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German Tucker Wursthouse, Kuranda

The amazing weather that we have been having the last few days reminds me of why I love and live in Cairns. Taking advantage of this weather MS and I decided to go for a drive up the range and head to Kuranda. Why oh why would I want to go to Kuranda you ask? To go to the German Tucker Wursthouse of course. I am one to avoid the little town of Kuranda since it is a bit of a tourist racket and nothing really interests me up there, except the food of course. Another card in the nifty Table 52 pack of cards, which I am absolutely powering through the GTW is across from the park in the main area of shops in the village and packed with people. There is a takeaway grill out the front of the restaurant for walkers-by but we chose to go inside and sit at a table to eat our tasty German Sausages. Being the big man that he is MS ordered two ‘hotdogs’ – one with a Kaseknacker sausage (beef/cheese/smoked/spices) and one with a Thuringer Bratwurst sausage (beef/pork/herbs/pepper/salt/spices). And me being the little person that I am ordered just one hotdog – a Kaseknacker sausage with sauerkraut. The more sauerkraut the better! I could shower in that sh*t it’s so damn good.

Controlled chaos seems to be right at home at the GTW however the owner Patric (the man on the grill) doesn’t miss a beat. Seems at the GTW they rely on the honesty system but if you are not honest don’t think he won’t notice. When you arrive at the restaurant you order your food from Patric (he writes nothing down just somehow remembers it all), grab your drink out of one of the fridges, take a seat and wait for him to bring the hotdogs to you, paying when you leave. MS and I observed a large group of tourists eating hotdogs at a table next to us each with a beer in hand. Upon leaving they went to the register to pay for their meals and ‘accidently’ left off a beer when reciting what they had. That didn’t fly with Patric. He was well aware of how many beers they had consumed and called them on it. And here I was thinking he was just a crazy German with a pair of tongs in his hand. He’s obviously a lot more attentive and good at this ‘running a restaurant’ stuff than I thought. That’s a joke.

Patric

Anyway back to our sausages… On each table there is a bottle of tomato sauce and a bottle of mustard because every good hotdog has to have mustard and tomato sauce on it. The two cheesy sausages (Kaseknacker) arrived first since the Bratwurst was still cooking. MS opted for onion since he doesn’t like sauerkraut and I skipped the onion since I don’t like onion. The hotdogs arrived on simple woven basket type plates served by Patric with a smile. The sausages were big, juicy and firm, the bread rolls were fresh and crusty and the sauerkraut was gooood. MS thought that the bread rolls were too crusty and claimed they were ‘sharp’ and cut into the inside of his mouth. Poor little lamb. I didn’t see a problem with the crustiness of the bread rolls but hey who I am to comment.

Kaseknacker (beef/cheese/smoked/spices) with Sauerkraut (AU$5.50)

Our little trip up to Kuranda solely to go to the German Tucker Wursthouse was well worth the visit and with our Table 52 card cost us less than AU$20 for the two of us. It’s a great little place with a lot of character, a crazy looking but super friendly owner called Patric, super tasty sausages and mountains of sauerkraut for all you sauerkraut lovers out there. But seriously who doesn’t love sausage in and around their mouth? Get to Kuranda STAT.

German Tucker Wurst House

Therwine St, Kuranda QLD 4881

Ph: (07) 4093 7398

Opening Hours: 7 days 10am – 2.30pm

Vibe Bar and Lounge, Cairns

Next stop on the Table 52 bandwagon was Vibe Bar and Lounge for lunch last week. I went to Vibe for dinner on a Tuesday night about a year ago when they had their 2-4-1 burger special. Back then their burgers were huge and I’d have to say one of the best in town. At present I can’t comment on the burgers because I haven’t had one since then. Unfortunately they don’t have their 2-4-1 burger specials anymore but according to the waiter that served us last week the ‘powers that be’ at Vibe decided to make their burgers cheaper everyday instead of just on Tuesday’s. Fair enough. So back to my post… When MS and I went to Vibe for lunch last week we were greeted at the counter by the friendly waiter who took our orders. MS went with the 350g Angus Rump Served With Grilled Vegies and Hollandaise for AU$25 while I figured if I was going to have steak I might as well have seafood too so I ordered the Reef and Beef – 250g Scotch Fillet, QLD BBQ King Prawns, Hollandaise Sauce, French Beans and Sweet and Kipfler Potatoes for AU$25. MS ordered his steak to be cooked Medium while I ordered mine Medium Rare. We opted to sit inside but then decided the atmosphere just wasn’t very pleasant (it is a nightclub) so we moved to an outside table where we could people watch and drool over a group of tourists eating bowls of noodles from next doors Pho ‘n Thai while we waited for our meals (just to clear things up we were drooling over the noodles not the tourists).

