Lunch at Noosa always means endless possibilities. There are so many places I have not been to and so many new places popping up all the time. Unfortunately, not being a sunshine coast native means I am a little lost when it comes to what is going on in the restaurant scene. However, I think this is a positive because I end up going to places having heard nothing about them AT ALL.A little research revealed that IS was established in August 2008 by the Withers' family who moved north for a sea change.
We decided to eat at IS at lunch time. It is right on the river (just accross the road like most of the Gympie Terrace restaurants) and on the first level. Set upstairs means that there is quite a beautiful view of the river. The restaurant has a light and airy feeling and we were lucky enough to score one of the bench tables facing the river.
Ok- I'll tell the truth. We scored one of those tables because we seated ourselves. We stood waiting for a while and then decided that we would sit and wait for the soul waitress who was busy clearing plates/ not noticing us. Once she did notice us she looked over and said "I will be there when I can." Right.... At this time I was asking my main PIE if we should leave when the waitress finally arrived. She gave us menus and a glass of water and scurried away. The water contained a slice of fresh orange which was a nice fruity, summery touch.
The menu looked enticing. The tapas menu listed about 20 options categorized into seafood, meat and vegetarian and the menu recommended that diners have 2-3 tapas per person BEFORE a main. At $9.50 for each tapas this seemed a little bit pricey but I was not too hungry and thought I would just try 3 tapas options for my whole lunch. Seeing it was a hot summery day I was drawn more towards the seafood and decided on the salmon and crab cakes, the scallops in shell with crisy serrano jamon and champagne and finally the chicken wings w/green tomato pickles. My PIE chose the picoso pizza at $18.50 which was topped with pepperoni, olives, baby spinach and jalapeno peppers.
The food came out very pretty quickly which showed that maybe the chef was more on his game than the wait staff. Just to point out, apart from the initial little hitches the waitress was very polite, it's just that aside from the food, the service was very slow. As an example we didn't receive our drinks (lemon, lime & bitters) until after the food was served.
The menu did warn me but taking into consideration that there was just under $30 sitting on the plate, the servings were quite small. The chicken wings were quite bland. Not much flavour and a little dry. They were coated in the green tomato pickles which were FANTASTIC but the flavour had not penetrated through the wings. The green tomato pickles were house made and were everything green tomato pickles should be- tangy but smooth.
The salmon and crab cakes were had a crunchy coating but once biting into the little balls, the crab and salmon were dry and chewy. Slapping on some green tomato pickles helped them a little, but once again the cakes were a little underwhelming and bland.
The scallop was well cooked and the jamon and champagne was a tantalising combo. The sweetness of the champagne with the meatiness of the jamon was fantastic and I found myself wanting to lick the shell. Though to be quite honest, I cannot believe I was served one scallop halved for $10. I would expect double or maybe triple the quantity for this price given that other similar restaurants in the same region usually provide four fat juicy scallops for about $12.
I did poach a piece of my PIE's pizza and it too was bland. It looked good, the topping seemed like a great combo, the crust was thin and crispy (BIG PLUS!!) but it was just like most other pizzas. The flavours somehow just didn't mesh together well to provide a flavour explosion the way good pizzas do. I found myself feeling disappointed as it had looked so promising.
The setting at IS was good. Relaxed and breezy and just right for a Saturday lunch. The service was polite but slow and I guess this fitted in with the theme of the place. Unfortunately the food wasn't as right. I was left feeling underwhelmed but the scallops were good, the green tomato pickles were fantastic and on the way out I saw another couple eating and commenting how good the calamari with smoked paprika, salt and saffron aioli was. The fact that the pickles were so good and were made in house does give the place a hint of promise.
What are your thoughts? Do you give places a second chance if they are mediocre? or do you believe that there are too many other places to try to bother wasting time somewhere that leaves you with a disappointed taste in the mouth?
IS Tapas and Pizza Bar
249 Gympie Terrace Noosaville