By Phil Jarratt
Trevor Pepys reviews Ricky’s River Bar and Restaurant
Look, hears the honest truth. One drunken night a long time ago, Palmer’s co-founders Leonie Palmer and Stef Fisher said to Trev, being the font of all knowledge, what do you think about calling our new riverside restaurant Ricky Ricardo’s?
Trev’s instant reaction was, are you both mad? Do you not realise that illusions to a 1950s I Love Lucy audience are not going to resonate with a 1990s audience? But the renowned restaurateurs were of course referencing a more recent cultural icon, Jimmy Buffett, whose hit song Pencil Thin Moustache mentions a “two-tone Ricky Ricardo jacket”. It still didn’t make a lot of sense, but Ricky Ricardo’s was an instant hit, picking up where Barry’s On The Wharf had left off, so what would Trev know!
Enough of the history already. Just Ricky’s now, and part of the Ogilvy restaurant stable, it long ago priced itself out of Trev’s modest dining budget – in fact I won’t even go near Quamby Place unless I have a written guarantee that someone else is footing the bill – so an invitation to celebrate Christmas over a slap-up lunch at the expense of this august organ of record was too good to pass up.
Trev was hoping for the deluxe window table with unbeatable river views, but that had been taken by the infamous Caf¨¦ le Monde Table of Knowledge, making a rare foray beyond Hastings Street, so our largish group had to make do with the view from the stalls, which is by no means shabby.
Whetting his whistle with a welcome Asahi Dry Black ($13), Trev inspected the offering and decided to launch proceedings with half a dozen freshly shucked Sydney rock oysters, with shiso and apple vinaigrette and a dash of Tabasco ($5 each). Good, but not brilliant, maybe a tad too long shucked, and we all know how that feels. But still, a good base to get things started.
Having mixed steak and ros¨¦ elsewhere recently, Trev decided to give keeping it light over lunch another shot, ordering the pasture-fed eye fillet, potato boulangere, caramelised Jerusalem artichoke puree, and red wine jus ($47), medium rare, of course, with a side of chips with chilli salt and aioli ($12), because too much potato is never enough. This was matched with a chilled glass of the 2018 Chateau Peyrol Grenache ($16), and the Provencal pinkie was so good, Trev ordered a bottle of it ($75).
Okay, the steak. Now Trev normally has about two steaks a year, being more of a chop and sausage kind of bloke, but this was his second in a week, and his best in a long, long time. Chef Josh Smallwood made his name with seafood in Melbourne, but he and his team clearly know their way around a slab of red meat. The eye-fillet was cooked to perfection.
Trev really knew he shouldn’t, but there was still a glass and a half left in the bottle, so he let the belt out another notch and tucked into the affogato, short black coffee, amaretto liqueur, and vanilla ice cream ($15) to finish, and this was another small triumph.
Making his way out the door as the afternoon shadows lengthened, Trev was accosted by the Table of Knowledge, who had apparently been thrown out for offensive language, but had reconvened outside, and now forced a couple of cleansing ales upon him. Fortunately, it was only a short stagger to Pepys Palace for a little nanna nap before dinner.
The verdict: Ricky’s is event dining for mere mortals like you and me, so make an event these holidays. You can’t beat the view or the attentive service, and if I’d got to the oysters a bit earlier I’d have given lunch a perfect 10. Still, Trev gives it a nine.
Ricky’s River Bar and Restaurant, 2 Quamby Place, Noosa Heads, phone 5447 2455.