Being a Cairns local I’ll admit that I don’t get out to Palm Cove as often as I should. It’s the same old story when you have so many amazing things right on your doorstep and you rarely take the time to visit… Whenever I make the effort and drive the 30 or so minutes out to Palm Cove I often wonder why I don’t visit more often because on a beautiful day Palm Cove is simply magic.
Palm Cove is also, arguably, Cairns’ best beach – we won’t mention Nudey Beach at Fitzroy Island being ranked Australia’s #1 beach – plus it has a plethora of fab cafes and restaurants all within walking distance include Temple of Tastes restaurant at the Pullman Palm Cove Sea Temple Resort and Spa.
Last week Mr Foodvixen and I were invited to dine at Temple of Tastes to check out their new South East Asian inspired menu. On this particularly balmy October evening we arrived at 6pm sharp and were seated on the outdoor terrace overlooking the tropical pool. The flames of the bamboo torches surrounding the terrace certainly added to the ambience and gave the place that real resort feel.
We flicked through the drinks menu including the extensive wine list, beers and weekend worthy cocktails. I was nearly swayed by Temple of Taste’s version of my all time fave drink the ‘Negroni’ featuring Kangaroo Island Wild Gin and Dubbonet but instead opted for a glass of Robert Oatley Pinot Noir. A nice drop and the glass that greeted me was almost literally the size of my head (apparently I have a giant head so believe me when I tell you this glass was massive).
The last time we’d dined at Temple of Tastes was well over a year ago so I was looking forward to giving the new menu a test run. For entrees we dined on Slow Braised Duck Dumplings with Ginger & Soy Broth and the Braised Cape Grim Beef Short Rib with Green Papaya & Crab Salad. Both dishes were generous servings particularly the Dumplings – I couldn’t finish all my broth!
For mains I ummed and ahhed over the Pan Fried Herb Gnocchi with Mushroom Puree having heard good things about it but true to form I chose the Sesame Crusted Tuna with Scorched Miso and Local Deep Sea Prawn. I’m a sucker for any kind of raw fish dish. Just as predictable as me my other half went for the Sous Vide Pork Loin with Apple Gel, Butternut Squash and Pork Crackling because no one in their right mind can resist pork crackling on a menu (I not so secretly hoped he would share). The pork was cooked to perfection and the tuna was picture perfect.
Finally, despite declaring to each other that we were to full for dessert we figured we’d have a look anyway and then typically decided to share one between us. We’re here now so might as well go the whole hog ha! For the Lover of Strawberry struck our fancy with Strawberry Consommé, Strawberry Meringue, Strawberry Panna Cotta and Strawberry Foam – that’s a whole lotta strawberry! Creamy, delicious and the perfect way to finish your meal on a sweet note.
If you’re looking for a romantic dinner spot in Palm Cove with elegantly presented food, a dish to suit every taste, chic service and polished drinks list to boot then the Temple of Tastes will tick all your boxes. Good food, good wine and even better company is the best way to spend a balmy Spring evening in Palm Cove. Is it not?
Tip for diners: Book a table on the terrace overlooking the pool.
Foodvixen was a guest of the Pullman Palm Cove Sea Temple Resort and Spa.
A couple of weekends ago I put up a post on my Facebook page not long ago asking for suggestions for a birthday breakfast out at the beaches – my birthday breakfast in fact. I received numerous suggestions from my followers and despite what the majority said I ended up booking a table at The Rising Sun at Palm Cove. I figured I had an Entertainment Book voucher and I enjoyed dinner there (mostly) a couple of years ago so it was worth a try right? I made a booking for 6 people and we met out at Palm Cove early one Sunday morning. When we turned up we were the only people in the restaurant bar one other occupied table – a couple of what looked like tourists. I found this a little strange considering everywhere else I passed on the way in seemed to be quite busy, especially the Chill Cafe which was almost spilling over it was that full. Couple that with the stunning weather that day and by all my calculations The Rising Sun should have had far more people dining there. I briefly considered going to the Chill Café or Vivo down the road but I figured we were here now and I’d already made a booking.
Half of my family were already there when I arrived however two were running about 10-15 minutes late. The waitress handed out some menus and walked away with absolutely no mention of ordering coffees in the meantime. She returned about 5 minutes later asking if we were ready to order yet. Umm well no because two people still hadn’t arrived. She returned on two more occasions asking if we were ready to order yet each time sounding a little more annoyed than the last. She came back again no more than a minute after the last person turned up and asked one last time. Lets for a moment consider that maybe this person hasn’t even had a chance to look at the menu yet? Alas common sense did not prevail that day.
Anyway so we ordered our breakfasts finally (heaven forbid should the waitress have to wait on others) whilst I sipped on my horrendously bad coffee which took far longer than it should have to arrive. About 15 minutes later our breakfasts arrived in dribs and drabs. First of all my mum’s breakfast, the Baked Mexican Eggs, arrived. Mum, who has recently decided she wants to be a vegetarian (although I support her in her endeavours I give her till Christmas Day), asked if there was any meat in the Mexican Eggs when she ordered. Apparently there was so she asked if there was a vegetarian alternative. The waitress got the confirmation that was ok from the chef however mum had a sneaking suspicion that they simply scooped the bits of meat out of her dish and then served it to her. Considering how our breakfast was paning out, I actually wouldn’t be at all surprised. Mum said that it lacked flavour and didn’t enjoy it very much.
Next up my brothers girlfriend GH had ordered the Rainforest Honey Granola with Poached Fruit and Mungalli Yogurt for AU$10. Now despite the fact that the near incompetent waitress had given her a fork to eat the damn thing it was literally a bowl of nuts with yogurt on it. Just to be sure I did a quick Google search to check that the rest of the world agrees on what I think granola is – yep just as I suspected… it’s muesli although I didn’t spy any form of grain in this so-called granola. GH said that the yogurt was very sour and had to ask the waiter for some honey to put on top to sweeten it up. Wasn’t it supposed to be Rainforest Honey Granola, I’m confused…
To my left my dad ordered the Benny Royale – poached eggs, smoked salmon, muffin and lime hollandaise for AU$19. He said it was pretty good although he said he didn’t like the plain old ‘straight out of a packet’ English Muffin that was underneath. I personally think the portion size was far too small for $19 – a rort if you ask me.
