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.
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
After some encouraging words from one of my readers regarding the new breakfast menu at The Edge Food Store I figured I would bury the hatchet and head there last Sunday with MS in tow. We really needed to dine out for breakfast (for our psyche) since it was something that we used to do at least twice a week before we starting eating nothing but broccoli, chicken and brown rice about 12 weeks ago. Currently my breakfast consists of two pieces of rye bread and four eggs (two whole, two whites) so I figured that they would surely have something similar that I could munch on and still get my dining out ‘kicks’. To be honest I can’t even remember why I had been holding a grudge towards The Edge but something about rude staff and waiting nearly 20 minutes for two coffees seems vaguely familiar. I am definitely one to hold a grudge and it takes quite a bit to get off my sh*t list once someone or something is on there.
We arrived just before midday and headed inside to have a look over the menu and order before we sat down. For those of you that haven’t been to The Edge you have to order food and drinks at the counter, grab a number and they bring it out to you. Inside there is a multitude of gourmet products from truffle oil to curry powders to cheeses to ready-made meals. I could spend a ridiculous amount of money in there since gourmet foods are a huge weakness of mine (along with platters and other homewares – would they just hurry up and open a Wheel and Barrow in Cairns already?!) My ex mother in law JC and I drool over the Cherry Balsamic Vinegar that they stock. Buy it, dip some fresh bread in it and eat it. It’s life changing. Anyway so after drooling over the sweet biscuits and chocolates in jars and bowls on the counter we quickly decided on what we wanted. Was there ever any doubt? MS went for the closest thing to a Big Breakfast that he could find and ordered The Edge Signature with ‘The Lot’ – Poached eggs, Byron Bay bacon, locally made cheese kransky, garlic roast field mushroom, roasted tomato, herbed sweet potato, tomato apple relish and wood fired Italian ciabatta for AU$21.50. While I, looking for the closest thing (but tastiest thing) I could find to my ‘at home’ breakfast chose the Vegetarian Brekky with poached eggs, roasted tomato, sweet potato, dukkah crusted avocado wedge, sheep’s feta and spinach on toasted rye bread with truffled hollandaise for AU$20.50. Initially I asked them if I could have the hollandaise on the side but was met with a side ways glance from MS so then I just asked the man at the counter to leave it out altogether *sad panda*.
While MS and I were being served at the counter I saw some diners seated near me receive their meals. Although all three were the same they looked really damn good. I had another look over the menu and saw that they had ordered the Olive Bread Toasty with Avocado, Fresh Tomato, Basil with a Poached Egg on top for a very reasonable price of AU$10.50. Something else that caught my attention on the breakfast menu was The Edge Omelette with Avocado, Gruyere, Spinach, Caramelised Onion, Pumpkin and Cheese Kransky for AU$19.50. Are they frigin serious? I think I just died and went to breakfast menu heaven. Not to mention the ‘Bacon Jam’ (AU$3.50) that I didn’t actually read on the menu until we were outside and seated, otherwise I would have ordered it just to see what the hell it was.
Okay so enough about the actual sound of the items of the menu I haven’t even told you if they tasted good! So we waited about 5 – 10 minutes for our flat whites to arrive and then soon after our breakfast’s arrived. The place was about 2/3 full for this Sunday morning and we were sitting outside on the pathway after initially sitting at one of the benches next to the road and decided it was too uncomfortable. Also my six-foot something love was much too big for it. When the food arrived I have to say that initially I was surprised because I didn’t expect it to look so visually pleasing or so big! Mine was enormous and far bigger than I needed as was MS’ but he is more than double my size anyway so he needs that much.
Straight away MS transferred the roasted tomato from his plate to mine (he has something against roasted tomato, strange but at least it means more for me). MS wasn’t too impressed with the tomato apple relish but I think it was because I had made the mistake of telling him about the Bacon Jam, again after we had already ordered our food. MS’ eggs were a little on the hard side but it turns out that is actually the way he prefers them not 2 seconds away from undercooked and running all over the plate like I prefer them. He practically inhaled the bacon and after eating half of the cheesy kransky and then deciding that he probably shouldn’t be eating cheesy sausages he left it on the side of his plate, only to succumb to his primal instincts and eat the rest of it about five minutes later. In the words of MS ‘Oh god it tastes so good!’
Me – I loved the dark rye bread which was a little dry without the buttery goodness of hollandaise sauce that it was supposed to come with although that was my own fault for not getting it. The egg yolks were a little on the hard side and not quite perfectly poached. The sweet potato was delicious and yes you guessed it, sweet. I really loved the dukkah crusted avocado which was more like half an avocado than a wedge. I shared half of my half with MS who was kind enough to share a taste of his big thick kransky with me (pardon the pun – I couldn’t help myself). The sheep’s feta that I had vowed to leave on the side of the plate (as wasteful as that is) got the better of me after I had just a tiny taste and I ended up gobbling up the entire ramekin of it along with the spinach. It was beautiful and creamy but not too salty like I tend to find most types of feta. It was a generous dish, both in taste and serving size.
