One of the great advantages of reading web sites, like VT, is the tips from those who have travelled before and particularly when it comes to really good places to eat at moderate prices – thanks to those who wrote about The Port Douglas & District Combined Clubs Inc, better known as The Tin Shed. Don’t let the name put you off!
During our 5 night stay in Port Douglas we dined at The Tin Shed twice. Both days we arrived around 4.30pm and before the outdoor deck was packed and secured ourselves the best table. We then enjoyed the local custom – “sundowning.” The idea is to grab a drink, watch and wave at the constant parade of boats (mainly expensive yachts) and when the sun finally sets over the mountains of the Daintree, raise a glass and toast – great tradition at one of the very few places along the eastern seaboard of Australia where the western setting sun can be seen.
After the sun has set, time to go to the counter and order a meal – the dearest item is the clubs signature dish of “Beef and Reef.” A large slab of good quality steak cooked to your liking and then smothered in a mouth-watering creamy sauce combined with a good quantity of quantity seafood. Chips (French fries if you must) and salad complete the meal – price is a very reasonable $27. Other meals start at $14 and to follow a selection of deserts at around $7. Check the blackboard for daily specials before ordering. There is a large selection of drinks at reasonable prices available at the well-stocked bar.
The only downside of The Tin Shed – you can’t pre-book a table. There’s a waiting area where ‘the queue’ can have a drink while waiting, but I did witness almost a fight for a prized beside the water dining spot.
From their web site is a sweeping statement – but true.: ‘The Tin Shed’ as it is affectionately now known, will continue to operate as a Not For Profit entity and provide members, local residents, guests and visitors with an affordable dining and social experience in one of the best waterfront locations of earth.
Children are welcome, but not in the gaming area.
About the photos:
1. Not a grand entrance, but don't let the exterior fool you.
2. Their welcome sign
3. View of the outdoor deck from the water.
5. That magical view.
Ever walked or driven past a bakery or pie shop and smelt that fresh delicious aroma of pies baking? Yum, perhaps one of the best aromas that leads your nose into the shop and the rest of the body sort of follows in the wake – well that’s what happened to me when I nearly passed Mocks’s Pies of Port Douglas.
There was a great range but as it was still before noon, in my view it was still breakfast time and so I settled on one of the house specialties – a breakfast pie that promised it contained meat, cheese, bacon and an egg. “Do you want to eat in (meaning at the outside tables under the huge umbrella) or take away?” Having done a bit of travelling and been ripped off, I asked if there was a price difference. I was pleasantly surprised to be told by the very cheerful lady that it was the same price. The pie was placed on a heavy duty plastic plate together with a knife and fork and away I went drooling at the thought of the pie. “Do you want sauce,” I was asked. Now this is where the men of the pie world get separated from the boys. If a pie needs sauce, then, in my opinion, it cannot be a true pie.
I am happy to report that the pie was one of the best I’ve ever tasted and no it didn’t need sauce. Judging from the satisfied smiles from other diners, I was not alone in my appreciation of a great pie shop. They are only a little dearer than the rest, but worth every cent and have been in business since 1969. They have a variety of hot and cold drinks and I must admit my eyes were only on the pies, but I just think there was sweet treats as well.
Now I should reiterate a little question – what is a near death experience? Answer; walking into a pie shop like Mocka’s and buying the last pie in front of a hungry tradesperson (called tradies for short).
The Combined Club does not look like much from outside. It is just a big silver shed sitting in a prime position by the inlet. Even when you get inside it doesn't look much. But walk on through, past the pokies and through the bar and you see what the attraction is - that shaded balcony right on the inlet!
This is the place for a drink or a meal, and is always packed full of locals who know when to get there to secure a prime position (or when to book ahead). Ideal for lunch or sunset drinks, I highly recommend a visit to the club - don't let the facade put you off.
Favorite Dish: Once you manage to get a table, you will need to pop back inside to order at the bistro counter. Your meal will be delivered to you when it's ready. To save constant trips inside to the bar, best buy a nice bottle of something white and cold to drink - don't worry, they will give you a wine cooler, and prices are very reasonable.
Ok, the food isn't the best in town, just honest pub grub - like fish & chips, but it is really all about relaxing and enjoying the view here : )
If you are looking for a fun, good value place for a meal in Port Douglas then check out the Port O'Call Bar & Bistro. The Port O'Call is actually a backpackers hostel, an it has a great bistro which is open to the public.
