Tapas comes to steak heartland

NEARLY two years ago a mother and daughter team managed to change the face of eating out in Casino.

Katrina and Elli Sundstrom opened the Zeebra Cafe and Restaurant in November 2006, offering the town a place where fresh, locally produced food could be eaten or taken away.

Since then the business has forged ahead and now these two enterprising women are opening a tapas bar in the restaurant - another first for the town known primarily for its beef.

“We introduced fresh fish to Casino and, for a town with a lot of steak eaters, it's taken some re-education, but now our lightly battered fish and Atlantic salmon dishes are popular,” Katrina said.

She said the only other eating places in town offered fast food or pub and club food, frozen food that's been fried, or Chinese food.

The tapas bar opens this Friday and the Sundstroms have been busy putting the finishing touches to the bar and putting together the new menu.

“We're going to have items such as an African-spiced prawn stack with aioli, haloumi, chicken strips, cheese platters and bigger combination platters for three. All the items will also be available individually so customers can build their own combinations,” Katrina said.

The Zeebra is open all day and Elli is often complimented on her wonderful breakfasts.

“I cook ciabatta with ricotta, a stack of avocado, cracked pepper, cherry tomatoes with fresh basil, scrambled egg and under the toast baby spinach and mushrooms as our vegetarian breakfast. Recently a chef from Melbourne told me that you couldn't get a better breakfast in his home city,” she said.

The Zeebra seats 110 and is fully licensed. It has a cosy indoor dining room and a sprawling outdoor area. Functions are a speciality with the Sundstroms happy to work out a menu to a budget for each client.

“We're having a hen's night here soon and we're going to serve lots of canapes and keep an eye on the drinks so the women have a great time,” Elli said.

These bubbly, energetic women see nothing strange about a mother and daughter working together.

“It's always been Mum and me, we're a team,” Elli said.

Katrina's father was a chef and importantly taught her how to cook a steak and how to make a great stock.

“Our most popular item is caesar salad, chicken caesar with a soft poached egg and real croutons. We also have grilled chicken breast salads with crostini, haloumi salads, scotch fillet on Italian bread housing sweet onions and salad, as well as daily specials.”

The restaurant only uses the best fresh ingredients from local greengrocer Bob's Fruit and Veg Southside.

After hours Katrina still uses her skills to counsel clients and as if that's not enough, she's about to reopen the Mummulgum Road House to give travellers some fresh, healthy food on the highway.

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