The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page -

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).

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