Ok, it can get a bit rowdy later in the evening, but for an earlier meal you will get a big serve at backpackers prices.
Favorite Dish: You dine amid the palms, by the pool. Order and pay at the counter and then collect your meal once ready. They have regular pasta, curry and roast nights, along with daily specials.
My parents pop here on occasion with their friends and always have a good meal, so one evening we joined them. The food was 'honest' and the serves were generous. Cheap beer too ; )
This is my favourite Restaurant in Port, again I was not disappointed. The setting is of an open tropical theme ( as all restaurants in the area are) There is a smoking and non smoking area.
The service is excellent and the floor staff will help you with any questions you have.
The Bar people will make the best cocktails and the wine menu is extensive.
Favorite Dish: All the food is great. My friends had Sword Fish and Burramundi. They are still raving about it. I chose the Duck dish, it was fantastic.
They have a* to die for Chocolate Souffle*. This is served with homemade chocolate icecream on the side.
You have to try this to believe how fantastic it is....
This is the place indeed! Incredible fusion food!
We later find out it is the hottest bar/restaurant in town. Former US president Bill Clinton was having his dinner here on september 11 last year, when he was informed about the terrorist attacks. Also Aussie pop queen (love her or hate her) Kylie likes the Salsa's cuisine and the Port's relaxed atmosphere ...
Favorite Dish: We are treated to: smoked barramundi spring-rolls, grilled tuna fillet, seven spices kangaroo, mango and Macadamia Parfait, chocolate mousse and praline tart.
A beautiful restaurant located near Macrossan St. in Port Douglas. It's near the center of town but once you enter the patio dining area it feels like you've walked into a garden paradise.
Favorite Dish: Everything was prepared perfectly. The seafood, especially the whole coral trout, was excellant and the crispy skinned duck was tender and delicious.
Funky little cafe at the top end of Macrossan St. Perfect place to stop off for a simple lunch - good coffee, filled ciabbatta, lots of excellent looking cakes and ice-cream (didn't try them). Place to hang out - inside or out. Lots of laptops on show, large magazine rack, a few 2nd-hand books for sale, internet booths, artwork for sale.
It was only on returning home that we found out the pedigree of this place, even though we had already decided that it was one of the best meals that we had ever eaten.
The food, ambience and service were basically sensational. Having wondered along Macrossan St and spotted a couple of possibles, turning left into Wharf Street provided a number of interesting options, but the welcoming open-fronted, split-level Harrisons, with its relaxed looking courtyard and more formal but contemporary dining area won out by a very long way. And the gods were with us as, having made no reservation, we were shown to the last available table.
Whilst young waiters (obviously in training) abounded, pouring water as if there was no tomorrow, we were lucky to have an older woman and she was the perfect foil to the formal dining - friendly, talkative, knowledgeable about the menu without any pretentions. Asked about the wine and knowing it was the sommelier's night off, she gave us a couple of anecdotes in helping us to choose (as well as the tasting of one of the wines - interestingly the very one she knew the sommelier raved about: we did not share that opinion! The one we chose – Pikes 'Eastside' Shiraz from Clare Valley – was perfect for our tastes.
But the menu... Half a dozen oysters to share – a dash of lemon the only accompaniment. Perfect.
But the mains. Straight from the menu:–
Lacquered duck ($36.00)
Spiced quince, caramelised shallots, cannellini & white chocolate puree, cinnamon jus
Herb crusted lamb ($35.00)
Tarte fine of confit shoulder, sauce Soubise, pea & mint veloute, rosemary jus
Along with –
Steamed green beans, toasted almonds $8.5
Truffle mash $9.5
And fear not if you do not understand the culinary references - there's a glossary at the back of the menu (veloute = velvet: so a pea and mint puree with the lamb: Soubise = a puree of white onion finished with cream were the two we were unfamiliar with).
Also on the menu was a chateaubriand (the next table to us took that - it also looked wonderful).
The ingredients speak for themselves as far as the food was concerned: white chocolate and cannellini puree served alongside duck that had the confidence to be served pink. The tarte fine of confit shoulder with the lamb truly inspiring. And the truffle mash - words fail me.
And then we discover on our return home that chef (and co-owner) Spencer Patrick worked with Marco Pierre White and Raymond Blanc in the UK and was voted the third best chef in London in 1998. No wonder the food was so fine....
