Published on February 11th, 2014 | by Ann Rickard0
Arnica Restaurant – Maroochydore
It’s reassuring to know where you stand money-wise before you enter a restaurant.
Especially one that looks glamorous and has a dazzling waterfront view. Will the bill be exorbitant? How about the wines? Priced over the top?
Not that Arnica in Maroochydore is any more expensive than its fellow Coast restaurants, it’s just that it looks expensive With lunch specials at a set price, you can step in confidently to this light and airy restaurant, knowing how much it’s going to cost before you even take a bite. Of course, you can go a la carte and really live it up, but that’s another story for another time.
The $28.50 lunch special offers a pleasing number of main course choices and they come with a glass of wine, or other beverage if you’re abstaining.
There is bread too. Good bread. It arrives moments after you’ve been seated and have had your napkin cheerfully flapped on to your lap. We wish all restaurants would serve their bread without extra cost, especially as Arnica offers it – with a dish of olive oil and another of something intriguingly crunchy. Crushed nuts? Coarse bread crumbs? Not an exotic salt. It was dukkha, but more coarse than normal.
The specials were all tempting: fettuccini with seafood; Asian lacquered salmon with glass noodles and salad; pan-roasted kangaroo with pressed potato; King Island rump with mushrooms and bombastic (what?) hand-cut chips.
We chose well: Sicilian crusted seafood “settled’’ over mash with spinach; and a chicken fajita to build at the table ourselves with additions of sour cream, guacamole and salad.
We weren’t prepared for such large portions for $28.50, especially with the bread and the wine. A bountiful excess of calamari, mussels, prawns, fish, scallops and an oyster came covered in buttery crumbs.
The seafood wasn’t coated, more showered with this delicious crunchy mix and we loved it. As for the potato below, it was smooth and creamy and plentiful. The spinach gave it a healthy kick.
The chicken fajita came with moist chicken in a pot and a pair of tongs to pick up the accessories to build the fajita. It was generously served and the offer of extra pancakes for the wrapping was taken up with appreciation.
Two such substantial dishes along with the bread was more than enough for lunch but if you have a free afternoon to linger add a few dollars more to your $28.50 and enjoy a pastry (changing daily) and coffee.
Obviously there is a commitment to using quality produce and sticking to Italian origins.
Chef-owner Michael Torchia has an Italian background and uses recipes handed down through families and generations.
It is clear he likes to feed his guests in the Italian-mama tradition of culinary generosity. The a la carte menu – available for lunch and dinner – is succinct and covers all tastes. Cognac grilled bugs, roast lamb salad and calamari salad on the entree list look promising, as does the Italian- style fish and seafood pot with sour dough in the main course section.
The wine list is short and agreeable with wines from Australia, New Zealand, France and Italy. Several by-the-glass options starting from $8.50 will suit all budgets.
Although we were impressed by the imposing bar inside, we especially loved the light-filled outside section with its water views. Potted herbs added to the overall impression of freshness.
When we have more time we’ll go back to Arnica for dinner or maybe the degustation menu…but definitely for a grand finish of warm chocolate fudge cake with chocolate orange caramel sauce.