And then sitting towards the end of the table was myself, my sister and my brothers girlfriends mother KH. We all ordered various versions of the Stockman’s Free Range eggs – poached eggs on toast for AU$9 with a few sides to ‘jazz it up’. My house made beans were forgotten and then when they arrived they were still cold in the middle, the roast cherry tomatoes were also forgotten and we got two dishes of minted labne when we only ordered one. It really was the most visually lacking breakfast I think I have ever laid eyes on. I will however say that the Zucchini Pickles that I ordered on the side were quite delicious but this didn’t make up for the sheer lack of organisation that should go hand in hand with eating out.
So there you have it – despite the awesome company my birthday breakfast turned out to be quite a disaster. It seems quite ironic that the person (me) that lives, eats and breathes dining out chose one of the worst places to go for her own birthday breakfast. I must also give a small mention to the presence of ants in the dining area. All three people sitting across from me complained on ants crawling over them while they ate (and yes although we were technically at the beach, we were sitting inside). And whilst the food left a lot to be desired, it was the service that was most lacking. Both the wait staff on hand appeared to be lacking certain ‘people skills’ that I think are mandatory when serving in a restaurant.
You may think I am being a little harsh but frankly my dear I don’t give a damn. This sort of thing sh*t’s me to tears. It’s because of restaurants like this that I started this blog in the first place – I like to call them tourist traps. These tourist traps are located in well frequented areas of Cairns with clientele that are mostly tourists who most likely won’t return. These restaurants seem to have missed the point of serving decent food or providing half decent service because it doesn’t really matter to them either way. Any Cairns local reading this knows there are plenty of restaurants that fit this description in the Cairns area and you know what? It’s not ok. It doesn’t matter if you’re a tourist or a local, if you pay the money to dine out you should reap the damn benefits! Such a shame because the last time I dined at The Rising Sun (for dinner) it was actually pretty good. It turns out I learnt a valuable lesson that day… When you ask your readers for advice on where to go for a birthday breakfast out at the beaches, majority rules and I’m still kicking myself for not listening.
P.S: For those of you wondering what the majority ruled on… It was the Lime Tree out at Trinity Beach.
First cab off the rank with my new Tropical Far North Queensland Entertainment Book was The Rising Sun Bar and Bistro at Palm Cove a couple of weeks ago. A few months ago MS and I attended a friend’s engagement party on the rooftop terrace at the hotel Sarayi where the two of us were smacking our lips at the delicious canapes that were being brought around by the waitstaff from the restaurant below. That restaurant below was The Rising Sun, somewhere I had never heard of before and after a little research I found out that it is also co-owned by co-owner and head chef at NuNu, Nick Holloway. After our fantastic five course degustation menu at Palm Cove in August last year I was keen to come back and try just what The Rising Sun had on the menu and see if it was anywhere near as good as I had cracked it up to be.
Initially, after hearing some great reviews I tried in vain to get a table for two at Harrison’s in Port Douglas for the night but alas it was booked out for a wedding so I made a last minute booking for my second choice, The Rising Sun, and we headed out to Palm Cove. It was a drizzly night out in Palm Cove and it was difficult to find a park out there because the place was chockers with diners. We managed to find ourselves a park a little out off the beaten path and made our way to the restaurant. The staff had reserved us a nice little table right at the front of the restaurant overlooking the outside tables (unoccupied due to rain) and the footpath beyond. The Rising Sun Bar and Bistro was probably about 3/4 full when we sat down at our table but quickly filled up to close to capacity in the hour or two we were there. A friendly waitress came to take our drink orders – I ordered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc while MS ordered some sort of Cider (whoops I took no notice of either). Due to the drizzle outside all the windows had been closed up to keep any water out but in order to counteract the lack of breeze the staff had turned the ceiling fans up ‘full bull’ making it a little chilly for us especially considering our table was right in the middle of two large fans. We asked the waitress if she would mind turning them down which she happily obliged, never mind what the other diners wanted this was about us (that’s a joke).
We both decided well before we arrived that we were going to go the whole hog and get an entree, main and dessert each but when we had a look over the menu we were a little disappointed. The entrees looked fantastic! In fact I would have been happy to build my entire meal just out of the entree part of the menu since MS and I quite a difficult time choosing only two, and which two to be more precise. After considering the Roast Duck Rolls with Cucumber and Plum Sauce as well as the BBQ Sugar Cane Pork with Chilli Vinegar we settled on the Crispy Fried Squid with Hot and Sour Dressing and Peanuts for AU$16 and the Coconut Roasted Pork Ribs with Ginger Caramel and Thai Basil for AU$18. After assessing the mains over and over again… To be honest there was just nothing in the main menu that grabbed me. I mean there was only 6 items on the main menu to choose from aside from the Fresh Reef Fish or Steak which was another section of the menu and the 2 or 3 specials on the board which didn’t excite me. It was a choice between the 6 main dishes – Chicken Parmigiana (it IS a bistro after all), Crispy Duck Leg, Roast Chicken Masala, BBQ Lamb Cutlets, Grilled Pork Chop and Paella. Ultimately the Crispy Duck Leg with Jasmine Rice, Papaya and Young Coconut Salad for AU$34 was the pick of the litter, or so I thought. MS however ended up choosing the ‘Pasta of the Day’ from the specials board which was Fusilli with Feta, Olives, Sausagei (or was it Chorizo?) and Croutons. That isn’t actually how it was described on the board but I cannot for the life of me find where I wrote it down (my description was still pretty damn close). The price wasn’t written up on the board so we never actually found out how much it was but I am assuming around the usual AU$25 mark.
