The former President of Restaurant and Catering NSW and former National President of the Restaurant and Catering Association of Australia, Michael Fishcher, spent the week in Noosa to relax, get fit and dine at some of Queensland’s best restaurants. Follow him on his culinary adventure, where he shares all his foodie high and lows.
CATO’S RESTAURANT and BAR
16 Hastings Street, Noosa Heads
07 5449 4754
Cato’s is the restaurant and bar for The Sheraton Hotel and it is probably unfair to compare the culinary experiences of other restaurants and cafes in the region. Basically, it is a nice and airy space and is essential to satisfy the eating/dining requirements of the hotel guests. But, food wise, it’s pretty ordinary. Actually, it is very sad to see good quality produce cooked and presented in such an ordinary way. I’d rather not comment any further other than to say – that if the effort put into selecting the staff employed in this enterprise was converted into producing better quality food – then Cato’s has the potential to be a world beater. In other words – the staff were sensational.
25 Hastings Street, Noosa Heads
07 5447 3747
Season Restaurant is one location which has been responsible for creating the dining aura that surrounds Noosa. Located in a narrow alleyway, with a slight frontage overlooking the beach, the standard at Season Restaurant has been consistently good over the years. We enjoyed a crisp fetta and caramelised onion pizza which was light, tasty and with a base that didn’t sag – an ideal starter. My wife, Barb, ordered spatchcock which had been chopped into eight segments – roasted beautifully, with a crunchy skin and meltingly tender meat, all dipped into a slightly acidy gazpacho. My gnocchi – light potato pillows – was served with chorizo and fresh prawns but, unfortunately, was overpowered by a smoked tomato sauce. It was a tasty but unbalanced dish. I enjoy going to Season – especially on a warm, balmy night when the plastic awnings are rolled away and we are exposed to the sound of the crashing waves and the aroma of being on holidays.
RIVER COTTAGE RESTAURANT
301 Weyba Road, Noosaville
07 5449 7441
Hastings Streetis known as one of the most expensive areas to rent inAustralia and so, as a result, many newer restaurants are opening in Noosaville – just along from Noosa Heads; through Noosa Sound, over theNoosa Bridgeand nestling along the Noosa River. With much more of a village atmosphere, Noosaville already has an array of restaurants, cafes, bars but there are also plenty of opportunities for genuine retail therapy. I have always liked the River Cottage Restaurant. It’s an old Queensland Cottage – not too big, but open, spacious and elegant. The menu is an interesting read. One of the complaints I have about dining in Noosa in general, is that there is sameness about all the menus. Many play the “safe” option and give the customer what they think they want as opposed to being individually creative and making “dining out” more of an adventure. The River Cottage menu makes for difficult decision making. I really enjoyed the entrée of pressed smoked duck confit with a foie gras and a pungent onion chutney that cut through the richness of the dish. I have to say, the only negative about this dish was that the portion size was too large for my liking. Foolishly, I ordered a sensational rib eye for my main. Cut off the bone and served with a mushroom and speck tartlet, the steak was cooked to perfection (rare) with a salty, crunchy crust enclosing a melt-in-your-mouth meat sensation. Barb really enjoyed her gnocchi with white asparagus, chantarelles and broad beans tossed in a truffled tomato sauce. Overall, a really wonderful dining experience.
THOMAS CORNER EATERY
Corner Thomas Street and Gympie terrace Noosaville
07 5470 2224
Chef David Rayner left River Cottage and opened Thomas Corner Eatery. New location; different style but still with delicious and contemporary food. After a week of dining out, we were getting to a stage where the novelty of a food adventure was wearing thin. Wanting a simple meal, we were assured that we would really enjoy Thomas Corner. Unfortunately, their menu got the better of us and we proceeded down a familiar track of ordering too much food, too many courses and suffering from too much eating. But who can resist such temptations. Our entrees (shared between four of us) included a salad of chilled watermelon, nectarines, mozzarella, marinated young leeks and raspberry vinegar dressing. You really can’t blame us – you’d order that too if you read it on a menu. Next was a duck liver parfait, white balsamic jelly, grapes, mint and cress salad. The dish was lifted to a heavenly status by the jelly – a perfect complement to the richness of the duck liver parfait. My main course of pan-seared kingfish, with grape tomatoes, olives, cuttlefish, chives and verjuice buttered liquor – was just what I needed. It was light, fresh, tasty, beautifully served and just the right size. This was a first for us at Thomas Corner and I can highly recommend it is a venue for casual, relaxed and interesting eating.
