On the last evening of our vacation away in Cairns, my friend and I found it quite a difficult task to settle on one dinner venue out of the multitude of buzzing restaurants that line the coastal Esplanade. At last, we were most allured by a seafood restaurant that goes by the name 'The Raw Prawn' - up until I double-checked just now, I had actually believed it was called 'Paw Prawn' due to the restaurant sign's signature curvy font!
You can say that this place has many qualities of a great restaurant. For one, the place is a livewire. A bright and bubbly mix of locals and tourists were seated throughout the venue - which appears to be one of the more spacious restaurants that we saw along the Esplanade. Whether or not you are on holiday, the ambience here is likely to make you feel as though you are. As a Sydneysider, I felt that pretty much all of Cairns was much more laid-back, and slow-paced than what I am used to, with The Raw Prawn being no exception.
The outdoor section - parallel to the footpath, street, park, and seaside.
So, do you prefer dining in the outdoors amongst the vibrance of street-life, or in the cosier, more intimate indoors? Either way, the Raw Prawn has you covered.
We chose the outdoor option. This treated us to a bath in both Cairns' tropical warmth, and the cool breaths of sea-breeze that would flow to us through the park across the road. From where we were seated, the beautiful scene of the moon beaming from behind palm trees was in our sight, with the shimmering waters of Trinity Inlet beneath - definitely not bad as far as dining views go. To make this even better, outdoor tables are all under shelter, meaning that nobody has to panic or be disrupted from their meal by the random downpours that are typical throughout the area's rainy season.
On the other hand, you can choose to sit indoors. The interior is inspired by the seaside and tropical land that lays outside. A sandy colour theme is present, and splashes of brighter colours are added to the room by the bird of paradise flowers. There are sofa seats which will provide you with more comfort than the outdoors. You will additionally be more comfortable here if you wish to be further from the rain and the occasionally cool sea-breezes. You will probably also find a more intimate dining experience with your friends or family by choosing this option.
Among all of these wonderful things about The Raw Prawn, the thing that played the biggest part in luring us through the entrance was the set menu. For the good value of around $35 you will receive a 2-course dinner. I did initially think this was a 3-course set, however it turns out that you need to decide whether you'd rather pair your main meal up with an entree or a dessert. Not sure if they have a 3-course deal, but if they do, I'd recommend that to be the go so that you can sit back and know that everything, including dessert, is sorted.
The chicken skewers and prawn salad as our entrees.
There is a small selection of dishes to choose from for each course. While these lists are little, I do think that they showcase the variety of dishes that the Raw Prawn can feed you. The dishes we ordered were all well-sized and delicious. For the entrees we ordered the chicken skewers (normally $29.90) and a prawn salad (don't remember which one this was on the ordinary menu).
The chicken was marinated in tasty, Asian-infused flavours, and was served with bok choy that rested in a soup of these flavours. Everything in the prawn salad was very fresh - this, and I'd imagine any of the other cold bar salads from the main menu would be a refreshing start to your summery evening meal.
Now, I'm normally not a fish-eater, however I spontaneously came to order the barramundi and avocado dish (normally $32.90) for the main. This barramundi was super fresh, and the light flavours of the avocado salsa, asparagus, roasted potatoes, and butter combined to make one beautifully-tasting meal. I guess this is simply staying true to the restaurant's catch phrase, "Seriously good seafood!"
Barramundi with avocado salsa, potatoes, asparagus, and butter.
My friend went for the sirloin steak dish (normally $29.90), which was chargrilled well and came accompanied with some quality, chunky chips. There are many more seafood and non-seafood dishes to choose from Raw Prawn's ordinary menu, if you'd rather not go for the set-menu. These range from the cold bar options, to chargrilled skewers and seafood, to pasta and more. There is also an extensive drinks menu, from which you can select some wine, cocktails, or refreshing, non-alcoholic beverages to accompany your meal.
The Raw Prawn is a fantastic showcase of modern Australian cuisine, and this locally operated business has been doing just this for over a decade. So here you have plenty of reasons to enjoy your dining experience. Locals, make a point of lunching or making a dinner-time visit to this place one of these days, and tourists, put this on your list when thinking about what the go for food will be when you are in tropical Cairns. For more info about this restaurant, including the full menu, please check out The Raw Prawn website.