Our meals were ready pretty quickly and rightfully so since there was only 3 other occupied tables at this time of day. On bringing the meals out the Hollandaise that was so delicately placed on top of MS’ Rump slid off onto the side. The waiter apologised (no bigie, you can’t help sauce sliding off) and offered to bring out some extra Hollandaise to have on the side. Ever the sauce lover MS accepted the waiters apology and the extra sauce. The waiter also advised me that the chef had given me sirloin and not scotch fillet. He said that the sirloin was a leaner cut of meat than the scotch (what was he trying to say?) and he could have it changed if I so wished. I really couldn’t be bothered to wait for another steak to be cooked for me so I told him not to worry about it and stuck with the sirloin. Shame because I do much prefer scotch fillet.

MS’ enjoyed his steak although it was a little overcooked, probably closer to Well Done than Medium but he’s not one to care too much about that, unlike myself. It was a pretty big meal but then again the steak was 350g. The Grilled Vegies that it came with were exactly the same as what my meal came with (Beans, Sweet and Kipfler Potatoes) so pretty much the only difference was the steaks were a different cut and mine had the additional prawns. The Sweet and Kipfler Potatoes were really yummy and the beans were still crunchy (the way they should be).

350g Angus Rump served with Grilled Vegies and Hollandaise (AU$25)

My Reef and Beef came with three decent sized BBQ King Prawns, which I thought was pretty reasonable but I was horrified to find that they hadn’t been deveined. I’m sorry but you just cannot serve prawns that haven’t been deveined!!! Absolutely not! There is no excuse for it and I am sure that I can vouch for pretty much anyone and everyone that eats prawns when I say that I want my prawns to be cleaned when I eat them. I’m still horrified by the whole affair. You might think I’m being a little over the top but like I have said in a previous post my parents have owned a seafood business (not a Fish and Chip shop) for donkey’s years and I kinda know what I’m talking about. Moving on, the Hollandaise Sauce that was served with both of our meals was flavorless. It didn’t have the eggy/lemony taste that I so love about Hollandaise and instead it tasted like nothing. I was pretty disappointed and considered asking for a bottle of BBQ sauce to compensate.

Reef and Beef – 250g Scotch Fillet, QLD BBQ King Prawns, Hollandaise Sauce, French Beans and Sweet and Kipfler Potatoes for AU$25

I’m not trying to rain on Vibe’s parade because I know they have been putting a lot of money into their advertising particularly that of their cheaper meal deals they have throughout the week. Our meal wasn’t the best meal I have ever had nor was it the worst however I would be pretty pissed if I had paid full price for it. They just need to make a few minor changes to things, first and foremost the prawns need to be deveined and they need to change their Hollandaise Sauce recipe. I’ll be returning for a burger but right now I’m just not feeling the vibe at Vibe.

Vibe Bar and Lounge

39 Lake St, Cairns QLD 4870

Ph: (07) 4052 1494

Opening Hours: Mon – Fri from 10.30am, Sat from 12pm, Sun from 5pm

Website: www.vibebarcairns.com

Watch House Restaurant, Cairns Courthouse Hotel

A couple of weeks ago I went out for dinner with my good friends and brothers LL and AL.  Taking a step aside I asked LL to choose a place to go for dinner on this fine Monday night.  Much to my dismay he chose the Watch House Restaurant at the Cairns Courthouse Hotel because he has ‘always wanted to try it’.  Apparently.  I have been to the Courthouse for lunch maybe about a year ago and found it to be very ordinary and overpriced but since LL agreed to pay (ok I did have my Table 52 card) I agreed to give it another go.  We grabbed a drink at the bar and took a seat in the restaurant where the friendly waitress brought us some menus to look at.  For a Monday night I was surprised at how busy the restaurant was being about half full and with a couple of large groups too.  It certainly seemed pretty popular.  Maybe a little more popular than I had expected.  The menus are huge and that was before I realised that they were double sided.  They do have AU$9.99 specials on from Monday to Friday, this particular night being Pasta but neither of us were keen on that option so we all chose something from the menu.  Sticking with a relatively light and healthy option for myself I chose the Crispy Skin Atlantic Salmon served with a not too sharp Balsamic Glaze for AU$27.90, which also comes with chips.  I swore to myself that I would not eat the chips and leave them on the side of the plate.  Yeah, sure keep telling yourself that…

Seems LL and AL both had a penchant for meat (haha) so they ordered the Rack of Pork Ribs served with Fries and Salad for AU$28.90.  You have to order your meals at the counter which I think is a little steep considering they are nearly AU$30 each.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one that thought this because an American girl that sat down at a table next to us had a similar opinion.  So off we went to the counter to order our meals, or should I say LL and AL went to the counter to order the meals while I closely guarded our table and drinks.

We waited about 20 minutes for our meals to arrive which was pretty good considering how many people were in the restaurant.  As with poached eggs at a cafe, I like to see how well or more importantly not well my salmon is cooked.  On this occasion it was certainly well done and even though LL had stressed for the kitchen to cook it medium rare I had expected as much.  I’m not quite sure what happened to my Balsamic Glaze but there was hardly any on the fillet of Salmon.  The meal was ok but I was pretty disappointed with my overcooked Salmon.  Still I did manage to eat every single one of the chips on my plate.  I’m just a total sucker for chips and BBQ sauce (the BBQ sauce that I had to go and fetch from the kitchen to go with the chips that I wasn’t going to eat mind you).

