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

The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page -

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.

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