And while the bill at the end of the day was not cheap - $A200 for two mains, two sides, a shared starter, two coffees and a bottle of wine – we did not see this as expensive for what we received. And having looked at menus at other Port restaurants, it was probably not that much more than we would have paid elsewhere.
End of the day - this place is an incredible place to eat and I cannot recommend it enough.
Favorite Dish: Everything we ate - and probably some of what we didn't!!
In the several days I spend in Port Douglas, I was hard pressed to find food that was consistently of the same high quality as Port O Call's Bistro. And even harder to find a meal at the same value.
The Bistro is a great pride of the establishment and a frequented eatery, even by the locals. If the locals eat there, tourists should be encouraged to do the same.
There is a bar here with some music playing complements to a computer/MP3. The seating is open air, but with a roof overhead to protect you from any bad weather.
The days menu is written on a large chalkboard near the bar. Pay the bar for your meal and wait for your number to be called.
Favorite Dish: The curries were great.
The lasagna was delicious.
The grilled fish melted in your mouth!!
Meals are between $16~25 dollars depending on what you order.
Drinks are additional $3~5
We decided to stop for ice cream at Shakes which is at the beach end of Macrossan street. There are loads of flavours to choose from and everything is very bright and colourful.
Favorite Dish: I can't remember what flavour I had but I'm sure they're all good :-)
Probably my favourite place to hang out at in Port Douglas is at On the Inlet. It is a bar and seafood restaurant in a fabulous setting by the water. The whole place has an alfresco feel, and offers the best views over the inlet, especially at sunset time.
On the Inlet is 'the' place to go late afternoon for the 'Sunset special' - a bucket of prawns and a beer, wine or champagne, while you watch the boats returning to the harbour and the stunning sunsets.
Favorite Dish: But it gets better! At 5.30pm every day you can watch them feed George, the resident Groper. If you don't know, a Groper is a huge fish, and George is a hungry one that lives under the pier and looks forward to his daily snack.
We loved seeing George so much (not to mention those prawns and wine) that we went several times to enjoy the sunset special. Getting there extra early ensures you can get a prime position on the bench above where George is fed. If you want to see what all the fuss is about you can check out a video of the fish feeding on their website.
As mentioned in my 'Things to do' tip, the Rainforest Habitat is a lovely place to visit while staying in Port Douglas. If you really want to become 'one with nature', why not head there early in the day and have 'Breakfast with the Birds' at the Rainforest Habitat restaurant.
Breakfast runs from 8am to 11am daily and is a great place to take the kids....and even big kids like us enjoyed it too. Basically you just order and pay for your breakfast, then pick a table and relax.
Favorite Dish: Before you know it a variety of birds will stop by to check you (and your breakfast) out. One word of warning though - the tables are pre-set with cutlery and serviettes and whilst we were eating we watched numerous birds walking all over this stuff on the neighbouring tables. Perhaps not the most hygenic of places for brekkie but it is fun.
After a visit to Mossman Gorge (see 'Off the beaten path' tip) we headed to the Silky Oaks Lodge for lunch. The lodge is located on the northern bank of the Mossman River Gorge, on the edge of the Daintree Rainforest. It is an eco-friendly resort and has been constructed into the rainforest, making you feel at one with nature.
Favorite Dish: The restaurant is open to the public, and its lovely open air balcony has views down into the river gorge. It was a beautiful day when we visited and, having booked ahead, we were lucky to get one of the best tables so we could enjoy the rainforest views.
Relaxed but stylish, and a bit pricy, this is a beautiful place for a meal. Service was friendly but professional, and we very much enjoyed our meal here.
Soul n' Pepper is a fabulous café located on the edge of the Dickson Inlet, by the small sandy beach (where you shouldn't swim cause there might be crocs!).
It is a rustic looking place, with wooden tables shaded by coconut palms and sails. The vibe is very relaxed, and the laid-back service is friendly and cheeky.
Favorite Dish: My parents are regulars here and have gotten to know the owners, so a visit to Soul n' Pepper was a must for me. The best time of day to go is for breakfast or brunch, though you may have to wait for a table - especially on Sunday when everyone from the market wants to dine here.
They make excellent coffee and food is great too. Check out the big breakfasts which are served in a fry pan - very cool!