Crispy Skin Atlantic Salmon served with a not too sharp Balsamic Glaze (AU$27.90)

The Racks of Ribs were big decent serves as you would expect with Racks of Ribs however neither of the boys were particularly impressed with them and after tasting them myself I would have to agree.  The ribs tasted like they had been cooked the previous day and just reheated because they were pretty dry and the BBQ type marinade that they had been basted in was very bland and tasteless.  AL gave his ribs a 7 out of 10 while LL decided on a 6.  (Sorry about the super crap photo below – I was trying to be sneaky.)

Rack of Pork Ribs served with Fries and Salad (AU$28.90)

Seems that the food at the Watch House Restaurant at the Cairns Courthouse hasn’t really changed since I went there over a year ago.  It’s still very ordinary food and if you are expecting to go there for a cheap meal think again (unless you are going there for one of their AU$9.99 meals of course).  I believe that their prices are a little high considering their lack of table service and for what they serve since they are pub meals after all but it seems that a half full restaurant on a Monday night proves differing opinions.

Cairns Courthouse Hotel

38 Abbott St, Cairns QLD 4870

Ph: (07) 4081 7777

Opening Hours: 7 days 12pm till late

Website: www.courthousehotelcairns.com

Lime and Pepper, Palm Cove

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.

Salt and Pepper Squid with Shaved Vegetable Salad, Lychee, Chiili and Tahitian Lime Dressing (AU$18)

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.

Crispy Pork Belly Baguette with Homemade Korean Kimchi, Lemon Scented Mayonnaise and Mixed Greens (AU$18)

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.

Grilled Beef Burger with Tomato Chutney, Vintage Cheddar, Caramelised Onion and Beer Battered Potato Chips (AU$20)

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

Website: www.peppers.com.au/beach-club-spa/

Grill’d, Cairns Esplanade

Went down to Grill’d last week to use my Table 52 card and apparently MS and I were the first people to use ours!  I have avoided Grill’d up until this point mostly due to the fact that I try not to actively encourage myself to eat burgers (despite the content of my next and as yet unwritten post) and also because I tend to think that the burgers are just a little bit expensive at Grill’d.  Not when it’s two for one burgers of course.  Grill’d has a pretty large menu and most if not all of the burgers sound super delicious which made my decision a little difficult.  Long after MS had pinpointed exactly which burger he wanted I was still umming and ahhing.  MS chose the Front Bar Steak Sandwich – Grilled Scotch Fillet, Free Range Egg, Rocket, Tomato, Spanish Onion, Mustard, Beetroot Relish and Herbed Mayo on Ciabatta (AU$16.50).  I was still tossing up between the ‘Baa Baa’ Burger – Grilled Lamb Pattie with Roasted Peppers, Tzatziki, Salad and Relish (AU$13.50) and the Mustard and Pickled – Grilled 100% Lean Beef, Dijon Mustard, Dill Pickle, Tasty Cheese, Salad and Relish (AU$12.50).  In the end I went with the Mustard and Pickled because I just love pickles.  My mum even caught me eating them out of the jar in her fridge the other day and wondered if I was pregnant.  No.  I am not pregnant.  Moving on…

I asked the owner if I could have rocket instead of lettuce on my burger (not a fan of iceberg lettuce because it tastes like leaves – go figure), while MS asked if he could have the Beetroot Relish removed from his burger and I ummed and ahhed about which type of roll I wanted – Panini or Traditional.  None of this was a problem for the friendly man behind the counter who waited patiently while we (I) made up our mind.  He even gave us a taste of the Beetroot Relish to see if he could sway MS into having it on his Steak Sandwich.  He was fighting a losing battle but it was worth a try.  We took a seat and our burgers arrived not long afterwards.  I’m not going to ramble on and on about my burger but it was goooood.  Crispy bun, nice amount of filling, not too much sauce running down my hands and a good size – not too big, not too little.  I really enjoyed my burger and so did MS and it cost us all of about AU$16.50.  How good is that?

Front Bar Steak Sandwich – Grilled Scotch Fillet, Free Range Egg, Rocket, Tomato, Spanish Onion, Mustard, Beetroot Relish and Herbed Mayo on Ciabatta (AU$16.50)

Mustard and Pickled – Grilled 100% Lean Beef, Dijon Mustard, Dill Pickle, Tasty Cheese, Salad and Relish (AU$12.50)

We had a really tasty and relatively healthy lunch at Grill’d and were really impressed by the friendly, ‘of course we can do that for you’ service that we received, not to mention their monthly donations to community groups (see note below).  The burgers at Grill’d are so much tastier and healthier than the alternative fast food burger establishment on the Esplanade (not naming anyone) and probably not far off the price.  I may have used up my 2-4-1 Table 52 Card but I enjoyed my burger so much that I will go back, pay full price and actively encourage myself to eat another burger at Grill’d no worries.

Community Donation Program @ Grill’d (sorry about the dodgy photo)

PS:  Grill’d also has a community donation program which means that every month they donate $500 to the local community.  Everytime you buy a Grill’d burger you get a token that you can put in one of three jars representing three different community groups that have been selected for that month.  This donation program is supported by every Grill’d in the country which is a pretty fantastic idea and also Grill’d way of ‘giving back to the community’.  Good on you guys!

