Palm Cove in Far North Queensland is a super-relaxed beach destination. A palm-lined beach, white sand, sunshine and blue skies – and a thoughtful and tasteful approach to tourist development, unlike many other Queensland destinations which are in danger of becoming Melbourne-by-the-sea. Much of the accommodation in Palm Cove is apartment-hotel style, which has the great advantage for families of having your own kitchen that you can use to prepare meals, if you wish. With The Fairlie Entourage (not to mention the Entourage finances) a bit restauranted-out after our three week stint in the US in April, we treated this Palm Cove break as a much more chilled-out holiday. We shopped at the nearby supermarket in Clifton Beach (three minutes drive from Palm Cove) and stocked up our apartment with food and beverages for the week. However, with so many tempting restaurants and cafes in the main Palm Cove strip (and the nearby locations of Kewarra Beach and Port Douglas), we did venture out of our apartment for a few meals, which are highlighted below. One thing we noted was that prices right across the board in Palm Cove and Port Douglas were more expensive than equivalent restaurants in Melbourne.
Temple of TastesAddress: 5 Triton Street, Palm Cove Cuisine: Modern Australian Website: www.pullmanpalmcove.com.au Phone: +61 7 4059 9600
This could hardly be described as ‘venturing out’, as Temple of Tastes is actually the restaurant in the Pullman Sea Temple resort where we stayed. We ate dinner there twice, as we were so impressed with the menu. Why walk further than you need to in the dark (with the threat of lurking crocodiles?) The decor of Temple of Tastes is not overly inspiring – almost like a business-hotel restaurant – but that is made up for with a varied menu of beautifully executed dishes. The first night I ordered the baby barramundi which was prepared with a tamarind and ginger glaze and served with an Asian slaw ($36.50). It was delicious. The second night, I had the sage crumbed pork, which was served with celeriac remoulade, pea puree and lemon ($33). I didn’t enjoy it as much as the barramundi, but still very good. Highlights among the dessert selection (all $14) were the “Dropped ice cream” (cinnamon and pecan crunch, chewy maple, rosemary, marscapone ice cream); the nutella parfait, which was served with cherry coulis and white chocolate crumble; and the ruined lemon meringue pie, which was a deconstructed lemon meringue pie, but complimented unusually by a baby basil coulis and leaves.
Beach Almond Beach HouseAddress: 145 Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove Cuisine: Modern Asian seafood Website: http://beachalmond.com/ Phone: +61 7 4059 1908
The Poolboy and I went for a dinner without the girls to Beach Almond Beach House, which is a modern Asian seafood restaurant and bar on Williams Esplanade facing the beach in Palm Cove. The dining area is an open-air deck in the style of an Asian longhouse, which is protected from the elements by heavy-duty PVC blinds, and the tables and chairs are plastic and laminate…which gives a first impression of being a more casual eatery than it actually is. The menu combines fresh Asian flavours and quality seafood into innovative dishes. There’s also a few non-seafood dishes on the menu. A speciality of the house is live mud crab served in either a Singaporean or Malaysian style, or as part of a platter with barramundi, prawns, mussels and squid (market prices). Highlights of our meal were the eggnet with scallops, prawns, squid and sweet pork with mixed Asian salad ($34.90) and the butter prawns in a curry leaf and coconut sauce ($32.90). Service was a bit slapdash, and after waiting a really long time with our dessert menus, when the waiter finally came to take our order (one kaffir lime brulee to share – $12), he told us he had “just sold the last one”. So we didn’t end up having a dessert. Overall though, it was an enjoyable meal.
