Mount Tamborine Winery Restaurant
I've been happily soaking up the long weekends. They are (along with the Easter break), perhaps, the best thing that's happened to me 1st half of 2010. Screw birthdays. I will pick free days of no uni and no work over partying any time.
On the Anzac day long weekend, my family decided to head South to Mount Tamborine. We go there relatively frequently and my parents are known to head down just for breakfast and then back again. I'm in the process of logging 100hrs of driving in order to be qualified for the practical driving test so it seemed like a good opportunity to clock up time.
I'll admit that dad took over for the actual mountain roads.
We went up the mountain and first thing mum decides is that she needed to use the bathroom. There marks the unexpected start of an 'interesting' adventure. There was a short trek through the bushes to get to the public outhouse. Afterwards, we were heading back to the car and spotted a sign indicating that a 2km waterfall walk was on the right. So... continue returning to the car or embark on the bushwalk? We opted for the later option.
... which turned out to be a mistake.
The waterfall itself wasn't too distant. It was quite small but we were lucky that it had been raining the past few days so there was a decent pour.
After the waterfall was observed, we continued down the track.
And, we somehow got lost.
It wasn't strictly LOST as per se because we were on a track. But then the track ended at the river bank. We were sort of thinking it was time to head back but then dad spotted some steps on the other side of the river. Ok, well, it's not a river. More a creek. He identified the steps as 'man-made' and indicated that the track was likely to continue on the other side. The way across the creek was a bunch of rocks and it seemed odd that this would be considered an official part of the track. We debated options for a while and then dad just bounded across.
I was born quite balance-impaired so I sort of crawled across the rocks clinging onto every surface, hoping my skin was grippy enough. Mum and dad were across at a discouragingly fast rate. We all made it.
At that point, mum decides she's too hungry to walk further (hypoglycaemic?) and starts making delirious calls about eating strange fruits that had fallen onto the ground. It gets to the point where she was so weak the color has drained from her face. We were still a fair bit from the end of the walk but our track was adjacent to the main road leading up Mount Tamborine. Dad makes the executive decision to climb up a mud cliff to where the main road was and run back to the car to get a bag of cookies.
Off he went and me and mum stayed back on the track.
Things were calm for maybe less than a minute. The thing about wet, muddy bushwalks is that as long as you're moving, nothing will get you. As soon as we were still, every type of creepy crawly emerged from the soil and started attacking. The air was dense with huge mosquitos and I got bitten no less than 16 times on the legs alone. I ended up hopping from foot to foot because leaches were found crawling on our skin.
We were just thinking about moving on and not waiting for dad (btw, everyone forgot their mobile phones this day) when finally he called down from above. Mum and I also crawled up the mud cliff, using branches and vines as grip (a la every jungle-themed action movie made by Hollywood). End adventure.
Start food part...
After this ordeal, we headed for civilization in the form of the Mount Tamborine Gallery Walk. For those who don't know, it's a strip of shops, galleries and cafes beginning and ending with 2 round-abouts. Even with cookies in their bellies, my parents were still hungry so we got lunch first. We've been to a number of the cafes on Gallery walk so decided to choose something new.
The Mount Tamborine Winery had a restaurant component and it looked very welcoming with an expansive outdoor dining area and tonnes of patrons.
You sit down and peruse the menu before ordering at the counter. They had a '2 course' special with either fish and chips or... um... 'something' (sorry, I forgot) plus a glass of wine. Mum chose the fish and chips special with a glass of red. To this day, I cannot figure out why it was called '2 courses'. Is wine a course? Is the fish the main and the chips the entree?
Regardless of this defect, the fish and chips were delicious. I tried a bit of the fish (unidentified species) and it was golden and crunchy and fresh inside the batter. The accompanying aioli sauce was the perfect match. I thought the chips were alright too but mum said they could stand to be crunchier.
Dad and I had done the ordering and while we were at the counter, we saw the cabinet full of meat pies. I have a soft spot for home-made, chunky-looking meat pies so we chose the beef stroganoff-flavored one to try.
It was a bit disappointing. Stroganoff to me is very creamy and rich. This pie was very dry on the inside and had none of the sour-cream element.
We also got the house salad to share. It was quite a simple salad but was successful for a number of reasons. The leafy veggies were really fresh and just tasted healthy. There were lots of nice 'details' like the pepita and pinenuts for crunch. It had a plain balsamic dressing but whatever they used was sweeter and more fragrant than most and did a nice job of bringing the salad together.
I ordered a roast vegetable focaccia for myself. It was filled with grilled eggplant, zucchini and capsicum. What sold me was the grilled haloumi cheese. The panini really packed a lot of flavor but it was communally agreed that it was a bit too salty.
Overall, Mount Tamborine Winery offers good quality food in a nice location. There wasn't a view but the atmosphere is open and relaxed and it's surrounded by interesting shops. If you haven't been to Mount Tamborine at all, I recommend it for the bushwalks which are less challenging than others (please don't let my story dishearten you, just remember to have breakfast beforehand) and it's an easy drive up the mountain too. I was talking to my uni friend Ellen and amazingly, she was there on the same day as we were and she liked it so much that she plans to revisit soon. I think that if you're a 'city person', it's just a nice place to wean yourself into enjoying the outdoors.