicious and fresh with lovely sweet tomatoes. I made a mental note to return for that dish in the near future.
Although MS’ breakfast was a little on the steep side at AU$19.50 (seems this is becoming the norm for Cairns unfortunately) it was a fairly decent sized portion with a big serve of beans and nearly half an avocado on the side. When he was ordering he attempted to change the accompanying prosciutto to bacon but apparently they didn’t serve bacon at The Clever Duck. He was slightly disappointed by this considering he is such a bacon lover at heart. Me? I think prosciutto is just as good if not better but it wasn’t my breakfast. The eggs were perfectly poached and the creamy homemade beans with just a small shaving of cheese over the top melted in your mouth (I had a little taste). It’s actually nice to see fresh, crunchy baby spinach on the plate as opposed to wilted baby spinach which just tends to get soggy most of the time. The fresh baby spinach just jazzes things up a little bit more. MS was pretty content by the end of his second breakfast that’s for sure.
JM and I both enjoyed our Quinoa Salads having both agreed that the additional chicken was the way to go. The woman at the counter did make a comment that all the chicken would be gone after JM and I ordered it in our salads. Gee sorry about that. Wtf? The Quinoa Salad didn’t have any dressing on it nor did it need any because the sourness of the labna and preserved lemon mixed with the sweet sultanas and craisins topped it all off very nicely. I have only discovered zucchini in the last couple of years (I was a bit of a veggie sook at one point) and now think it’s a worthy addition to nearly every salad, especially grilled and marinated. The flavours were delicious and the ingredients used in the Quinoa Salad were lovely and fresh. I did pick a little bit of fresh parsley out of the salad but that’s just personal preference for me because I tend to find it too overpowering. Next time I will be sure to ask for no parsley with my Quinoa Salad.
The four of us really enjoyed our meals and it was nice just to chill out in a relaxed cafe in the middle of the gardens without any real formalities and especially without the noise of Sunday drivers making a nuisance of themselves like they do down at the Cairns Esplanade. My three dining companions and I did find a two of the staff to be quite sour and a little rude when ordering and when one of them brought our coffees to the table – a little smile never hurts anyone. This was also the case when I went back about a week later for lunch with my mum, sister and a couple of other friends. Also a couple of the ingredients that appeared in my Quinoa Salad (red onion and parsley) were not mentioned on the menu. If I had known they were in there I might have opted to go without the parsley but other than that the food, service and atmosphere were excellent. Mama Coco has already got a huge following of locals that regularly dine there for their mouthwatering salads, sandwiches and freshly baked sweets and now The Clever Duck seems set to raise the bar once again but this time on the south-side of town. If you are sick of seeing the same old boring cafe menus consisting of Caesar Salad, Greek Salad and the ever present Turkey and Cranberry ‘melt’ then get down to The Clever Duck and experience their intelligent take on delicious, simple and healthy food using fresh, regional products – just make sure you keep an eye out for the evils ducks if you venture down to the pond!
The Clever Duck
Cnr Sawpit and Forest Gardens Blvd, Forest Gardens QLD 4868
Ph: 0402 459 095
Opening Hours: Wed – Fri 7.30am – 2.30pm, Sat – Sun 7.30am – 3.30pm
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
(^Yes I did use the same Dundee’s photo I have already used). After hearing a few people rate the Quick Lunch Menu at Dundee’s over the last twelve months or so I decided it was about time I gave it a go. I did vow to never go to Dundee’s again after a run of crappy dinners there for various friends birthdays but I figured lunch may be a different story. Another reason I hadn’t dined at Dundee’s for lunch until recently was because I expected the meals to be too small to satisfy my rather large hunger pangs (turns out I was right and wrong). Dundee’s have a $17.50 Quick Lunch Menu available from 11.30am till 4.30pm Mon – Fri, $21.95 Sat & Sun. The whole 5 hours, 7 days a week thing is certainly something I must commend them on since most Cairns lunch specials are only available Monday to Friday and up until around 2.30pm. I almost always manage to miss the 2-2.30pm cutoff for lunch so MS and I end up scouting around for somewhere to have a late lunch sometimes ending up at the Crepe place at Cairns Central because we are out of ideas (or Crape as they like to spell it). Since my first Quick Lunch at Dundee’s just before Christmas I have dined there another two times for lunch. I’ll explain the reasoning for that a little bit later…
My first lunch date was with my ex boyfriend’s parents BC and JC whom I have remained close with since my relationship with NC ended just over 5 years ago. Some people might think it’s a little weird that I still ‘hang out’ with my ex’s parents on occasion but I don’t really mind because the relationship ended on good terms and I also think they are cool to hang out with – NC now lives in Perth and no we don’t keep in touch. On the plus side MS doesn’t seem to mind either however he does find it a little odd that BC and JC want to have us over for dinner one night. Something we are yet to do but fine with me since JC cooks the best goddamn Steak Diane I have ever had. Enough about my ex and let’s talk about Dundee’s.
