Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Canopy Cafe, Dorrigo Rainforest Center

If you are in the Coffs Harbour and are looking for things to do, then you would be told about the Big Banana and the Dorrigo National Park. In fact there are 7 world heritage rain forests in this area. You would have to drive from Coffs Harbour to Dorrigo. The drive is extremely scenic and beautiful. One of the most scenic drives I have been on. Vast expanses of green fields and meadows, lined up trees in red and green, animals leisurely roaming around, curved roads slithering like a snake and timeless waterfalls flowing in ecstasy. It gave me the feeling as in the movie lord of the rings when you take an aerial shot on entering the palace the first time.  Enroute we cross the town of Bellingen, a small hippy village frozen in time.After a 60 km drive there is a turn in the road which leads to the Dorrigo Rain forest center. After driving for a few kms in the hardcore countryside, you reach upon the Rain forest Center. This is the entry to the rain forest and there are multiple walks, scenic lookout points and a Picnic Area.  Specifically there is a Wonga Wonga walk which a 6.6 kms walk circuit from the Rainforest center. Fully into the dense forest with thick foliage and vegetation and no one in sight. Walking through the jungle is a pristine experience in itself. Hearing the sounds of various birds is exotic along with the sound of silence, rustling of the leaves with the wind and never ending tall trees which make you feel like an ant. The whole experience is mesmerizing and breathtaking. In the long Wonga Wonga walk you come across a two amazing waterfalls, one in which you can stand behind the waterfall. What made this whole journey exciting and on the edge was the fact the jungle is raw and pure with no rangers and no mobile network. In particular, when me and my friend crossed the second waterfall and we were about 2.4 kms away from the final exit and the sun set. Night trekking with the mobile phone torches was eerie and a bit on the edge, specially when you could here rustling in the jungle.
Well now you would probably think wheres the food and that where I take you back to the Dorrigo Rainforest Center Cafe. With seating inside and and outside, I expected a self service at the start but to my surprise there was seat service available. We settled for the inside seat and could see the vast expanses of the never ending rain forest. It took about 20 minutes for some one to came and take the order by which we were starving. The menu had many items and there were four of us. We decided to order the grilled fish with fresh salad, the chicken breast with pasta and the veg curry.
The atmosphere is relaxed, how can it not be in an environment surrounded by nature's best the beauty of an ancient rainforest.The café won the award 'Best new Restaurant' of the Restaurant & Catering Association and is a finalist 'Australian Small Business Champions Awards' in 2012 and 2013.
It seems that most of the dishes take time as they prepare it freshly. Lets start with the reviews. The grilled fish came  with two fillets of full fish, grilled served with parsley and salad. The electricity had gone off, so instead of the fries, we got some rice.  Initially while ordering, my friend and me said, we will order the fish and the chicken and if one of them go bad, we'll dig into the other. I was at the time of order thinking the chicken dish would be crap and I may have to dig into the fish. I was thinking this would be the regular beer battered fish with chips. To our surprise this was the simple fish with no fries.
The vegetable curry, my friends wife said was exquisite and better than what they had in Sydney.  It is a selection of seasonal vegetables grown in the Coffs Harbour region, with Dorrigo potato in a traditional curry and served on a bed of steamed piping hot rice.  No comments there as I didnt try it, but I take it, it was really nice. It looked like a yellow Indian gravy with a mix of fresh veggies.
Coming to the Fish & Chips, the grilled Barramundi fish fillet with herb and butter, let me tell you it was yuck. I hated it. The smell of fish was too strong and I didnt like it. I wouldn't ever think of ordering it ever.
But coming to the roasted chicken breast with mushroom and pasta- it was heavenly .This dish was exquisite and hit the spot. Just too good. One of the best pasta I have ever had. Served on a base of flat fettucine pasta topped with chicken breast portions diced and cooked with mushrooms, sun dried tomato and white sauce. On one side, it was served with a generous portion of Parmesan cheese shavings. This dish was just heavenly and out of the world and I wonder how could it be so awesome. I mean I know I can drive again from Coffs Harbour just to have this dish again. You know how I have mentioned that there are very few places where I can and like the pastas and this is definitely a place Id highly recommend.
Average cost of the main course dishes is approximately AUD 16 to AUD 25. 
Overall verdict: the place might be remote and the service might be slow, but I have had one of the best pasta's ever. 

Dorrigo Rainforest CentreAddress: Dome Rd, Dorrigo, New South Wales 2453

Phone: +61 6657 2309 Fax: +61 6657 2145Email: kathryn.wood@environment.nsw.gov.au

Canopy Cafe Dorrigo

Address: Dome Rd, Dorrigo, New South Wales 2453

Phone: +61 6657 1541
Email: elegant.epicure@gmail.com

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