Grill’d Cairns

77 The Esplanade

Ph: (07) 4041 4200

Website: www.grilld.com.au

Opening Hours: Sun – Thur 11am – 10pm, Fri – Sat 11am – 10.30pm

Sauce BBQ Restaurant, Cairns

The first cab off the rank with my deck of Table 52 cards was Sauce BBQ Restaurant for lunch last week.  Since my overseas holiday I have dined out so much it’s ridiculous!  Restaurants that I have dined at include Tosca’s, The Cairns Courthouse, Lime and Pepper, Cafe China, Tha Fish, Perotta’s, Bella Vista, Haveli and On The Inlet just to name a few.  That’s not to say that I am going to review them all but I’ll certainly try.  Back to Sauce… After driving around and around and around looking for a park in the city MS and I decided we might as well head to the Pier, take advantage of their free underground parking and choose a restaurant there (there is only two restaurants at the Pier to choose from in the Table 52 cards, Sauce and Tha Fish).  We chose the ‘sort of new’ Sauce BBQ Restaurant, formerly Cho Gao. 

We took a seat amongst a couple of occupied tables out on the deck since Summer is over and it’s not so damn hot outside.  Although the furnishings and decor at Sauce are modern and stylish I still find the place a litte sterile, just as I found Cho Gao.  I can’t exactly put my finger on it but I think it’s because there seems to be a lot of empty space in what is quite a big restaurant.  The interior just doesn’t seem very inviting.  Still I have dined at Sauce for lunch within a couple of weeks of it opening and really enjoyed it (their sweet potato chips are awesome!) so I figured I should come back and do a post about it.  As we perused the menu the friendly waiter came over and gave us a few pointers i.e. what he recommended and the serving sizes.  MS ordered the Beef Ribs with BBQ Glaze served with Potato Wedges and Salad for AU$30 while I ordered the Surf and Turf Platter for AU$22.  We ordered the Curried Pumpkin Soup with Sour Cream and Crusty Bread for AU$9 as an entree to share.  There were three glaze options for the ribs – BBQ, Bush Plum or Smoked Paprika – but the waiter didn’t give us an option upon ordering, something we didn’t realise till after he had left so MS had to make a trip to the counter to request the BBQ glaze.  We didn’t wait long for the meals to arrive, obviously the Curried Pumpkin Soup arrived first.  The soup was creamy, delicious and definitely had some bite to it.  MS isn’t too keen on hot food but he was still able to eat it so it can’t have been too hot.  Lets just say my background has exposed me to some pretty hot food so it certainly didn’t bother me.  It was a large serving size, even for two and we didn’t finish it all in the end.

Curried Pumpkin Soup, Sour Cream and Crusty Bread – AU$9.00

One of the first things I noticed about my Platter was the presentation however considering that Sauce is owned by the same couple that own Wink II I would expect as much.  It seems Leon’s flair for presentation has rubbed off on the Head Chef at Sauce.  The Surf and Turf Platter had a selection of… well… Surf and Turf of course!  There was some Chicken Skewers, Pork Belly, Chicken Wings, and Prawns with Jamaican Coleslaw and Rice.  I guess it wasn’t really what I expecting (not exactly what I would call a platter) and some of the items on the dish were cold but it was still tasty and considering I didn’t pay for it (cue Table 52 card) it was good enough.  I would however suggest a dipping sauce because it was technically a meat platter and you need sauce for that sh*t!  After all isn’t that what the restaurant is so aptly named after?

Surf and Turf Platter – AU$22

The serve of Beef Ribs was humungous!  The waiters recommendation to have the Beef Ribs when MS said he was ‘starving’ was a pretty good steer in the right direction.  They were super tender and succulent with the meat just falling off the bone.  There was so much that I even managed to snavel a whole Beef Rib all to myself simply because MS couldn’t finish the meal.  I find Beef Ribs, like Lamb Shanks, to be very rich probably due to the fat content so I can never eat very much of them and this was also the case for MS, still he did manage to make quite a dint in his meal and he enjoyed it.

Beef Ribs with your choice of BBQ, Bush Plum or Smoked Paprika Glaze served with Potato Wedges and Salad (AU$30.00)

I really hope that Sauce does well unlike the previous restaurant in the same position.  Unfortunately everytime I walk past there doesn’t seem to be anyone there.  Like I said at the beginning of this post it might be due to the sterile atmosphere but also might be because people haven’t yet realised that it’s no longer Cho Gao.  I’m not going to say that Sauce is really good because it’s not but I’m also not going to say that it’s really bad because it’s not.  Sauce has real potential to be a great restaurant and there are some delicious sounding dishes on the menu that I am definitely going to go back and try.  Go and check it out and let me know what you think, especially if you have a pack of Table 52 cards, and if you don’t then why not huh?

