At Lizard Island, in the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, the coral, fish, clams, and turtles all find a way of feeding themselves. Guests count on Lizard Island’s world-class chef, Mark Jenson, to feed us (all food and many wines are included in the daily rate). We were not disappointed. While menus changed on a daily basis:
- Breakfasts consisted of a buffet of fruits, cereals, meats, smoked salmon and other “starters”. Ordered dishes included unusual and interesting preparations of dishes such as French toast, Eggs Benedict and omelets (such as a pad thai omelet with shrimp, noodles, bean sprouts, peanuts and soy sauce).
- Lunches were two-course affairs, with choices of three main dishes each day. These included tempura softshell crab atop watermelon and chopped nut salad; chili salt squid with shaved coconut and coriander with Thai basil tom yum aioli; and sautéed tiger prawns with fennel, chardonnay dressing and pancetta succotash. These are followed by a choice of two specially prepared desserts, choices of ice cream and sorbet, and daily cheese plates, each consisting of three very nice cheeses. (Our first day’s plate even consisted of two of our favorite cheeses; Brillant Savant camembert and St. Agur blue.
- Dinners were even more elaborate, consisting of an amuse bouche and three courses. One evening’s entree included a choice of grilled langostine with vermicelli noodles, nori, caviar and konbu butter; and Korean beef tartare with tapioca crisp, kimchi gel, radish and scallions. Main courses included roasted duck breast with croquette, ginger bread, dates and cinnamon jus; wild barramundi with cucumber and mushrooms in a green tea consommé; and a choice of three steaks (black angus eye, sirloin or rib eye) accompanied by turnip puree, broccoli, carrot, grilled onions and red wine jus.
And no fear if you can’t choose among the dishes. When Tom told the server that he was debating between two dishes, she suggested that he try both: either as two separate meals or as one full dinner plus the protein from the other.
Some evenings have special menus, such as Sunday evening. It begins with a buffet of salads and an incredible selection of seafood—Tasmanian oysters, tuna sashimi, wonderful Moreton Bay “Bugs” (like mini-lobsters) and the largest, tastiest king prawns we have ever had. This is followed by a plate of scallops, prawns, swordfish, lamb ribs and sirloin, almost all of which we found to be overdone unfortunately. But since we stuff ourselves from the buffet, we didn’t ask for a redo—which we are sure they would have done. This was followed be a nice dessert buffet. But by this time, we were lucky to be able to handle two of the four cheese options: a very good camembert and a nice blue.
And if you really want to go all out (for an additional charge), you can work specifically with the executive chef to craft a seven-course degustation menu that is served in a candle-lit beachside gazebo.
And then there are the wines. The wine list consists of a couple of hundred wines from all around the world. Although there is a particular large selection of Australian wines (especially Shiraz and Shiraz blends), virtually every wine region and varietal is represented, typically with multiple wines. Although many are premium wines with prices to match, there is a very generous list of “standard” wines that are included in the price of a stay and are available any time of day or night. This list, which includes wines that are far above standard “bar wines”, is quite extensive. It, for example, includes 16 whites, 16 reds, three roses, three dessert wines and eight fortified sherries and ports.
Every entrée and main dish on the lunch and dinner menu offers a recommended paired wine, although one can choose any wine they would like. We were able to explore many different wines from multiple areas. The bar, of course, has a full range of spirits and liqueurs.
And if the food and wine doesn’t delight you, the service will. The staff appears to be trained to anticipate the needs of the guests (such as our server’s offer of both entrees). Requests are not only accommodated, but often over-accommodated, going beyond what you thought you wanted.
The only one suggestion that we could even suggest is to have some down or feather pillows. We like very soft pillows and their softest were not as soft as we prefer. Oh well. I guess we have to rough it sometimes.
This combination—the facilities, the room, the food, the service and the activities—especially the snorkeling—more than met our expectations. Hopefully, our checking account will allow us to return again in the near future—and next time stay longer.