A lazy lunch at Vivo’s Palm Cove

This is my first foray into the world of ‘lifestyle blogging’ with a restaurant review. It’s probably not how you’re supposed to review a restaurant, but that’s what happens when the meal is clouded by half a bottle of white wine.

I’ve never had weekends off while I’ve lived in Cairns, and it’s never really bothered me. Midweek days off in a city that runs on tourism isn’t too much of a bind and it always meant that the supermarket would be nice and quiet during my weekly shop. Less pensioners with trolleys = a good thing for my blood pressure.

The only thing I did miss was the markets. Cairns and the surrounding areas offers a vast array of places to swap your cash for beautiful hand made items, and they’re a great place to spend a lazy Sunday.

So on my first weekend off after starting a new ‘proper’ job I dragged my friend Rachel up to Palm Cove to see what was on offer at the monthly beachside markets. As it turned out: quite a lot. And shopping is exhausting work so of course we had to stop and refuel before the long journey home *cough cough*.

I’d set my sights on Vivo, a definite locals favourite and home of the infamous (and deadly) sunset cocktail happy hour. Although I’d eaten here once before (we got beef cheeks which Mikey insisted on calling ‘cow face’) it was rather lovely to come during the day and enjoy the people watching and beach views.

Unfortunately when we were pointing at the menu to order my hand slipped and we got a bottle of wine. It was served in one of those fancy buckets that they put next to the table and made me feel a little bit like Liza Doolittle pretending to be all posh.

With a lot of wine to get through (the quality of my photos attests to this) we decided it was sensible to order both a starter to share and our mains. You know how stingy these upmarket places can be, right?


Vivos palm cove

Antipasto with italian cured meats, fresh burrata, semidried tomato, dill gherkin, mixed olives, hummus, eggplant / sour cream / chive dips, white anchovy, beetroot cured atlantic salmon and garlic wafers. $27

Vivos palm cove-2

Soft shell crab salad: tempura soft shell crab, kaffir lime/celeriac/granny smith apple remoulade, kombu masterstock, radish salad and crispy soba noodles. $24

Vivos palm cove-3

Caesar salad: cos lettuce, crispy streaky bacon, grana padano, ciabatta croutons, poached yamagishi egg, spanish anchovies, vivo caesar dressing and fried baby calamari. $26

I don’t know if you can tell the size from the photo, but my calamari was served on a plate that was basically the same size as the sun. Even with my greedy tendencies I couldn’t finish it all, and that’s saying something for the portion size.

Also the starter was ordered only because it contained burrata, a magical invention that combines cream and mozzarella, and which I hadn’t seen before in Australia because… Well, Aussies do beaches and sunshine very well but their cheese? Not so good.

This however was amazing, and I feel like Rachel felt truly grateful for our friendship that day after I brought the magic of burratta into her life.

The wine was lovely but I can’t actually remember what we ordered. It was a sauvignon blanc and probably the second to cheapest bottle on the menu, because that’s how you always choose wine isn’t it?

A bottle of wine, sharing plate and two generous mains came to around $150 which is pretty damn good considering the quality of food and service. (People who haven’t visited Australia: there is no tipping culture here which means that if your server doesn’t spit in your food as they serve it you’re getting close to perfect service.) But both of our waiters were excellent, doing that creepy thing where they top up your wine glass before you’d even noticed it was empty. I love that.

So if you’re looking for somewhere to share a lovely lazy afternoon then you could do worse than Vivo’s, but not much better. I’d give it 5 tipsy designated drivers out of 5.

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