So BC, JC and I ended up at Dundee’s on a Saturday afternoon for lunch. We walked in and took up a seat near the back of the restaurant. One of the female waitresses came over and poured us some water and handed out some menu’s while we chatted. There is a selection of 11 dishes to choose from in total with pretty much something for everyone from Pasta, to Seafood to Steak Burgers and Salads. I must admit I was quite happy with the menu and there was certainly more than one dish that I wanted to try. I do however think that there were too many Pasta Dishes on the menu with 5 out the 11 dishes being pasta. I guess it is a ‘Quick Lunch’ menu and what’s quicker to whip up than pasta? BC decided to go with the Steak Burger – Char Grilled Rib Fillet, Fresh Grated Beetroot, Roma Tomato, Balsamic Onion, Swiss Cheese, Lettuce and Paw Paw Chutney in a Toasted Turkish Roll with Chips and Smokey BBQ Sauce. JC went with the Fish and Chips with Aioli Dipping Sauce and although I really wanted Chips and Bread with my lunch I figured since Christmas was only a few days away I would choose a less stodgy option so I went for the Calamari Rocket and Apple Salad which was Calamari Coated in Dundee’s Special Seasoning, Lightly Fried and Served with Tom Yum Mayo and Rocket and Shredded Apple Salad. Prior to ordering this I asked the waitress if the Calamari was local to which she replied that she didn’t know but she would find out. She returned not long after and assured me that the Calamari was indeed local squid. Ok then.
BC, JC and I continued chatting away after our lunch orders were taken whilst exchanging Christmas and birthday gifts (I had celebrated my 21st birthday only a few days before, haha). After about 15 minutes another waitress returned to confirm our order because apparently it had been confused with someone else’s. She assured us that our meals were not too far away. We waited about another 10 minutes and our meals finally arrived. So much for the whole ‘Quick Lunch Special’. Maybe they ought to change it to simply the ‘Lunch Special’? (Sorry about the shitty photos in the post. They either turned out crap or I forgot to take them altogether).
So onto the food… I was extremely surprised at the size of the lunches placed in front of us. BC’s Steak Burger and Chips was huge and looked absolutely delicious giving me a pang of food jealousy. The Onion Rings on top looked so good I was hoping he would offer me one but he didn’t *sad face*.JC’s Fish and Chips was also very large with Crispy Golden Pieces of Battered Fish presented ever so stylishly in a wire rack on top of a large serving of Golden Chips. My Calamari and Rocket Salad was also very large. So much for the small lunch serves that I was expecting because these serving sizes were almost too big but in a good way… My tender Calamari was piled high on my plate next to a delicious crisp Rocket and Apple salad. It was some of the best Calamari I have eaten in a very long time! The three of us really enjoyed our meals and I couldn’t fault any of it except for a few minor mishaps with the service. We finished our meals and said our goodbyes after a good 1.5 hours of chatting and I went home to MS and told him how I couldn’t wait to take him there. Lunch #2
The next time around MS, myself and my good friend MD who was visiting for Christmas from Brisbane went to Dundee’s for lunch on Boxing Day after I had talked it up to the two of them. We arrived to a pretty much empty restaurant and were seated by a very friendly young man that seemed pleased that he had a group of English speaking diners. Apparently Christmas Day had been a very busy day for Dundee’s especially for Chinese and Japanese diners. I asked if there would be a surcharge on our bill since it was a Public Holiday to which the waiter replied that there wasn’t. Something I was most surprised about and apparently they don’t have Public Holiday Surcharges any time of the year. Nice.
We all had a look over the menu and MS being true to form with his current phase of ‘bulking’ or as I call it ‘his excuse to eat whatever the hell he wants’s ordered a pasta dish. He ordered the Bacon and Mushroom Linguine which was Sauteed Bacon, Mushroom and Baby Spinach in a White Wine and Creamy Sauce Finished with Green Eschallots. He ordered Chicken with it as well and was told by the waiter that it would be an extra $5 for chicken. Hmm I guess that is reasonable.
