CROQUETTAS: Better than those you’d find in Madrid.
CROQUETTAS: Better than those you’d find in Madrid. Geoff Potter

Every dish takes you somewhere

WHEN we learnt Sirocco was celebrating its 5th birthday this month, it came as small surprise.

It's as though Sirocco has been with us in Noosa for as long as we can remember - a bright beacon in Gympie Tce, serving contemporary food melded with a touch of the exotic.

When you are called Sirocco (the hot dry wind that comes from the Sahara) you have to present the unusual, the glamorous.

Dishes such as roasted harissa marinated spatchcock or Persian spiced lamb fillet speak of food from North Africa and the Mediterranean. They bring us a taste of countries that have long and fascinating cuisine histories.

Owners, Laila Jones and Andy Slavin create their seasonal menus after endless research and exhausting trialling.

Every dish on the menu is there because it has passed rigorous testing.

Warm Turkish pide with hazelnut pistachio dukkah would get you off to a palate-zinging start. So too would a bowl of roasted olives.

We've gone that way on previous visits and loved the salty pungency of harissa spiced kalamatas, the tangy hit of green Sevallano olives.

We've done the Moroccan lamb meatballs before too, and savoured the rich tomato sauce they bobbed in, and enjoyed the local touch the dollop of Kenilworth natural yogurt gave the dish. A case of Morocco meeting Sunshine Coast hinterland.

On our last visit it had to be the manchego croquettas to start us off.

We found love in croquettas in the tapas bars of Madrid, and never go past them when they appear on a menu here at home.

Sirocco's version with Serano jamon and a quenelle of excellent green olive tapenade put us in a mellow Madrid mood.

Pork belly too, proved a winner. Sticky and braised, it came with a perfectly crispy skin, its richness contrasted with a fennel and radish slaw.

A good slaw is the perfect counterpoint for the

richness of pork, and a pomegranate cider dressing did its bit to raise the dish to excellence.

Sirocco's menu is easy to navigate and it gives you many options.

Start a big night with breads, go on to something from the tapas section, dip into the main course area and top up with a salad or side dish.

Or if you're up for just a casual bite to eat, jump straight in to the gourmet pizza menu.

It all works.

After our croquettas and the pork we went on to a tagine of duck confit with roast artichokes, sweet potato and quinoa. If you're looking for big flavours from far-flung countries, a tagine will work every time.

Then gnocchi, house made of course, and superbly rich with a lemon butter and parmesan sauce with braised leeks and fresh peas. (The gnocchi is about to change for winter, it will be a pumpkin-based baked version with a gorgonzola cream. Your winter world is going to be warm and wonderful with that in front of you.)

You won't find the usual toppings among the battery of pizzas here, more like thin-crusted lovelies with puttanesca, Spanish white anchovies, cherry tomatoes, kalamatas, capers and chilli - and that's just one example of the creativeness.

Salads, too, show their colourful characters - you'll love the tabouleh of quinoa with Spanish onion and vine ripened tomato.

Even the thick cut chips are cumin-spiced and come with a chipotle dip.

All this melding of flavours and roaming of the globe obviously works very well for Sirocco.

Drive past any time of day or night and you'll see the buzz in there.

Sirocco also dishes up the unusual for breakfast (how about sweet quinoa with medjool dates, pistachios, yogurt and honeyed syrup?) and for lunch (spanner crab cakes with a ruby and grapefruit salad).

If you want to finish on the sweetest possible note, Sirocco's tiramisu will thrill with its dark Belgian chocolate, espresso, and chocolate ganache.

Enjoy every spoonful of this one and leave the guilt for later.

IF YOU GO

Sirocco Noosa,

1/257 Gympie Tce,

Noosaville.

Open breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Closed Mondays.

P: 5455 6688

Average prices: Tapas $16; Pizzas $21; Mains $34.


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