One of the perks of being a food blogger is being invited to events like this: a menu tasting from a restaurant with a great location and amazing food. Cafe Catalina invited yours truly along to a Winter Menu Preview and the verdict is: delicious.
Before I go on, just let me say that even if I get an invitation to an amazing dinner like this, I only blog about it if it’s good. So for those of you with a short attention span, perhaps that’s enough and you don’t need to read on…? 😉
But for the food nerds (and proud) like me out there, here are the juicy details of the Winter Menu preview, all 12 courses. So yes, this will be a long post, but I guarantee it will inspire your tastebuds.
Firstly, for those of you unfamiliar with Cafe Catalina, it’s located adjacent to the wonderful shiny looking Aquatic Centre on the Broadwater. So it has beautiful Broadwater views, is dog friendly and is open 7 days for breakfast and lunch, with dinners on weekends. Their Sunday sessions sound particularly enticing with music from 3-6pm while you sip a drink and enjoy some snacks from the starters menu (or kick on for dinner).
Cafe Catalina’s menu is modern Australian, their Head Chef Prashant Shauhan has teamed up with Consulting Chef Laurence Griffin to create a menu with a broad range of fresh flavours and textures. I enjoyed every single one (yep!) of the 12 dishes. That in itself is unusual and delightful.
My partner in crime on this evening was a lovely friend of mine so I’ve also incorporated her thoughts. Oh, and I’ve added the menu prices for each item as I thought you’d like to know.
When we were arrived our lovely host Rupert greeted us, told us a little about the venue, and did a stellar job of serving 12 courses with matching wines (which is not easy, and I’m speaking from experience here), talking about the chefs, the food, the venue and showing his absolute passion for what he and the team do.
And now… the juicy details:
Our first course: Hervey Bay Scallops with Smoked Tomato & Black Olive Butter ($19.5), paired with Jansz Sparkling. These scallops were perfectly cooked with the smoked tomato and olive butter complementing the flavour of the scallops.
Grilled Local Prawns with Chilli, Garlic, Lemon & Capers ($22). these prawns were fresh and perfectly cooked and the chilli, garlic, lemon and capers were very tasty with them. Also the Nasturtium Leaf garnish added a nice peppery flavour. I went back for seconds on this tasting.
Arancini: Mushroom and Mozzarella with Aged Parmesan (small $16.5). The delicate aroma of truffles, the crunchy exterior and the soft, delicious filling. I would love to have these again. These were served with Palliser Riesling from Martinborough in New Zealand, a great drop.
Chicken Salad with Lemongrass, Green Paw Paw, Chilli, Mint and Coriander ($24.5). Topped with crispy fried garlic slices, this dish was so fresh, sweet, light, sour and just worked.
Atlantic Salmon with salsa of zucchini, capers, raisins, pine nuts, fennel and olives ($33). Sometimes salmon can be too strong a flavour for me but this was fresh, cooked perfectly with a crispy skin and served with flavours that highlighted the fish. Loved the gentle fennel highlights in the salsa.
Grilled Market Fish with parsnip puree, broccolini and lemon and caper butter ($34). Fresh Barramundi with crispy skin, delicious slightly sweet puree and perfectly cooked broccolini. This was matched with a 2016 Vasse Felix Chardonnay. I’m a big fan of Margaret River Chardonnay and this didn’t disappoint.
Pumpkin, Green Bean & Lentil Coconut Curry with Paratha Bread and Curry Leaf Rice ($26). This was a delicious sweet, creamy curry topped with fried lentils, served with flakey Paratha bread and fragrant curry leaf rice. This dish was paired with 28 Burleigh Brewing Beer – I’m not a fan of beer but my friend really enjoyed the pairing.
Pan fried Gnocchi with slow cooked Lamb Ragu and Reggiano ($32). Despite every dish being of the same high quality, this was one of the highlights for me. Rich, tender, melt in the mouth lamb (made from lamb neck) with pan fried home made gnocchi and a rich, delicious sauce. This was paired with Forest Hill (Western Australia) Cabernet Sauvignon which was perfect with the rich, tasty dish.
Kingaroy Slow Cooked Crispy Pork Belly with Cauliflower & Apple Puree and Seasonal Greens ($29). The pork meat was soft and melting, the sweet puree worked really well with the pork, as did the green beans which kind of cut through the fattiness of the pork. Also did I mention the rich jus? Yum. If I’m being picky the skin had a little crunch but could’ve used more.
Creme Brulee with Peanut Brittle ($14). Crispy topped, creamy traditional creme brulee served with salty-sweet peanut brittle. I love a brulee and this didn’t disappoint.
Banana Pudding with Whisky Caramel and Ice Cream ($12). Soft, sweet pudding with house made caramel sauce and ice cream, served with some grilled banana. Delish.
Selection of cheeses with Lavosh, Quince Paste & Fruit ($26): d’Affinois (France), Vintage Woombye Cheddar (Qld) and Gorgonzola Piccante (Italy). I’d never had d’Affinois before, what a beautiful brie like, creamy cheese. I also loved the Vintage Woombye cheddar, slightly sharp flavour and nice creamy texture. But as for blue cheese… not my favourite. Wish my husband was there as he loves it. The cheese platter was served with Port – I must apologise as I didn’t see the bottle but it was great with the cheese.
Last up, as everyone was so satisfied and full I was the only brave soul who wanted to try the Espresso Martini ($18), so I ended up with a whole cocktail to myself (winning!). Cafe Catalina use a fresh shot of coffee with their Martini and it shows – what a perfect way to end an amazing dinner.
A big thank you to the chefs and front of house team for a wonderful evening. We could see the hard work and attention to detail that went into our dinner and matching wines, and the passion the team has for good food and service.
Long story short I highly recommend a visit to Cafe Catalina and can’t wait to go back there myself and take my husband. He’s as discerning (read: fussy) as me when it comes to food so that in itself should be a glowing recommendation!