April 2018 – Food and dining on the Fraser Coast

I’ve been horrified to discover that an entire year has passed since I last posted here. Interestingly – though not surprisingly – my lack of writing coincided with a full-time employment contract (which has now finished).

I’m actually hoping to co-opt a few friends into sharing some content so things might pick up again.

At the moment, however, it seems like an apt time to catch up on everything I’ve missed over the past year or so…

Starting with food and dining on the Fraser Coast:

Maryborough

As a coeliac, I’ve enjoyed Cheryl Lyn’s Cafe, in Adelaide Street which caters to those (like me) with allergies. Alowishus Delicious continues to offer one of the more satisfying ambiences in the borough, making it a good place to catch up with friends. I’ve only briefly tried Parkside on Adelaide but though service was lovely there weren’t as many gluten-free options available to fussy ol’ me.

On the daytime dining front, my mother regularly meets groups of friends at both Norma Jean’s Organic Tea and Coffee House at Tinana and Homewares from Everywhere in Baddow.

Coffee lovers seem to continue to be drawn to Retro Espresso Coffee in Tiaro, SIP Espresso Bar (in two locations in Maryborough), Mad Mule Espresso Bar (currently in Tinana on the way into town but about to move) and the new drive through Fast Lane Drive Thru Coffee.

When it comes to ‘finer’ dining, 71 Wharf has changed hands and is now again open Friday and Saturday nights and Ebb & Flow at the Brolga Theatre in Maryborough seems to be popular.

I know some are looking forward to the opening of the re-vamped Carriers Arms in the next week or so and it, along with Westside Tavern remains a popular choice amongst Maryborough’s pub dining options, along with the Maryborough RSL (which has recently started weekend breakfasts).  I’m often surprised also by the popularity of The Maryborough Sports Club (Sporties) on the ‘north side of town (as you’re heading to Hervey Bay) which I’m told offers excellent value for money. 

Hervey Bay

There’s been more movement in Hervey Bay. We already had some new cuisines popping up with Japanese at Tanto, Two Ducks Cafe & Asian Grocery at Urangan, Tres Salsas (for a great atmosphere) and Mexican food on the Esplanade at Torquay; and more recently Mee Mee Japanese Sushi and Korean Fried Chicken has opened at the Bay Plaza Shopping Centre.

food and dining on the fraser coast

From Tres Salsas’ FB page: Octopus paella topped with a chilli, lime rocket salad.

The Front Room, Bayaroma, Salt Cafe, Dan & Steph’s EAT, Vinvero’s and Bean Beat remain popular breakfast options and their esplanade locations help reflect their laid-back ambience. Of course the two eateries (and bars) RIGHT on the beach, Aquavue Cafe & Watersports and Enzo’s on the Beach have the upper-hand when it comes to ocean views. I’m still loving Enzo’s beanbags and vibe though struggle a bit more there on the gluten-free options front.

Along with The Front Room (at Torquay), I’ve heard great things about Su Jus Bar (& Lifestyle Kiosk) at Pialba Place – for those of us with allergies, or the ultra-healthy.

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From Su Jus Bar FB: 6 superfood bowls 

As for coffee-loving peeps (other than cafes already mentioned) I know Cody’s Coffee Shack on the esplanade at Torquay seems popular and a drive thru cafe, Miss Cocoa’s has just opened on Boat Harbour Drive at Pialba (next to the new Shell Service Station).

COAST and The Vinyard Wine Bar and Restaurant are still the go-to fancy dinner spots, though I’m keen to also try the ($35 two-course plus wine) lunch The Vinyard has on offer; as its location is just perfect. Of course The Dock and Cafe Balaena at the Urangan Marina as well as Santini’s and Wild Lotus  in Torquay all continue to be popular choices for special occasions or a night out.

This post is becoming epic already (takeaway food will definitely need its own post) as I’ve not even touched on the pub and club dining scene.

I did recently however have a nice lunch at Beach House Hotel at Scarness. It, along with the Hervey Bay RSL both offer kids’ clubs that are draw-cards for my friends with children. I think Hog’s Breath and others also offer free kids’ meals on certain nights so that would be worth checking out. I know as well that The Bayswater at Urangan has recently changed its menu and now offers lunchtime specials throughout the week.

This list is far from exhaustive. I also kinda went off-script given I’d just planned to share a few new arrivals. It’s hard however NOT to mention some old faithfuls as well.

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From @frasercoast_eats on Instagram. Read it and weep. No… look at their feed and drool!

