CRUIS­ING THE MED

PIATO MEANS PLATE IN ITAL­IAN AND GREEK AND YOU’LL CER­TAINLY GET THROUGH A FEW AT THIS NEW MEDITER­RANEAN EATERY

The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page -

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.

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