So we ordered and sat and drank our wine and cider while we waited. By this time the drizzle had stopped and the waitress opened up a couple of the windows at the front of the restaurant to let some breeze through. The atmosphere at The Rising Sun was second to none and everyone seemed to be having a great time whether it be enjoying a cocktail at the bar or a glass of wine with friends over dinner. The lighting however, was just dim enough to make it difficult for me to take photos of the food that was to come (I hate it when that happens). We waited about 15 minutes before our entrees arrived and as the waitress carefully laid them down in front of us she said that she would go and fetch a share plate for us since that is what we had planned on doing. We waited about 17 seconds until we decided that we couldn’t wait any longer for the share plate and dug in (luckily because she only returned with it about 10 minutes too late).
The Crispy Fried Squid was absolutely scrumptious (the below photo just doesn’t do it justice). I mean this squid was so good that it was on par with probably the best squid I have ever had. For all my regular readers you know I compare all squid to my mum and dad’s salt and pepper squid. It was cooked to perfection with just a slight dusting of flour and spices on the outside to give it just a little bit of crunch but still delicious and tender on the inside. It was, in essence, the sauce that made the dish so damn good. It was just the right mix of hot and sour sauce drizzled over the squid and mixed in with the cucumber and peanuts with a generous ‘sprinkling’ of Thai Basil leaves. We ate every last piece of squid, peanut and cucumber in that dish and if I was at home I would have licked the dressing clean off the plate but I figured it probably wasn’t appropriate while out at a restaurant.
The Coconut Roasted Pork Ribs with Ginger Caramel and Thai Basil were up next and like the Crispy Fried Squid they didn’t disappoint. The fall off the bone pork with the ginger caramel sauce was a match made in heaven. Again I wanted to lick the plate clean (like Manu Fieldel I’m a sauce girl). The dish was generously decorated with Thai Basil and also finely chopped birdseye chillies which were eye-wateringly spicy. The birdseye chillies weren’t mentioned on the menu description so MS (the big pussy) got quite the shock when one accidentally made it’s way into his unsuspecting mouth. He then dared me to eat one which being the tough ‘I can do anything’ kind of girl that I am happily accepted the challenge only to declare/pretend that they ‘weren’t very hot at all’. THEY WERE HOT!
When we were finished the waitress cleared our plates and our mains arrived about 15 minutes later. MS looked down at his dish and wondered where the sauce was for it. I poked around a bit and noticed some resemblance of a sauce in the bottom of the bowl. MS was disappointed even though he hadn’t tasted it yet. I thought it looked quite nice. He dug into his big bowl of fusilli and his opinion didn’t change to much. The croutons were just a very random edition and apart from that it didn’t have much else going on. MS said that without the feta the dish wouldn’t have had any flavour at all. The sauce at the bottom was a bit like a very mild vinaigrette I guess but nothing like what he was hoping for. In the end he ate about two thirds of it and left it. I actually liked his dish with it’s slight vinegary taste but that doesn’t say too much. Here’s a hideous confession: I used to be about 15 kg’s overweight (a mean feat for someone who’s 5ft nothing) and used to binge on pasta with vinegar and feta cheese. Wait… maybe I should divulge that kind of embarrassing stuff on here. Too late. Anyway my point is that my opinion is a little skewed when it comes to pasta and vinegar because it’s always going to get the thumbs up when realistically it’s not actually very good at all.
Now my dish – well I wasn’t sure if there even was a Crispy Duck Leg under the mountains of bean sprouts and Thai basil (again). I dug underneath and sure enough it was there but how was I supposed to get to it? Now I’m all for the use of fresh ingredients and what not but the using Thai basil in 3 out of the 4 dishes that we ordered is a little too much don’t you think? And the fact that neither the bean sprouts or the Thai basil were actually mentioned in the menu description just pissed me off since I frigin hate bean sprouts. If I had of known they were going to be so liberally included in my dish I would have opted to not have them. Even more annoying was the fact that due to the dim lighting they blended into the young coconut salad so I couldn’t tell if I was eating nasty bean sprouts of delicious young coconut until I bit into whatever it was. In the end I gave up and just went for the duck which disappointingly was dry and overcooked. The creamy curry-like sauce that it was encased it was delicious but that didn’t make up for all the other areas in which this dish failed for me. I think I ate about half of it and then left it. It’s a bad night when I only eat half of my dish and then eye off my partners meal. Okay, okay, I normally eye off my partners meal but I still only ate half my dish.
So after our lacklustre main meals following our standout entrees we didn’t really know what to think but we did know one thing for sure – we wanted dessert. The waitress brought us out a menu each to peruse the dessert menu. MS ordered the Roast Pineapple, Bread and Butter Pudding with White Chocolate and Macadamia Brittle Ice Cream for AU$16. I didn’t think that sounded very nice to be honest although I was definitely going to taste it when it came out. I was pretty keen on the Crispy Fried Banana Fritters but Chocolate Brownie is always going to come up trumps against any competitor so I chose the Hot Chocolate and Turkish Delight Brownie with Chocolate Sauce and House made Vanilla Ice Cream for AU$15.
Another 10 minutes later and out came our desserts, placed in the middle of the table. Disappointingly though they both looked exactly the same, except one was a light caramel colour and one was a dark chocolate colour. We had a taste of each of our own desserts and then the others, both decided with 100% conviction that we had each made the right choice in respect to our desserts and then positions our prospective plates firmly back to each side of the table. The hot pineapple in MS pudding just didn’t do it for me. I thought it was weird and nothing like a bread and butter pudding but MS liked it.
My brownie on the other hand was warm and soft with oozy chocolate sauce but a severe lack of Turkish Delight. I think I only found one piece. The brownie was just okay and nothing like the ‘Best Brownie in the World’ from the Pedlar’s Inn Cafe in Galle, Sri Lanka that I had while on a tour last year. TO. DIE. FOR.
