Friday, March 17, 2017

Siam by the Sea, Port Douglas

All right, a few days into Port Douglas, and we had tried, Aussie brekkie’s, Mexican, Irish pubs, modern Australian, Italian. Last night, tired after a day long drive up to Cape Tribulation and further into the dirt track towards Cooktown, we returned in the evening, settled for a few pints at the local Irish Pub, followed by a long discussion and  a soul searching journey to think what we wanted to eat tonight. No to a lot of things, and it finally settled down to Thai food. Something flavorsome, spicy, and bold flavors, which would hopefully open the chakras of taste on the tongue on this cool, windy, drizzly evening. The best nights in life are when you have the best company, best weather, a few drinks and an amazing food followed by desserts, a drive of the SUV with the windows open alongside the road lined with palm trees on one end and beach on the other.

Well, the plans were perfect and we head into Siam by the Sea, at approx. 8:30 P.M. and looked like a descent place. Casual, seating outside on the pavement as well in the store. Now, we look at the menu and are quite used to ordering the regular fare of chicken satays and money bag. So we order the seared scallops in tamarind sauce. The other starter we order is the prawns crumbed with coconut and  deep fried. For mains, we ordered a stir fry.

When the seared scallops arrived, the presentation was wow. Pretty spectacular and posh. Served in single soup spoons, with a tamarind sauce and seared scallop, it looked pretty amazing.  Taste wise, interesting. A bit sweet, but worth the try.

The fried prawns crumbed with coconut is something I have had a number of places and this one here was no different. Basic shredded coconut, fresh prawns but no flavors. Only a simple sweet chilli sauce by the side. The prawn was fresh, but somewhere, the batter had nothing in it. Just too basic and bland.

The next came our main course. We had decided to go for a stir fry and  not for curry and had asked even for the recommendation from the person serving us as well. The stir fry with basic veggies and prawns, was the biggest disappointment. There was simply no flavor. Just very basic and no taste. We usually get into Thai joints expecting, strong and bold flavors, but to me this place missed the mark. Be it the scallops, or the crumbed prawns and same with the stir fry, all in all, just lacking flavors.  If I could say this is one place I would not like to visit again.

Shop 2 28 Wharf St | 07 4099 4384, Port Douglas, Queensland 4877, Australia
+61 7 4099 4384

Siam by the Sea Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Cafe FresQ, Port Douglas

All right, the third day of our visit at Port Douglas and I continue the search for the best breakfast. Something different, something flavoursome. Something different from the regular stuff. And here we were at Café FresQ. Early in the morning, again, regular café and seems quite popular. It was so full to my surprise.
We settled in on a cool cloudy morning, to start off with a cup of coffee and looked into the menu.

Well, to begin with, the coffee was great. A good start! The menu, while it had its share of the regular stuff like eggs benedicts, toasts, museli, pancakes, what caught me was the Bills Full Irish. It had the black and white pudding, scrambled eggs, bacon, mushrooms, pork chipolatas. It was quite a lot of breakfast to be honest. I mean, all this much food, along with a potato rosti, grilled tomato. Just too much food. 

Well, again, to be honest, the food was descent, regular brekkie fare. Herb mushrooms, grilled tomato, scrambled eggs. All freshly made. A part of me always wishes for something new and something piping hot, even if it’s the eggs. A normal issue I face in most Aussie breakfast places- the scrambled is cold and pre made. Anyways for the part  of me craving something new, it was the black and white pudding.  Now I didn’t know what it was initially, but turns out to be blood sausages with pork blood in the black pudding. Well, hearing about it did make it weird for me, and then I did taste it. To be honest, it was herby, flavored and a bit gritty. All in all, it was okay, nice to have tried something new, but probably something I didn’t relish too much. The potato rosti was good, crispy, fried. Along with the whole brekkie deal was the mug barry’s tea. A whole big cup of tea.

The other thing we tried out over here, was the corn and zucchini fritters. Good, fresh fitters and quite delicious. Liked the presentation, they had a grey plate with green spinach leaves as the bed, corn fritter on top stacked up and topped with a beautiful, colorful and vibrant tomato salsa and a green fresh pesto. They had avocado and whipped feta as these cute little circular snail shell like drops.  Along side came a fresh tomato and chilli relish, which just completed the circle of taste. All in all, I loved this one, it had great flavors, colors and the kind of thing I want in my brekkie.
All in all, this is quite a good and favorite spot amongst the tourists.  Diagonally opposite is the Port Douglas visitor center. It’s a good spot to sit down and relax over the day or early in the morning, as you have relaxed breakfast reading you local newspaper.


