I LOVE THAI FOOD!
I adore the spicy, creamy, coconuty, fresh chilli and coriander zing it has. On the ever optimistic search for something authentic, I am always on the hunt for that ultimate Thai dining experience. Luckily on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia, we have such a restaurant. The Spirit House. The food is Thai – Aussie fusion, even though it’s not pure Thai, it is the premiere destination for Thai food, or any food experience, if you are visiting the Sunshine Coast.
The first time I went there was with my sister. She insisted that we go for dinner on one of her visits from down south. She didn’t tell me much about it before we went, just that it was really good and we should go. That is a strategy I have also employed whenever I introduce someone new to the delights of The Spirit House. We set off together and I have to admit I was expecting another mediocre offering, another disapointment after the promise of ‘really really good’ Thai food. What awaited me was the splendiforous discovery of one of the most exquisite dining experiences to be had anywhere in the world.
LOCATION DOESN’T REALLY MATTER!
First is the unlikely location of The Spirit House. It just goes to prove that if you provide great food, people will travel any distance. Situated about twenty minutes inland from the coast in a tiny little country town called ‘Yandina’ whose name is derived from the Aboriginal words, yan meaning ‘go’ and dinna,‘on foot’. The Spirit House is tucked away on a non-descript back road.
We pulled into a dusty carpark which was packed with cars. It was evening and the sun was setting. All manner of insects were starting up a symphony to welcome us. But there was still no tangible hint of the splendour that awaited me.
We walked through some authentic wood carved Thai gates and entered a tropical garden paradise. There were statues lit with candles on a meandering path through the forest. We passed a building that looked like a restuarant that appreared to be closed.
“Oh, it’s closed!” I said with dismay.
“No, that’s the cooking school, the restaurant is further along the path. The cooking school is only open during the day.”
Super duper relieved, we kept strolling along the candle lit path. I could feel a kind of awe and excitment building, not only because I was looking forward to a good nosh up, (I LOVE FOOD), but this short walk through the forest was becoming even more breathtaking. There were towering clusters of bamboo reminicent of the movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and there were more and more statues.
It was like entering a peaceful, serene Asian temple complex. There were stautues of the Buddha, Shiva and other deities. There were Balinese style lanterns with little thatched roofs dotted everywhere. All of the statues had offerings of flowers made to them which added immensly to the authenticity of the experience.
THE WAIT STAFF
The staf f were impressive. They were well trained in customer service. Bookings are usually essential. Phone ahead and ask for a table “H-2-0”. You’ll see what I am talking about when you get there. Someone tends to you straight away and you will be seated quickly at your appointed place, preferably as close to the water as possible. Oh, I haven’t metioned yet that it has a water view?
Second most impressive point, when you place your order, the staff actually know all the ingredients and everything about the food, and they don’t write anything down and every time without fail your order is gracefully placed in front of you with confidence.
Oh, THE FOOD!A favourite of mine is the whole deep fried fish. Sourced locally and deep fried to perfection, served with a piquant subtle Thai spiced sauce. I suggest a side salad to compliment it, doesn’t matter which one.
I have never eaten anything there that I could not recomend. Though the dishes are dumbed down a little chilli wise for the masses, the subtlety of the flavours and fragrances make up for this ten fold. Besides, you can ask for some freshly chopped chilli on the side.
Another of their specialities are the desserts. Get one each and share. Make sure you keep enough room in your tummy for this most delicious of treats. The desserts are not necessarily Thai, but will be prepared for perfection.
After tasting as many desserts as possible, sit back and soak up the atmosphere. This is truly an oasis in the desert. The Sunshine Coast has many fine dining establishments, but The Spirit House stands out amongst them.
When the owners first bought the land, it was just a plain old paddock. They planted the bamboo and the rest of the tropical forest and it took five years until they were ready to open it to the public. They have succeeded in re-creating a serene lily covered, extra large pond surrounded by tables and chairs, perfectly placed for individual privacy of each table.
Though this is ‘al fresco’ dining extraordinaire, you can securely dine in all weather conditions. I abhor plastic, but it does have its uses. I don’t want to say too much more about it. If you are a Sunshine Coast local or a visitor, it’s a must do, at least once in your life.
Treat yourself. Treat the family or loved one, but do it.
Find The Spirit House here.