So what can I say… The atmosphere at The Rising Sun was nice and relaxed but still classy as was the service but the mains definitely let the whole experience down. By the time it came to pay for the bill we got 25% off the total up to a maximum of AU$35 which resulted in it all costing us just over AU$100. I thought that was a pretty good deal for a wine, a cider, two entrees, two mains and two desserts although for a restaurant that advertises itself as a bistro I think that some of the menu items are a tad overpriced. I wouldn’t say that our meal at The Rising Sun was particularly bad but it failed mostly because I’d had such high expectations about the place. After the gorgeous canapes we had at the engagement party a few weeks prior and reading about their affiliations with NuNu it was a little hard not to get a little excited. Our meals certainly peaked too soon with excellent entrees, ordinary mains and then ‘just ok’ desserts. The over use of Thai basil was a little bit too much in the end. I get what they were trying to do with all the fresh ingredients but hey, ease up a little on the Thai basil there tiger this is Palm Cove not Patong.
The Rising Sun
95 Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove QLD 4879
Ph: (07) 4059 0889
Opening Hours: 7 days 11am – 12pm
You know when you have been looking forward to something all week and then the time that you have been waiting for finally arrives only for you to be massively disappointed? Yeah well that happened to me last Friday (Good Friday) when a group of friends and I went out to the Canecutters Restaurant at the Novotel Palm Cove for their ‘famous’ Good Friday Seafood Buffet. After finding out that my parent’s would be in Adelaide over the Easter weekend I figured I would need to organise some sort of Easter affair myself this year. Leading up to the Easter weekend I noticed a few advertisements in The Cairns Post for the Good Friday Seafood Buffet and after doing a little bit of research online and seeing that it was a regular thing on a Saturday night out at the Novotel I figured it might be a good place to take a group of friends for a catch up. I made a booking for 13 people for 7pm and at 6.50pm we all met in the lobby looking forward to a big feed and for AU$59 a head we were all expecting a good one.
I’m no stranger to buffets having been to some amazing buffets around the world while travelling with my family. The two absolute knockouts would have to be Cafe One in Hong Kong and the Bellagio buffet in Las Vegas. Words simply cannot describe the sheer magnitude of delights that these buffets had to offer, you really have to go and see for yourself. But then at the complete other end of the scale I have also been to some truly dismal buffets like the Circus Circus one in Las Vegas. Dad thought that US$6.95 was an absolute steal but it turns out that you can only eat so many chops swimming in gravy. Now I wasn’t expecting Canecutters to be anything on par with Hong Kong or Las Vegas or Circus Circus for that matter but I was expecting something on par with other pricey seafood buffets in Cairns like the one at the at the now Pullman Cairns International.
Now I have to interject here… When I first mentioned the idea to MS he was extremely apprehensive since he doesn’t really eat seafood so a Good Friday Seafood Buffet didn’t really appeal to him (he wasn’t jumping for joy at the idea like I was). Although the Novotel website assured me that MS and the other two or three non seafood eaters that were coming along that there would indeed be plenty of other things to eat and I quote “For those who are non seafood eaters we have you covered with a tasty variety of hot and cold dishes”. Fair enough but I thought I would call up and make just sure while I was still finalising numbers amongst my friends. Upon speaking to the chef at the restaurant I was again assured that there would be plenty of dishes for the non seafood eaters as he rattled off a long list of things they could expect to eat, the only one that I can remember thanks to my goldfish memory being Fried Rice. So, I figured two confirmations was enough for me and soon enough MS reluctantly agreed after a little more encouragement from me. Below you can see an exert of what I read on the Novotel Palm Cove website. It sounds good right?
We entered the busy restaurant and were greeted by a friendly waiter who led us towards the buffet (a large island in the middle of the restaurant) to give us a quick tour before ushering us over to our table. It was right about that moment that I began to regret my decision to come to Canecutters. I looked back at my friends behind me who also had looks off regret on their faces and I began to feel embarrassed. We all sat down at the table feeling very deflated and a little concerned. I thought to myself there had to be more to the buffet than what we had just had the displeasure of touring. Surely?! Well there was no time like the present so off we trotted towards the buffet. I had a closer look over what was on offer at this so-called famous buffet. There was a large bain-marie of Paella with what looked like imported marinara mix from the supermarket mixed through it. Next there was a whole Asian Inspired Saddletail Snapper that had been picked clean and pretty much only had the carcass left. The chef assured me that there would be a new one out in the next 10 minutes so I moved on. Then there was a Chicken and Cashew Nut Curry (I wish I got a photo of it) that looked so horrible I am pretty sure that nobody in the entire restaurant ate it and I think I can safely say that they didn’t have to replace that dish all night. On the other side was Pippi’s with a Garlic Cream Sauce, Roast Pork and Roasted Vegetables. The Salad Bar consisted of four very unimaginative salads including Potato Salad, Garden Salad, Coleslaw and the world’s most boring Pasta Salad that pretty much only had pasta in it. Unfortunately for my dining companions and I our frowns had not been turned upside down on closer inspection of the buffet.
True to form as with every seafood buffet I went straight for the seafood loading my plate up with some Pippi’s with Garlic Cream Sauce, whole cooked prawns, oysters and half a spanner crab. Ahem… pretty sure that little exert from the internet up above says that we should have expected Mud Crab. Spanner Crab is a pretty sh*thouse substitute I reckon. I sat down at the table and after exchanging disappointed glances with my friends sitting opposite me KK and JM I hooked into my seafood. The prawns were delicious and sweet and I had a bit of seafood sauce on the side of my plate to dip the lovely freshly peeled meat into. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty peeling prawns because I think the reward is far greater than the trouble. Across the table KK remarked at how horrible and tasteless the Paella was. I hadn’t gotten any because it didn’t look at all appealing and there was also no room on my plate because of the large pile of seafood.
JM asked me what I thought of the Spanner Crab because his was watery and tasteless. That was my next venture so I broke open the body of the crab and picked a couple of pieces out. He was right but saying that it was watery and tasteless was an understatement. It was probably the most horrible piece of crab that I have ever eaten to this day. The crab had been left for too long in the ice slurry before being bought out to the buffet and as a result it was just full of water and runny inside. There was no delicious sweet crab meat that you normally get when you eat crabs (jeez I could have really gone some mud crab right about now). It was that bad that I just sat there astonished and lost for words. The oysters, well, they were okay. They were reasonably sized but there was a little bit of grit in them and they weren’t beautiful and buttery like oysters should be. The Pippi’s were also only ‘okay’ but I realised that more than half of the ones on my plate were just shells with no meat in them as they must have fallen out into the bottom of the bain-marie. The Garlic Cream sauce was just weird tasting. Almost like a fake cream sauce with some sort of soup mix mixed through it. Nothing to write home about or go back for seconds for.
