Sat 23 Nov
After a spell in the metaphorical wilderness, Mizuna is back in the game.
This hotel restaurant has, over the years, generally been consistent, but there have been some road bumps.
Tonight some interesting culinary twists bring an opportune return to the fold.
Seated, by request, al fresco with views to the lagoon-style swimming pool there is plenty of privacy having the large patio to ourselves, just a couple of other tables of diners indoors.
Drinks ordered – the house sauv blanc served very cold is agreeable – we share a plate of bruschetta. Four slabs of toasted ciabatta drizzled with olive oil are accompanied by a self-serve bowl of diced fresh tomato, red onion, basil and balsamic vinegar.
Off to a good start. It is surprising how many restaurants can mess up something so basic.
Entrees look adventurous - karaage chicken lotus bun with Asian salad and five-spice pickled vegetables; as well as sesame-seared tuna with pickled red onion, baby fennel and mayonnaise, noted for future reference.
Also of interest is baked brie with confit cherry tomatoes, caramelised onions, sourdough bread and bread sticks, but perhaps for sharing with a like-minded guest.
This time around, my companion is young and rather conventional, so we stay on familiar territory.
Our main courses include super food salad of burghul wheat, quinoa, roast vegetables, cashews, avocado, soft-boiled egg, kale and wild roquette with a preserved lemon and yoghurt dressing (guilty) and for the young’un, seared duck breast with braised kale, cauliflower gravel, saffron potato crush and sour cherry jus.
I pinch a bit of duck (nice thick meaty slabs with just a little fat, could be a tad pinker perhaps), inherit the entire portion of kale (kids and kale are polar opposites, I am informed) and shovel over a bit of my generous salad.
This is some salad! Crunchy, tangy, herby, nutty – it’s a rainbow with all the elements of greatness and certainly constitutes a balanced meal.
The duck dish is classic and, in context, the braised kale is satisfyingly salty, clashing deliciously with the cherry jus. The earthy “gravel” is grated or ground cauliflower, which assumes a grainy consistency.
For dessert, we’ve been eyeing off chocolate and beetroot brownie with raspberry sorbet, but concede our eyes are bigger than our bellies and should probably have forgone the bread.
As they say, forewarned is forearmed and we have no regrets, having enjoyed it all.
Verdict: Worth a return visit.
122 Lake St, Cairns (Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort). Ph: 4080 1801
Bruschetta $9; entrees $16 - $21;
salads $18.5 - $19.5; mains $28 - $34; desserts $13 - $16.5
Need to know: Mizuna is a leafy salad vegetable popular in Japan.
TO BE REVISITED: Mizuna’s super food salad is a meal on its own and the lure of the chocolate and beetroot brownie ensures a return trip.
26 Nov 2016
Weekend Post, Cairns
Author: Narelle Muller • Photo by Marc McCormack • Section: Cairns Eye
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