Yum, it was truly a great breakfast. I have said in the past that I think paying over AU$20 for a breakfast meal is almost a joke in Cairns and having said that anywhere really but I am leaning towards acceptable on this particular occasion since the meals were huge and the quality of the food was excellent. If the meals had been crap then I probably would have lost my sh*t but we left smiling and our bellies were full. If I can give one criticism, the coffee wasn’t too exciting. Unfortunately although this breakfast menu has only recently been refurbished these breakfasts might soon be a thing of the past since The Edge Food Store has been up for sale for a couple of months now. Hopefully if and when it does sell things will only get bigger and better for everyone involved because I would certainly like to enjoy some more breakfasts there. I can almost hear you saying ‘I’m pretty sure she said they were having the closest thing to an at home type breakfast’. Well I can assure you that feta cheese, bacon and cheese cransky is definitely not on the list of things we eat at home but I’ll live with the guilt just this once don’t you worry about me.
A special thanks goes to one of my reader’s RH for steering me in the right direction with The Edge Food Store 🙂
The Edge Food Store
1/138 Collins Ave, Edge Hill QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4053 2977
Opening Hours: Mon – Sat 7am – 5.30pm, Sun 8am – 3pm
Ok I can’t put it off any longer. My last post was well over two weeks ago, slack I know but I have been caught up in birthday celebrations for both MS and myself as well as a bit of Christmas cheer and a nasty middle ear infection that is yet to subside. Next cab off the rank with my Table 52 cards was Mother India on Sheridan Street a couple of weeks ago for a farewell dinner with my good friend EG. Seems my Table 52 cards are running rather low and I only really have ones from the Northern Beaches and Port Douglas left. Might be time to invest in the 2013 Edition to even out the playing field. I will use the Northern Beaches and Port Douglas, I just haven’t got around to it yet and I have to admit I don’t go up to Port very much. So back to Mother India. EG had already been to Mother India many times and even considers herself a regular. The owner remembered her from a few days earlier when she had dined there with her mother. I have dined at Mother India once many years ago for lunch but I can’t really remember what it was like. I have avoided it in more recent times after I called up one day to find out about their lunch specials to put on my Lunch page and had the person on the other end of the phone (I’m assuming the owner) give me an earful about how his chef had quit and he couldn’t open because he didn’t have anyone to cook. Needless to say I didn’t end up hearing the lunch specials and I decided I didn’t particularly want to know them but hey we all have our bad days.
I’ll admit I am the kind to hold grudges and my phone conversation did leave a pretty bad taste in my mouth but after reassurances from EG that it was ‘really good’ I thought I would stick my head in for a look and some curry. We got there around 8pm on a Friday night and there was about three other tables occupied at the time. A man who introduced himself as the owner showed us to a table and bought us some menus and water while we had a look over the menu. The owner was really friendly and chatted with myself and EG about her earlier dining experience and whether or not I had been to Mother India before (I didn’t mention the phone conversation). He was very gracious and happy to have us dining at Mother India, I think because out of all the Indian restaurants in Cairns Mother India is the one that gets most overlooked. Most likely because of its location on Sheridan Street, just that little bit out-of-the-way of the main thoroughfare. Although that doesn’t seem to be a problem for Happy 4 10 which appears to be doing a roaring trade.
After insisting upon a serving of papadums and chutney to start with and a glass of Giesen each, EG and I decided that we would both order a meal and share it. That was fine with me I had already picked out the Butter Chicken (isn’t that what everyone orders at an Indian restaurant?) but much to my dismay and something I did not know about my friend was that she didn’t eat chicken. She then went on to tell me a hilarious childhood story about her pet chicken that she got for her birthday that she did everything with (he waited in her room for her to come home from school and slept in her bed) until one day she came home from school to find a pile of feathers in the backyard and her favourite chicken missing. She then went on to say that this story wasn’t actually the reason that she didn’t eat chicken more that she just didn’t like it. It was a funny story none the less.
EG’s story reminded me of a story about my Nana (my mum’s mum who is now passed away) who had a favourite chicken when she was a child living in Sri Lanka. One day her favourite chicken stopped laying eggs so her father told her that they would have to kill it since it wasn’t doing its chicken-ly duties anymore. So after much reluctance and tears (from my Nana not the chicken) my Nana’s favourite chicken got the axe and when they chopped it open they found an egg inside. My Nana was so upset at the loss of her beloved chicken that she never ate chicken again. Up until she passed away my dad used to take great delight in feeding her pate and biscuits when she came over (something she absolutely loved), little did she know what she was actually eating. My dad thinks he’s so funny. So after all the chicken stories were exchanged I still longed for Butter Chicken but knew I had to decide on something else so I chose the Lamb Korma – Mildly spiced diced lamb curried in a creamy cashew and almond gravy for AU$16.95, while EG went with a vegetarian dish to add to the mix. She chose the Palak Paneer – Fresh ground spinach cooked with cottage cheese in fresh ginger, garlic and onions for AU$15.95. We ordered some Garlic Naan (AU$3.95), Steamed Rice (AU$2.50) and some Cucumber Raita (AU$4.25) to go with our dishes. I may dine at an Indian restaurant and go without Butter Chicken but I’ll be damned if I dine at an Indian restaurant and go without Garlic Naan, no matter how many times I need to do the Red Arrow the next day.