To keep an eye on dining options on the Fraser Coast I’d recommend following my favourite Instagram account – which has introduced me to MANY new eateries, @frasercoast_eats, as well as @frasercoast_foodies.

Feel free to leave any tips below about places I’ve missed. I really don’t get out that much and my allergies make it a bit more difficult.

* The post includes Facebook or website links to all of the cafes I’ve listed.

 

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Review: Oriental Palace

Interestingly the thing I miss most since my seachange to Hervey Bay isn’t the Brisbane nightlife or social scene. It’s not the shopping or the array of cultural activities. It’s takeaway food options!

I must first confess though that although I’ve whinged about this for two years I’m still only just getting around to trying some new places.

After writing about this very issue in my ‘other’ blog last August I had a range of recommendations about Fraser Coast options… but most pointed me in the direction of  Oriental Palace in Scarness.

We had a few false starts as my friends and I rocked up one Sunday lunch only to discover the restaurant only opens at night. (A bummer as I actually eat out more at lunchtime than dinner!)

However, two weeks ago we finally made it. And enjoyed the experience.

Oriental Palace offers Chinese and Malaysian cuisine. I’m coeliac so offered to go it alone and order my own gluten-free dish; allowing my friends to choose whatever they wanted. However, they kindly agreed to both order from the GF menu so I would be able to try a few different dishes.

Happily, being coeliac is NOT an issue at the Oriental Palace. Rather than a blank look the waitress knew exactly what I needed and disappeared, bringing back a menu with GF options clearly marked. (She had spares, so let me bring one home for takeaway-ordering purposes.)

None of the entrees are GF, which isn’t unusual and my friends decided to forgo them anyway and nibbled on the vege chips provided while we sipped our drinks and gossiped discussed important social issues.

We went for the: Chicken with cashew nuts & vegetables; Chilli beef & vegetables; and Cha-Kueh-Tiao (Malaysian Flat Rice Noodles (which comes with a range of meats).

oriental palace food 2

Chilli beef & vegetables

Service was very speedy and we agreed all three dishes tasted really fresh and healthy, although the Chilli beef won out on taste.

The other two dishes were a teensy bit bland… but I suspect the chef had to eliminate  sauces because of the whole gluten thing. It’s something I’m accustomed to but my friends asked for some soy sauce and I think that helped.

Cha-Kueh-Tiao

Cha-Kueh-Tiao

Some choices I would have liked to have tried weren’t available gluten-free which is a tad disappointing. Many sauces (oyster, soy, black bean etc) aren’t necessarily gluten-free but you can buy GF brands. Understandably though, most places have their own preferences and probably can’t just use Masterfoods / Chang’s when they’re accustomed to Kikkoman’s. Or similar. 🙂

So, while my old fave Brisbane haunt still holds a place in my heart, I’m pleased to have discovered Oriental Palace. We caught wafts of sizzling beef, Laksas  and Mongolian lamb and the like and I suspect my dining companions opt for those next time they visit. I certainly would, if I could!

Oriental Palace 352 Esplanade, Scarness is open Tuesday – Sunday evening from 5pm. Most meat-based dishes are around the $20 mark and it’s BYO and licensed. Check them out on Facebook or call on 07 4128 3496.

Too much of a good thing?

The inaugural Hervey Bay Food and Wine Festival took place on the weekend – a two-day event held in the Pier Park at Urangan.

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I was keen to attend (as I live near the Pier Park where it was held) but prevaricated a little. On one hand I like to try to support local events and – well… wine, music and food – what’s not to love? On the other hand, I’m a bit festivalled-out.

I gather (from talking to friends and family) that others feel the same. There have been A LOT of big events packed into the last six or so months here on the Fraser Coast: Relish, Mary Poppins Festival, Craft Festival, Whale Festival and the Seafood Festival.

In the last month alone in Hervey Bay, we’ve had the Pier Festival, 150th birthday celebrations, Tour de Bay and now the Food and Wine Festival. On top of that we’ve got the Beerfest,  Torbanlea Races, Maryborough Open House and Melbourne Cup celebrations in the next month. To cap all of that off, there’s my one-year-back-on-the-Fraser Coast-anniversary! (Obviously a cause of celebration. Or national holiday or similar! 😉 )

I know (from the Festival’s Facebook page) that the $15 entry fee turned a lot of people off. I understand the need to charge a fee: but Relish was $10 – and included a lot more activities for your money; and the Seafood Festival was $5.