27 Macrossan St, Port Douglas QLD 4877

Cafe Fresq Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Little Larder, Port Douglas

The Little Larder, Port Douglas
All right, this one is about a breakfast place we ventured into at Port Douglas. Again, over all these years, breakfast is a big fascination whenever we are at holiday.  A perfect start to a day is with a great breakfast. We ended up at the little larder, looking at great reviews online. A regular café at Macrossan St, Port Douglas. Quite busy as expected. We go in and wait for 5-10 minutes before getting a seat outside on the street. The ambience is relaxed and casual. People can sit inside in the café or outside, at the porch and surrounds or at the street. A look at the menu and its qute the typical breakfast menu. Initially when I was new in Australia, about 10 years back, I always had this feeling of wpow – so many new things to try. But perhaps now, after all these years, the brekkie menu is all about toasts, bacon, eggs, mushrooms, or a granola bowl, muselli or vegetable fritters. Well, over here, a similar menu. There were toasts, poached ocean trout, mushrooms on toasts, buttermilk waffles. White beans shukshuka and then the regular eggs and bacon.
Well, we ordered one was a brekkie which was the onesie with extra mushroom ragu. So the onesie had a wood fired toasted ciabatta, topped with a strip of smoked bacon and poached egg. This came along with the extra of one mushroom ragu, which was basically, wild mushrooms in truffle oil. To accompany this what caught my attention was the Punjabi chai. I did ask if it was with milk and yes it was.
My friend ordered another similar one- this was the vegetable onesie. This one again had a toasted ciabatta bread, topped with Haloumi, scrambled eggs, slow roasted tomato and loads of bacon. This one was beautifully decorated plate with a green herby sauce spread all around the plate. The drink which was ordered with this one was a house made lemonade with fresh turmeric and ginger.
Well, the food was descent and okay. Did it wow me? Perhaps no! But did I like the food.Yes. Descent quality food, nice spot to sit around and relax. The eggs, I wish were a bit warmer, which is usually my complain with most places. Similarly here, the poached eggs was too cold for my liking. The Punjabi chai, to be honest had got me excited, thinking this might be a good masala tea, but unfortunately, this was a regular tea with spices, kind of reminded me of Chai Latte to be honest. Likewise for my friend, the house made lemonade with fresh ginger and turmeric, turned out to be a disappointment.  The overall quality of food is good, the produce is descent, the double smoked bacon and all. Presentation is descent as well. May be its me, that has got used to the regular brekkie fare, but you know what, I might come here again, to try something else.

2/40 Macrossan St, Port Douglas, QLD
Phone number
(07) 4099 6450

Little Larder Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Salsa Bar & Grill, Port Douglas

All right this one is about Salsa Bar and Grill. Now when you hear the name, you’d probably be thinking if this is a Mexican joint. One of the top rated restaurant in Port Douglas, this one specializes into sea food and modern Australian cuisine. Now on our first night at Port Douglas, we walked and walked and confuse what to have. There are probably the highest density of high end restaurants and that too into Italian, Seafood and Modern Australian cuisine- more than any other tourist place in Australia.

Eventually, with all the confusion and the walking, we decided to check out the popular one Salsa. Now, initially there were no seats available as we didn’t have a reservation- so a must for tourists- please do make reservations as this place can get really busy. Décor wise, very good. Light colored and open front makes it a very nice comfortable relaxing place. The staff is great. Very cordial friendly and informative. We looked through the menu and started with direct mains. Now mind you, this is a pricy restaurant, about $$$ out of $$$$. Most of the entrees are about $20. Now while we had to wait and come back again for getting a table, we had ended up at the nearby pub for a few pints and cheesy garlic bread. So we opted directly into the mains. We ordered two dishes- one which was a fish- a local catch. I opted for the chicken dish. For sides we ordered the Szechwan peppered chat potatoes.

