The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page -

If there’s one thing you sim­ply must have on an Aus­tralian din­ner ta­ble at some point over the fes­tive sea­son it is a prawn, or sev­eral. And one place you’re guar­an­teed a jolly good prawn is The Raw Prawn.

I know peo­ple who fre­quent this Es­planade restau­rant and never touch seafood.

For us, it is the whole point, but it’s also a feather in the team’s cap to know the other stuff is up to scratch.

So between the wild and not-so-woolly on­go­ing cel­e­bra­tions, we take a night for a quiet light din­ner a deux to soak up the trop­i­cal sea­sonal am­bi­ence.

In or­der to achieve this we have booked an out­side ta­ble and, luck­ily for us this evening, have scored a plumb spot un­der a ceil­ing fan.

Red-faced wait­ers buzz past fan­ning them­selves with menus on this sul­try evening, but we are happy as a pair of Lar­rys.

Be­ing aware of the The Raw Prawn’s gen­eros­ity with por­tions we col­lab­o­rate with the food or­der, but fly solo on the wine front.

A glass of La Prova pinot gri­gio for me, O’Leary Walker sauvi­gnon blanc for him, both from South Aus­tralia.

They prove equally suit­able with the dishes, which we have or­dered to come all at once.

There’s a tempura soft shell crab with Thai salad, crispy gar­lic and a driz­zle of sweet chilli plum sauce from the starters; a mixed seafood grill; and we’ve or­dered a side of crushed Dutch pota­toes with gar­lic and sea salt.

You can or­der the mixed seafood grill for one or more peo­ple, but we have opted for one and it turns out to be per­fectly am­ple.

Sit­ting be­side the tank of live crabs, we watch them one-by-one make an exit and my guest jokes about which one will land on our ta­ble.

Best not to think along th­ese lines if, like me, you’re a bit of a softy when it comes to death.

While we await the food, ex­tra ac­cou­trements are set upon the al­ready for­mally dressed ta­ble – im­ple­ments for de­flesh­ing bugs, damp scented re­fresher hand­tow­els and a bowl for seafood shells.

The crab we do re­ceive is an abun­dant chap, pre­sented at­trac­tively with dec­o­ra­tive ba­nana leaf upon a crunchy salad of shred­ded raw cab­bage, sprouts and red onion.

The tempura bat­ter light and crisp, the salad fresh and crunchy with a slight sweet and sour zing from the sauce, they al­low the taste of the ocean to flow through.

Like­wise, the mixed grill com­prised of cala­mari slices, bar­ra­mundi fil­let, five gi­ant prawns and two halved More­ton Bay bugs with a lit­tle pot of pineap­ple salsa and a side salad is clearly to­day’s catch, burst­ing with oceanic brack­ish­ness. A driz­zle of but­ter, light sprin­kling of herbs and a squeeze of fresh le­mon is the only sauce re­quired.

There could be few finer tastes than a fork­ful of sweet bug meat swept through a pud­dle of melted cit­rusy but­ter.

A hearty bowl of pota­toes, bet­ter than you could hope for with a crispy outer and good gar­licky salti­ness, make a great ad­di­tion.

An en­tree, a main to share and a side dish and we’re de­feated.

No Christ­mas sweets re­quired here tonight, just a wee glass of Camp­bells Ruther­glen Topaque and a re­turn visit is on the cards.

Ver­dict: A spe­cial fes­tive treat with­out a big fi­nan­cial hit.

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