I don’t go out a lot however, so was prepared to pay the entry fee and went along for a few hours on Sunday.

On a positive note, the entry fee meant that the festival probably attracted a different crowd to those who usually attend local markets or pub events (ie. no one was likely to get wasted and vomit on you or yell obscenities at the band).

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I hadn’t known about the event until just a couple of weeks before it was held, so I’m not sure how far ahead it was planned. I know the organisers were still working on the music the week before the festival – so I was worried about what I’d find, however… I was pleasantly surprised.

I understand there were a few hiccups and organisers hope for bigger crowds in future, but in essence the event seemed quite successful – for we festival-goers anyway!

There were more wine-tasting options than I expected (though I know some would have liked to see more local wineries). And the ability to buy a glass/bottle of wine or champagne (or beer etc) to enjoy on the day was great.

After my disappointment at the Migaloo Starlight Swing, I was happy to know that there’d be a few food options and indeed Aquavue was on hand serving some salads (my friends partook in a prawn and mango salad with orange and mustard dressing which was apparently yummy); Wild Lotus offered up a steak sandwich that was much more – deliciously tender beef on sourdough etc. My friend who hates steak sandwiches, RAVED about the beef. Bayswater Hotel was serving antipasto platters and a squid salad; and there were pizzas and pancakes as well as coffee vans. (Something for everyone – though as a non-salad-eating coeliac – I struggled a little.)

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I was also pleasantly surprised by the music. The acts had a bluesy feel and I was a tad tempted to hang around longer than planned to kick back, partake in more champers and enjoy the atmosphere.

Happily undercover seating was provided and as the day wore on there was heaps of shade for those who’d brought blankets or their own chairs.

I’d definitely go back, and I know organisers are thinking of running the festival again, but I do wonder if it could be paired with something else rather than being yet another separate event. And – feedback will be interesting – but organisers may also want to look at the cost in future years.

Did you attend, or did (or would) the $15 entrance fee put you off?

Dessert… just add Salt

36055-img_2835editedHervey Bay is a very relaxed, beach-side tourist location. I love the lifestyle, but it’s not particularly conducive to showing off my fabulous shoe collection. So when I was invited to the opening night of Salt Cafe‘s dinner service, I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve enjoyed coffee and lunches at Salt before, so was looking forward to trying their new dinner menu coupled with a fantastic view – it wasn’t just about the shoes.

62913-img_2824editedArriving at the restaurant, I was greeted by my friends wrapped in cozy blankets that were kindly provided by the restaurant. It is winter here in Hervey Bay, and the 17 degrees at night feels cold (though I know my northern hemisphere readers will baulk at this idea). Ideally the restaurant also needs heaters, as while the blankets definitely helped, it was still a little on the cold side. I believe they were looking into this, and hope it has been implemented – no doubt they will be able to be utilised on the colder days as well, as the majority of seating is outside to catch the sea views (and the breezes are also welcome on warmer days).

639bb-img_2823editedI decided to forgo an entree to save room for dessert, but my friends choices looked absolutely delicious. With one friend a coeliac, Salt has a number of gluten-free options. I got to taste the gluten-free version of the oven-baked Ciabatta loaf with garlic confit in balsamic olive oil and chilli and it was delicious at $7 and enough to share.

Another friend enjoyed the roasted pumpkin, spinach and goats cheese mille-feuille served with a baby tomato, basil and garlic confit. I got a taste and it was absolutely delicious and a reasonable $14.00. It was somewhat enormous for a starter, albeit light, the goats cheese was absolutely divine – I was excited to find something this delicious and enquired where it came from, so was disappointed to discover it had been imported from Belgium, as I’m yet to discover anything quite so flavourful locally (though I’ll keep trying just in case). The star of the day had to be the famous Hervey Bay Scallops on cauliflower puree with crisp prosciutto and caper vinaigrette, stunning at $16.00.

f0c96-img_2825editedMains were slightly less successful though. Choices were split down the table, between the duck and the steak. The duck servings were small, especially considering the $27.00 price tag. It was cooked through, and both of us who chose the duck would have preferred it pink – we did suggest they ask diners how they would like it served, as they would with steak. While the menu stated it was a seared orange, honey and chilli duck breast, there was no discernible warmth from the chilli, and the more subtle orange and honey flavours were over-powered by the mild Thai citrus dressing over the mint, coriander and bean shoot salad (and in the current weather, hot vegetables would have been preferred).

