2/3 Southgate Ave,
One of the things we wondered as we looked at the menus of the many restaurants in Port Douglas, is why do so many of them have heavy wintry dishes on them? Braised lamb shanks, roast beef with mash and cabbage, heavy pasta cream dishes. Why all this heavy food when you are in a tropical paradise and it's 27 degrees every day?
After a little thought we came up with some reasons. 27 C may not be cold but it's as cold as they get around there. So if you want to hold onto your ancestors' British dining habits and indulge in a bit of roast beef and Yorkshire pud, June is a good time to do it. Another reason is that eating fresh fish and seafood cooked in a light modern pan-Asian tropical style does eventually get monotonous.
Sometimes You Just Want a Steak.
So back in Melbourne we thought about steaks. Rockpool? Too easy to get carried away and spend a fortune on something fantastic, and our credit cards were still full of holiday bills. Plus I haven't yet forgiven them for the 80c chip*. A steakhouse? There are any number of places around town where you can get a nice piece of meat mopped with their special grill marinade and char grilled to your liking with a bottle of reasonable red for a reasonable price, and a big bowl of assertive pepper sauce or bordelaise or whatever you like to go with it - places like Squire's Loft, Melbourne Meat & Wine Company, Butchers' Grill. Most of these are owned by large South African companies from which I draw no conclusion at all. I do enjoy those places in the right mood but we felt like something a bit gentler.
*A $9 bowl of chips which arrived with 11, count them, 11 chips in it. You're serving steaks at $50 -$110 and you can't be just a wee bit generous with your chips?
So perhaps a more general restaurant with a strong lean towards steaks in its menu? Pure South at Southbank specialises in Tasmanian ingredients in what I would call a modern Australian/European style. They are serious about their steak without either the lockers of primal hanging carcasses on display at Rockpool or the mono-ingredient masculine frenzy of the steakhouses. Yes, that'll do nicely.
Service-wise it was one of those nights where everything starts off wrong but ends up right. The staff lost our reservation, but when we strolled up at 7.30 on a Saturday night there was still one table left. When we asked a staff member about an item on the menu, the response was "I'm the maitre d' and I don't really know about the food" (!?) but he went and found out straight away. The answer he was given was wrong, but he was willing. The waiter brought us the wrong table's food, and we were disappointed, but ours was only a minute away, and we were happy again. The waiter forgot to bring our red wine jus, but when we reminded him he brought it straight away. My impression was of smooth & professional service that dealt well with a few minor problems.