Tag Archives: Cairns

A Trip to FNQ and a Love Affair

30 Jun

An amazing conflence of events occurred at the end of May. We finally got our heads above water and realised how long it had been since we had a holiday, and next week  was our window. In desparate need of sun, the easiest holiday for us was to head for FNQ! Having been here before, let’s just say that when it comes to food, we prefer Noosa. And for beer (and coffee)…. Melbourne. Or staying home.

We were blessed with good weather and despite the fact stinger season was still in play, we had a great beachy holiday and surprisingly, a few superb dining experiences. First stop was Palm Cove. Previously have found the options here all pretty limited to overpriced hotel oriented restaurants. But on this trip, we found Nu nu. I really can’t sing their praises enough. Thanks to a review on Gourmet Traveller by Pat Nourse it came well recommended, so we quickly hit it up for coffee & brunch. We chose the mud crab omlette with watercress and white pepper broth (apologies for quality of pics only had phone!)  ZOMG. To say we were impressed was an understatement.

Mud crab omlette at Nu nu Palm Cove

A great test for a restaurant’s true hospitality is how they accommodate kids as unfortunately, we were stuck with ours for the duration.  If you do have to take your kids out, you can enjoy good food here!  The uber cool & professional staff brought them mango smoothies in cups to match their outfits.  And colouring in things. They had toast with tropical fruit jams – all made inhouse.  Happy family.

Specially selected cups to match outfits

They make ALL their own bread, every morning, and it is good. And the coffee was THE only one in FNQ that did that good thing. You know what I mean.  We knew we had to visit at night ‘san enfants’, so enquired about babysitters. Their baker, Nanny Nat, also runs their icecream shop Nu Mi, & is a nanny by night. Sorted.

The ambiance at night was lovely and serious service was in action. We shared 3 entrees & then the mud crab for dinner. A lot of the seafood dishes featured white pepper broth along with Thai flavour influences. Love the spiciness of the white pepper, no lingering burning. A favourite was the red emporer miang served on beetle leaves, and our mud crab was a most impressive beast, you can see even he thinks so. Again, crap pics, sorry!

Red Emporer Miang

The Mud Crab

The sommelier was on board in the evening, and was particularly helpful.  One other dish was a delicate lentil curry, piled in it’s own little basket made of bread, about 1″ square and topped with lobster.

We managed to fit in one more meal, which again, was just delicious.   A prosciutto crostini with chopped egg and loads of fresh herbs through it and a brioche with gypsy ham and cheese, it had a zucchini pickle on it. Using all their own bread makes for superb breakky.

Proscuitto Crostini

Brioche w gypsy ham, melted cheese, pickly zucchini

Apart from Nu nu, the ancient Melaleuca trees lining the foreshore were striking. Many of them over 500 years old.  They are protected species, and can only grow in the thin strip close to the beach. Every restaurant has one right through the middle of it, the pubs have them in the beergardens, the verandahs are built around them, and they are even in the middle of driveways so cars have to drive round them.  Just goes to show that preserving the natural beauty of a place provides a unique and beautiful environment for others to appreciate and enjoy….

Palm Cove Melaleucas - Enjoyed by many

And then we left. Not before we got their food recommendations, and one more coffee, before our next stop, Port Douglas

We had a fantastic time here, blessed by great weather and a happy family.  Food wise, it’s all pretty overblown touristy stuff. Either affordable deep friend pub/club or pricier and fancier.   Here is a few of the better experiences we had.  We stayed at Rydges Sabaya, chosen for the superb pools. We were not disappointed.  Only with the club sandwiches.  A bacon foccacia doth not maketh a club sandwich. So I made our own!

Club Sandwich - Poolside

One surprise was finding The Beach Shack restaurant.  Well away from the main drag, in a spot where it has to earn it’s reputation, the entire floor is sand. It has an awesome holiday feel to it, and of course the kids just loved it. Very reasonable pricing & simple, well cooked bistro style food and effficient & friendly staff made for a entirely enjoyable experience.  The sort of place where you can relax, enjoy and not overanalyse what you’re eating.

The boys at Nu nu had recommended Harrisons Restaurant in Port Douglas.  It was pretty new, had a British chef/owner with some impressive credentials.  The location, on the esplanade, in a tree filled, fairylight lit oasis, is quite magical. 6 years earlier, I had a memorable dinner when it was Catalina.

I’ll start with the great things. The dinner menu was divine. Entrees were  Tuna Ceviche with oyster beignets and Pork Belly with black pudding & apple puree. These were both delightful and the presentation very artistic.

Tuna Ceviche at Harrisons

Mains too were perfectly executed and presented. A simple steak frites with a side of bone marrow was melt in the mouth simplicity. As was the barramundi with lentils and herb coulis.

Unfortunately though, there did not appear to be anyone on the floor in charge. Service was stressed and lacking polish. Tattooed backpackers from all continents of the world chatting amongst themselves – OK for a cafe/bar, but out of place here where the aspirations and quality of food is evident. On another visit for breakfast, we found it very unwelcoming for us as a family, with limited options on the menu.

As far as beer goes, let’s just say it’s a desert up here. The only place that had anything decent was the lux & $$$ Angsana resort Palm Cove. It featured the new local Blue Sky brewery plus some Little Creatures and Moo Brew plus others. Nice to see. Most places still have the ‘7 lagers’ beer list, of which 2 are XXXX.

Thus ended our 2 week sojourn to a beautiful part of the world. Many fantastic memories, sunshine, lots of lovely surprises, and one memorable love affair (Nu nu). Something all good holidays need to have.

Nunu on Urbanspoon