WASABI RESTAURANT and BAR
2 Quamby Place, Noosa Sound
07 5449 2443
This had to be the best dining experience of our short break in Noosa. Out on the Sound, Wasabi was a very different dining experience to its last incarnation in Sunshine Beach. Here we are talking about a serious world-class operation. Initially we were asked where we wanted to sit – choices being sitting on the floor or a more Western tradition of chair seating. Dining with my Dad and Judie – there really was no option, it needed to be a chair. On entering the restaurant, however, sitting on the floor turned out to be less of a physical challenge than we had imagined. All it involved was sitting on the floor with a recess cut into the floor for both the table and our legs. The waiters walked tall (on the natural floor) and gave the appearance to us, sitting at a lower lever (on chairs), of Lilliputians. However, seating should not become the dominant factor. Its food and service we were there to enjoy. The menu made for intense scrutiny. Typical Japanese menus, which we have become accustomed to, didn’t prepare us for this exciting and very different menu. The waiters were clearly used to dealing with Wasabi Virgins, talking us through each dish. I ordered Suichin Sake to share with my Dad and we both expected the sake would arrive in a warm vessel. How wrong we were. Rather, it arrived chilled, and yet still so ‘warming’. We started our meal with Hiramasa Kingfish sashimi; followed by Mooloolaba tuna tartar, tempura asparagus, black tobiko and ginger dressing – what a sensational dish – crisp, crunchy, moist, tasty and such contrasting flavours; followed by gyoza – six crispy, pan-fried Japanese pork dumplings with spicy ponzu dipping sauce and a pickled cucumber salad. We all could have continued eating from the Kondante menu – but there were wonderful delicacies in store for us. The main courses followed: Shichimi Niku – Japanese seven-spice grass-fedHerefordtenderloin, wasabi sweet potato mash, enoki and shimeji mushroom sauce. But, if I had to have a highlight of the night, and if I had to give you a recommendation to order, it would be the spatchcock teriyaki. A whole free-range, corn-fed spatchcock, deboned and stuffed with hijiki rice, torigara shoyu, roasted golden eshallot, nama shitake and warm Japanese mushroom salad. I can’t think of anything that could describe the enjoyment we got out of eating this dish. The only trouble was – who could eat anymore? Wasabi must go on your list of places to dine at when next you visit Noosa.
SAILS BEACH RESTAURANT and BAR
Cnr Park Road and Hastings Street Noosa Heads
07 5447 4235
Noosa is my spiritual haven. I go there to feel better within myself. In reality, I go there to completely veg-out. I switch off my mobile for 20 hours a day – I sleep in, I eat well, I sit on the beach for as long as I can but each afternoon, between 4 and 5 o’clock I take off for my spiritual sojourn through The Noosa National Park. This is a combination of an amble, stroll, walk and jog. Starting along the beach, my journey continues up and down several hills and that’s even before I get to the park. And every evening, just as I’m about to embark on my wilderness leg, I get to gaze up at the strategically located Sails Restaurant. And, night after night, I admire the fact that they are booked out with yet another wedding. What a great business this must be – but how tough for those of us “under-fed” tourists looking for variety in our gastronomic adventure in Noosa. It was our last night in Noosa and as I looked up from my walk, I noticed there was no wedding to be seen anywhere near Sails. As I struggled, for the very last time, to complete my 90 minute regime, I made the momentous decision to go there for dinner. What arrogance I displayed, expecting a booking only hours before. But as I picked up the phone, my positivity seemed to blossom through. Rejection? No, for once my chutzpah and politeness paid off, not only did we get a table for two but we got the best table for two in the restaurant. Directly at the front and and in the centre, complete with a cool breeze and a view. I have to say, as the culmination of our “fine-dining” for the week, our night at Sails left us with a delicious taste in our mouths. Sails is brilliant. We started with a salad of roasted beetroot with spoonfuls of creamy goats curd, zucchini flowers and chunky capers. Obviously not enough kilojoules or us in this exceedingly healthy salad, which we shared, so we garnished our salad with a freshly-baked pizza with black olives, roasted garlic, parmesan and rosemary. A great variety of textures, colours, flavours and it did the job in stimulating an over-exposed and jaded palate. Main courses were likewise – very interesting. It read well – but so often, the poetic licence used to write up menus disappoints as the story unfolds. But rather than following down this familiar path, Sails chose to take a different turn. My king prawns in a green papaya curry topped with toasted coconut just hit the spot. The curry was flavoursome, spicy and generous. Barb enjoyed her Balmain Bug tails with a creamy skordalia and a butter bean and cherry tomato salad.
But there comes a time when enough is enough and by now we had definitely had enough. No more food, no more choices to make – sometimes the thought of a toasted cheese and vegemite sandwich is mesmerising. But then again, I look forward to visiting Noosa again in the not too distant future.