PEPPER, SPICE AND PLENTY THAT’S NICE
LIME & PEPPER WORKS THE TROPICAL BEACHFRONT SETTING WELL, COVERING FOOD OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE
There is a considerable amount of top-end eating to be had at Palm Cove. Lime & Pepper, perfectly positioned mid-way along Williams Esplanade, works hard to succeed. With other very good restaurants sharing adjoining open-air space, the neighbours could easily steal its thunder.
Yet, it holds its own with smooth service, competitive pricing and an inspired menu.
The formula is straight forward with 13 smaller plates from which to graze and 10 mains.
Whether you dine traditionally – entree, main, dessert – or eclectically, matters not.
My guest and I like the sounds of the chef’s tasting plate to share, which presumably changes according to seasonal produce and the whim of the kitchen.
Tonight it is pork buns, sashimi, calamari and beef lollypops. Unconventional and fun. Three wine summer specials are advertised: Chaffey Bros Funkelpunkt brut from South Australia’s Eden Valley; Wirra Wirra Grenache rose from McLaren Vale and a Marlborough pinot gris Mahi. We begin with the first, intent on trying them all.
Under the permanent sail (ie. no aircon) we are fully sheltered seated near the kitchen. Fine for now, but come full-on summer, ceiling fans aside, I’ll be reserving a table out the front with the sea breeze.
It’s a smart setting, but no airs and graces. Shorts and thongs seem to be popular male attire and there are no table cloths. Staff are on their game with water top-ups, food and beverage knowledge and service efficiency.
The sharing plate comes on a long wooden chopping board.
We test the calamari first, thinking it won’t hold up well if it cools. It’s perfect, lightly floured and fried, the tender seafood curls sit on a bed of crisp sprouts, red onion, sweet green chilli with fresh herbs and a drizzle of aioli. We’re off to a fabulous start. Next stop, tuna sashimi on rice noodles mixed with wakame and some lightly spicy chopped red chilli. The fish tastes ocean fresh, the overall flavour clean and enticing. These two are my favourites. My guest quite likes the other two, beef lollypops and pork buns. The lollypops, minced beef on icypole sticks, come with a “Vietnamese salad”, which is actually just a salad with some Asian dressing and big red chilli pieces, easy enough to avoid if you wish. The meat’s a bit unexciting.
The pork buns are two pieces of flat sweet bun dough with pork belly and coleslaw sandwiched between. Nice enough if it’s your kind of thing.
There’s plenty of food for sharing and the tasting plate is a good option for varied tastes.
On to the next course and my guest has chosen saltbush marinated lamb sirloin with cauliflower mash, bok choi and five spice jus. It’s a substantial meal and executed well. From the small “tastes” I’m having the saffron chowder, a bright yellow seafood soup filled with chunks of fresh salmon, reef fish, perfect prawns and OK mussels. Unlike creamy chowders, this one is like a broth, with the saffron a perfect marriage to the seafood and additional light smokiness from fresh cress.
Served with two chunks of grilled sourdough, this is a meal to satisfy in terms of taste and portion.
Decadence comes in the form of either liquid or solid desserts, the former being decadent cocktails, our pick of the latter, a dark Daintree chocolate mousse with baked banana and coconut espuma (foam).