Sauce Restaurant

The Pier, Pier Point Rd, Cairns QLD 4870

Ph: (07) 4041 6991

Website: www.saucerestaurant.com.au

Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 8.30am – 5.00pm, Sat – Sun 11.30am – 11pm

Table 52, 2012 Edition

I have to apologise to the foodvixen readers since I haven’t posted anything on my blog for almost two weeks…  No it’s not because I am slack, it’s because I have been overseas on a holiday since mid Feb.  I’m back now and on returning last week was pleasantly surprised to find out that the very popular Table 52 cards have been re-released for 2012.  According to the pack each Table 52 card entitles you to one complimentary main course when another of equal or greater value is purchased.  You can buy the 2012 Edition Table 52 cards online at www.table52.net.au for under AU$40.  With restaurants ranging from Ochre to German Tucker Wurst Haus to Grill’d there is something for everyone and a great way to try out new restaurants.  I bought a pack from a Cairns newsagent back in 2010 when they were released and even though I only used maybe half of those cards I still found them to be fantastic value and was sad to hear that they wouldn’t be releasing the cards for 2011.  However it seems the crew at Table 52 got their act together for 2012 because I bought my deck of cards online three days ago and they arrived in the mail today!  Now I just have to decide where I’m going to dine first!

Driftaway’s On The Water, Yorkeys Knob Boat Club

I’m just a regular person that enjoys food, enjoys eating out and enjoys writing about it.  As an anonymous diner I do not, nor do I want to, get any benefits or perks from the places that I dine at.  It must also be said that all restaurants that I review do not know that I am going to be writing about them.  As a local that wants to support the cafes and restaurants of Cairns I don’t particularly want to write bad reviews but sometimes it’s deserved and the experience just can’t go untold.   A few days ago I had the unfortunate experience of having dinner at Driftaways On The Water at Yorkeys Knob Boat Club.  It was not my choice (I wanted to go to the new Indian restaurant at Harbour Lights) however my friend that chose to dine there soon regretted it also.  I have dined at Driftaway’s once before for the $10 a dozen oysters on Saturday’s and found it to be pretty good but then again how hard is it to stuff up natural oysters?  You really just have to put them on a plate with a bit of lemon and away you go.  This time however we were there on a Friday night so there were no $10 a dozen oysters to order.  We perused the dinner menu and my friend ST opted for the Salmon Pasta described as Penne Pasta with Atlantic Salmon, Capers, Spanish Onion, Cherry Tomato and Baby Spinach in a Light Cream reduction (AU$24), while I opted for the Tiger Prawn Spring Rolls as a main (AU$19).  We decided we would share a Traditional Bruchetta Bread (AU$9.50).  I’m pretty sure it’s spelt ‘Bruschetta’ with an ‘S’.  We asked for all the meals to be brought out together which they were and in good time too but the food was terrible.  The Bru(s)chetta Bread was stale and I mean REALLY stale.  They had used stale bread and tried to toast it to hide the staleness of the bread.  They didn’t toast it nearly long enough to do this.  I took it back and they brought out ‘fresh’ bread (or was it just different pieces from the same loaf toasted longer this time?)  ST thought her Salmon Pasta was horrible and asked me to taste it to see if it tasted ok.  Ok is an overstatement.  Let’s just say the Salmon Pasta wasn’t what either of us expected it to be especially for the price.  My Tiger Prawn Spring Rolls, well in my exact words ‘tasted like food poisoning’.  We ate half a spring roll each and left the rest.  I’m surprised I didn’t get an upset stomach from them.  I don’t think I need to say anymore on the matter or Driftaway’s.  The service I must admit was pretty good despite having to order your meals at the counter but the food is atrocious and no restaurant should serve food of such poor quality, ever.

Driftaway’s On The Water

Ph: (07)  4055 7711

Opening Hours: Dinner 6pm – 9pm daily

Website: www.ykbc.com.au

El Mundo Tapas Bar, Edge Hill *CLOSED DOWN*

By complete coincidence I was invited by friends (BC, JuC and JoC) to dine at El Mundo Tapas Bar in Edge Hill on the same day that they made the front page of The Cairns Post and voted by Trip Advisor to be the number 1 restaurant to dine out in Cairns out of a whopping 177 restaurants. Do we really have that many restaurants in Cairns? Sheesh! I was certainly in luck to be going to El Mundo and also lucky that my friends had booked a few days prior because the place was absolutely packed out. I have noticed that when El Mundo first opened mid last year there was a couple of tables inside and a couple of tables outside. Since then that number has grown and now they simply cannot fit anymore tables outside. The entire sidewalk is now taken up by tables and chairs full of happy diners enjoying their tapas. I have dined at El Mundo previously and even attempted to review it but the pictures I took were so damn dodgy (even more so than usual) due to the poor lighting where I was seated that I decided it wasn’t worth doing a post. On this occasion however I had ample lighting to take pictures of the delicious plates of tapas that were arriving at our table. Now for those that haven’t been to El Mundo Tapas Bar before every month they feature a different type of cuisine. This month (December) is Turkish Month, while a few months ago when I last dined there it was Sri Lankan month. Along with their regular menu of mouth watering tapas they feature a selection of dishes from that particular country and instead of having waiters coming around and taking your order (they do take your drink order in a very timely fashion and regularly replace your water bottles) each table gets a little blackboard and some chalk to write down a selection of tapas of their choice from the tantalising menu. The waiter then comes and retrieves the blackboard from your table and ‘VOILA’! Your order has been placed. The blackboard ordering system is a fun and unique way of ordering your dishes.