Nu NuAddress: 1 Vievers Road, Palm Cove Cuisine: Modern Australian Website: http://www.nunu.com.au/ Phone: +61 7 4059 1880
It was a breezy day when we had lunch at Nu Nu, which has recently moved from its previous location at Peppers Palm Cove Resort to the absolute beach-front location at the Alamanda resort in Vievers Road, so we chose to sit in the inside section of the restaurant rather than on the outdoor deck. The interior has a smart casual beachy feel – soft, deep banquette seating and cushions in neutral tones, and gently swaying hanging baskets of greenery overhead. The menu offers a wide range of modern Australian cuisine. We started with warmed olives and lemon bread to share, then moved onto a ‘bigger dish’ and a dessert each. The bigger dishes were on the smallish side. If we’d had those alone, I think we’d had walked away from lunch feeling quite hungry. The flavour combinations in each dish were unusual and in our opinion, didn’t always work. The stand out dishes, however were the desserts. I had the coconut snow egg, which was a soft meringuey ball, served with icecream and coconut flakes, on a pandanus sago. The sago was mouthwatering. Service was attentive, professional and friendly. When our waitress noticed we were feeling a bit chilly with the breeze coming through the restaurant off the ocean, she brought back pashminas for us to wrap around our shoulders.
The Beach Shack at Kewarra Beach ResortAddress: 76 Kewarra Road, Kewarra Beach Cuisine: Burgers, panini, salads Website: http://www.kewarra.com/restaurant Phone: +61 7 4058 4000
About a half an hour walk along the beach from Palm Cove is Kewarra Beach, another of Cairns’ northern beaches. And in amongst the palm trees fringing the beach is a red hut, which is the The Beach Shack at Kewarra Beach Resort. We wandered in there for a Saturday lunch. It’s very “Gilligan’s Island” – tables and chairs on the sand, between the palms. The place has a casual vibe. Thongs and sarongs are the go….or even bare feet and bathers. The days and opening times are limited, so it’s best to check with the resort before heading that way. Apparently, during the dry season (May to October) The Beach Shack also runs a Pizza Night every Friday, serving up wood-fired pizzas while a local DJ entertains the patrons. Bookings are advisable for the pizza nights. The menu was mostly burgers, panini and salads and a bit on the pricey side – $18.90 for a burger, and $24.90 for a caesar salad with chicken, but the quality was good and the serves were a generous size. There was also a range of non-alcoholic drinks, beers, and cocktails available.
Salsa Bar and GrillAddress: 26 Wharf Street, Port Douglas Cuisine: Modern Australian Website: http://www.salsaportdouglas.com.au Phone: +61 7 4099 4922
It’s been about 12 or 13 years since we were last in Port Douglas, a town about forty minutes drive north of Palm Cove. We were keen to visit and see what had changed since we used to holiday there. One thing that has not changed, was Salsa Bar and Grill on Wharf Street. It has been a mainstay on the Port Douglas restaurant scene since 1995. Back in the late 90s when we used to go to Port Douglas, Salsa was one of the flash places to go for a great night out. It’s had a change of location in the years since it first opened, but as far as I could see, the staff are still wearing the same white shorts and t-shirts with the Salsa logo that they were back in the 90s, and the service and food, while it has moved with the times, is every bit as good as it was. It’s refreshing to see a place have longevity in a holiday town. It is obviously still very popular with visitors, as it was packed when we popped in for a late-ish lunch. The restaurant is located in a Queenslander on Wharf Street, right across the road from the very picturesque St Mary’s of the Sea Chapel. In typical Queenslander style, all the louvred shutters were open, allowing a lovely breeze to blow through the restaurant. The Impossible Princess was given a kids’ menu, which despite her usual distain for, she actually ordered from (crumbed calamari with french fries – $12). I ordered the local tempura barramundi which was served with a miso emulsion, avocado wasabi mousse and wakame salad ($23), while Queenie had the gnocchi of the day ($22.50). The Poolboy had the linguini pepperincino which included tableland red claw, garlic, chilli and shaved parmesan ($27.50). He wasn’t fond of the fact that the garlic consisted of whole cloves, left in the dish. It was great to revisit a place so many years later and have it live up to how we remembered it.