MD, feeling just as crap as me with our post Christmas physique’s, went for a more healthier option and ordered the Roast Sweet Potato and Artichoke Salad from the Entree section of the Main Menu with an extra of Chicken as well. The Roast Sweet Potato and Artichoke Salad came with Red Peppers, Bocconcini and Baby Spinach coated with a light dressing and Toasted Pine Nuts for AU$17.50 (the same as the Quick Lunch Menu but then with an added AU$5 for the chicken).
After overlooking it the last time I dined at Dundee’s with BC and JC and developing a bit of a penchant for Baby Octopus at a pre Christmas BBQ I decided to order the Octopus Salad – BBQ Marinated Octopus tossed in a salad of Sweet Onions, Roast Red Pepper, Black Olives and Wild Rocket with Crumbled Feta. I swapped the Roast Red Pepper for Sundried Tomato since Capsicum is another item on the short list of things that I don’t like to eat along with Celery and (sometimes) Onion. While we waited for our meals to arrive we made small talk about the Boxing Day bargains that MD and I had bought with our Christmas Gift Cards and how our dedication to being at Cairns Central at 8.30am had paid off and meant that we weren’t caught up in the horrendous Boxing Day crowds, particularly at Myer. We also had a laugh about all the silly girls waiting in huge lines to try on clothes in the Miss Shop area while just across the way MD and I had free reign over the children’s dressing rooms with arm fulls of clothes to try on.
There weren’t many people dining at Dundee’s on Boxing Day so we got our meals fairly quickly, only about 10-15 minutes of waiting. Our meals arrived and I could tell that my two dining companions weren’t impressed with the food that I had talked up over the last few days. MS’ Bacon and Mushroom Linguine just looked like it had been slopped into the bowl. The linguine was overcooked, the presentation was poor and MS wasn’t sure if there was even extra chicken in the dish. After careful inspection and calling over the waiter he was assured that yes there was chicken in there somewhere. A little disappointing considering he paid an extra $5 for it. He did eat the whole thing but said it was pretty disappointing.MD’s Roast Sweet Potato and Artichoke Salad was ridiculously small with her loudly questioning how small it would have been if she hadn’t ordered the extra chicken to go with it. I tended to agree with her and although it did sound nice on the menu I was glad I didn’t order it. Though in Dundee’s defense she did order it from the Entree Menu. MD ate her salad but I could tell that she wasn’t happy and I felt bad that I had suggested to go to Dundee’s in the first place. My Octopus Salad was at the opposite end of the scale and I really enjoyed it. There was plenty of Octopus in the Salad, something I was a little wary of when ordering it. The salad was crisp with just the right amount of dressing, nice juicy sundried tomatoes and the sweet onions really topped it off. Well that’s 1 out of 3 meals that were good however my other two dining companions were not so happy with my meal and I think MD was starting to wonder if I really knew anywhere good to eat in town at all since our last lunch date at Mondo a few weeks before was truly disgusting. Lunch #3
The week after Christmas my mum, sister and a friend of ours went to Dundee’s for lunch after a suggestion from me. Mum wanted to go to Splash but I really wanted to test the waters again and try and get a final yay or nay with my so far 1 for 1 lunches at Dundee’s. We grabbed a table for four and had a look over the menu’s. Our friend VF being a non adventurous diner decided to order the Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli while my mum ordered the Cajun Ocean Trout – Ocean Trout Spiced with Cajun Spice on a Wild Rocket, Avocado, Tomato and Red Onion Salad with Dill Creme Fraiche Dressing. My sister (TW) ordered the Calamari Rocket and Apple Salad that I had a couple of lunches ago and I ordered the Roast Duck Spring Rolls – Shredded Roast Duck, Rice Noodles and Mixed Julienne Vegetables Rolled in Spring Roll Pastry with Chilli, Lime and Coriander Dipping Sauce and Asian Coleslaw.
Dundee’s was unsurprisingly busy for lunch time on a Friday but our meals arrived relatively quickly and all together which is always nice. My mum was instantly disappointed at the size of her Cajun Ocean Trout. It was so small that she contemplated taking it back but then decided that she would just eat it. (My mum’s New Years resolution should be to speak up for herself). In the end she enjoyed her Trout and decided that it was indeed enough for lunch although she wasn’t the slightest bit full however after finishing off my side of Asian Salad she was a lot more content.To my right I noticed just how small TW’s Calamari, Rocket and Apple Salad was. It was nothing like the one that I had eaten only about a week earlier. There was only half the amount of squid and half the amount of salad that I had on my plate when I had ordered it. TW was no doubt disappointed with the size of her meal as was I. Although I did breathe a sigh of relief that I didn’t order it and went with the Spring Rolls. She enjoyed the squid and the salad but she wanted more. VF’s Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli was a generous serve of fluffy pillows full of ricotta-y goodness and swimming in Napoli Sauce, just like any pasta should be. I was hoping that she would offer me a taste but alas she did not so I just had to sit and watch while inhaling the sweet smell of my friends lunch across the table. Again, I really enjoyed my lunch. The Duck Spring Rolls were crisp and golden and the dipping sauce was perfectly suited. I cut TW off half of a Spring Roll to try and her response was ‘That’s really good’, and she was right but I don’t think they actually tasted like duck nor did I really see any evidence of duck inside. I ate half of the generous serve of Asian Slaw on the side while my mum still starving from her Cajun Trout polished off the rest. I was so eager to eat my lunch that I actually failed to get a photo of my Roasted Duck Spring Rolls. Whoops.