Ordering via blackboard

Now the restaurant was packed this particular Thursday night (I even saw them turning people away) but the food still arrived in ample time and we weren’t waiting long for our first batch of blackboard choices to arrive. First up we went with a mix of both Turkish themed tapas and some of the usual thoroughfare that they have every month. Ever the chilli lovers BC and I both gushed about the ‘Chilli Rellenos’ on the menu, having tried them previously and I have to say they are my favourite item on the menu. First to come out was the C & L Garlic Beef, Soy marinated tender chunks of bite sized beef served with zesty lime and peanut dipping sauce (AU$7.50). The beef was tender and juicy and although JoC had a bit of trouble getting the pieces onto her fork she certainly enjoyed this dish. JuC announced that having previously tried this dish it was in fact one of her favourites.

C & L Garlic Beef – Soy marinated tender chunks of bite sized beef served with a zesty lime and peanut dipping sauce (AU$7.50)

Next came the Chilli Rellenos, Jalapeno Chillies stuffed with Cheddar and Bacon and lightly fried in Tempura Batter (AU$6.90). These are a little bit spicy but OMG they are amazing and I could eat them, as my mum would say ’till the cows come home’. Apparently they are one of the favourites on the menu with customers. These were so good that we just had to order another plate because one chilli was not enough! I could have even gone a third plate! YUM just doesn’t cut it!

Chilli Rellenos – Jalapeno Chillies stuffed with Cheddar and Bacon and lightly fried in Tempura Batter (AU$6.90)

The vegetarian Gozleme, Crispy Turkish Style Pastries stuffed with a Fresh Spinach, Herb and Fetta Centre (AU$7.90), was the next item brought to our table. These were simply delicious and everyone at the table commented on how tasty they were. You could taste the fresh herbs that were enveloped in the crispy pastry and they tasted authentically homemade.

Gozleme – Crispy Turkish Style Pastries stuffed with a Fresh Spinach, Herb and Fetta Centre (AU$7.90)

After round one of our tasty tapas we were ready to order some more. Our resident scribe JuC neatly wrote down some more dishes that we collectively chose and sent the blackboard off with the next available waiter. Soon after the first dish of our second round of tapas arrived, The Turkish Dips, described as a Trio of flavoursome Turkish inspired dips: Roasted Red Pepper and Fetta Hummus, Eggplant and Black Olive and Spinach and Yogurt served with Grilled Flatbread (AU$7.90). There was eight pieces of flatbread all up, enough for two each which was handy because I’m not the best sharer. The dips were delicious but the spinach and yogurt one was definitely my favourite.

The Turkish Dips -A trio of flavoursome Turkish inspired dips: Roasted Red Pepper and Fetta Hummus, Eggplant and Black Olive and Spinach and Yogurt served with Grilled Flatbread (AU$7.90)

Following closely after this dish was the Pistachio Crusted Trout described on the menu as ‘Fresh trout pieces coated with a crispy pistachio and thyme crust, served with spicy herbed yogurt (AU$8.90). One of my pet hates is overcooked seafood , whether it be at a friends place or out at a restaurant some people just can’t get it right (not me of course because I AM a fantastic cook) but here at El Mundo they certainly got it right. The trout was cooked perfectly, not overcooked, not undercooked but just right. It literally melted in my mouth and my dinner buddies who sometimes aren’t too fond of seafood ‘oohed’ and ‘ahhed’ about how yummy the bite sized morsels of trout were.

Pistachio Crusted Trout – Fresh Trout Pieces Coated with a Crispy Pistachio and Thyme Crust served with Spicy Herbed Yogurt (AU$8.90)

Keeping with the seafood theme we continued on with the Calamari (AU$7.90) and the Coconut Prawns served with Mango and Lime Salsa (AU$9.90). The Calamari was cut into strips and lightly fried with a salt and pepper coating. A very simple dish but again so many places stuff it up. Not El Mundo though, their Calamari was superb and a really generous serving (still I was glad we chose to order two plates).

Calamari – Tender Calamari Strips Lightly Fried with a Salt and Pepper Coating (AU$7.90)

The Coconut Prawns were nice and big with crunchy coconut on the outside and juicy and tender prawn on the inside, accompanied perfectly with the zesty Mango and Lime Salsa. These little babies were snapped up pretty damn quickly and even after the prawns were long gone I was eating the salsa on its own because it was so yummy and I just couldn’t let it go to waste!

Coconut Prawns – Crispy Coconut Prawns served with a fresh and tangy Mango and Lime Salsa (AU$9.90)

Our last savoury dish of the night was the Camembert, bite sized pieces crumbed and lightly fried, served with Roasted Pepper Sauce (AU$7.90). Well, what more can I say because who doesn’t love cheese and even better… melted cheese? Perfect melt in your mouth morsels of cheese! BC even finished off the Roasted Pepper Sauce after the cheese was gone so that didn’t make me feel so bad for finishing off the Mango and Lime Salsa.