20a3b-img_2826editedThe other diners chose the eye fillet wrapped in prosciutto with a wild mushroom and brandy cream sauce on seeded mustard smashed potato with blanched broccolini. The serving size was enormous by comparison with the duck, though it was $34.00. And though both diners ordered their steaks medium-rare, they both came out blue. Personally I would have had to send it back, but they were both happy to dine on.

My highlight was definitely dessert. I chose the tasting plate, and while I shared some spoonfuls with my companions, it was certainly an indulgence at $29.00 (though it was utterly delicious and I wouldn’t hesitate to get it again). The Chai Panna Cotta with a petite citrus salad and pistachio shard was eye opening. I don’t normally like panna cotta – it’s a texture thing – but this was delicious, and the citrus salad, flavoured with ginger powder and mint was a delightful balance to the creaminess. I normally find white chocolate a little sickly sweet, but in the mousse served at salt, it was divine, and I loved the mini toffee apples that came with it. My favourite was definitely the triple chocolate semifreddo with crushed praline which had a great balance of cocoa and an added dose of nostalgia with the coconut wafer served with it. I’m sure you’ll agree it was beautifully presented.

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There was quite a delay before we were served all our courses – 45 minutes from ordering before our entrees arrived and about 20 minutes between entree and main, though it was a relaxed gap before dessert was served.

I expect most of our issues were due to the first night of a new menu being served, and I would certainly be willing to try the dinner menu at Salt again. With a couple of glasses of wine, a coffee and tip, my bill came to $80.00, so my main concern would be the prices, as I think at this level, there are other venues in the area that offer stiff competition on the flavour and style stakes.

Cheers, KangaRue 🙂

All views are my own.

Breakfasting in the borough

I’m almost certainly a social media addict. Don’t get me wrong… I’m not one of those people constantly attached to their phone and I am, quite frankly, horrified that people can go to Twitter jail*, but… I do tend to rely on social media on a daily basis.

When I lived in this State’s capital, Brisbane, I depended on a few different twitter accounts (SEQ Incidents and Qld Rail for example) for advice on traffic conditions and public transport hiccups. And when I moved back to the Fraser Coast I searched out all possible local Facebook and Twitter accounts to follow. Which is why last Thursday I put out a Facebook question about breakfast dining options in Maryborough.

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Sadly suggestions were minimal but… during my day’s online trawling I came across reference to a Maryborough cafe which: 1. Opened early; and 2. Showed some social media savvy.

cafe cru

Cafe Cru is obviously a bit of a hidden gem as my mother (a long-term Maryborough resident) and a couple of other people I spoke to had no idea the place existed or where it could be found (near the Mary Poppins statue, incidentally!). But, after a call to check that gluten-free options were available it was the planned venue for Friday’s breakfast.

However… although the ambience is great (I loved the look and feel of the place including the eclectic furniture), the menu was more limited than I expected.

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If you’re extremely a tad fussy like me you may struggle. Although GF bread was available none of the three or four bruschetta breakfast options tempted me. Mum was happy to have a ham and cheese croissant but, rather than ‘make do’, we decided (albeit reluctantly) to go elsewhere.

Having said that, Cafe Cru obviously attracts a lot of regulars, several customers being greeted by name as they picked up their morning coffee. Plus… some of the stuff on their menu (for non coeliacs) looked AMAZING! (‘Like’ the Cafe Cru Facebook page if you don’t already and you’ll see what I mean!)

AllikatsInstead we ventured into Allikats on Kent. On arriving I confirmed GF options were available and was happy that they were easily able to run through my choices. Both mum and I settled on bacon and poached eggs on toast and enjoyed our respective breakfasts.

I noticed that Allikats also had gluten-free cupcakes and cake in their window – had I been there for a snack rather than brekkie.

I have to say I was surprised what a struggle it was to find something open (before 9am) in Maryborough for breakfast. My mother dines out fairly regularly (mostly lunches and morning/afternoon teas) and always asks after gluten-free options on my behalf. She knows I’ll groan if the only choice is the seemingly popular orange and poppy-seed cake which graces many-a-cafe-shelf.

So, while I’ve found a few faves in Hervey Bay, I’m going to have to keep investigating Maryborough cafes, coffee shops and restaurants to find my go-to options. *Sigh*… such a chore! 😉

I’m happy to receive suggestions in the interim!

* Sad, but true. You can only send a limited number of tweets a day. Apparently.