That’s two out of two meals that were disappointing on conclusion of my third lunch within a couple of weeks at Dundee’s. I wrote about my experience on Trip Advisor under the ‘guise’ of foodvixen around a week ago, along with about 13 other restaurants in Cairns. I was inboxed the next day from the Dundee’s Managing Director apologising for my bad dining experience and offering me a Gift Voucher to make up for it. If I accepted she wanted to know the date of when I would be dining there so she could follow through with the ‘front line staff’. I wrote back and pretty much said thanks but no thanks. It was a nice offer but I wasn’t going to accept a Gift Voucher to dine at Dundee’s again although my sister said she was happy to accept it on my behalf (sorry TW not this time). Also, the front line staff should be up to standard any day and every day not just the day that they were expecting me. It was a nice gesture though.
I dined at Dundee’s for lunch three separate times over two weeks during the Christmas period and each time my fellow diners were left disappointed with their meals. I noticed a total lack of consistency each time between the meals that were served particularly in regards to the serving size. The service still continues to be well below par with up to four waitresses/waiters serving you at once – resulting in our order being misplaced on the first occasion and the staff knowing little to nothing about the food being served by the restaurant they are working in. After my first lunch at Dundee’s a few days before Christmas I was super impressed with the meals and the value for money that the Quick Lunch Special offered so much so that I took my two friends for lunch only a few days later. As a result I was left disappointed and annoyed that I took them there. The third occasion was as I said ‘just to make sure’ it wasn’t all a fluke and to be honest, it seems all a bit hit and miss to me. Some days are good, some days are bad, some meals are good and some meals are bad. I want to like Dundee’s I really do but unfortunately I am going to have a hard time convincing my lunch buddies to go there again.
Dundee’s Restaurant on the Waterfront
*Quick lunch specials $17.95 Mon – Fri, $21.95 Sat, Sun and Public Holidays 11.30am – 4.30pm*
Cairns Harbour Lights, 1 Marlin Pde, Cairns QLD 4870
Opening Hours: Lunch 11.30am – 4.30pm, Dinner from 5.30pm till late
Ph: (07) 4051 0399
Yum! Can’t go wrong with lunch at Hanuman at the Hilton! The food was delicious, the service was excellent and the view of the Hilton’s manicured gardens and Trinity Inlet is second to none (unless of course you are dining downstairs at Mondo where the view is the only thing worth going for).
34 The Esplanade, Cairns QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4052 6786
Opening Hours: Lunch Mon – Fri 12pm – 2.30pm, Dinner 7 nights 6pm till late
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
After recently discovering a penchant for Thai food and more specifically Pad Thai MS has been wanting to eat it more and more. I have no problem with that since Thai food is definitely one of my favourite cuisines (that and Japanese are probably tied for first). The other day while driving down Sheridan Street, deciding that we both wanted Thai food and wondering just where the hell we could get it at 3pm in the afternoon (seems eating a late lunch is becoming the norm for us). All the other places were closing up for the lunch trade and wouldn’t open up until dinner. That is, coincidently, when we both noticed Poemphun Thai on the other side of the road. Neither of us had ever seen it before but we took it as a sign and after a bit of a ‘u-ey’ we headed back to this newly discovered Thai place.
Poemphun Thai is located in the building where Little Italy used to be and then after that a Brazilian place that must not have lasted long because I didn’t actually notice it was there until it was closed down. We went in to have a look at the menu and it turns out that Poemphun Thai had only just opened up the day before. What luck for us! True to form and not the straying type MS ordered the Pad Thai Gai for AU$12.90 while I ordered the Som Tum (Paw Paw Salad) for AU$10.90 (medium heat). Although they do takeaway here we decided we would eat in since we weren’t in a rush to get home.
