Eye openers at Café Balaena

Choosing Café Balaena at the Great Sandy Straits Marina to catch up with long-time friends Peter and Yvonne last weekend proved to be more entertaining than Saucy Pierre* and I expected.

Dancing Dean’ was in fine form doing a knees-up routine and urging other guests to join him in singing Happy Birthday to three customers at different times throughout the evening.   

I’d eaten at Café Balaena before, mostly about six or seven years ago when my youngest son Terry was a chef there. Pierre had also eaten there on many occasions. 

So we were both familiar with the restaurant’s quality cuisine and stunning views over the marina but seeing owner Dean Major dancing around the tables was new to me.  

It turns out Dean is well known for his enthusiastic routines, attracting positive comments on Tripadvisor.

Dirk W from Mermaid Beach wrote: “The man obviously loves his job and is good at it.”

LeanneP168 wrote: “The owner is fantastic. He is very hands on…. love his enthusiasm.”

Regarding the menu, another reviewer said there were some very strange combinations.

I wouldn’t say ‘strange’ as the word implies ‘weird’ or ‘distasteful’ but there were indeed some selections that you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else.

One such choice was Wagyu Beef and Caramelised Onion Pie.

It was made of rich and juicy wagyu beef chunks marinated in red wine, then enfolded in a homemade herb gravy with caramelised onion and garlic with Balaena green salad, chips and a mango and pawpaw chutney.

However, three on our table of four weren’t overly adventurous that night and we all ordered the Caribbean Chicken Breast (pictured above).

This was made of grilled chicken breast with Australian grown avocado, silky smooth hollandaise and camembert cheese on a bed of mixed potato mash.

All meals were brought to the table in good time and were well presented. 

Gender equality?

Of particular interest was that Pierre and I ordered our Rum & Cokes together at the same time but they were delivered in different glasses (pictured below), presumably to suit our male and female genders!

Mind you, I’m not complaining. We both enjoyed the Rum & Coke, as always.  We just found the glass differences interesting in these days of gender equality.

For more details on Café Balaena, its menu and bookings visit cafebalaena.com.au

 

*Saucy Pierre is not his real name. He’s shy, really!

Rum & Coke

Rum & Coke at Café Balaena, Urangan.

 

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Whistle Stop at Gympie’s Phoenix Hotel

What does an old gold mine have in common with a mythological bird and salmon?

They all co-exist at 29 Red Hill Road in Gympie, Queensland, in the form a hotel where Saucy Pierre* and I ate out on Saturday after making a day visit to Brisbane.

Well, the bit about the bird is not quite true. The ancient bird doesn’t really exist there as a living being but instead the historic Phoenix Hotel bears its name.

In Ancient Greek folklore, a phoenix is a bird that dies and gains new life by rising from the ashes of its predecessor. Likewise, in 2014 the Phoenix Hotel was ‘reborn’ after extensive renovations.

The hotel wasn’t named after the mythological bird, however.

Built in 1887, it was named after the North Phoenix No. 2 Mine, near where gold was discovered 20 years earlier. Three tunnels are said to still exist under the hotel.

Popular Phoenix Hotel

Judging by the number of people packed onto the hotel deck when we arrived on Saturday, we could have been forgiven for thinking the chef was dishing up gold.  

We were pleased to have booked a table. The car park was full, as were the side streets, and people of all ages from young children to retirees were tucking into their meals with gusto.

Our dinner choices

Pierre ordered his favourite meal – Graziers Eye Fillet 200gr with pepper sauce, salad and chips – while I again took the fish option with Crispy Skin Salmon on garlic mash with char-grilled capsicum, broccolini and a balsamic glaze.

Both meals were served in good time and well presented. We chose to forego dessert this time but had we ordered, there were plenty of delicious options on offer.

To accompany our meals we chose Arrogant Frog Rosé from the South of France, a pleasantly dry wine with ripe cherry and strawberry flavours.

Back in the 1970s and 80s

Pierre and I were surprised to discover the Phoenix Hotel on our whistle stop visit to Gympie last weekend.

I lived in Gympie in the mid 1980s and Pierre in the late 1970s. Back then I didn’t know the Phoenix Hotel existed. Today, it’s hard to miss and is highly rated on Tripadvisor.  

We both recommend that if locals and visitors get the chance, they visit the Phoenix Hotel in Gympie, located 160 kilometres north of Brisbane with a population about 22,000 people.

 For Phoenix Hotel details and bookings visit phoenixhotelgympie.com.au

 

*Saucy Pierre is not his real name. He’s shy – really!

Graziers Eye Fillet

Graziers Eye Fillet, Phoenix Hotel, Gympie.

Crispy Skin Salmon

Crispy Skin Salmon, Phoenix Hotel, Gympie.

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Exploring Life’s Menu

Jocelyn’s magazine-style blog site is designed inspire people to enjoy the pleasures of life. With such a vast array of possibilities on offer including food, wine and travel, they have an extensive ‘menu’ from which to choose.

JocelynThe former journalist, communications officer and business owner believes that to live fulfilling lives, people need to balance their work with pleasure and nurture support networks whenever possible.

Juggling family life with work commitments can be tough at times but it’s important to keep them balanced. If they fall out of kilter, pressures can mount and severely impact a person’s state of mind.

In 2013, Jocelyn and her late husband Don had been working almost around the clock when issues relating to his corporate job mounted so much that he took his own life.

That tragic result is far too common. Statistics show more people die from suicide than from car accidents, and for every person that achieves death, at least another 20 have tried.

To Jocelyn, that raises the question: “Where has our society gone so wrong that so many people would rather die than continue living?”

She cites the article titled The nuclear Family Was a Mistake that basically says the days when extended families lived nearby and offered support in times of need are long gone.

Today we have fragmented families and usually only the rich can afford to ‘buy’ support services that help foster good life/work balance and personal relationships.

Now semi-retired, Jocelyn runs this site as time permits covering various lifestyle topics with stories and photographs.

With so many other sites dedicated to work-related topics, Jocelyn isn’t covering them here. If anyone asks for information, she will refer to them to other reputable sites when possible.

Jocelyn is a mother of three, mother-in-law of two and grandmother of five. Before semi-retirement, she worked for more than 30 years in media, corporate communications and business.

Her bio can be found at jocelynwatts.com/jocelyn-bio/  

To contact Jocelyn visit jocelynwatts.com/contact/

 

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