I looked around the table at the large group of friends that I had invited. Some were not eating anything at all, having already tried the six or so dishes on offer and deciding that none of them were worth going back for. Others like me were trying to make the best of a bad situation by eating as much seafood as they possibly could and the rest had already moved onto dessert since they figured that had to better than the savoury options on display.
I went back up to the buffet and grabbing another empty plate I got a small spoonful of Paella (I had to taste it) and some Roast Pork. The fish had been replaced with another whole fish that by the time I had gotten there was already half eaten. I didn’t get any since my sister reckoned that it hadn’t been descaled and wasn’t very nice. That’s enough to turn me off completely plus I’m not a big fan of whole baked fish to be honest. I looked around for some Apple Sauce to go with my Roast Pork but there wasn’t any in sight. Nor was there any other type of sauce for that matter except for some truly horrible homemade Tartare Sauce. Apparently the whole restaurant agreed because the large bowl of Tartare was full and had been since we’d arrived. The Seafood Sauce next to it, however was empty. Plain Roast Pork it is! First up I tried a forkful of Paella and was seriously taken aback at just how disgusting it was. I thought that KK was being dramatic and being a lover of all things ‘rice’ I figured it would be half edible. How wrong I was and I’m going to go as far as to award it as worst dish on the entire buffet. I’m almost 100% sure that the seafood mixed through it was the imported seafood mix you see at Coles and Woolies with the little diced up pieces of salmon, little mussels and big chewy pieces of squid. It was actually the rice that tasted the worst. It just tasted like tomatoes and water. Not even a whole bottle of Tabasco Sauce could have saved that puppy. I pushed it to the side after conferring with KK about how gross it was and moved onto the Roast Pork.
Finally a dish that I actually liked! The Roast Pork was actually sliced Pork Belly, which didn’t bother me at all because I frigin love pork belly! There was just the right amount of meat to fat ratio although if I had to be picky (which I do – you know me) it would have been nice if the skin was actually crispy. Instead it was chewy and underdone, no crackling in sight *sad face*. If there was one food item that I could eat as much as I wanted and never get sick or fat from it would be pork crackling. I would go to the supermarket and buy those rolls of pork rind, crackle it up in the oven and sit on the couch and watch episodes of Ellen. I really am a fatty at heart. I asked a couple of my crew members what they would like to eat as much of and never get sick, one of them replied lamb fat and the other replied Wild Turkey. Alcohol doesn’t count. Duh. Okay I’m getting off subject.
The large scrap bowl of seafood shells and scraps situated in front of me that myself and everyone down my end of the table was using was so full that we had resorted to leaving entire plates of seafood and other scraps in the middle of the table. The plates hadn’t been cleared and replaced with new ones since about 15 minutes after we had sat down( at least 40 minutes ago). The place was well understaffed and I looked over at the waiter (only 1 of 3 for the entire restaurant) who was run off his feet trying to keep up with the demands of about 50 people on our side of the restaurant that we were seated on. It didn’t look like we would be getting our plates cleared or new seafood scrap bowls anytime soon.
After my plate of sinful but yummy pork I went back and ate some more seafood, this time forgoing the crab (which the majority of which I am almost positive went in the bin at the end of the night) and just sticking to the prawns and oysters. I had to get my money’s worth since the rest of the dishes were certainly not at home at a buffet costly almost AU$60 each. Then I headed over to the Dessert Buffet to see what I could get from there. Each of the desserts looked yummy and there was about 6 different bite sized sweets to choose from plus some Apple Pie looking thing. I grabbed what looked like a Chocolate Brownie, a cupcake with an Easter Egg on top and a piece of Rocky Road and went back to my table. First up I tried the Chocolate Brownie which was really just a piece of Chocolate Cake that tasted like it came out of a Sara Lee packet but Sara Lee is probably 10 times better to be honest. I took one bite and left it. Next up was the Cupcake. On top was some sort of weird but yucky yogurt tasting pink icing. Again I took one bite and left the rest (yeah okay I ate the Easter Egg of course). Lastly was the Rocky Road. Now I’m not really a fan of peanuts at the best of times (unless they are chocolate coated ones) but this Rocky Road tasted just like you had shoved a whole handful of dry peanuts into your mouth. The peanut taste completely took over from the chewy marshmallow and the creamy chocolate. I took two bites of this one just to be sure and but it back down. I am not normally one to waste food since my dad and I used to have eating competitions and I was always taught to eat every last bite but the dessert was dismal and again I wasn’t the only one that thought that. Another friend across from me MG said that the Chocolate Mousse was actually very good to which KK next to her agreed. MS disappointed with the desserts that he had chosen went over to the Dessert Buffet to get a chocolate mousse only to be told that there were none left and that the desserts that were laid out on the buffet were all that was left for the night. Way to crush his spirits.
To my left my sister was poking a couple of items around her plate with her fork complaining about how terrible the food was and how I had told her that there would be plenty of food for non seafood eaters. To my right MS had eaten an entire plate of pork and some bread rolls (he never eats bread rolls) and basically called it quits after being told there was no chocolate mousse left. I looked across the table at my vegetarian friend who had stopped eating about 10 minutes after we arrived finding there was little to nothing for him to eat. Down the other end of the table I was met with looks of discouragement and frustration. Again I felt embarrassed and disappointed because I had gotten all my friends (and one family member) to drive all the way out to Palm Cove and asked them to pay AU$59 a head only to have an absolutely godawful feed and it was all my fault. We had all expected to come out and stuff our faces at Canecutters ‘Famous’ Seafood Buffet and have a great meal but alas we (I) were sadly mistaken.