The kitchen is pretty much right in front of you at the counter and you can see the two Thai cooks in front of the flaming woks throwing the ingredients in as they go so you know that it’s fresh. The restaurant itself is a little dated but neat as a pin with cute little wooden booths to sit in and serviettes all folded up like a lotus flower and colourful plastic tablecloths. When we sat down to eat there was two other tables occupied in the little restaurant and while we waited for our food to arrive the waitress brought us out a jug of water and I had a look over the menu. The menu is very reasonably priced in fact I would go as far to say that it is some of the cheapest Thai food that I have seen in Cairns if not the cheapest (AU$12.90 for a Massaman Curry!). There are some delicious sounding dishes on the menu and I vowed that if the food was good we would return for Round 2 to try some other dishes.
We waited no longer than 10 minutes for our meals to arrive at our little wooden booth. MS’ Pad Thai came with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over the top, a small pile of sugar (no doubt to sprinkle over the top to make it sweeter), a small pile of ground peanuts (in case you wanted more) and a small pile of chilli flakes. MS squeezed the lemon over the top, sprinkled on a bit of peanuts and sugar and just plain avoided the Chilli Flakes since he doesn’t like hot stuff (although he has come a long way since he met me and I opened his eyes to the wonders of food). He claims that this Pad Thai is the best one he has had to date. Better than the one at Orchid Plaza (Chilli Thai), better than the one at Lemon Tree (Main Street Arcade) and better than the one on Minnie St (J & L Takeaway and Minimart). That not to say much since it’s only 3 out of sh*tloads of Thai places in Cairns but this Pad Thai had everything going for it plus I tasted it and gave it the thumbs up as well.
My Som Tum was so damn good! It had all the right things tht Som Tum is supposed to have in it – Green Beans, Tomatoes and the perfect mix of Palm Sugar, Chilli and Fish Sauce. Mind you it was bloody hot but not too hot for my liking. I’m going to have to go against everything I have said in my previous post about Som Tum in Cairns and give this one the gong for Best Som Tum. Sorry Lemon Tree you guys are great but… This Som Tum just tasted so fresh and not pre-prepared at all. I ate up every last tasty morsel of that Paw Paw Salad right down to using a spoon to finish off the dressing.
We finished up our meals and made our way out to the car only to be followed out by the little Thai lady that owns the shop to thank us for eating at Poemphun Thai by clasping her hands together and bowing with a huge smile on her face. It was really lovely and made me even more happy that we had stopped in to have a look and in turn found some truly delicious Thai food.
About a week later MS and I found ourselves looking for a quick and early dinner and ended up back at Poemphun Thai for Round 2. MS ordered the Pad Thai (AU$12.90) again with the BBQ Pork for an entree for AU$6.50. I ordered a Thai Curry that I had already drooled when I read it on the menu on our first visit… the Pad Phed Moo (Dry Pork Curry) with Lean Pork, Stir-fried Red Chilli Paste, Coconut Milk, Green Peppercorns, Galangal and Fresh Basil for AU$12.90 or you can get Prawns for $14.90. A bargain if you ask me! Again we sat down at a little wooden booth and waited for our meals to arrive. This time there was a lot more people – some dining in and some coming in to pick up their takeaway. Seems that Poemphun Thai is already getting a little following of Thai-hards (I made a funny).
First up out came the BBQ Pork that MS ordered. Well he ordered it but he certainly wasn’t going to eat the whole thing by himself. There were four skewers of BBQ Pork in total and we both really enjoyed them. The Pork was super tender and flame grilled which gave it that yummy slightly charred taste. MS only problem was that he wanted more and didn’t think that it was a very big dish. I actually thought that it was very reasonably sized for an entree and pretty stock standard for a Thai restaurant, though some skewers were certainly bigger than others.
Again MS gobbled up his Pad Thai, making sure to avoid the Chilli Flakes. Same goes as what I already said about it his previous Pad Thai experience at Poemphun Thai, I’m not repeating it. He loved it and can’t wait to go back and get another one. My Pad Phed Moo or Dry Curry Pork, whatever you want to call it was superb. It wasn’t as dry as I was expecting from the name but then again it wasn’t swimming in sauce like a Massaman. Sort of in between I guess. The sauce was so yummy that I wished that I had ordered a bowl of Steamed Rice to mop it all up but alas this wasn’t part of my meal allowance. MS tasted it and although he liked it claimed that it was a little too spicy for him. I actually didn’t find it spicy at all so the only thing I can conclude from that is that he is just a big sissy. The Dry Curry Pork’s only downfall was that there was quite a lot of peppercorns in it still attached to the vine. I was a little unsure as to whether I was supposed to eat them or not. I erred on a side of caution and after nibbling on one and finding it far too peppery for my liking I didn’t continue with the peppercorns, other than that I loved it!
