Girls power lunch

I'M A sucker for deep-fried prawns. And when they're crumbed in macadamias first, my resistance is at an all time low.

I polished off six of them in quick succession for lunch this week at 561 Alphadale Cafe and Restaurant.

Chef/owner Peter Fleming serves them with a fig and chilli compote and a finely-cut Asian salad, which turned out to be magnificently limey and a perfect accompaniment to the rich seafood.

My female companions - it was a girls' power lunch - chose the pork belly stir fry with mixed vegetables, hokkien noodles and sweet soy, $15 (a special), layered roast vegetable and mustard bechamel lasagne, house made Spanish onion rings, rich tomato sauce and feta tomato salad, $19; and, like me, the prawns, $22.

The stir fry was "not too spicy, with plenty of crispy pork and vegetables" and the lasagne was "fresh and creamy". Oh, there was a side order of beer-battered fries with aioli and chilli salt, $6, too. The chips were thinly cut but large, hot and salty and didn't last long.

The service was attentive but not intrusive, all the food was presented beautifully and it's fair to say there was not too-much conversation while the food was being polished off.

The size of serves were like those of the three bears in Goldilocks, not too big, not too small, but just right.

The dinner menu also looked likely to impress, with entrees including a herbed venison carpaccio, fried spring onion, dehydrated organic tomato and confit lemon salsa, with baby rocket, and a leek and Nimbin Valley goat's cheese tart, pickled vegetable, prune and apple balsamic salad. Popular main courses are a 12-hour Bangalow Sweet Pork belly, with truffle, cauliflower, baby turnip, port-soaked prunes, asparagus stamen, and a certified Wagyu eye fillet, with glazed golden shallots, roasted macadamia nuts, carrot and potato gratin, and pickled beetroot. Helpfully, the menu includes wine suggestions to match the food.

Peter was at the one-hatted Melbourne restaurants Bottega and Centonove and, before that, at the exclusive Hayman Island.

He says while lunch is "smart", dinner is "really something special" and welcomes locals to come in.
Alphadale is open seven days, from 9am, and serves dinner Wednesday to Saturday. Tel: 6624 3441.

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