We all decided that we had eaten enough and headed to the counter to pay for our meal. Normally I am not one to pipe up and complain, much preferring to go home and write about it later, but like I said I was so disappointed and embarrassed at the meal that I made the Restaurant Supervisor aware of the situation. I explained to her that there were a few non seafood eaters in the group and I had been assured that there would be plenty of non seafood options for them and also how absolutely appalling the quality and selection of the food was. To give her some credit she did take the time to listen to me and offered her sincerest apologies to myself and the rest of the group. She also offered to let the non seafood eaters pay only AU$29 which was the price of the buffet for a child. Although I wasn’t trying to get out of paying or anything like that there was no way in hell I was paying full price. C’mon if you pay AU$59 a head for a buffet you expect it to be good and this wasn’t worth the price at all, we might as well have gone to Charlie’s on the Esplanade. We all agreed that AU$29 was a fair price to pay. Upon leaving the restaurant we were approached by a local couple who had also complained about the food again saying how disappointed they were. They too were embarrassed because they had taken friends from England to the buffet as a way to showcase the local seafood and fresh produce that Cairns has to offer but were left more than a little red-faced. I sympathised with both of them and we all vowed that we would never return to the now famously bad Seafood Buffet at Canecutters.
PS: Sorry about the terrible photos in this post. There were heaps of people around and the lens on my phone kept fogging up. Yeah, yeah, excuses, excuses. I know.
Novotel Palm Cove Resort, Coral Coast Drive, Palm Cove QLD 4879
Ph: (07) 4059 1234
Opening Hours: 7 days 5.30pm – 9.30pm
Firstly I must apologise for taking a little too long to put up another post on foodvixen. My two month old Toshiba Ultrabook has recently decided that it doesn’t like the Hard Drive that Toshiba gave it and figures it needs a new one. What’s that you say? Should have gotten a Mac. If I wanted to relearn everything that I have learnt about computers since I was 11 years old then yeah maybe but I don’t do Mac. PC for life! Anyway moving on. So after years and years of wanting to go to NuNu and dreaming about it I finally got to go there for mine and MS’ anniversary dinner last month. Yes I know that was last month but did you not read the beginning of this paragraph? So, like I said I have wanted to go to NuNu for a ridiculously long time, since they won the Gourmet Traveller Regional Restaurant of the Year Award in 2008 and I was finally able to fulfill my wish and baby it did not let me down. Before I get down to business I must again apologise for the quality of the photos in this post. I use the iPhone app Hipstamatic for all of my pictures which does not work well when the lighting is dim and the flash photography just doesn’t do the photos justice. I’m not one to pull out an SLR while eating plus it keeps my WordPress costs low by uploading photos that are only a couple of KB’s in size. Righto, you get the gist.
I rang up about 5 days prior and made a booking for two for 8pm on a Saturday. Since we were staying out that way for the night at Sea Temple (don’t waste your time, stay somewhere else) we sauntered on down about 45 minutes early hoping to grab a cocktail from somewhere along the way. So much for that idea since everywhere was absolutely packed and we ended up arriving at NuNu a little earlier than expected. This was no problem as our table was ready for us anyway. As we were walking in a guy stopped in front of the restaurant and told us not to bother because NuNu and the one next door (Bella Baci) were both full. Sucks to be him, lucky we had a booking. The lighting was romantically dim and despite the modern furnishings and pompous Palm Cove atmosphere the place had a cosy relaxed feel to it. The waitress seated us at a table in between two couples at the front of the restaurant. Unfortunately we were seated so damn close to their tables that MS felt like he should introduce himself to the people on either side. This close proximity not only made us privy to their conversations but them to ours. The waitress bought us a Dinner Menu each and a Wine Menu along with some glasses which she filled with water from a silver jug. She gave us a couple of minutes and came back to take our drinks order. We both chose a glass of Clyde Park Sauvignon Blanc (AU$9.50) purely because it was the only Sav Blanc on the menu. Prior to taking our drink order the waitress whose name was Karen told us the specials of the day at NuNu (without us asking) along with a rundown of the seafood on the menu (the fish was Red Throat Emperor caught locally and the Oysters were Pacific Oysters from SA). My dreams had come true. Finally a restaurant with staff that knew the in’s and out’s of the seafood they were selling. It was truly a miracle!
Having sighted the 5 course tasting menu (AU$95 or AU$155 with matched wines) we asked Karen exactly what it consisted of since MS being the big sissy that he is doesn’t like seafood all that much. Karen told us in the nicest possible way that it was supposed to be a surprise and the chefs didn’t like to tell what was on it so we would have to wait and see. That was good enough for me and MS decided that as long as brain wasn’t part of the 5 course menu he would eat it too (there is in fact brain on the menu). I actually kind of liked the idea that we had no idea what was to come out. I felt it really added to the excitement of the meal and anyone that knows me well knows that nothing excites me more than food.
First off, our meal began with some bread. It was fresh out of the oven and as she placed it on the table Karen warned us to be careful of the steam that would escape when we cut it open. We were both surprised at just how large the bread was, taking up almost the entire plate but our surprise turned to relief as we cut it open to find the bread was in fact hollow. The sprinkling of salt and lemon over the top of the crust gave it just that little extra flavour that it needed and we soon devoured the crusty outside both looking forward to the next dish.
Next up two of our dishes arrived at the table. Karen gave us a nice run down of each dish and left us to sample our two entree’s… The Taste Paradise which was Shaved Local Heart of Palm, Melon, Lime, Baby Herbs and Chilli and the Hot Smoked Red Emperor Miang with Chilli, Pink Pomelo, Green Papaya Relish and Salmon Pearls. Both dishes looked amazing and the Taste Paradise even had those cute little edible flowers on the top which I had never eaten before. It was a beautiful dish and the melon mixed so well with the delicately sweet dressing, a slight hint of Fish Sauce just detectable. I really loved the soft and crunchy texture of the Palm Heart and the Melon. MS didn’t think this dish was so amazing (probably because of the Fish Sauce flavour) but I thought it was fantastic.
