Paradise - - Townsville -

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

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