So like I said the food at Poemphun Thai is absolutely delicious. The woman that runs it is super friendly as are her staff (and pretty much all Thai’s). The food is fresh, fantastic and cheap as chips. If you are looking for somewhere for your Friday night takeaway or somewhere to dine without all the fuss of dressing up to go out then Poemphun Thai is it- plus it’s BYO. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
343 Sheridan St, Cairns North QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4041 6367
Opening Hours: 7 days 10.30am – 9.30pm
After a tip-off from a friend of ours SBD, MS and I headed to a little cafe on Mulgrave Road called Hungry Monkey. I had seen it many times before whilst driving past but never managed to get in there until it came highly recommended. My sister’s boyfriend also claims that Hungry Monkey makes the best Brekkie Wraps in town for around the $9 mark. I can neither confirm nor deny that since I am not in the habit of ordering Brekkie Wrap’s nor do I get out of bed early enough to warrant one lately (I’m on holidays at the moment – till January). We went in to check it out one afternoon and see what they had on offer for lunch. They have a huge variety of wraps, burgers, salads, smoothies, milkshakes, meal boxes and a few other things to tantalize your taste buds. After way too much umming and ahhing and a stern “hurry the f*ck up” look from me MS decided on the Pizza Works Wrap with Leg Ham, Salami, Onion, Cheese, Tomato Relish, Pineapple (which he took off), Red Pepper and Olives for AU$8.90. According to SBD the Mackerel Wrap was the business but I simply couldn’t go past the Firebomb Wrap with Crumbed Chicken, Chilli Sauce, Lettuce, Cheese, Tomato, Red Onion and Jalapeno’s (AU$8.90). It was the Jalapeno’s that sold me. I only discovered them about a year ago after finding out that they did in fact taste absolutely nothing like capsicum and haven’t been able to live without them since.
Hungry Monkey seems to do a pretty steady lunch trade from workers in the vicinity with a few venturing from across the road to get their hands on some lunch fare and the ones driving in, like us. We waited about 10 to 15 minutes for our wraps since we had arrived around peak lunch trade time but we weren’t disappointed when they arrived. MS decided that he was getting a side of fries with his which I managed to steal a few of. He hoed into his Pizza Wrap which was toasted on the outside and I could see the melted cheese within. It looked pretty damn good from where I was sitting (right next to him). He loved his Pizza Wrap. I think I recall “Man this is so good!” escaping his mouth as he took another bite. He also reckons that the fries were the best he has had in a long time. They had just the right amount of salt and crispness about them. I had a few and they were pretty good even without BBQ sauce. That’s a big call since I am usually a sauce fiend and don’t go near a chip without it.
I was actually surprised at just how heavy my wrap was even before I unwrapped it. They certainly weren’t stingy on the ingredients at Hungry Monkey and just for a change (like with a lot of other cafe’s) the wrap wasn’t full of lettuce because I ordered mine without. Something about Iceberg Lettuce that just doesn’t sit right with me. It tastes like leaves (ew). And when it gets all warm from being toasted it tastes super nasty (again, ew). The Crumbed Chicken was freshly cooked and wasn’t pre-cooked earlier and reheated like at Subway. It was real chicken and it was crunchy and succulent. The Jalapeno’s were awesome of course but the best thing about it was the decent size of the wrap.
The service and staff at Hungry Monkey are friendly and efficient and the food is very reasonably priced but so damn tasty and with so much to choose from! You do have to wait a minimum of 5 to 10 minutes for your food since the place does get quite busy around lunch time but in the grand scheme of things that’s stuff all to worry about when you are getting yummy food made fresh to order. Mine and MS’s wraps were so damn good the first time that we have been back twice since then and although each time I go with the intention of trying something different off the wrap menu (I really want to try the Salt and Pepper Squid Wrap) I just can’t seem to tear myself away from the Firebomb one with the Jalapeno’s. I know that I am onto a good thing here so why change it? Forget the kebab shop you’ll go bananas for Hungry Monkey!
Shop 4/252 Mulgrave Rd, Cairns QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4031 1600
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 7am – 3pm
Early last week MS and I took his dad KS for a catch up lunch at the Cairns Cruising Yacht Squadron in Portsmith. It was a beautiful day outside, despite the near 20 knot winds so where better to enjoy it than on the waterfront with our Table 52 card in tow. Despite my parents owning a business in the Portsmith area for well over 20 years and me being a born and bred Cairns local I actually don’t think I have been to the Yacht Squadron in all my 20 something years but there is a first for everything.