The two portions of Hot Smoked Red Emperor Miang et al was wrapped up ever so nicely in Betel Leaf. Having had something very similar at Iyara Thai Restaurant on the Esplanade I already kind of knew what to expect. We both ate it at the same time and although MS was a little skeptical because of the seafood content and the Chilli he thought it was a taste sensation and he was right. The mixture of the all the different flavours (sweet, sour, spicy) and textures in this one small bite (ok maybe two bites) was to die for. The Hot Smoked Red Emperor Miang has to be one of my favourite dishes of the 5 course menu.
About ten to fifteen minutes passed before our next meal was bought out – our 3rd entrée of Crisped Pacific Oysters with hand rolled Green Tea Noodle, Jellyfish, Sesame and Ginger Caramel. I almost knocked my glass of wine over in excitement. I had spied this dish on the Entrée Menu and my mouth literally salivated at the thought of it. I had no idea that I was actually going to get the chance to eat it though! This dish was OMG so good. The Crisped Pacific Oysters had a slight batter around them that was deliciously crispy and light and the oysters literally melted in my mouth. Even MS who again doesn’t appreciate the sheer delight that comes with eating seafood (yet) thought the oysters were delicious. The green tea noodles and the sesame and ginger caramel were the perfect accompaniment to this dish. It was another absolutely stunning course in NuNu‘s 5 course menu.
Right about now was when we moved onto the mains of the evening. Next up, our 4th course (or was it?) was the Local Line Caught Reef Fish with Ricotta Dumplings, Tomato Essence, Fennel, Crispy Sage and Lemon. The Red Throat Emperor was cooked perfectly as you would expect from such a notoriously good restaurant as NuNu. The portion size of the fish was not too little and not too big. Again, the fish melted in my mouth along with the small balls of cheesy Ricotta-y goodness. MS ate the lot so that says something for what he though of it. This dish was the perfect way to showcase the freshness of the Red Throat Emperor without marring the flavour. The accompaniments were not overpowering and allowed the subtle flavour of the fish to shine through.
By both our calculations the 5th course was next but for some reason I didn’t think that was it for our 5 course menu. Karen arrived with the Mushroom Poached Cape Grim Tenderloin, Jerusalem Artichoke, Assorted Fungi, Whipped Feta and Bacon Broth. MS nearly fell off his chair when she returned with a jug containing Bacon Broth to pour over the top of our Tenderloin offering over his water glass for Karen to fill up. Karen laughed at his joke but I think he was only half kidding. The Tenderloin was medium rare in the middle and so damn tender, in fact I think it was the most tender steak I have ever eaten in my life. The Bacon Broth was rich and hearty and we both slurped it up with the soup spoon that was provided, no doubt for that very reason. MS was in Carnivore Heaven with this dish and I think it’s safe to say that this was his favourite of the 5 course menu.
Much to our delight after clearing away our plates and finding amusement in MS’ new found love for Bacon Broth Karen bought us out a palate cleanser in the form of a small scoop of Rose Petal Sorbet. It was sweet and tangy and although the Rose Petal Sorbet was something unlike any Sorbet I have ever tasted before it was superb. If NuNu started selling this stuff at Coles tomorrow I would buy it by the tub. It was exquisite and just what we needed to cleanse our palate after our rich and hearty main.
Last but not least, our dessert emerged (that’s 6 courses, 8 dishes in total). It was Roast Banana Souffle with Coconut Caramel Sugar, Banana Twinkie and Coconut Sorbet. Wow. I was surprised by just how big the dessert was and the fact that we got one each! I love Banana Bread, Banana Cake, Banana Smoothies, etc, so this was always going to be a winner for me. The Roast Banana Souffle was light and eggy and the added touch of Coconut Caramel Sugar at the bottom of the Souffle made it all the more delicious. My absolute favourite had to be the Banana Twinkie, something we both agreed on. According to Karen this Banana themed dessert is the most popular dessert item on the menu at NuNu and with good reason. It was so damn good but because of the sheer amount of food that we had consumed both MS and I struggled to finish it.
The 5 course menu at NuNu is most certainly in my Top 10 most memorable dining experiences along with Hot Ramen at a Kiosk in Osaka, Freshly Shucked Oysters in the Gulf of Mexico (before the oil spill) and Peking Duck with all the theatrics in Beijing. By the end of our 5 course menu we were one of only two occupied tables in the restaurant since everyone else had finished up. We had been eating for just over two hours, arriving a little before 8pm and finishing up after 10pm. It honestly didn’t feel like we had been there for anywhere near that long! The service that we received from our waitress Karen was outstanding from the moment we walked into NuNu to the moment we left. Our water glasses were never empty, for each dish she gave us a run down of what it was as it was placed in front of us, she always had a friendly smile on her face and she even managed to get MS’ quirky sense of humour (a struggle for some). Her service was attentive without being intrusive on our intimate evening together. Dining at such a classy restaurant I was expecting very small portion sizes with an emphasis on presentation rather than content and even partly expected to be hungry at the end of the night. Man was I wrong. The portion sizes were perfect for each of the 5 (or 6) courses, not too little and not too big and like I said previously we were both stuffed by the end of it all. The 5 course menu for AU$95 represents amazing value for money since adding up each of the items equates to just over AU$300 if you order them individually from the Dinner Menu, plus this way you get to sample a bit of everything. Our evening at NuNu was a truly memorable one that I will never forget, not only for the food and the service but also for the company. Happy Anniversary baby x
123 Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove QLD 4879
Ph: (07) 4059 1880
Opening Hours: Mon – 11.30am till late, Tues – Closed, Wed – Fri 11.30am till late, Sat & Sun 8am till late
Next cab off the rank with my Table 52 cards is Lime and Pepper Restaurant at Peppers Beach Club and Spa, Palm Cove. MS and I decided to head out there for lunch since lunch is kind of our thing to do. In hindsight going to Lime and Pepper for lunch probably wasn’t the best idea… More about that later. Set amongst the Paperbarks and with comfy cushions to sit on Lime and Pepper is a pretty swish restaurant right across the road from the beach at Palm Cove. Being one of two couples in the whole place we took our pick of places to sit and sat at one of the side tables with the cushions, ordered a glass of Kapura Marlborough Savignon Blanc and perused the Lunch Menu. My first impression of the Lunch Menu… Disappointing. The Lunch Menu was very basic with options like Salads, Wraps and Fish and Chips (boring). In fact it was so basic that we almost decided to leave and come back for dinner. The only thing stopping us was the fact that we had driven all the way from the city to come out here for lunch and it’s the age old story of ‘well we are here now so we might as well’.
