Wild Lotus Restaurant – a review

When a friend and I attended the Hervey Bay Food and Wine Festival back in October my friend (KangaRue – who occasionally blogs here) had a lengthy chat with peeps at the Wild Lotus Restaurant and Bar tent.

I’d commented that I was impressed at how many of their dishes are gluten-free and LOVE that they clearly mark things on their menu as gluten-free and dairy free etc. KangaRue’s son is dairy allergic so that was a bonus for her as well and she returned with her steak sandwich making me promise we’d head there as soon as possible.

Sadly it took us a couple of months but we finally had dinner there recently with another friend. We’d booked – which I think is generally recommended on a Friday or Saturday evening – and the place was quite busy (which is great given at how fickle the restaurant / cafe market seems at times).

I’m actually on a weight loss program (Weight Watchers) and counting points so I’d sussed out the menu online earlier in the day in order to decide what I would eat and calculate my points.

Naturally, in this online world, both of my fellow diners had done the same thing (well, looked at the menu online… not counted points of course! 😉 )

creme bruleePlus the restaurant (showing increasing social-media savvyness of late, had shared a pic of their creme brulee (left) on Facebook during the day… cementing my decision that dessert was most definitely on the agenda.

Entrees are usually one of my biggest problems when dining out (as I don’t eat seafood and gluten-free options are often minimal), but there were easily two or things I’d love on the menu at Wild Lotus. The Scotch Fillet Carpaccio sounded TO DIE FOR and the Asian chicken skewers would have made me very happy.

However, we three had our minds set on the creme brulee so decided to forgo entrees for dessert.

There’s a good variety of wines available but as I was designated driver for a change I stuck to the soft stuff.

bugsMy buddies were a tad undecided about their mains – too many things that sounded delicious, but one ended up going for the seafood risotto and the other for the Moreton Bay bugs.

I’d already decided on the rib fillet (medium rare of course) and LOVED that all of the sauces were gluten-free (a rarity when dining out). While normally I would have chosen something creamy, I ended up with the Mountain Pepper sauce though diet-wise could probably have gone for the Red Wine Gravy as well.

My steak came on a root vegetable mash with some parsnip chips (or similar) on top. There was some cauliflower but that was easy to push aside :-).

I could have had my steak with chips and probably normally would have but… well…. It was only week 1 of Weight Watchers, so I decided to forgo my personal faves for a change.

My fellow diners all agreed the creme brulee was perfect but weren’t sure it needed the berry compote and chocolate melted sauce on the side with the ice cream. I’d skipped the berry compote (cos, well… fruit!) so actually quite liked the drizzle of sweet chocolate.

Meals were priced reasonably for a restaurant of that calibre, ranging from approx. $20-35 and entrees from $7; the service was great and our waiter very knowledgable. We’ll most certainly be going back.

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All pics from Wild Lotus Facebook page

Wild Lotus Restaurant and Bar is open from Monday – Saturday for lunch and dinner. Check out their website or Facebook page because they also offer a range of specials. Bookings can be made by contacting 07 4125 3278.

Thai Diamond – a review

One of the things I’ve struggled most with in the year since I’ve moved from Brisbane to Hervey Bay is that I’m yet to find my ‘go-t0’ takeaway.

In Brisbane it was a chinese restaurant called The Pine and Bamboo. It was a suburb or so further out from where I lived (Hawthorne then Morningside) but very handy nonetheless. I actually started going there when my brother and sister-in-law lived nearby before the birth of my niece (who is now 17!).

I’m coeliac and that’s sometimes a struggle but I knew exactly what I could have there and they basically knew my order and my voice when I called. (And I got the ‘regulars’ discount!)

Although hot chips are my most favourite food of anything, Thai and Chinese are my fave takeaways. I live in Urangan so have been frequenting Jetty Seafoods (which has gluten-free hot chips!) but have tried several Thai places in the Bay without finding anywhere that tastes delicious and authentic.

I lived in Cambodia for a while and sometimes really authentic-smelling Thai / Vietnamese / Chinese food takes me back there like a shot.

Last weekend however, a friend suggested we go to the Thai Diamond, in Scarness. She’d been there a few times, she said, and enjoyed it.

