A MEAL TO LINGER OVER
IF YOU FOLLOW THE MAXIM, TO EAT WELL YOU SHOULD EAT WHERE THE LOCALS EAT, EDGE HILL’S LINGA LONGA SHOULD BE ON YOUR LIST
Despite fitting comfortably into the fine dining category, Linga Longa still manages to feel comfortably like a local neighbourhood haunt. The sort of place where some dress up and others attend in, shall we say, their most comfortable attire. As North Queenslanders are often wont, shorts, thongs and a clean shirt can be the nod to dining dress standards.
It doesn’t detract from the introductory experience of a genteel reception, candle light, soft jazz music and well-dressed tables setting a tone of good taste and discretion.
On the contrary, it feels like an embrace for all comers, to a sanctuary of service and care.
Set back from Collins Avenue amid a row of offices and shops, this restaurant has long been a regular retreat of Edge Hillbillies living within walking distance, but also Cairns locals willing to cross town for easy parking, sterling service and exquisite cooking.
Sensibly, we have booked and, arriving for an early dinner at 6.30pm, see the room sparsely occupied. It soon begins to fill.
Our maitre d’, Eduardo, efficiently supplies menus, water and information on the daily specials. Having been with the restaurant for years, he’s a familiar figure with the many regulars, but treats all with friendly propriety.
We’re beginning with glasses of Babydoll sauvignon blanc from New Zealand.
My dining companion can’t let the opportunity for escargot de Bourgogne (snails in garlic butter) slide past. I, on the other hand, know I’ll struggle to get through the generoussized mains, yet can’t find the restraint to order just a salad.
So, in the spirit of true indulgence, I head straight to mains and the reef and beef from the specials board, a sirloin eye fillet about five centimetres thick, swathed in juicy prawns and creamy garlic sauce on sautéed potatoes with carrots and greens. No half measures here.
My guest joins the party with Chateaubriand Rossini steak – another heftily thick grilled fillet topped with a rich slab of pate, port glaze and vegetables.
The entree arrives in timely manner, each earthy meaty snail snugly fitted into a shell oozing garlic and parsley melted butter. A couple of wedges of char-grilled ciabatta soak up the juices. On point. A break, more wine, this time a fruity, floral medium-bodied shiraz, Barossa’s Bethany Creek, then we’re ogling well-presented main courses.
Chef Lionel Batin certainly knows his onions.
Both steaks are quality and cooked to perfection, the reef and beef exceptional.
My guest says the pate is aromatic sublimity. He would like a touch more sauce with his meat and, upon request, is told this can be done, though there will be a delay as chef cooks each sauce to order with the dish.
He decides against waiting, yet still enjoys the dish.
Before scrutinising the dessert menu, which we concur we shouldn’t possibly consider, we’re saying we really must come here more often.
Then somehow, as Ed returns, the words, “rum and gingerbread baba, please”, leave my lips. I do not live to regret it.
Cherry cream accompanies firm ginger cake drenched in sweet rum, it’s a fitting end to a most satisfying meal.
Verdict: Classy, affordable locals’ favourite.