Building sites are all around but this bistro is a haven of air-conditioned calm, with a bottle shop, incredible service and generous portions of fare.
Building sites are all around but this bistro is a haven of air-conditioned calm, with a bottle shop, incredible service and generous portions of fare.

Stunning new eatery in the middle of construction zone

FOOD REVIEW

If the pandemic has tapped the brakes of the construction industry there's no sign of it around here. We're on the Sunshine Coast, making our way to a new restaurant in the middle of what was once a golf course and soon will be the new Maroochydore CBD. All around is scaffolding, hoarding revealing the beginnings of a multi-level new city hall here, a five-star hotel there, apartment towers yonder.

And then suddenly, at the base of what seems to be the one completed building, we come across a snaking queue outside Giddy Geisha, a no-bookings Asian street food sibling to Mooloolaba Wharf's crazy-busy success story Rice Boi.

Market Bistro at Maroochydore
Market Bistro at Maroochydore

The queuers have a wait in front of them, with the place already packed at 5.30pm on a Saturday even though it's still hot enough to fry eggs on the bitumen out the front.

Geisha is owned by long-time Sunshine Coast chef and restaurateur Tony Kelly, who also owns our destination, the neighbouring Market Bistro, with Luke Stringer and where, thankfully, bookings are taken.

Wood-fired calamari at Market Bistro, Maroochydore
Wood-fired calamari at Market Bistro, Maroochydore

Market Bistro opened in December and it too is heaving, with Champagne and cocktail-swilling diners filling the banquettes and curved booths fronting bare wooden tables set with linen serviettes, and the bench facing the kitchen. The menu is extensive and stays in the pocket of safe bistro fare with oysters, duck parfait, chilled Mooloolaba prawns and tuna tartare, house-made pastas, four steaks cooked over the wood-fired grill and mains such as veal cutlet or pork belly with black cabbage, dauphinoise potatoes and apple jam.

Tuna tartare at Market Bistro Maroochydore
Tuna tartare at Market Bistro Maroochydore

The wine list is composed by Peter Marchant (ex group sommelier for Spicers), and beyond Champagne and a couple of rogue French roses, is composed entirely of Australian and New Zealand offerings. Diners can also widen their options by visiting the adjoining Wine Store and selecting a bottle, with corkage $20. Prices are reasonable and the by-the-glass selection pays careful attention to pricing, with a number in the $9-$12 range.

Pork belly at Market Bistro.
Pork belly at Market Bistro.

The wood-fired calamari is a tender, crumb-free zone, enhanced rather by garlic, dried chilli, lemon and oregano ($20), while five fat knots of house-made tortelloni ($34) are forged from pasta that's slightly thicker than might be expected but nevertheless soft and fresh and stuffed with a magical alchemy of confit duck and porcini mushroom and dusted with parmesan.

Steaks at Market Bistro comes with shoestring fries, leaves and a choice of sauces.
Steaks at Market Bistro comes with shoestring fries, leaves and a choice of sauces.

Baked snapper ($34) with the head attached, is as fresh as if it has been just plucked from the ocean, blinged up with brown butter, capers and lemon. A 250g hanger steak ($35) comes medium rare as requested, with a mountain of crunchy-on-the-outside shoestring fries dusted with seaweed salt, and a thicket of mustard leaves. Sauce choices are béarnaise, green peppercorn, veal jus, and there's a mustard and horseradish selection.

Pavlova roulade at Market Bistro
Pavlova roulade at Market Bistro

A marshmallowy pavlova roulade ($13) is filled with vanilla crème and adorned with Rosso Antico-macerated strawberries and praline and it's airy simplicity beats out the tiramisu ($13), which employs Strega and Kahlua to soak the sponge as well as coffee.

No wonder Market Bistro is busy. Service is outstanding, there's a true sense of hospitality in the generosity of servings, the space, while functional, feels cocooned from the world and the food, forged from quality produce, delivers a solid bistro experience that shines brightly amid the development moonscape.

Originally published as Stunning new eatery - in middle of construction zone


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