The atmosphere is kinda nice (aesthetically I mean) although for some reason I suggested we sit out the front, which was probably somewhat stupid as it was a humid evening!

A big bonus for me is being able to ask about gluten-free options and people know what I’m talking about – and that was certainly the case at the Thai Diamond. The curries were GF I was told, plus other recipes could be adapted.

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My friend and I decided to share a (beef) red curry; chicken with cashew nuts and jasmine rice. I also ordered some takeaway for the next day (as I was keen to try as many options as possible) and got the garlic and pepper beef.

All dishes were delicious and I was pleased at the lack of scary vegetables. (I don’t eat many and the dishes weren’t overflowing with stuff I didn’t eat which was a bonus!)

The meals aren’t cheap – most dishes are $17-20 plus rice – but I’ll most certainly be going back and I’m planning to program the number into my phone for future reference!

The Thai Diamond is at 353 Esplanade Scarness. For bookings or telephone orders phone 07 4124 4855.

Hervey Bay Cinemas – Bigscreen Showcase

Elsewhere I’ve confessed to being a television addict. I don’t watch anything and everything and I do believe I have a *ahem* discerning TV-viewing palate; however I do love to binge-watch entire series of TV on DVD on a regular basis.

I was once similarly keen on movies. While at University (though poor) I’d take myself off to the city cinemas on a regular basis – handing over my student card for a discounted ticket. I went almost weekly at one point and became so accustomed to going alone I actually felt disgruntled when friends wanted to accompany me. Of course in those days I also frequented the cinema at University (the Schonell) which showed some edgy arthouse movies – again, at good prices.

But over the years I’ve been to the cinema less and less, preferring to wait until something’s out on DVD so I can watch it in the comfort of my own home.

However… my movie-going lethargy has been broken as I’ve attended THREE movies in the last three weeks alone! (And, I’m starting to get my movie-going groove back!)

I’m a member of the Hervey Bay Arts Council so received this little gem in my email inbox a month or so ago. Naturally I shared it on the FraserCoasting Facebook page and forwarded it to some friends.

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My friends and I were quite excited by the concept of the Showcase at the BigScreen Cinemas Hervey Bay  – presumably featuring movies which might not normally make it here AND selling tickets at a good price.

One of my girlfriends saw four of the five movies on offer, while I saw The Butler (loved it); Blue Jasmine (Cate Blanchett was amazing but I did clock-watch a bit); and Mystery Road (bleak, mesmerising, but simultaneously frustrating).

We talked to a staffer at the cinema this past weekend and she said there may be more Showcase movies in the New Year.

Of course the only regrettable aspect was that the movies weren’t particularly well-attended. The majority garnered a small audience but there were only a handful of people at Mystery Road (an Aussie movie filmed in Winton).

They weren’t publicised any more than the other movies on offer and perhaps I’ll try to do more to promote the Showcase in future as I’m sure there’s a heap of potential movie-goers on the Fraser Coast who’d appreciate something different.

And – again – we can hardly complain about stuff NOT coming to our regional beachside town if we don’t support it when it does!

Wil Anderson, Lindsay Webb and pissed punters

I haven’t seen a lot of live comedy. Not for any particular reason other than – in my previous life I was occasionally apathetic about doing ‘stuff’. My working week felt really full-on; so much so that on weekends I really just wanted to hibernate.

In fact, other than seeing the guys from Oz TV show, The Chaser at a writers festival, the only other comedy act I can recall seeing was an Irish comedian / actor – Dylan Moran. (Who I find bizarrely attractive in his role as Bernard in the TV show Black Books!)

But, because I’m trying to be a ‘joiner’ in my new hometown, I’m doing more than I would previously have done. That means going to some festivals and shows which I’d prefer to avoid as well as those I’m keen to attend.

When I saw Wil Anderson was coming to Hervey Bay I was stoked. I’m not a rabid stalker-like fan, but I remember the days of The Glasshouse and love the Gruen franchise. A friend and I bought our tickets as soon as they went on sale, lest we miss out, and a month or so later rocked up to the RSL (my first visit other than for meetings!).

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There was a good crowd. 300+ I think, which is great. I loved that there were a wide range of peeps there as well – crisscrossing the generations. Indeed there seemed to be entire families in attendance.