Out of the 11 or so choices on the Lunch Menu I really couldn’t pick anything that I particularly wanted to eat so I ordered the burger. Yes. I ordered a hamburger at a fine dining restaurant. I’m ashamed and upset at myself but I really felt that I had no choice. I ordered the Grilled Beef Burger with Tomato Chutney, Vintage Cheddar, Caramelised Onion and Beer Battered Potato Chips for AU$20. MS, also confused as to what to order, decided to go with the Crispy Pork Belly Baguette with Homemade Korean Kimchi, Lemon Scented Mayonnaise and Mixed Greens for AU$18. An odd choice for him considering that he doesn’t like spice (apparently spicy ‘isn’t a taste’ according to him). I let him run with it hoping that he would be pleasantly surprised with a bit of tang in his baguette. We also ordered an entree of Salt and Pepper Squid with Shaved Vegetable Salad, Lychee, Chilli and Tahitian Lime Dressing for AU$18 to share between us.
It probably took about half an hour for our dishes to arrive even though we were one of two occupied tables. We ordered them all at once instead of the entree before the mains. Not sure what the chef was doing in the kitchen… Maybe trying to operate the can opener on the tin of lychees considering that lychees are no longer in season. Hey, sometimes I have trouble operating my can opener (I blame the fact that I am left handed). Still it didn’t bother us too much because it was nice sitting at our table on the cushions enjoying our glass of wine and looking out towards the beach. The servings were as I was expecting – lunch time and expensive restaurant serves. Certainly not a size that is going to fill you up, well for the baguette and the Salt and Pepper Squid anyway. The Salt and Pepper Squid was really delish especially the bed of Asian inspired salad that it was served on. MS and I ate every last morsel of it, even the suspected canned lychees were yummy and the waitress ensured me that they only serve Australian seafood at Lime and Pepper.
The pork belly on MS’ baguette wasn’t exactly crispy, it was cold and had obviously just been pulled out of the fridge and put on a roll before being brought out to our table. Despite the cold pork and the spicy Kimchi MS did enjoy his meal albeit a little small for a big hungry man.
My Grilled Beef Burger had a lot to live up to after my yummy burger experience at Grill’d earlier in the week. I have to say it wasn’t a very nice burger. Some cheeses just weren’t meant to be melted onto burger buns and this so called ‘vintage cheddar’ was one of those cheeses. It was really oily and overpowering (yeah I know vintage cheddar is supposed to be overpowering) and just didn’t belong on my Grilled Beef Burger. There is not much more that I can say about it other than I didn’t enjoy it. It was just a very plain, boring and expensive cheesy burger.
We did enjoy our lunch at Lime and Pepper but more for the fact that it was such a nice restaurant to dine at rather than because the food was delicious. Our main meals were a little bit disappointing, mine more so than MS’. The service was quite good and the waitress was very friendly and seemed to know the menu front to back as well as whether or not their seafood was imported (most wait staff have to go to the kitchen and ask). Upon paying we perused the dinner menu and saw that it sounded much more shall we say ‘edible’ than the lunch menu. I just think that we would have enjoyed our meal much more if we had gone to Lime and Pepper for dinner rather than lunch, a concept that has taken me a few attempts to understand (I’m sure many of you are already clued into it). Using your Table 52 card at some of the listed restaurants for lunch is a waste because they are more worthwhile going to for dinner. You are going to have to be the one that determines the whole lunch/dinner thing but Lime and Pepper is definitely one of those ‘Dinner’ restaurants. Seems I learnt my lesson the hard way, again.
Lime and Pepper
123 Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4059 9200
Opening Hours: 7 days, Breakfast 6.30am – 10.30am, Lunch 12pm – 3pm, Dinner 6pm – 9.30pm
Just a quick one – If you are looking for somewhere nice to go for breakfast out towards the Northern Beaches then go and check out Vivo Bar and Grill. MS and I went there a couple of weeks ago for a mid morning breakfast. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, the beach actually looked nice (sometimes that’s a bit of a rarity for poor old Cairns) and we had a fantastic view from our little table for two out the front of Vivo. Our waitress, a bubbly woman whose name I cannot remember for the life of me, gave us fantastic service that never faultered, even when we decided we didn’t like where we had sat ourselves and moved to the other side of the restaurant. The breakfast menu looked super yummy but MS and I both went for the low carb omelette option in preparation of the Christmas onslaught. I ordered a Smoked Salmon Omelette while MS ordered the Chorizo Omelette, both around the AU$18 mark. We enjoyed our cappuccino’s and the view while we waited for our omelettes, which arrived together in ample time.
My omelette was packed full of Smoked Salmon and Dill. They certainly weren’t stingy on the amount of smoked salmon they used as some cafes and restaurants can be. It was all topped off with some fresh Rocket and Tallegio Cheese on the top. YUM!
MS really enjoyed his omelette, even if the Chorizo was a little spicy for him. Again his omelette had plenty of Chorizo and juicy Sundried Tomatoes topped with fresh Rocket and Parmesan Cheese.
Our omelettes were packed full of flavour and a perfect breakfast portion for us to start our day (at 11am). Vivo has the whole package with delicious food, fantastic service and a great relaxed atmosphere in an upmarket suburb. Next time I head out to Palm Cove I’ll be having dinner at Vivo Bar and Grill.
Vivo Bar and Grill
William’s Esplanade Palm Cove
Ph: (07) 4059 0944
Opening Hours: 7 days from 7am for breakfast, lunch, tapas and dinner