We rocked on into the Yacht Squadron just after midday and took up a table outside on the patio overlooking Smith’s Creek and beyond that Admiralty Island. The friendly waitress came out to our table to greet us with a bottle of water, glasses and a menu each. She told us the specials including Fish of the Day – Red Throat Emperor, a Mexican Chicken Wrap with Chips (AU$14.50) and the ‘Worker’s Lunch’, a Pork and Gravy Roll with Chips for around the AU$7 mark. The waitress even managed to recite the specials off the top of her head and left us to have a think about what we were going to order. I had a look over the very reasonably priced menu with options such as a Greek Salad, Caesar Salad, BLT, Steak Sandwich, Burgers (I’ll be back for the Beef and Bacon Burger with Swiss Cheese, Caramelised Onion and Chilli Jam – sh*t yeah!), Calamari Fritti, Seafood Basket and Quiche.
Unlike his son, MS who claims to detest seafood in any shape or form (it’s a cover) KS loves it nearly as much as I do so he went with the Reef Fish which you can choose to have Battered, Crumbed or Grilled and served with a side of Golden Fries, homemade Tartare Sauce and a fresh Garden Salad. KS chose to have his fish lightly crumbed in Panko breadcrumbs (how Masterchef of them). Feeling a bit meaty MS decided on the 200gm Juicy Rump Steak with Golden Fries, Salad and a choice of Mushroom Sauce, Pepper Sauce or Gravy for AU$15.50. Before choosing the Calamari Fritti I asked the waitress if the seafood was sourced locally. She said that although she wasn’t entirely sure if it was local seafood it did come in frozen boxes from the wholesaler. I can’t really be too sure from that statement however I decided to err on a side of caution and went with the Mexican Chicken Wrap with Crumbed Chicken, Avocado, Lettuce, Tomato, Sour Cream and Sweet Chilli Sauce with Chips for AU$14.50. I asked if I could swap the lettuce for Rocket or Baby Spinach since I just don’t like lettuce and the waitress said they could swap it for Rocket and it was no problem. I was actually surprised that they had Rocket available since I have been to two cafes in the last couple of weeks that only have Iceberg Lettuce. Yucky. Anyway the waitress took all three orders including my little change out without a notepad and we received exactly what we ordered. I was stunned since many waitstaff at some of the expensive restaurants in city take your order with a notepad and still manage to stuff it up.
While we waited for our meals to arrive we took in the beautiful weather and tried to ignore the wind that almost made us move inside. It wasn’t too bad especially considering that only two of us actually have hair for the wind blow around. The two lonely seagulls floating around didn’t bother us even when our food arrived. There is a huge grassed area right in front of the eating area where kids can run around and do kid things and there is even a small playground for them to play on so it’s an ideal place to take your family (mind the large exposed body of water that is Smith’s Creek).
Our meals took about 15 minutes to arrive and they were a good sized serve for each of us. KS (whose meal I didn’t get a chance to take a photo of before he put pepper all over it) enjoyed his fish and chips although I think the salad was his favourite part since he ate the entire salad before anything else. He did comment on the shoe string fries and said that he would have preferred fatter ones. I tend to agree with him but technically I shouldn’t even be eating fries. MS’ steak was cooked to his liking (medium), a mean feat in this day and age when dining out and we both thought the mushroom sauce was delicious (he shared a piece of steak with me). There wasn’t a single piece of food left on his plate by the time he was finished so either he was really hungry or he really enjoyed it. It was both.
Lastly my Mexican Chicken Wrap was super tasty despite how it looks in the picture below. The slightly toasted wrap wasn’t too heavy like a tortilla, there was plenty of crumbed juicy chicken inside, the rocket was fresh and crunchy and it was a really decent serve. I loved that they included both Sweet Chilli Sauce and Sour Cream in the wrap because lets face it one just doesn’t go without the other.
We all really enjoyed our lunch at the Cairns Cruising Yacht Squadron. It was nice to get away from the usual city fare and try somewhere just a little bit off the beaten track. I was, however a little disappointed that the seafood is brought in frozen from the wholesaler considering the Squadron’s close proximity to local fishing trawlers. The venue isn’t five-star but it has a nice laid back feel to it and a great little outlook over Smith’s Creek where you can watch the boats coming and going. The meals are both tasty and very reasonably priced. Two big thumbs up to the lovely waitress who gave us fantastic service that these days is as rare as seeing Tarzan doing his shuffle along the side of the road on the southside of town.
