Fine dining needs to look after all of your senses and that includes making you feel relaxed and comfortable. The Spirit House at Yandina on the Sunshine Coast has got this down to a fine art.
Operating since 1995 with the same owners, The Spirit House has always had a good reputation. This was a birthday treat for Al so I was hoping he would be suitably impressed. I had high expectations and I wasn’t disappointed.
After being warmly greeted by staff and led to our table, Al commented that we could easily have been sitting in Thailand or Bali. The location is very special, the restaurant stretching around three sides of a tranquil lagoon that is home to many water dragons, big and small. I write this because if you are afraid of lizards, you’ll need to be prepared. They happily co-exist with diners and you are asked not to feed them.
It was a warm day so I started with a ginger fizz, Al a scotch and soda. Our waiter talked us through the menu, offering his suggestions as first time Spirit House diners.
As the menu suggests, food, like life is a shared journey, so that’s exactly what we did. To start we chose Ma Hor sticky sweet pork & peanuts with orange pineapple served on a betel leaf and crispy pork belly with a citrus caramel sauce.
The Ma Hor was sensational. It woke up the palate and made you excited for what else was in store. The Pork belly was well cooked although I would have liked just a little more of the crispy element. The citrus caramel sauce was mouth-watering and happily the recipe for this is on The Spirit House website under ‘free stuff’.
Other small sharing plates that I’d like to try included coconut smoked tofu and coconut tempura whiting.
We then shared a whole crispy snapper with tamarind chilli sauce, Penang curry of confit duck with pickled ginger and crispy lime leaves and a salad of watermelon with coconut and mint.
The fish arrived at the table standing proudly. We noticed it being delivered to several tables, so clearly this dish is a winner. The flesh fell from the bones, the skin crispy and the sauce spicy hot and sweet. It worked beautifully with the refreshing watermelon and fresh coconut. The duck curry was from another planet it was so tasty. Again, beautifully cooked, rich and fragrant and served with steamed rice. It all paired beautifully with the German Riesling that our waiter suggested was the best choice for a white wine with Thai food.
The menu is a good size and the staff are well versed in the menu so they are more than happy to suggest combinations that work well together. Next time I’d like to try the Chargrilled Cuttlefish with mango, lychee and mint and the Spice crusted Pork Loin in green curry sauce.
The chefs are French trained so dessert is not typically Thai but a clever take on the fresh flavours you expect in a tropical location.
Spiced orange tea syrup cake with condensed milk ice cream. Banana crème brulee, Lime possett with mango and ginger honeycombe ice cream, Dark chocolate raspberry mousse with tapioca pearls and berry marshmallows.
We were full up to pussy’s bow so we shared a frozen passionfruit parfait with lemongrass jelly and turmeric sugar. Again, absolutely packed with fresh flavour, the lemongrass jelly so delicate, it was a lovely finish to the meal.
Coffee is from Maleny coffee company and there is also a lovely selection of teas.
Prices are reasonable considering the standard of cooking, presentation and location. Our final bill including drinks, wine and coffee came to $221.
Next time I visit I’d like to do a cooking class. Costing $150 they run over four hours and you get to eat what you cook including beer and wine.
I knew we wouldn’t be up for the 90 minute drive home, so I booked a night at Ninderry Manor, which is ten minutes from The Spirit House. Run by a gorgeous Japanese couple, the B&B is clean and homely and oh so peaceful.
Lunch is everyday, Dinner, Wed – Sat