31 Macrossan Street Port Douglas
When thinking of our dining experience here, I envision Sigourney Weaver from Gorillas in the Mist. No, no jungle animals here. But it was very breezy due to the high volume of fans blowing; it was still extremely humid despite this; it was dimly lit; and the large green leafy palms all around the restaurant just made me think Ms Weaver may in fact pop out at any second.
When we walked on over to Watergate on our second last night in Port Douglas, I realised the woman standing at the front of Macrossan Street was not in fact, promoting residential properties, as she was positioned in front of the nearby real estate agency. She was standing at the walkway to the poshy restaurant, and it was only pure chance that we got a table. She asked if we had a booking and when we said no, she said she had to go and check. Lo and behold, the man walking out of the restaurant had just gone in to cancel his reservation. Boy had we struck gold. In one regard.
We waited for 1 minute on the couches in the bar area while our table got ready. The water we were brought for the whole of that one minute was sweating profusely in our glasses by the time we got up to be seated, and I was starting to fear the dress I had chosen, worried I would be leaving sweat patches when I got up.
Yep. We were getting used to the all-encompassing heat that was so prevalent up in that part of the hemisphere.
This place had more of an exclusive feel than the prior night’s Bel Cibo. Though both were of a fine dining experience, Bel Cibo was more visible sitting high up on Macrossan Street, and seemed more open and accessible… the fact that Watergate was down a walkway off the main strip, with most of its dining areas hidden from view, and the mysterious fire lanterns glowing through the night, gave it an air of intrigue and mystery. Like I said, gorillas, mist.
The restaurant was split levelled, and as you walked down into its shallow depths you went down a few steps at this section, and down a few steps at that section. We were seated in ‘that’ section, the base, with fans on the ceiling and electric ones nearby blowing full-on straight into our faces.
There were candles on the tables and some torches about, with absolutely no other lighting, which made taking food photos EXTREMELY difficult. I preface this before I present to you a photo of the Crown Hubbie had, and my Geisha Girl cocktail – crushed fresh strawberries & vanilla bean with vodka, wild strawberry liqueur and guava
My drink was, divine.
At the beginning of our being seated baby girl was given a pencil case and the kids menu to drawn on, which listed the meals available to her as well as a little side puzzle. On top of that, once again we were at a paper-clothed covered table establishment, so she COULD draw on the table to keep her occupied and happy… but happy was not something available to her that night. No-siree. She had had very little sleep that day as we had been sight-seeing around extensively, and her grumpiness and unwillingness to stay seated was just the beginning of what was to be a very frustrating night.
Her meal had fortunately arrived earlier than ours as requested:
Chicken pieces with chips, tomato sauce and broccolini
She had had the option of vegies, or salad with her meal, but we opted for the broccolini. It’s mighty brave of these restaurants to be serving broccoli-like vegies to littlies – not that I contest, I think it’s great, and baby girl does eat it. It makes it great too in that she isn’t just eating chicken nuggets with chips every night, like what most restaurants offer up in their kids menu.
These were grilled chicken tenderloins, and both looked and tasted a lot better than the chicken we had had at Bel Cibo the previous night. Baby girl also seemed somewhat satisfied in the 0.5 seconds we managed to keep her in her chair and eating. At all other times she was standing up in her high chair, wanting to walk around the restaurant, sit on my lap, as well as stand on it too, and just do anything BUT sit quietly and nicely in her chair and eat. Of course. She’s 2. That’s her job, right? To never sit still.
She did occasionally give a shy smile at a nearby older American couple who were near us, who we had a brief conversation with over the whir of the fans whizzing. And even though the couple were really very sweet, I think the lady waving to baby girl eventually made her anxious and scared, for some reason I don’t know since she is always so friendly, but because it was only after they had left that she sat back in her high chair, and let me continue my meal.