The Cairns Cruising Yacht Squadron
42-48 Tingira St, Portsmith QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4035 5115
Opening Hours: Lunch 11.30am – 2pm, Dinner 6pm – 8pm Sunday Brunch 8.30am – 11am
After a couple of weeks dabbling with breakfast and lunch at Mr Wolf I have finally decided to put finger to keyboard and write about it. Mr Wolf is the reasonably new venture for the previous owners of one of my favourite Cairns haunts, Ever After. Moving and expanding to a larger shop with a new name, Mr Wolf is now a little further down in the Cairns City Centre where Twelve BC used to be. Since opening in late July, MS and I have dined there a few times. The place is always teeming with people sitting inside in the airconditioning and outside at the tables and chairs on the pathway. Myself? I much prefer the outside area because it is a great place to people watch although I may change my mind as the temperature starts to climb due the approach of Cairns’ dreaded Summer (NOOOOOO!).
Most recently MS and I went to Mr Wolf for lunch last week. Nick the owner gave us a rundown of just what the specials on the Specials Board were… Malay Curry with Fried Rice made by a Malay woman and another dish that I’m failing to recall (must be old age, that and I keep forgetting to take my Fish Oil). They both sounded delicious but MS and I were steering towards the Burger/Club Sandwich section of the menu. Not wanting to eat too much bread with my lunch I requested to have the Mr Wolf Beef Burger in a wrap instead of on a bun and figuring that this was a superb idea (newsflash: all my ideas are superb) MS opted for the Chicken and Smashed Avocado Club also as a wrap. Now I don’t want to be a pain in the ass for the Chef/Cook at Mr Wolf and suggest that people should do this regularly but I am merely trying to point out that changing it up a little wasn’t a problem. In the meantime MS ordered a Banana Smoothie with Banana (der), Vanilla, Honey, Ice Cream and Yogurt, while I ordered a Flat White.
Our beverages arrived in ample time and although my coffee was excellent I was more interested in MS’ Banana Smoothie. Lucky for me he harbours no qualms about sharing his food or drink unlike yours truly. It’s the age old thing with me, I never wanted it until I saw someone else with it (unless it’s a pair of Jeggings). The same goes for food and drink. I can’t drink a whole can of soft drink but I will happily share yours. Anyway so the Banana Smoothie was delicious and used nice ripe bananas rather than nasty green ones that should have been left in the fruit bowl for another week to ripen. Like I said my coffee was excellent, apparently they were trialling a new brand and wanted some feedback which I happily provided giving it the thumbs up.
Not long after that our Burger/Club Sandwich/Wraps arrived minus our chips but that was a minor mishap that was quickly resolved. Not like I really needed chips anyway. MS was happy with his choice since anything with both Chicken and Bacon has his tick of approval. Oh what’s that? There was aioli on it too? Yep, it’s in the bag.
My Mr Wolf Beef Burger/Wrap was even better. The beef patty was obviously fresh because it was thick and juicy (not like the nasty ass dried up beef patty from Rex’s Burger Bar that I spied on MS’ burger a couple of weeks ago). I loved combination of the Aioli, Caramelised Onions, Dill Pickle and Beetroot Relish. It didn’t take long till I had burger juices running down my hands onto my forearms because after all isn’t that how burgers should be? Hell yes it is! It was a really yummy Burger/Wrap. One that I will soon be back for but I think I will have to go the whole hog and have a proper burger.
The staff are always personable and friendly, greeting breakfast and lunch diners with a friendly hello and even a chat. Couple that with the good food, coffee, people watching, the availability of The Cairns Post and the owners at Mr Wolf are once again onto a winner. I’ll admit there were definitely some teething problems in the first month or so after Mr Wolf opened but these crinkles have since been ironed out. It’s kind of expected when you pretty much double the size of your cafe and as a result have double the amount of people to feed. Add that to the fact that Mr Wolf is open 7 days a week whereas Ever After was only open 5. One things for sure, Mr Wolf offers good homestyle food at outstanding prices. Seriously, I mean where can you get a good burger and fries for under $8 and a freshly made sandwich for $7.50? Also the Big Breakfast for AU$17.90 is absolutely ridiculous – in a good way! I’m pretty sure I have blown my foodvixen cover out of the water with the Mr Wolf crew after this post but what the heck!
City Place, Cnr Shields and Lake St, Cairns QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4041 2210
Opening Hours: Closed Mon, Tues – Fri 8.30am – 4pm, Sat – Sun 8.30am – 2.30pm