RAM BUT AN RESTAURANT review
You’d hesitate to call Rambutan a backpackers. With its complex of 46 flashy rooms gathered around a rooftop pool bar and restaurant, the impression it leaves is more of a glam, Instagrammable resort. Still, the tables of Lonely Planet-flicking Poms tell no lies. This is a hostel, and as such can become a freewheeling affair on the weekends, when Townsville locals pile in for a cut of the action.
Thankfully, Rambutan’s restaurant gives you an opportunity to dip your toe into the fun without feeling like you’ve overstayed your welcome.
The Hamptons Design Co.designed space is nautically themed in the best possible way. Think bold prints, lazy deck chairs and metres of rope. From the ceiling hang greenery and old ‘Queenslander’-style shutter windows. Overlooking the resort’s pool on one side and Flinders Street’s heritage buildings on the other, it’s an easy, breezy place to spend a bunch of hours.
The menu is about as inclusive as you’d imagine, ranging from taco kits right through to 300
gram scotch fillets. We start by sharing some perfectly fried Boston crab cakes before turning our attention to the restaurant’s killer app: Rambutan’s smoker, the only brick smoke pit of its type in Townsville.
We take a ‘Holy Trinity’, choosing three meats: 12-hour short rib with a coffee rub; Memphis-dusted pulled pork; and 12-hour smoked brisket with chipotle barbecue. The meats come presented on a platter, accompanied by condiments courtesy of Australia’s Changz Hot Sauce.
All are tasty but it’s the brisket – so often the yardstick of a quality smoking operation – that truly impresses, succulent and layered with flavour. A lovely fragrant apple and mint salad helps keep things on-diet, the whole meal washed down with some outrageously cheap Corte Giara pinot grigio.
All this and we’ve hardly cracked $80 between two. More to spend at the bar afterwards, I guess. – Matt Shea