ORLEANS RESTAURANT BAR
A TOUCH OF DEEP SOUTH ON THE SUNSHINE COAST
Diversity in dining can never be a bad thing and Orleans Restaurant and Bar adds another dimension to the variety available locally. If the cuisine of America’s Deep South has always held appeal, ya’ll can save on the airfares and be treated to an authentic cotton-belt meal in a far more accessible locale.
Ambience and appeal
Diners seated inside are treated to the mood and style of the Deep South as the exposed brickwork, partially rendered in a patchwork of cement, reflects the low mood lighting of the hanging lamps. The dulcet tones of blues singers add music and melody to the sense of occasion as the sounds of cocktail shakers from the nearby bar periodically punctuate the sounds of the South. It’s hard to fault the replication of a Mississippi diner on Maroochydore’s Duporth Ave.
We watched the tables polished by wait staff to within an inch of their lives while we enjoyed our Saturday evening outing. Given the theme, the venue could never be clinical or sterile, but that didn’t stop the wait staff polishing the glassware to a shiny lustre and ensuring that every surface was clean and the crockery stainless.
The staff were well-groomed and dressed in rather generic black and white. Consistently with the venue’s theme, the tables weren’t dressed in linen but were well-presented and, importantly, very clean. Personally, I would have liked to have seen the wait staff wearing aprons, as you’d expect to see in a dining venue in Louisiana.
It was a busy night, so the staff were always going to be under pressure but we found the Orleans service to be mixed. The wait staff were friendly and engaging, and checked in periodically to ensure we were happy with our meals. It did take a long time to offer to take a drinks order and waiting a little more than half an hour for dessert to arrive wasn’t a great way to end the evening. But there were some nice touches – such as replacing a linen napkin after it was inadvertently dropped on the floor, and replenishing our glasses well before they were anywhere near empty.
Across the board, the meals were well-presented, balanced in colour and contained a creative edge to their presentation. Consistently with the theme, the kitchen brought the creole and cajun flavours of the South and allowed them to collide in a range of traditional plates on a modern and contemporary menu. The clam and sweet corn chowder had a lovely texture and herbaceous balance while remaining true to this spiritual dish of the Deep South. The roast duck a l’orange seemed a touch out of place as a French twist to a New Orleans-styled menu. But it was beautifully presented: the duck succulent and accompanied by a heavenly parsnip puree and some delicious buttered baby carrots. The slow roast lamb leg for two was a massive meal and perfectly cooked. The lamb melted off the fork while the green beans in the mustard dressing were
still crunchy despite being on the hot side of warm. The rosemary salt tomato ragu added a Louisiana touch and juiciness on the plate. Of the desserts, the poached pears were a stand-out. But I would have liked to have tried a very traditional New Orleans dish – maybe a doughnut-like Beignet.
The wine list isn’t extensive by any means and could probably use a touch more variety. I’d have expected the most popular grapes such as shiraz, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay to have at least a few choices from different regions and price points. The wines weren’t generally expensive and did have a diversity of price points and a couple of French styles thrown into the mix. But we found it hard to go past the Central Otago pinot noir from Mt Difficulty. It’s always a winner and a nice compromise for the duck and lamb.
With entrees ranging in price from $9 to $24 and mains from $35 to $38, the meals weren’t outrageously priced but given the quality, I thought it represented pretty good value. The Sunshine Coast has rarely been graced with cuisine styled on that of the southern states of the US. But Orleans Restaurant Bar reproduces the experience with ambience, style and impressive fare across all parts of the menu. For the combination of theme, cuisine and value, Orleans is definitely a contender. I plan to go back and work my way through some of the other dishes on the menu, including the gumbo that we just didn’t have room for.
ORLEANS RESTAURANT BAR
Address: 24 Duporth Ave, Maroochydore Phone: 5443 5387 Website: orleansrb.com Opening hours: Dinner from 5.30pm, Monday to Saturday; lunch from 11.30am, Monday to Friday
SPIRIT OF THE DEEP SOUTH: Orleans Restaurant Bar, Maroochydore.