This is what I got:
The Prawn Linguine – local tiger prawns tossed with olive oil, spanish onion, chilli, confit garlic, fresh herbs and shaved pecorino
While Hubbie got the Pork cutlet: speck-crusted pork cutlet served with a jalapeno & smoked cheddar potato crush, seasonal greens and a port wine jus
Once again I got like, 5 prawns, only this time it was on a heartier meal base of lotsa-linguine. These prawns were much chunkier and juicier than Bel Cibo’s, but because of their size I felt that they needed perhaps a tad more cooking, for my taste anyway. For this reason, I probably preferred Bel Cibo’s ones, but cooking-time with anything, especially seafood, is pure chance anyway. They also had a seafood taste, complimented well with the strong chilli and garlic flavours in the pasta. This was no half-arsed chilli dish, like what I have been disappointed with so much in the past, and future as well, with the chilli-pasta meals I’ve had following this experience at the time of writing. This was hardcore, this had kick and power to it, made more so when I sipped my cocktail and got a massive spicy blast in my mouth. I liked it, it just made me sweat a bit more, something I needed that night (sarcasm).
Hubbie got his pork cutlet and enjoyed it immensely, he was very pleased.
As much as we had enjoyed the food, we unfortunately hadn’t enjoyed the experience with our cranky girl – it wasn’t her fault, she was tired. It just meant that we paid a lot of money for great food without really enjoying the night together. In fact it had slightly scarred us, as we vowed we would not go out to dinner the next night, our last night there. We would get takeaway noodles instead. And since we left right after scoffing our mains, it left me yearning for more, as I was almost positive that dessert there would have been simply magic. Oh well. Leaves room for growth and anticipation I guess.
Food: 9/10. The food was of high quality, and yet for the price you paid you actually got a decent amount, not an entrée size.
Coffee: N/A very unfortunately. That’s alright, more for next time…
Ambience: Breezy with the 1000 fans. Dim-lit, a little annoying if you’re like me and a) take food photos and b) like to dissect every bite of your food. Lucky for them, other than the prawn tails there was nothing else to check through a magnifying glass. It’s very romantic if you’re with your other half, and don’t mind the feel of wind in your face as if you’re Rose standing at the bow of the Titanic, Jack holding her so she doesn’t fall off, type thing.
Chilled, yet still of a decent volume what with the diners and fans fighting for volume dominance.
People: Poshy. Here are the ones that come out to seriously ‘play’ in Port Douglas. They seemed much more affluent here than in any other restaurant we saw. However still friendly, as was evidenced by our friendly American neighbouring table. But the man who looked over at us and passed back the pencil that baby girl had flung in her tired and sweaty state, was not so. He was part of a big group for a birthday, and there were actually quite a few groups there that night.
Staff: Very, very nice. Our main waitress was quite understanding of baby girl’s demeanour, telling us of her own child, and was kind enough to just be cool throughout our sleep-deprived-baby issues. All staff were exceptional and very professional, though here they all seemed much friendlier than at Bel Cibo’s.
Price: At a total of $116 for the lot, which roughly consisted of the same as what we had had the night before – 3 alcoholic drinks, 2 mains and a kids meal, this place was in front. We didn’t need a side dish like we’d had at Cibo’s, but with the heartiness of the meals we didn’t need it. Definitely worth the coin.
Advice: Book ahead! We chanced it and got exceptionally lucky. Get the geisha (or two or three), and enjoy a night in the jungle.
In a nutshell: We really loved this place, and comparing it to the only other fine-dining place we experienced in Port Douglas, this had better food, better value for money, better service, and I guess the surroundings, well that’s personal. I liked these surroundings, and it was much bigger and had more seating than Cibo’s did. Both restaurants were great, don’t get me wrong. But on my return to Port Douglas, Watergate’s prawn linguine and dessert with a shot of coffee will be on my agenda, somewhere on par with jumping into the crystal clear waters of 4 Mile beach and taking an unauthorised dip in the swimming lagoon at Mossman Gorge.
Ensuring baby girl is well-slept, of course.