Published on May 12th, 2015 | by Ann Rickard0
Relish Restaurant – Noosa Springs
Even wimps like me who hate the winter – yes, even a mild Noosa winter – have to admit there is some compensation.
Over the next few months we can indulge in all the richer meals we love but can’t face during the humidity of summer.
It’s a grand consolation to get us through winter.
Aden Moriarty has introduced his winter menu at Relish Restaurant in Noosa Springs and not only does it contain seductive rich dishes for the cold weather, it has a most agreeable new concept of doing away with entrees and starters and instead offering an enticing variety of tapas.
“I feel starting with tapas is a great way of socialising and a nice relaxed way to dine,” Chef Moriarty said as we arrived on a cool autumn night.
We drank to that pleasing philosophy as we greeted the arrival of a board full of colourful tapas delivered in small pots.
First, some generous slices of grilled chorizo in a tangy tomato jam with pickled wom bok. Full-throttle flavour.
Then three curry puffs, hot and filled with spiced sweet potato, cashews and coriander with a little bowl of cooling minted yogurt to dip them into.
There was nearly a fight over the curry puffs but fortunately I am blessed with a selfless partner who always leaves the last treat for me.
Pan fried haloumi, delightfully stretchy when you bit into it, came with a teeny rocket and pear salad. It was not just pretty, but mouth-party food, tapas to whiz you off to Spain for a short while.
Last item on the tapas board, slow cooked lamb ribs coated with chimichurri and topped with almost translucent slices of shaved radish. Enough to make you bless the cold weather.
There was house-made grilled flat bread with hummus; and crumbed and fried feta stuffed Sicilian olives making up seven items on the tapas menu.
Easy to share them all if you go in a group – just as easy to share for a couple with impressive appetites.
Then there is the tasting plate, changing daily, but surely featuring some of the regular tapas – and it comes with grilled ciabatta.
Service is quietly efficient and pleasingly personal, especially with Peter Van Zigl dispensing panache and knowledge as he pours the wine, tops up the water, brings extra implements, making good use of his 14 years experience at Noosa Springs.
With the colder weather the doors to the outside balcony are shut in the evening to create a welcome cosiness, but lunch outside with the glorious golf views always adds to the enjoyment of the good food.
So to the main event during our visit. I’m still dreaming about it: a cassoulet with a crispy skinned duck confit sitting on a mound of haricot and green beans.
I love a cassoulet – a classic French dish originally from Languedoc – and I have eaten it the length and breadth of France. But Aden Moriarty’s version with his take of adding wild mushrooms and speck for more depth of flavour and crowning the whole dish with a wonderfully sticky, fruity fig relish – topped all my cassoulet experiences.
I didn’t share a scrap of it with my mate, shameless when you consider I leant across the table and dipped into his baked snapper. With a poached scallop and the fragrance of lime leaf, coriander and mint, the snapper sitting in a coconut laksa was as rich and warming as the cassoulet – although an entirely different dish.
“I like to have a mixture of some Asian style dishes on the menu as I feel they are suited to our climate, and also some European dishes like the duck,” Chef Moriarty explained.
The favourites have stayed on the menu: pork belly with Mooloolaba prawns in a yellow curry, prawn linguini; beer battered dory fillets with chips…all good winter eating.
Three light dishes (if you must) include pink pepper calamari with burnt lemon aioli; a coconut chicken salad; and lime cured salmon.
The dinner menu is also presented at lunch with the addition of a steak sandwich with a pile of big trimmings, and a lighter prawn sandwich with avo and sweet potato fries.
The wine list visits all our country’s good regions with a few in New Zealand. There are enough options by the glass to please modest drinkers.
Desserts…well, the Belgian chocolate pudding remains to prevent an uprising of devotees, but the addition of a raspberry tart with coconut praline and dark chocolate ice-cream makes for a rousing finish. A delicate lemongrass pannacotta comes in a glass beneath a watermelon and mint salsa with a wisp of Persian fairy floss. Biscotti to sink into this lovely dessert makes the world a better place.
So bring on winter, let’s look forward to the same good favourites at Relish with the added thrill of these cold-weather excitements.