Like most people I am always in search of somewhere new to eat out and experience. In the past few days I’ve had two different people mention a newish café on Grafton Street that I had not yet heard of called Eato’s. True to form I did a drive by late yesterday afternoon to scope out the place and stalk their menu – MS is well used to pulling over the car so that I can look at menu’s in the windows of random restaurants and cafe’s around the city. Then, yesterday after hearing about it from my friend HH the second time we decided to stop in for lunch.
Eato’s is not just a ‘newish café on Grafton Street’ but also a non profit organisation funded by the Australian Government that employs school leavers and people that have been unemployed for 12 months or more – it’s also sponsored by Neato Employment Services and Power of Pellets (more on them at the end of this post). According to Wikipedia a non profit organisation is ‘an organisation that uses surplus revenues to achieve it’s goals rather than distributing them as profit or dividends’ and proceeds of all sales at Eato’s go to FNQ Hospital Foundation, YAPS, Harald’s House and Ruth’s Women’s Shelter. Down the southern end of Grafton Street Eato’s occupies the old space that was once the long standing, fondue serving Swiss Inn. (Possibly also a Thai place for a short time?)
Back to our lunch… HH and I were greeted at the door and shown into the dining area by the friendly waitress who provided us with menu’s and water and directed us towards the counter for when we were ready to order. HH who’d had coffee there earlier in the week gushed about the pallet furniture that is not only part of the décor at Eato’s but also up for sale, again with profits going to charity. In fact according to their menu everything is for sale, including their staff. Sadly though for HH the white three piece set that he wanted so badly for his garden had already been sold – yet to be picked up, although there is more on it’s way.
We had a look over the menu and although there is an All Day Breakfast Menu that sounds bloody awesome (Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict anyone?) it was nearly 2pm so I decided on something from the lunch menu. I ordered the Shredded Organic Chicken in an Ash Roll with Mixed Baby Leaf, Lime and Yuzu Mayonnaise (AU$15) while HH went with the Risotto Special for AU$21. Not long after ordering one of the lovely ladies at Eato’s who goes by the name of Shannon came out to inform me that they had run out of organic chicken and wanted to know if I would like pulled pork on it instead. Shhhh-yeah! Not exactly a bad thing in my book!
Whilst waiting for our lunch HH and I discussed important matters such as chewing gum at the table and phone etiquette. Although I am known to be on my phone and in particular social media quite a lot I do know when to put my phone down and am a strong believer in ones phone being on silent as well as no texting or checking Facebook whilst dining in the company of others. It’s just plain rude and I’m forever telling my younger brother to stop scrolling through Instagram (*insert shameless plug* follow me on food_vixen) and put his phone down whenever I have dinner with him. Low and behold it turns out HH shares my same ‘no phones allowed’ views as I am sure would much of the *ahem* older generation. But quick just let me take a photo of my lunch…
Our beautifully presented lunch dishes arrived during the course of our conversation and we dug in. The plentiful pork in place of the chicken was definitely a winner with just the right amount of mayonnaise mixed through it – although I am sure the organic chicken would be just as nice. The roll was fresh and the salad was crunchy. I also really enjoyed the little side salad topped off with some crunchy pepitas.
HH’s Risotto Special was, well, forgive me but I actually have no idea because I didn’t ask however we both decided that it was Pumpkin Risotto. The portion wasn’t particularly big but with creamy, rich food like risotto smaller portions are usually better unless you want someone to roll you out the front door and back to the office after your hefty lunch. HH ate the lot and said that it was lovely.
Halfway through our lunch we caught sight of an epic tiered pavlova that another customer had ordered at the table right behind us. Unfortunately for us though, it was the last one left for the day and instead Shannon recommended the Frangipane Tart which she said was so good the chef was making it for her wedding on Christmas Day. Sounded pretty irresistable so HH and I ordered a Frangipane Tart to share between us. This tart was absolutely beautiful to look at so much so that I almost didn’t want to stick my fork in and mess it up. It was crunchy on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside – yum!
All this yummy food yet I have failed to mention one important part about Eato’s… The kitchen is run by Thala Beach Resort’s ex Head Chef Catherine Pacey. As Shannon (who is also Catherine’s cousin) explained to HH and I, Cath took up the position at Eato’s to do something a little different and give back to the community. She is using her skills from many years as an Executive Chef to create a hands on learning environment where she can teach different cooking techniques to students and those that are unemployed. It’s a unique concept that I am pretty sure is new to Cairns and even better when their focus is on using fresh local ingredients and supporting local suppliers.
This is a really great initiative and I urge you guys to get behind it however please be mindful that this is a training kitchen and things may not always go to plan but good things are happening at Eato’s I promise you that! At Eato’s the staff are lovely, the menu sounds so good it’s hard to settle on just one thing and the atmosphere is well, caring and friendly I guess are the best words to describe it. The only bad thing that I can really say about Eato’s is that because it’s a government run organisation that means government hours. ‘Monday to Friday 7am – 3pm’ translates to ‘you better get down there today to get your feed of Pulled Pork Egg’s Benedict or you will have to wait till next week’. I personally don’t think I can wait that long…
PS: The Power of Pallets is an organisation that is recycling timber pallets into useful items for local charities and organisations. Be sure to check them out on Facebook!
45 Grafton St, Cairns QLD 4870
Opening Hours: Mon to Fri 7am – 3pm