Now to begin with the chicken dish- it was called the Ballotine of chicken – with ricoota gnudi, speck, Brussel sprounts bonne femme. It had crispy skinned chicken breast, finely cut into two pieces, layered with diced chat potatoes, brussel sprouts, and a branch of green peppercorn. Well to begin with, the presentation was fantastic and what you’d expect from top end restaurant.Next, the chicken was cooked immaculately, not too much to make it too dry and not too little to make it raw. It was juicy. The skin was crisp and great at well. There was a bit of a sauce on the plate- which was slightly sweet. Now to be honest, while it was cooked perfectly, I wondered if it could have been more flavorsome. You know what I mean- it checks all the boxes of quality, presentation etc. but it make you wish for something more. And that was when I had a few of the green peppercorns and realized, this completed the dish. The green peppercorn spring, as you plucked off a few, they were moderate hot and it balanced the chicken, potatoes and slightly sweet sauce that came with it. So all in all a good dish. Would I have it again? May be, or may be try something new.

The fish which was on the specials was also pretty good. Served on a white plate with snow peas and asparagus steamed on the base. The two pieces of fresh local fish, pan fried and placed on top of the asparagus, topped with a sort of red tomato sauce. Again, presentation was amazing. The fish was fresh and my friend loved it. There were a few baby tomatoes, some tomato relish on the top and a few snow peas. Overall, the dish looked great, fresh local fish which tasted awesome as well.

For sides, we ordered the Szechuan peppered chat potatoes. Now this was a bit of a disappointment. Purely because of what I expected vs what I got. For me I thought it would be spicy, more with a Szechaun sauce or something. This turned out to be okayish types. Didn’t really impress me.

Along side we had a Mango Nut Cockatail. Malibu, Frangelico and Mango, belnded with coconut cream. Looked wow. My Take, I wish it was a bit sweeter and a bit stronger. 

Like seriously, a cocktail, which makes you wonder if there is any alcohol!

Overall, it’s a good place to be in Port Douglas. The food is fresh. Sea food is the speciality, really fresh. The presentation of dishes is spectacular.  Service is great. All in all, it’s a good bar and grill, if you are after some classy fare of grilled modern Australian cuisine.

Personally, I am a more of a person who loves more pronounced flavors in my eating, and this place for me was about an average. Sometimes even with the best presentation and fine dine you still wish for a little bit more, and that was me. I liked the food, I’d definitely recommend this place to try out once. 

Salsa Bar & Grill
26 Wharf Street,
Port Douglas QLD 4877

+61 7 4099 4922

Salsa Bar & Grill Menu,
Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Mexican, Port Douglas