And support act (Brissy comedian) Lindsay Webb was friggin’ hilarious. He mostly chatted to the audience, thought on his feet and had us all in hysterics.

Although it was during Lindsay’s performance… we started to see the ugly side of attention-seeking pissy patrons.

Sadly by the time Wil appeared a few members of the crowd were fairly shit-faced.

I suspect I sound like a nanna; but I enjoy a drink as much as the next person. Back in the day I had those nights when I was as pissed as a fart or struggled to remember what happened between arriving at the races at 2pm and being in my kitchen 8hrs later.  But I like to think I was never rude or disrespectful when pissed. (Although I’m fairly sure I was amazingly witty and hilarious!)

I guess live performers are used to the ‘great unwashed’ rabble, but I was really disappointed in the behavior of a few attendees. They’d obviously been drinking heavily before the show started and others at our table agreed that it was a waste of $40 to come to something like that and struggle to remember any of it the next day.

Worse than that though, they ruined the show for other punters. One woman constantly shouted out comments throughout the show (although was silent at the end and I was wondering if she fell asleep); another guy chatted to friends at his table constantly; a couple of pissed women stood to one side (near the bar) and talked LOUDLY – seemingly not paying any attention to Lindsay or Wil; and one woman interrupted Wil’s routine with a ridiculously inane question about our foreign Minister. I mean… What. The. Actual. Fuck?!

I felt terribly embarrassed: We have quality performers coming to our town and we disrespect them?!

Earlier in the day I saw a tweet from a young person complaining about Hervey Bay residents.

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“Oh, that’s a bit harsh,” I thought when I read it. But just hours later I was thinking the same thing.

Having said that – and had my whinge – I know that the majority of people in the town and region and those at last night’s show, aren’t rude or ignorant. However… sometimes it’s easy to forget that.

#Inothernews, Wil was also great. He was a bit thrown by the Julie Bishop question but other than that I loved his rants about the media – particularly talkback radio (as I just had a similar rant in my Debbish blog!).

PS. And Sarah… I’m fairly sure Julie Bishop is female. Had your question touched on her competence or policies it might have provided Wil with some comedic fodder, alas…

Superboats in the Bay

If you’re hoping for some peace and quiet in Hervey Bay this weekend you’ll be sadly disappointed.

Fortunately the sounds echoing along the esplanade will also provide some entertainment as Hervey Bay plays host to the final round of the Australian Offshore Superboat Championships on 9-10 November.

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If you’re like me, the fact that the competing classes are Supercat(s) 1000HP, 600HP and 400HP, will mean nothing. However I’m reliably informed that just watching the spectacle will get your heart pumping.

Indeed, the Championships website describes what we’ll see:

“state of the art powerboats racing inches apart with a pilot strapped into jet fighter canopies combine to produce the drama, danger and excitement.”

Ummm eek!

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Teams will be arriving at the boat harbour in Urangan from Friday afternoon, but there’ll be much more on offer over the weekend.

Activities will be held in Scarness Park on both Saturday and Sunday and there’ll be a large screen near the beach as well as live streaming of the races via the web or MotorsportTV app.

Saturday 9th November
12 – 1pm – Pole position shoot out
3.30pm – Street parade

Sunday 10th November
10am – 10:30am: Pre race aquatic entertainment
11am – 11:30am: RACE 1
1pm – 1:30pm: RACE 2

There will be plenty of vantage points along the beach and a number of charter boats are offering the opportunity to watch the event from the water. (I have to admit the idea of floating about the sea drinking champagne while watching the races sounds kinda tempting BUT most are offering a seafood lunch. And I don’t ‘do’ seafood. #sadface So, I’ll be watching it from the beach with everyone else!)

Previous heats of the 2013 Offshore Superboat Championships have been held in Newcastle, Mackay, Townsville, Coffs Harbour, Redcliffe and the sixth and final race in Hervey Bay is supported by Fraser Coast Opportunities and the Hervey Bay Boat Club.

If you haven’t booked your accommodation yet, you’ll find some options here.

PS.  For comedy fans Wil Anderson will be appearing at the Hervey Bay RSL Club on Saturday night as well. More information re time and tickets is available on the Club website. I’m going and really looking forward to it!