There was a time when great restaurants were few and far between in Townsville, but over the years the foodie scene has blossomed into a hub of fresh local produce and quality dining experiences earning this town a seat at the table with some of the industry's best.
The latest to gain a national culinary spotlight is Lavaracks Restaurant. Nestled inside the lively and ever popular Townsville RSL, the recent award-winning restaurant boasts a menu so creative, colourful and fancy it's hard to believe the dishes come with an RSL price tag.
While it may have taken out the title as Best Restaurant in a Pub, Club or Tavern category at the 2018 Restaurant & Caterers Australia Awards, the real news is your local foodie bucket list just got a whole lot bigger.
To give you a kick start, we've rounded up six of their award-winning dishes you need to try as soon as possible.
For Those With A Sweet Tooth
While dessert generally comes last, we feel the need to mention this one first. Anyone with a sweet tooth will melt into sugary heaven with this delicate array of nutty, sweet and fruity after dinner treats. Chocolate salami (yes you read that correctly) with spiced vincotto, crumbly biscotti and a cool rasberry sorbet, it's clear why the owners urge patrons to 'leave room for dessert'.
For The Seafood Lovers
Whether it's ordered as a decadent starter or a savoured light main meal, this seared tuna with piquillo mousse tapenade is a seafood mouth explosion that deserves the highest of praise. All hail the mastermind behind this fishy, salty and sweet dish.
For Those Needing A Veggie Fix
For vegetarians or those who just need a good veggie fix, make sure you wrap their lips around this too-pretty-to-eat zucchini flowers dish. On a bed of a Sicilian inspired caponata and peppered with pecorino, this dish will melt in your mouth... and potentially your heart.
For The Big Eaters
Feeling a little hangry? We know what will do the trick. A devilish plate of lamb shoulder ragu tossed between homemade strigoli and dressed in pecorino cheese. Filling, heart warming and damn right memorable, no wonder this had the judges drooling.
For The Carnivores
If you're going to order duck, you want it to be cooked right. Slow cooked and married with cabbage, bacon and hazelnuts, this Maryland duck delight will hit the nail on every carnivore's head. The gluten-free meat loving dish is one to treat yourself.
For Those Wanting To Share
Tapas, hors d’oeuvres, grazing, sharing plate, entree - whatever you call it, sometimes you just want to try a little bit of everything. With their extensive 'starters' list you can do just that. Our pick: the beef brisket croquettes with coleslaw. Tender, juicy and slow cooked beef on the inside with a crusty bread shell on the outside... maybe you don't want to share after all?
Worthy of the top gong award, Lavaracks Restaurant ran circles around the judging criteria and more than 150 other restaurants.
“Townsville RSL should be proud of their achievements. Running a hospitality business isn’t easy – there’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears that goes into to making it work. But when you get the right mix of staff, produce and service, the results can be extraordinary.”
- Juliana Payne, Restaurant & Catering Industry Association of Australia CEO
And while the little local secret that is Lavaracks may be out of the bag across the nation, we can all relish in the fact this foodie gem will forever call Townsville home.
If you haven't already taken a visit, bookings are essential.
Lavaracks is open for dinner Tuesday - Saturday and Friday lunch at Townsville RSL, 139 Charters Towers Rd, Hermit Park.