After the owner took our order he asked us how spicy we wanted it. Both being spice lovers we decided that we would have them both ‘Hot’. To which the owner replied ‘Indian Hot’ or just ‘Normal Hot’. Hmmm I was unsure about this one as was EG so we asked for a bit more of an explanation. Apparently ‘Indian Hot’ is only upon request and usually only for Indian diners but he figured he would ask after finding out my heritage and knowing that EG doesn’t mind a bit of spice. In the end we decided we would stick with ‘Normal Hot’ just to be on the safe side.
The decor at Mother India was a little dated but also very homely and cosy so it was kind of nice. There was a beautiful big tapestry on the wall behind us that looked very expensive and also looks good in a photo. I was just happy that we were sitting inside in the air conditioning as opposed to outside at some other restaurant. When you are eating hot food you don’t want to be sweating from both the food and the ambient temperature. I pointed out to EG the newly wed Indian couple seated behind us (noticeably newly wed because of the traces of henna on her hand and the large amounts of bangles she displayed on her forearms). They couldn’t have been more disinterested in each others company. Shame since they had probably only been married a couple of days. There was also a young child that from another table that kept harassing me because he apparently thought I was his mother due to me having a similar haircut as her (she wasn’t at the restaurant). *Insert my super awkwardness with children*. I’ll be honest I do want kids one day but I’m sure I am not alone when I say that I don’t like other people’s kids, hopefully I will like my own. Moving on, we waited probably about 15 minutes for our meals to arrive and when they did I realised just how much food the two of us had ordered especially considering we had already had papadums earlier.
We served ourselves a bit of each curry with some rice and a piece of naan bread and dug in. I have always wanted to order a variant of the Cottage Cheese type vegetarian dishes I see on Indian menus but never had the balls to do it for one reason or another. I was delighted when EG chose the Palak Paneer although I was a little hesitant about the onion part. I eat onion I just don’t like it when its chunky and crunchy. The onion was not like this at all in the Palak Paneer. It was soft and delicate. The Palak Paneer was a beautiful dish but sh*t was it spicy! Nothing I couldn’t handle but it was still bloody hot. I really loved the small lumps of Cottage Cheese in the dish which isn’t like your usual supermarket variety. The Indian Paneer (or Cottage Cheese) has much more of a milky flavour to it and a completely different texture to that I am used to.
The Lamb Korma was also lovely with tender pieces of lamb hidden within the thick nutty gravy. I actually think that the best part of eating Indian food is mopping up all the sauces with the rice and naan bread. Although we did order the Lamb Korma to be ‘Normal Hot’, the same as the Palak Paneer, it didn’t seem to be quite as hot as the other dish which was actually a good thing in the end because that and the Raita provided a bit of heat relief for us both.
The four pieces of Garlic Naan weren’t the best I have tasted and not as soft, moist and garlic-y as Garlic Naan should be. I don’t think that it was cooked fresh because it was a little bit dry and hard. It was also served rather un-elegantly in a bread basket wrapped in alfoil but maybe they were trying to save on washing up. It was a bit of shame but this was the only thing that let the meal down.
During our dinner the owner came over to check on us a couple of times to ensure that we were enjoying our meal and ask if there was anything else that we wanted or needed. He also made sure that the ‘Normal Hot’ wasn’t too hot for us and joked that maybe next time we could try the ‘Indian Hot’. The service was excellent and as I already said that owner was very accommodating and super happy that we had chosen his restaurant for our Friday night dinner. He made us promise that we would tell all our friends about it. The food at Mother India was delicious and there was plenty left by the time we were finished. One thing I must say is that both mains that we ordered had plenty of Cottage Cheese and Lamb in them. They weren’t just all sauce with only a couple of pieces of meat or cheese in them. A nice change from what I have experienced at some other Indian restaurants in town. I kicked myself that I hadn’t given Mother India a chance and used my Table 52 card sooner. I would most certainly dine there again without a Table 52 card, the same can’t be said for a few other Table 52 card restaurants I have been to. Upon presenting it at the counter to pay at the end the owner’s wife was most obliging (unlike the nasty woman at Taste of China) and even asked if we would like to split the bill between us, something the two of us were most happy about after neither of us had brought cash. How delightful! If you are not a lover of hot food then don’t worry about it Mother India ensure their curries are made to your liking. Like I said I’m not too sure about the ‘Indian Hot’ but I have to admit I am a little intrigued. Never say never right?
2/80 Sheridan St, Cairns QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4041 1000
Opening Hours: Lunch 11.30am – 2pm Tues – Fri, Dinner 5.30pm – 10pm Tues – Sun
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