Monday, 17 December 2007

naked nut stands out from the crowd

Contributor 'So, wots for dinner" shares a night out with family .......

WHEN you enter the Naked Nut restaurant – tucked away at 120 Collins Avenue, Edge Hill – immediately you know you are among friends. People who love what they do, serving fine food, beverages and whose attention to detail is second to none.

In a simplistic, suburban setting, the NN is well laid out. Even with a full house (as it was the Thursday night we dined), you do not feel ‘hemmed in’ seated in this comfortable restaurant. The walls are adorned with a series of entertaining etchings of famous (or infamous) characters whose bald heads match our convivial host, Franco, whose ‘naked nut’ inspired the name of his restaurant.

My parents and I were greeted at the door and again at our tables by friendly, welcoming staff who looked after us and quickly gave a rendition of the specials, including drinks such as the Cosmopolitan and Lychee Martini ($12).

The menu & wine list at the NN is consistently good, although you can BYO wine only. Our waiter suggested a bottle of the Yalgarnia Classic Dry White ($8/$36.50) and we were not disappointed with the full fruit but crisp finish of this little known West Australian.

In anticipation of fabulous desserts, we forewent Entrees in favour of the Bruchetta Special ($8.50) which on top of the traditional combination of tomato, basil and quality olive oil was bursting with the flavour and colour of freshly diced Spanish onion, capsicum and olives.

Apart from the versatility of seven main dishes and four pasta options served as Entrée & Mains (ranging from $12.30 to $28.50), the Specials will always entice.

My mum ordered ‘Fish of the Day’ – a modest Barramundi fillet topped with 4 medium sized prawns and a flavoursome bisque ($32) while her partner succumbed to the other special of Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks (also $32).

Knowing my parents hailed from Karumba in the Gulf of Carpentaria, our host apologised for the absence of wild-caught prawns and promised to make amends by seeking our product out at Rusty’s Market the following day.

Any disappointment at the farmed seafood was quickly overcome by the size and tenderness of Bruce’s lamb shanks! Despite being a permanent resident for at least the past 30 years, we have long accepted having a ‘kiwi’ in the family and his hankering for anything lamb.

Apart from filling most of a ½ metre boat-shaped plate heaped atop lashings of creamy potato mash in a rich, tomato-based gravy, the shanks were so tender the meat literally fell away from the bone. Such was the nostalgia evoked for the homeland, at one point our guest threatened to break into a passionate rendition of the ‘Green Green Grass of Home’.

My Lemon & Lime Chicken Breast oven-baked with chilli, ginger, shallots, capsicum & coriander on a bed of glass noodles ($28.50) proved a little dry and not as interesting as anticipated.

However, this was more than compensated by another glass of wine (Rymill’s Bee’s Knees Sparkling Red $9/$38.50) and fresh Pecan Pie ($12) served with mandarin and almond ice cream AND chantilly cream (extra points to the chef for NOT making us choose!). Meanwhile, our designated driver wondered aloud whether Franco’s aunty’s Tira Misu recipe ($10) was going to tip him over the limit, with the sponge biscuits drenched in coffee and marsala, layers of mascarpone cheese and cream, ganished with grated chocolate… not to mention the complimentary Lemoncello with which our host proceeded to ply us well after the dinner and bill had been finalised.

This latest experience left us in no doubt the Naked Nut is a place locals will keep going back to simply because they will always come away knowing they have paid for quality food and outstanding service.

* Check out Sunday dinners locals special (buy one main course, receive one free) or Wednesday Summer Scorchers Menu (2 courses $25). Open Wed to Sunday; also for lunch Friday & Sunday, ph 4032 2136 for bookings.


I'd love some service said...

I wish your experience echoed mine, but it does not. Both times I tried this place the food was mediocre, the service even more so. Both times I was with an Edge Hill "local", which meant we were greeted warmly before being ignored. Try and get a refill on water!

We living in Cairns settle for this lousy service regularly, as a matter of course.

I too had the pecan pie. It was lovely. It was $12. It should be at this price, and should be served properly as well.

Sadly the only places with performance standards on the staff are fast food restaurants.

Anonymous said...

Seems like despite the mixed reviews, Naked Nut is destined for the restaurant scrap heap.

Saw it listed "for sale" in the Cairns Post.

Chuckie said...

Let me assure you the Naked Nut is a long way from the scrap heap. The restaurant continues to look after locals in the manner for which it is renowned. A group of 3 of us dined this evening for $100 -taking advantage of the Sunday special '2 main meals for the price of 1' (as advertised in the Cairns Sun) including a Bruchetta special ($10) of smoked salmon, spanish onions, capers, dill & a mild wasabi mayonnaise; soup of the day ($10), a cream of field mushroom; a tomato salad ($16) with bocconcini, red ripe tomatoes & basil dressed in balsamic; and two thick, succulent Filet Mignon
($33) cooked to medium rare perfection, wrapped in bacon rashes with potato mash and smothered in mushroom jus.
The meal was delicious and the service as congenial as ever... whoever the next owner of the NN is, they have a high benchmark to which to aspire!

Fresh said...

i love the naked nut. i'm an edge hill local, and i take all my cairns visitors there. i've never been disappointed.

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