CRUISING THE MED
PIATO MEANS PLATE IN ITALIAN AND GREEK AND YOU’LL CERTAINLY GET THROUGH A FEW AT THIS NEW MEDITERRANEAN EATERY
TAKE two clever, successful parents and you can expect them to spawn a wonderful child, right? The same can be said for restaurants. The mighty forces of Elie, formerly of Linga Longa and Christina and Kosta of Yaya’s Hellenic Kitchen, have united in a meeting of great minds (and hands).
The result is Piato, a Mediterranean restaurant that is shaking things up for Cairns diners.
While Linga Longa’s modern international menu wowed the Edge Hill crowd for years, along with Elie’s warm hospitality and benchmark kitchen standards, across town on the Esplanadem Yaya’s was rocking Greek cuisine to satisfied customers night after night.
Welcome their new baby, Piato, the brainchild of both sets of restaurateurs passionate about serving the people of Cairns first and foremost, while still putting out the welcome mat to visitors.
There is certainly a buzz around town over this new venture situated in prime position on the waterfront at The Pier.
The menu, with a vast array of entrees, is perfect for sharing in the true sense of Mediterranean family dining.
We begin with a daily special, coral trout consommé, a light broth of ocean freshness, served with char-grilled garlic and herb sourdough for mopping up – not a drop of this precious brew should be wasted.
Next, some pickled octopus, also a daily special, served cold with fresh leaves, tiny diced carrot, red onion and capsicum pieces, the al dente meaty pieces are an explosion of tangy tastiness.
We have opted for ice cold Piper Heidsieck Champagne, just the thing with Piato’s luscious bounty straight from the sea.
As Elie says, you can’t open a restaurant on the edge of the Coral Sea and not offer the best of the day’s catch. Likewise, you really can’t visit the Med (metaphorically, even) without indulging in some grilled sardines.
A plate of deboned sardines on grilled zucchini, topped with Spanish onion, olive oil and lemon dressing is simple perfection.
Another starter to share, the mango prawn, has local tiger prawns with watercress, mango, avocado and once again, the wonderful marriage of citrus and seafood, this time in the form of a lime dressing.
It’s a pretty picture and we’re assured, “Those prawns were still swimming this morning.” You can’t get fresher than that.
Two more entrees – fetta sesame and deep fried camembert – the fetta cubes rolled in sesame seeds, lightly fried and drizzled with honey, the camembert with sliced fresh fruit and berry coulis, are both exquisite. Maybe not what the doctor ordered, but who asked him?
So far, after each dish, I have exultantly proclaimed, “I would come here just for that.” Which has me revisiting six times, so far.
If I had to narrow it down, I’d have a plate of sardines, the fetta, a glass of something nice and be utterly gratified. Not tonight though, we’re on a mission. A main to share, the Piato Chef’s Choice, slow cooked lamb served over roast potatoes with pomegranate salsa. Yet another dish of pure delectable simplicity which proves the right ingredients and a bit of creative nous can equate to fabulous feasting.
A seafood platter of stupendous proportions meanders past on a waiter’s arm to “oohs and aahs” from onlookers.
For us it’s dessert and this is no mean feat considering the adventure we’ve been on.
Between four we sample the baklava (the very best), a commendable crème brulee, an equally upstanding tiramisu and an absolutely memorable chocolate mousse, the secret ingredients to which are Cointreau and citrus zests.