Camembert – Bite sized pieces of Camembert, crumbed and lightly fried, served with a Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (AU$7.90)

Having finished our tapas selection for the evening (I still could have eaten some more of those Chillis) we looked towards the dessert menu which was personally brought out by the man of the moment co-owner of El Mundo Tapas Bar Mark. He had a bit of a joke and a laugh with us and thanked us for coming along before introducing us to the dessert menu and giving us a bit of a rundown of what was what. There was five options to choose from on the menu including Pavlova, Creme Brûlée, Sticky Date Pudding and Affogato. While BC opted for the ‘I will have a taste of everyone else’s and not order my own’ approach, the remaining three at the tabe including myself ordered two Plum Pudding Ice Creams and a Chocolate Brownie (that was me).

It didn’t take our desserts long to arrive and when they did our mouths all watered at the size of the warm Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream that was placed in front of me. I did have this Brownie on my previous visit to El Mundo and it was mouthwatering. This time was no different except this time I am sure the serving was much bigger. The Brownie literally melted in my mouth and it was light and fluffy and not too rich. Everyone else at the table had a taste and agreed it was delectable. Needless to say despite the portion size I finished the entire dish spurred on by the huge effort I had put in at the gym earlier that day (hey I deserved it!).

Choc Brownie (AU$9.90)

JuC and JoC both tucked into their Plum Pudding Ice Cream, which again was a nice big serve and they most certainly enjoyed it. I’m not the biggest fan of currants and the like so I had a small taste but it wasn’t for me (probably because I was way too distracted by the giant Brownie). Since its so close to Christmas it was nice to have a little bit of festivity on the menu along with the other yummy but classic dessert options.

Christmas Cake Ice Cream (AU$9.90)

While eating my dining companions and I discussed our current Mayoral situation, BC’s new stereo system and T-Box and the risks associated with opening a new restaurant in Cairns particularly in a residential area. Owners of El Mundo Tapas Bar Mark and Carlie have obviously overcome any hurdles that may have stood in their way by creating a fantastic owner run establishment with a homely, friendly and laidback feel to it. Mark chatting with us while he took our dessert orders gave our dining experience that nice personal touch and its easy to see that although he is a very busy man he still takes time out to show appreciation to his diners. The food is delicious, the service is personal and the prices are reasonable as are the serving sizes. The people have spoken and if the packed tables of happy customers are anything to go by El Mundo is soon to become a Cairns institution. Well done to Mark and Carlie on your little gem of a restaurant in the heart of Edge Hill!

El Mundo Tapas Bar

3/124 Collins Ave, Edge Hill

Ph: (07) 4032 0550

Opening Hours: Wed – Sun 5.30pm till late

Website: www.elmundotapas.com.au

Iyara Restaurant and Bar, Cairns Esplanade

Another Friday night and another attempt by my friends and I to stay away from the pubs and clubs.  This time we decided to go to Iyara Restaurant and Bar upstairs at what used to be (back in the day) The Chapel.  I dined at Iyara about a year ago and found the food delicious so I thought it was worthy of another visit.  On arrival we were greeted by the owner Feng who we chatted with about the mysteries of the universe while we ordered some drinks from the Drinks Menu.  JM and FM decided to stick with the risque jug of water while myself and HH went for an alcoholic beverage each (beer and wine).  As is typical when dining with HH we go ‘the whole hog’ as the saying goes, no expense spared and its always a pleasure.  We asked our host to choose 4 entree meals for us followed by 4 mains.  He asked if there was anything that we particularly wanted to try and I mentioned a Chicken and Lemongrass dish that I had spied on the list of mains that sounded particularly tasty, other than that Feng had free range to choose our dishes for us.

 

One of the best things about Iyara Restaurant and Bar is the decor and the view.  We were seated out on the balcony, overlooking the esplanade.  The city was alive with people strolling along the foreshore and the full moon rising against the mountain backdrop.  Inside, the atmosphere in the restaurant is relaxing yet classy with candles flickering, comfy couches, oriental vases and sleek wooden floors.  It didn’t take long for our entrees to arrive and it wasn’t just my camera (ok iPhone) that emerged to take photos of them.  The entrees looked and tasted delicious.  Feng gave us a rundown of the entrees that he has selected for us paying particular attention to the Mieng Kham – Betel Leaf Served with Shrimp, Coconut, Ginger, Peanut, Chilli and Fresh Lime (AU$15).  He told us that this entree either needed to be eaten first or last to truly taste the dish.  Since it looked so good, it got eaten first.  Everyone thought it was divine and I found myself a little sad that we only got one each.  Oh well, onto the other entrees.

Mieng Kham – Betel Leaf Served with Shrimp, Coconut, Ginger, Peanut, Chilli and Fresh Lime (AU$15)

Next entree was the Pla Hoy Shell – Thai Spicy Salad, Warm Scallop, Fresh Herbs, Lemongrass, Kaffir Lime Leaves and Mint (AU$18).  Each was served on a white porcelain appertizer spoon (i.e. just one mouthful) and the flavours of sweet, sour and chilli along with the plump, juicy scallop was the perfect blend for this delectable entree.

