The Sunshine Coast has always been popular for its sun and surf-it’s also a haven for retirees and sports enthusiasts. But beyond the beaches, it is a food playground with its hinterland full of organic produce, farmers markets, pineapple farms, and dairy pastures. It’s warm climate, rich soil and abundant oceans, lakes and rivers make sure of fresh produce. Noosa’s annual Food & Wine Festival (held in May) is when Australian and international chefs take over the town to give cooking classes, present gala dinners and guide visitors on food trails in the hinterland. Zillions of food and beverage producers are based in the Sunshine Coast, which means good food and dining opportunities abound. There are food trails you can go on, where you can learn to cook, have a barbecue by the beach, or enjoy great coffees. I particularly enjoy ‘Modern Australian cuisine’ which is a melting pot of different ethnic traditions has a lot of options for vegetarians too. They say that immigrants from Asia and Europe flocked to the continent in the ‘70s bringing with them new flavours and methods of cooking. These were absorbed by Australian chefs using local meats, seafood, fruit and vegetables. I find the Asian flavours of chilli, lemongrass and coriander, for example, amalgamated into European dishes. My pick of some great places to have a meal on the Sunshine coast:
75 Hastings Street, Noosa Heads QLD 4567
For a quintessential Noosa dining experience, head to Sails set right on the beach, at the end of Hastings Street, with Chef Executive Chef Paul Leete who is one of the best chefs in Modern Australian cuisine, and an extensive wine list. It’s just a wonderful fine dining experience from beginning to end and the menu focuses on utilizing the region’s freshest sustainable produce and has specialties like Moreton Bay bugs and Barramundi on their menu. I love the relaxed charm of the restaurant; it’s like a beach cottage with panache! I try their creamy melt-in the mouth ‘twice baked Jerusalem artichoke and vintage Cheddar soufflé’, and for the mains have a very interesting’ mix of seeds and grains with roasted carrots, sunflowers seeds and steamed greens’. The crowning glory is their dessert- ‘Belgian Chocolate delight’- Hazelnut meringue, dried ‘cherry ripe’ soaked raisins, and lavender cream. After the excellent meal, I am glad I can just step off and take a gentle stroll on the beach to my hotel!
Peter Kuruvita’s Noosa Beach House at the Sheraton, Noosa
16 Hastings Street, Noosa Heads
White paintwork, ferns in hanging baskets and cushioned seating, it’s a cool beach vibe that hits you as you walk in. I have an exotic mocktail with passion fruit, creamy Sri Lankan yellow curry with rice and a delicious pannacotta with hibiscus jelly and homemade honeycomb. Noosa Beach House Restaurant has the Kuruvita touch with great attentive service. It’s also the place where I have great breakfasts as a guest of the Sheraton. It’s a smorgasbord of neatly laid out platters of fruits, breads, chesses with plenty of space to move and plenty of hot and cold options.
Noosa Heads Surf Club
69 Hastings Street, Noosa Heads
Right on the Noosa Beach, this Surf Club has a lovely open deck with unobstructed views of the beach. This is a great spot for a hearty breakfast after a walk or a swim. Kick of your day with a hearty breakfast- Try their Thai omelette with chilli, garlic and coriander, pancake stack or eggs Benedict with a pot of coffee or tea, and fresh fruit salad with yoghurt. They even have a special menu for children. I enjoyed the people- watching from their deck over breakfast- surfers, children paddling and playing in the sands and people swimming or lying on towels basking in the sun. Talk about Noosa Vibe!
Spirit House, Yandina
20 Ninderry Rd Yandina,
The evocative Spirit House in Yandina, is an oasis of tranquility tucked deep into a bamboo grove with spirit houses and statues, open-air pagodas around a fern-fringed pond. As I walked into this restaurant I felt transported into the lush tropical gardens of a Thai villa. The restaurant menu has been designed for sharing and combines authentic Thai ingredients to create contemporary dishes. Have a Thai lunch in an electric red pavilion overlooking the water-lily-strewn pond with cheeky water dragons and dragonflies hovering over it. Have the kitchen’s signature whole crisp fish with tamarind-chili sauce or their curried pork belly. Order their fresh ginger punch and coconut-smoked tofu with green mango. I enjoyed their brick colored curry of pumpkin, garlic and roasted peanuts served with rotis and their betel leaf snack! The Spirit House also runs popular hands-on cooking classes that conclude with a meal. Bookings for these classes should be made well in advance.
Spice Bar, Mooloolaba
1st Floor, 123 Mooloolaba Esplanade, Mooloolaba
Open: lunch Wed-Sun, dinner Tue-Sun
This funky place on the Esplanade in Mooloolaba, with a red and black colour scheme, a great vibe and décor (dim sum baskets that double up as decorations on the ceiling) offers views of the shimmering Pacific from every table. The restaurant with an open kitchen, offers a degustation menu of its Asian fusion cuisine as well as a la carte options. Its food spiced up with fried chilli and lemon-peppery Sichuan spices is an unforgettable experience. With tofu and vegetable spring rolls and Mooloolaba King Prawns in small plates for starters, it offers roasted duck, fish fillet and vegetables with chickpeas and asparagus for the mains. Don’t miss their unique smoking espresso martini for dessert!
Kunara Organic Store and cafe
330 Mons Road, Forest Glen
This is one of the largest organic stores in the area. From Himalayan salt crystals and stacks of ancient grains in gargantuan containers to dairy items line the shelves of this well stocked grocer. The Kunara Organic farm produces everything from sweet potatoes to bananas. Visit the nursery with its gift shop and busy café with green walls, serving food that is 95% organic & gluten free, with a large variety of vegan and raw options and a menu that changes every day. What I really loved is that they don’t believe in microwaves- so everything is fresh. The menu has fabulous salad creations, gluten free pies and rolls, tarts, burgers, soup and specials. Try their Antiox Overload Smoothie, which had blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and apple green tea or their Jaffa smoothie a blend of coconut water, cacao and orange. Outdoor seating surrounded by plants is a great option if you like the open.
Boat House Restaurant, Noosa
194, Gympie Terrace, Noosaville
This bistro and bar on a floating pontoon on the Noosa River at three levels is a unique place for a meal with a view. It’s also voted as one of the best places for a wedding reception venue! With rustic interiors, watch the pelicans, passing canoes and stand up paddlers as you feast on their platters of three dips with breads to start with followed by pumpkin and mushroom ravioli, lamb gnocchi, or the classic fish and chips. I had a lovely platter of haloumi cheese with sauteed vegetables. They also offer a sea food platter – with fresh Mooloolaba prawns, Moreton bay bugs, oysters, crab, pepper calamari, barramundi & prawns.
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