Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nautilus - Fine Dining is Port Douglas, Qld, Australia

The husband and I are not wealthy by any means, but we do like splurge on good food and wine, being the gluttons we are. Anniversary dinners are no exception.

Look at all 'em forks!

As luck would have it, we happened to be (or we meticulously planned to be) in charming Port Douglas for our 2 year anniversary. Before we embarked on our journey, we did a bit of research online for a "nice" restaurant. Harrison's and Nautilus seemed to be the rated "fine dining". In the end, we chose Nautilus, although I can't really remember what the deciding factor was.

The restaurant itself was quite nice. The entrance is up a little dirt path (I wonder how ladies in super high heels do this?) through trees and bushes. The outdoor dining area is under a canopy of tall palm trees. When there's a bit of a breeze, you can hear the leaves rustle, which is a lovely sound!

The setting was beautiful and the servers were nice... I wanted to love this place. I really did, but it just didn't do it for me. The food was beautifully presented and maybe it's just that I can't fully appreciate food and wine pairings yet but this experience wasn't what we were expecting. Maybe the problem is that last 2 restaurants we had a tasting menu with wine pairings DID blow us away... Anyway, it still was a nice place to be with the husband on our 2 year.

Something that took away from the experience was that the servers didn't seem very... knowledgeable. Our waiter (although very nice) told us the wrong course (he'd have a prawn salad in his hand but would tell us it was something different, then apologize profusely). We had some other servers come to present us with the pairing wine but they'd just bring us the glass and say something like, "I have no idea what this is." Um... not cool.

Our server said of one wine, "It's the most exported wine in New Zealand". Like, why would we want to spend marked up restaurant prices for a wine we could buy at our local supermarket? Not impressed by that, either.

Now... for the food! We opted for the 6 course Chefs Tasting Menu:

Duck & Green Ginger Consommé
paired with
Cloudy Bay Pelorus Sparkling (Marlborough)
Verdict: Consomme was very salty, but the mushroom thing on the bread
(sorry, foggy memory) was quite good.

Smoked trout on potato crisps
(sorry, can't remember what it was paired with...)
Verdict: Nice smokey flavour of trout, went well with the salty crispiness of the chips!

Chilled Tiger Prawn Salad
paired with
St Hallett Riesling (Eden Valley)
Verdict: The meatiness of the prawns and the shaved long white things (fennel?) went well together.
I think the dressing was a bit bland, though. Maybe a bit more lime juice?

Pan-seared Scallops with Pork Belly
paired with
Mitolo Jester Sangiovese Rose (McLaren Vale)
Verdict: Rich, creamy and very yummy.

Other than this being an eye fillet and there being a pancetta wafer, I can't remember
what this was. Sorry! It was quite tasty though, so great for beef lovers!

Vanilla Crème Brulee, White chocolate ice-cream & crisp cocoa wafer
paired with
Plantaganet ‘Off the Rack’ Chenin Blanc (Great Southern)
Verdict: Um, how can you go wrong with this?!

I can't say I regret our decision to go here, because the ambiance was very romantic. You can get better food elsewhere, though. We did end up getting better food at a great street-front restaurant called 2 Fish. It didn't have the "anniversary" ambiance, though. Guess you can't have it all...

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