All right, this one is about our second night at Port Douglas. After a long day across the Mossman Gorge, we dressed up and decided to go for Mexican. Now, in port Douglas, there are a number of eateries and most of them pretty high end and expensive. There are the usual pubs with pub food, and then there are a lot of restaurants with celebrity chefs and mostly into the Modern Australian cuisine or Italian food. Unlike most holiday destinations where you get a good mix of high, end, middle end and then cheap eats, Port Douglas usually has a high percentage of the expensive restaurants. Anyways, when you holiday, you got to party in style.
The Mexican it was. Now one night before, on our first night, we walked the main street and looked at the places and the reviews on Trip Advisor. While we settled for another restaurant on the first night, I had made a mental note of this place for a must visit. Why? I’m glad you asked. As I walked outside this restaurant, the fragrance and aroma had me intoxicated and hungry. So, second night, there was no other thing than the Mexican.
To begin with, it’s a small eatery along with outside seating on the pavement. We settled for a seat outside and looked through the menu. To start with, I ordered for a Classic Margherita, while my friend ordered the Watermelon Daiquiri. Now, I am usually not too keen for cocktails, given that they cost 20 bucks and then hardly have any alcohol. I was thinking if I should have a beer or not. Anyways, settled  with the margherita. For starters, we ordered the Jalapeno Poppers and the Hot Wings.
Well, the Margherita’s were absolutely awesome. Wow! What a punch. Two of these babies and you just love the world. The watermelon Daiquiri was also pretty good and very tasty.
The jalapeno poppers were really good. Loved it. Served with Philly cream cheese and mango ketchup, it was really good. Although, I got to admit, I have had far more hotter poppers, but nonetheless, it was good, specially with the cream cheese filling and the mango sauce.
The next one is the Hot Wings. Now wings is an emotional subject for me. Back in Sydney and most of Australia, when you order chicken wings, they are either simply deep fried in itself along with some sweet chilly sauce, or else, they may be sticky and gooey, glazed in some kind of a hickory barbecue sauce. But the wings here in Port Douglas are so different. What they do is that they take the wing, they marinate it, then they give it an egg wash followed by a run thorugh the crumbs before deep frying it. The result is an extremely beautiful looking gorgeous flavoursome and crunchy chicken wing. Now these chicken wings are hot and served with carrots and celery sticks along with blue cheese. Wow! One of the best chicken wings I have had. Purely for their crunch. Gorgeous looking golden orangish wings and to cool off, blue cheese sauce. Um.! Highly recommended.
Next comes the mains. We decided to order tacos. We were not to keen for nachos or burritos. So tacos it was. The first one was the ranchero beef mince. The second taco was the Shredded Chicken. The third taco was the Fiery Crocodile. Now when they came over, I tried to guess which one was which and got it totally wrong. The Fiery Crocodile was what I guess was the chicken. It was very interesting. Tasted a bit like chicken and bit like fish. Looked like chicken. Very tasty and I was quite sceptical to try it initially, but glad that if I tried it, it was in a Mexican taco along with lot of spices. The habanero sauce made it pretty hot.
Next was the ranchero mince, which was pretty good again, mince along with green chillies, jalapenos and cheese sauce, which gave it a very good mix of mince, heat and cheesy. Loved it. This was my second best one.  The last was the chicken which was descent, a bit simple though. Shredded chicken, guacamole, and grape tomatoes. Pretty descent again.
Now with this and the two margheritas I was still a bit hungry- and I ordered the Pulled Pork taco and Quesadilla.  The pulled pork taco was also delicious, not too hot and served with a pineapple salsa and fresh spring onions.
I was excited by the fact that it would have chorizo. I did think it would be filled with chorizos and hot sauce. It was served similar to the Indian Paranthas to be honest. It had a filling of potatoes, chorizo and hot sauce. It was quite filling and to be honest, different but tasty.
Now what’s very exciting is that this small little eatery, has something called as a wall of heat. It has a wall with all the different hot sauces across the world. I did have a chat with the lady at the counter and got to know that the one which is the hottest one is a small bottle called Blair’s Ultra Death. There was a warning on the bottle and well, I said lets try a drop. Let me tell you- one or two drops and it was this intense heat. Man, I have never had anything so hot. Unbelievable crazy!
Overall, this is a great place, I loved my evening. Great ambience, cute small place. And yes, the staff is so friendly. I would love to come to this place again.
The Mexican Menu, Reviews,
Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

La Pizza Trattoria, Cairns

All right, fresh into Cairns for a second time and I am starving and walk down the Esplanade for a quick meal before we drive down towards Port Douglas. Decide to settle in for a pizza at La Pizza Trattoria. There were a few pizza joints, but most of them seemed to be pub food. A good sunny day and quite humid though for a Sydney sider, we decide to settle down.

Look at the menu and I decide to order a large pizza, with a half half. One half I order is the supreme. The other one is the caprice. The supreme comes with tomato mozzarella, smoked ham, salami, onion fresh capsicum, pineapple and anchovies and balck olives. Not being a fan of anchovies and pineapple and request them to replace with Jalapeno’s. The other half being caprice, had the tomato mozzarella, smoked ham, fresh mushrooms, onion and roasted red peppers.

The pizza was descent. The serving size was descent. The fact they had an open kitchen and made the dough fresh in front of you and added all the ingredients was great.$3 extra for a half and half is not too bad. Overall, with the supreme part of it, while it had all the meats like ham and pepperoni, it was just about okay. Likewise, with the caprice – again, just about okay. We were starving and had the whole pizza. I’d say overall, an average joint. Being on the esplanade, it has great view of the waterfront, quite accessible and convenient. May be okay for evening drinks and a few nibbles.

We did order the chocolate milkshake which was pretty good. The other juice we ordered was the refresh juice- Orange, Apple, Mint- which to be honest, tasted more like simple orange juice.

Have I had better pizza’s? Definitely Yes. Somehow, while the ingredients were there and were fresh, something was definitely missing. Wishful that the flavours were a bit better. Would I go there again? May be not, I’d probably try a newer joint.

