Soul N Pepper
5 Dixie Street, Port Douglas
Port Douglas is a short and beautiful car ride north of Cairns. It is surrounded on either side by sapphire blue water and the tropical weather makes Port Douglas picture perfect. On our last day in the Cairns area, we drove to Port Douglas to beach-hop and satisfy our craving for seafood. After a walk along the Esplanade and then Murphy Street, we stumbled upon the weekly Port Douglas Sunday Market, displaying goods typical of any farmers or flea market. At this point we are famished and too tired to scope out menus. So, we settle for a beautiful little hut right off the market, nestled just on the edge of the Port Douglas lagoon.
Soul N Pepper is an airy outdoors restaurant shaded by giant palm fronds and old remnants of canvas sails. Light breezes scented with ocean spray, and a glorious sunshine of a winter day complete the panorama. The views are spectacular and the relaxed atmosphere set it apart from other Port Douglas food places.
The menu features the typical fish n chips which Aussies seem so fond of, but also an array of other higher cuisine dishes, such as Annie’s Seafood Linguine, Nhi’s Calamari Salad and Lemon Dressing or my Grilled Shrimp and Avocado Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette. Can I say delicious? All three dishes were perfect for a late Sunday lunch, especially after having spent copious hours on the road and at the beach. Speaking personally, the Grilled Shrimp & Avocado Salad was a winner both in taste and appearance. Large succulent shrimp were marinated in a refreshing mixture of lime juice and spices, then grilled to perfection and placed on top a bed of young, crisp greens lightly doused with a sweet and tangy raspberry vinaigrette. Throw in a side of rich, creamy green avocado and you are in heaven. Oh yeah baby.
Like I’ve mentioned before, Australia’s beach towns are big on fish n chips or pretty much anything deep fried served on a side of chips. But, Soul N Pepper (thank goodness) broke that trend and made deep fried a bit more diet and palate friendly. The calamari batter was just the perfect amount of savory, with large freshly ground pepper bits visible in the crispy golden brown crust. It was a good contrast to the lemon-lime dressing and sweet sun-dried tomatoes that helped bring out the freshness of the squid and lightened up a dish that is typically hackneyed and overplayed.
Of the three dishes we ordered that day, the Seafood Linguine was slightly lackluster, if only because the other two dishes, by comparison, were beyond incredible. The linguine pasta was cooked just to tenderness then tossed in an aromatic white-wine and tomato sauce, leaving a slight bitterness from the alcohol. Fresh mussels and a medley of other seafoods are cooked in the sauce and top the pasta dish. On side, a slice of lightly toasted bread to help sop up the sauce. Yuum.
Perhaps my only point of complaint is the cocktails. Annie and I spent $25 (Australian, which comes out to be about $25 USD anyway) on two mediocre glasses of ‘Strawgasm’ and some minty chocolate thing. Annie’s Chocolate Mint thing was a bad mixture of kahlua and Bailey’s and what tasted like toothpaste. Throw in chunks of ice, which made the cocktail pretty much undrinkable. Not to mention the $12.50 which was very difficult to swallow. I am also biased as I hate anything mint chocolate (yes, even Ici’s fabulous mint-choco creation). But even so, the drink was all in all bad. My ‘Strawgasm’ wasn’t much better as it was under flavored and didn’t reflect any of the strawberry, banana, cream or rum. Throw in frozen bits of chunky banana and strawberry – a disaster of flavors as nothing was mixed well and the drink itself was inconsistent. Even so, the drinks were aesthetically pleasing and lovely to sip given the lagoon-side backdrop.
But all in all, Soul N Pepper is definitely worth the visit if you happen to be in the Cairns/Port Douglas/Palm Cove region of North Queensland, Australia. I know I had a good time.