Kitchenslut has spent a week or so traversing the east coast on return from his annual southern vacation. It's several years since I had sidetracked into Airlie Beach so was looking forward to a stopover there. A monday night may not be appropriate to make a judgment but the place did seem very quiet and a touch drab.
The food choices in Airlie are not really very inspiring either. The couple of good restaurants seemed expensive for their offering. Hog's Breath was closed for renovations. The sailing club is a good place for a sunset drink but was also expensive for club food and that club-genre puke inducing kitsch carpet is almost a feature in itself.
I did flirt with Fish D'vine, the rum bar which has previously closed in Cairns. The fish display was typically enticing howver my recollection of Cairns was that what came out of the kitchen didn't quite match the expectations from the display. There isn't much competition in its price and quality range in Airlie which may explain why it has survived there and not in more competitive Cairns?
However, inspired by their fish display and a clear starry night I decided the best option would be fish & chips with a bottle of wine (in brown paper bag) down on the beach. There are two fish & chip shops in Airlie and I can only guess that I chose the wrong one?
At $8 for the special perhaps I should have expected to get what I paid for. The chips were edible, as was the batter, but chips and batter do not make a very satisfying meal I found. I had to toss the fish which is my only experience with inedible simple battered fish. The flesh was sort of wet and slimy, completely unappetising, and didn't really taste of anything.
There were some other good food experiences along the way however. The Gladstone Yacht Club is always a good place on a fine evening for some decent club food in an industrial city. The spag bol with chips, which made an impression on a previous visit for high-carb quantity, is no longer on the menu but has been replaced with lasagna and chips. They did seem to have some problems with what the fish of the day actually was and this changed on the blackboard a few times in the hour or two I was there. Local fish is now somewhat controversial in Gladstone with advertisements on local radio to reassure consumers that it is safe to consume!
The steaks from the good people at Yongala Lodge in Townsville are also recommended, along with the Wirra Wirra shiraz.
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