La Pizza Trattoria Menu,
Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Monday, September 12, 2016

Rama’s Fiji Indian Restaurant, Canberra

Red Interiors!
All right, this ones is about a very interesting cuisine. Fiji Indian Cuisine. Normally, you would see Indian cuisine being used as an overarching brand. Be it Nepalese, Pakistani or Bangladeshi- they all use Indian cuisine as a brand. Be it for the similarity or be it because Indian sells more. Now, we were in Canberra after a Friday working day in Sydney. The long drive thanks to cruise control and the relatively straight rhough drive from Sydney to Canberra luckily left us with some energy to try and explore a dinner out in Canberra. It is another matter that whatever energy we had left from the drive actually drained the extremely cold winter night at Canberra, which was significantly colder than Sydney. As we searched for options, we came across Rama Fiji Indian Cuisine.

Mango Lassi
Located at Pearce, which was a bit of a drive from the main city, this was a small eatery in a shopping complex in the middle of the residential neighborhood. What made us curious was what was Fiji Indian cuisine and how different was it from the regular run of the mill Indian restaurants. To be honest, I knew Fiji had a lot of second and third generation of Indians who had migrated many centuries back. We called up the restaurant and while it closes at 9, they kept open for us till 10:00.
The restaurant was cute and cosy little eatery with red walls, although a bit too red I guess :-). I was sceptical, anxious and excited all at the same time. High Risk leads to High rewards or High Losses.
To begin with, the restaurant was definitely full of people, even at thus hour, which is a good sign. As we settled in and looked at the menu, it did look similar to Indian menu but luckily a smaller and shorter menu. So another good sign. Restaurants which make almost everything under the sun with a long menu- are probably ones that cant differentiate between the dishes themselves.
Fish Pakoda's
It’s a small little family run business. The lady, of Fiji Indian descent was extremely warm and welcoming and friendly. As we settled we decided to give it a try to the Fish Pakora’s. There were a few interesting appetizers such as Roti Parcels and Bhara. Taking the safer option, we ordered the Fish pakoda. We did enquire which fish was used and were told its ling. Along with the Fish Pakoda, we ordered a mango lassi. To be honest, the appetizers didn’t impress me much. The fish didn’t seem to be ling and it was bit more fishier than ling. Being a fish eater, I somehow knew this wasn’t ling, given that ling is one of my favourite fishes. The batter had excessive turmeric. Likewise, the mango Lassi was just too sweet and had a bit of a distinct taste of some essence.
For mains we ordered the Goat Curry and Dhal, along with Rice and Roti. 

One of the best Goat Curry ever!
This is where the tide changed from a low tide of flavors to a high tide and me surfing like a golden beach boy on the spices and gravy. Man, the goat curry was heavenly. I was again skeptical about ordering goat, like most places, because of my passionate love for goat curry and the frequent disappointment I get at most places either because the goat is too chewy or its far too spicy. But not here. The goat curry was simply fantastic and mind blowing. It also had its own character and flavor, which is difficult to describe, but far too awesome that made me realize that this is Fiji Indian Goat Curry. I could go on and on and on and rave about how great the curry was. Let me tell you, a testimony of how great the curry was. I was craving to have it one more time and I actually called up the restaurant on Sunday, before I drove back to Sydney. Unfortunately, the restaurant is open only from Tuesday to Saturday.
The Dhal was also quite delicious. Quite different from the Indian version. Quite dense and thick and really delicious. With Dhal, you want it to be simple and this was really delicious, not too over spiced.
Garlic Parantha's
The whole meal roti’s were more like the parantha’s back at home. The garlic paranthas were also descent.  The masala tea at the end was great as well, perfect to finish off a great dinner on a cold and rainy day.

Overall, a great little eatery and while the starters were a bit of a dampener, I believe the mains were far too good to be true. Trust me, if I had the chance Id go back to Canberra, just to have the goat curry again. All in all, highly recommended from my end.
Rama’s Fiji Indian Retaurant
Phone: 62861964
Pearce Shopping Center, Pearce, Cnr of Macfarland and Hodgson Cres.
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 5:30 P.M.

Ramas Restaurant Menu, Reviews,
Photos, Location and Info - Zomato