A STAR IS PRAWN
UNDOUBTEDLY ONE OF CAIRNS’ FAVOURITE SEAFOOD RESTAURANTS, THE RAW PRAWN CONTINUES TO GET IT RIGHT THROUGHOUT THE FESTIVE SEASON AND YEAR ROUND
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.