Pla Hoy Shell – Thai Spicy Salad, Warm Scallop, Fresh Herbs, Lemongrass, Kaffir Lime Leaves and Mint (AU$18)

Next entree was the Goong Hom Pha – Prawn Wrapped in Rice Paper Served with Homemade Chilli Sauce (AU$16).  The prawns were nice and big and the rice paper wrapped around them was golden and crisp.  These entrees were so crispy I even ate the prawn tail (yum).  Again I found myself wishing that we didn’t just get to eat one each.

Goong Hom Pha – Prawn Wrapped in Rice Paper Served with Homemade Chilli Sauce (AU$16)

The last entree of the night was the Tod Mun Pla – Fish Cakes with Snake Bean, Lime Leaf, Crushed Peanut and Sweet Chilli Sauce (AU$17).  The fish cakes were, well, they tasted like any other Thai Fish Cakes that I have had.  Not to say that they weren’t yummy but compared to the other entrees they weren’t particularly exciting.

Tod Mun Pla – Fish Cakes with Snake Bean, Lime Leaf, Crushed Peanut and Sweet Chilli Sauce (AU$17)

Now onto the mains…  They arrived in good time as we were only left waiting for about 20 minutes.  Along with my Chicken and Lemongrass dish (Gai Takroi) Feng had chosen us the Gaeng Massaman Neur – Rich Massaman Curry of Chuck Beef, Potato, Peanut and Shallot (AU$28), Pla Sam Rod – Boned Fried Whole Barramundi with a Hot, Sweet and Sour Sauce Garnished with Thai Basil (AU$34), Pad Pak – A Fresh Stir Fry of Green Asian Vegetables with Thai Basil (AU$19).  Feng served us each a portion of steamed Jasmine Rice each and we all tucked into the mains in front of us (sharing of course).  The Gai Takroi was placed closest to me so naturally I tried that one first.  The chicken served in bite sized pieces was succulent and tender.  Everyone enjoyed this dish.

Gai Takroi – Marinated Grilled Chicken with Lemongrass, Peanut and Tamarind Sauce (AU$26)

I’ll be honest, I didn’t try the Stir fry vegetables for two reasons.  It was placed at the opposite end of the table so it was a bit out of reach (yeah, ok I could have asked FM to pass it up) and secondly because I just don’t like bean sprouts.  Again everyone else seemed to enjoy it but there was a little over half of it left by the end of the meal.  I can only guess this is because the other non-vegetarian dishes were well, non-vegetarian.

Pad Pak – A Fresh Stir Fry of Green Asian Vegetables with Thai Basil (AU$19).

The Massaman Curry was probably my highlight of the dishes that Feng chose for us.  The meat was tender, the potato nice and soft and the sweet sauce was fantastic drizzled over my Jasmine Rice.  This dish was delicious but I do have a massive weak spot for Massaman Curry at the best of times.  HH and JM, however were also digging into this dish and enjoying it immensely so I guess it wasn’t just me.

Gaeng Massaman Neur – Rich Massaman of Chuck Beef, Potato, Beef and Shallot (AU$28)

Lastly, was the Whole Barramundi and wow did it look good.  Once again everyones cameras or phones came out to take a picture of the meal.  The Barramundi had been deep fried whole with bite sized pieces of fish fillet for us to share around.  Once that was gone however the crispy fish was broken into pieces and eaten skeleton and all by the four of us.  I asked Feng where he sourced the Barramundi from and he said that it was farmed Barramundi from Australia.  The reason that he bought farmed Barramundi to serve at Iyara is because of its bred to plate size (something I did actually already know but I thought I would ask anyway).

Pla Sam Rod – Boned Fried Whole Barramundi with a Hot, Sour, Sweet Sauce Garnished with Thai Basil (AU$34)

We all enjoyed our meal at Iyara Restaurant and Bar so much so that my friend FM was raving about the Barramundi for the next week until she went back and ordered it again.  The atmosphere is fantastic and would be a good choice for a romantic dinner on the balcony for two.  The service however was lacking in some areas and while our waters and drinks were topped up at the beginning of the night it seems we were forgotten about after that.  It was also very difficult to get anyones attention if you wanted another drink.  Feng however was a gratuitous and friendly host, it was more the rest of the staff that let down the service.  From the entrees to the mains the food was delicious but paying upward of AU$28 for a Thai dish is (I think) a little steep, especially when the service is lacking.  The restaurant was quite full on this particular Friday night but there was still plenty of room down the back for more diners.  If more people had come the three wait staff would not have been able to keep up at all considering they were struggling with the number of people already there.  If the service was improved I would have no problem paying the higher price for these meals but as it stands hmmm I think I might stick to the cheaper Thai restaurants in town.  But then again, that Massaman Curry was pretty damn good.

Iyara Restaurant and Bar

91 Esplanade, Cairns QLD 4870

Ph: (07) 4041 4748

Opening Hours: Open till late for dinner 7 days