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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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Trendy pub food at Bay Central Tavern

If you’re looking for an trendy pub meal in Hervey Bay, the Bay Central Tavern on Boat Harbour Drive is worth a visit.

Saucy Pierre* has been keen to check out the Fraser Coast’s eating places while visiting the region over the past year and a half. We’ve dinned out mainly in Maryborough because that was where I lived until November 2019.

Since then I’ve moved to Eli Waters at Hervey Bay, the other major city that makes up the Fraser Coast, so now we have many more eating places from which to choose. 

Joining my two new friends, Jane and Margaret, at the Bay Central Tavern for lunch on Thursday, I loved the Thai Fried Noodles I ordered and the ladies gave me glowing reports of their choices so I knew Pierre would be keen to try out the tavern.

Thai Fried Noodles

Thai Fried Noodles.

Saturday night would be somewhat busier than Thursday though.

The staffer who took my booking said that with country rock band Eight Second Ride performing as part of their Goes Country Tour, management was expecting a full house but she could squeeze us in anyway.

After catching the tavern’s courtesy bus there, we found our booking had mistakenly been made for Sunday night. To the staff’s credit, they soon found a table for us in the bistro rather than on the deck where we were meant to be seated.

The error was a blessing in disguise.  It was much quieter in the bistro than sitting near Rocky the mechanical bull as wannabe rodeo riders tested their inner cowboys!

Pierre is a food and drink connoisseur from way back.

I’ve always been into lean, clean healthy foods but since meeting Pierre, I’ve become a more adventurous with food and now occasionally let him sweet talk me into eating some of the things I consider to be, well, let’s just say not the best choice, nutritionally speaking. 

While he ordered a 200 gram Graziers Eye Fillet with pepper sauce, chips and salad, I ordered Macadamia Barramundi (fresh barramundi with macadamia crust) served with smashed chats, hollandaise sauce and a coriander, tomato, avocado and rocket salad. See featured picture. 

Grazier Eye Fillet with Pepper Sauce, Chips and Salad.

Graziers Eye Fillet

Pierre devoured his eye fillet saying it was deliciously tender and full of flavour but his pepper sauce could have been hotter and the salad was best not to discuss.

My Macadamia Barramundi, smashed chats and salad were all delicious and well presented.

We each enjoyed a glass of Wirra Wirra Mrs Wigley Rosé and finished our dinner by sharing a Brandy Snap Basket served with fruit salad and whipped cream. Pierre is yet to convince me to eat a whole dessert all on my own!

Will we make the tavern our Local?

Are we likely to eat again at Bay Central Tavern? Definitely!

The service was spot on – everyone from the courtesy bus driver to the waitress was pleasant, helpful and welcoming.  The only improvement we can suggest is to boost the salad that goes with the Graziers Eye Fillet.  

Perhaps we would choose a quieter night to visit but that’s our preference.

It was plain to see a lot of people loved the busy atmosphere, lapping up the live music and entertainment that kept the popular venue pumping throughout the evening.

We’ve also been told the massive outdoor screen is immensely popular on State of Origin nights and when other big sports and entertainment events are playing.

Bay Central Tavern is at Stockland Hervey Bay Shopping Centre,155 Boat Harbour Drive, Pialba QLD 4655, (07) 4124 4111, www.baycentraltavern.com.au

*Saucy Pierre is not his real name – he’s shy, really!

Brandy Snap Basket

Brandy Snap Basket

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Hearing the real deal about uni

A REALITY show came to Hervey Bay and Childers on February 17, 2015, giving more than 700 Year 11 and 12 students the real deal about university life.

Urangan State High School Year 12 Co-ordinator Meade Barnes said the students were excited to have people from five universities, Defence Force Recruiting and TAFE Queensland come to their schools for this year’s Uni Showcase.

“I’ve asked the students for feedback and the vast majority said they’ve taken a lot away from the event, particularly about the costs of living, what university life is really like, and what it means to prepare for uni in terms of self-motivation,” Mr Barnes said.

“They’re definitely more inspired now to consider their higher education options after they finish Year 12.”

Uni Showcase is being hosted this week by the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), as part of a series organised by the Queensland Chapter of the National Association of Prospective Student Advisers (QNAPSA).

Uni Showcase presented to 14 schools across the Fraser and Cooloola coasts.

Participating institutions were University of Southern Queensland (USQ), Australian Catholic University, Central Queensland University, Queensland University of Technology, University of Sunshine Coast, TAFE Queensland and Defence Force Recruiting.

– Ends –  

Caption: Urangan State High School students (l-r) Dru Hinds, Morena Tirona and Matthew Verbruggen explore their higher education options at Uni Showcase.