When we were on the Sunshine Coast we arranged to meet Carl’s parents for lunch in Palmwoods. Palmwoods is a very small suburb in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast with a population of around 5,500. The majority of the local shops line either side of Margaret Street and this street seems to be the focal point of the suburb.
I knew Palmwoods has a pub but I wasn’t sure if we would be able to find any other dining options.
I was very pleasantly surprised to stumble across Rick’s Diner. As we drove along Margaret Street, Rick’s Diner certainly stood out from the mainstream shops with its retro signs, funky furniture and proximity to the footpath and street. This is where we would have our lunch!
Now…Carl’s parents don’t like loud music and when we walked in there was music and it was a tad loud and so our other option was to eat outside in the lawned courtyard where we could sit in the sun. But Carl’s parents also don’t like fresh air so there was some suggestion that we instead retreat to the pub which I quickly squashed. Not that there’s anything wrong with the pub; it’s just I’ve been there before.
So after some argy-bargy I found us an outdoor table in the most sheltered part of the outdoor area so no one could complain the outing had given them influenza and as a bonus, when the sun came out from behind the clouds, we were all given some winter-warmth.
There’s a lovely history to Rick’s Diner. As I understand it, originally the rear of the premises was purely a mechanic’s workshop with an area that also restored cars while the front of the property was a petrol station with those old-fashioned bowsers right on the footpath. Some time ago the council told Rick he was no longer allowed to sell petrol so he kept the mechanic/car restoration side of his business but turned the original petrol station into a diner.
I love what Rick has done with the petrol station; it’s full of retro images and old wares and curios and booth seats and bar stools and photos of nude retro ladies lining the walls of the men’s bathroom – I bet you wonder how I know that!
Rick’s Diner comes across as a very happy place and has staff that are warm, friendly and welcoming in what is a very relaxed and casual environment. Drinks are ordered at the bar and food ordered separately at the end of the counter. Queueing to order food is a bit of a problem as you seem to have to stand right where the food comes out of the kitchen so it’s a case of ‘stand in the queue and be in the way’ of all the waiters.
The menu is ‘short and sweet’ with mostly burger options. There are a few appetisers or ‘bar food’ and so we started with a plate of spicy chicken wings. The wings were tender and mildly spiced and served with an aioli as a dipping sauce. I thought this was a generous serve for the price.
My mother-in-law ordered the New Zealand hoki fish and chips with a salad. The chips here are great as they’re the chunky old-style of chip and served crunchy and crispy rather than soft and blond – crunchy and crispy is my preference). Judy enjoyed this although I thought the salad could have been a little more imaginative.
My father-in-law ordered the fish burger. It was crumbed New Zealand hoki with cheese, tomato, avocado, beetroot, lettuce, red onion, aioli and tomato relish. There were no complaints from my father-in-law and I’m sure it was a very good burger it’s just his stamp of approval is unreliable as this is a man who eats slices of bread sandwiched together with honey and vegemite and says, ‘nothing wrong with that sandwich’.
Carl ordered the Rick’s Chicken Burger with chicken breast, bacon, beetroot, avocado, lettuce, tomato, cheese, red onion, aioli and chilli sauces. You can choose ‘mild’ or ‘frickin hot’ sauce and Carl chose the latter. The good news is that the ‘frickin hot’ sauce comes on the side and just as well because it is definitely ‘frickin hot’. And as for the burger, it was wonderful with all those layers and flavour and the chicken was cooked all the way through without being dry and the aioli was light but full of intensity.
I ordered the Rick’s Vegetarian Burger because it came with haloumi cheese and I just love haloumi cheese. The burger had layers of different vegetables and cheese topped with a tomato relish and was certainly substantial.
We also ordered a couple of serves of chips which we didn’t really need but forced them down anyway.
When I was ordering the burgers I noticed there were some lovely looking desserts in the counter window. I think these are out-sourced rather than made in-house but I thought we should try them. We ordered the caramel tart because I loved the faux cigarette popping out of it. The caramel was amazing; very dense and rich and creamy and the cigarette didn’t contain nicotine but rather, chocolate!
The other dessert we tried was the miniature pecan pie and I liked this less than the caramel tart because it was a touch dry.
Rick’s Diner is a refreshing and fun attraction to a suburb in the hinterland that’s otherwise not on the map. It’s the sort of place where you can sit inside or out and soak up the atmosphere while leisurely enjoying your lunch or dinner. I love how Rick turned a ‘lemon’ of a situation, handed to him by the Council, into ‘lemonade’.
Verdict: When in Palmwoods, definitely pay a visit.
Rick’s Diner: 14-16 Margaret Street, Palmwoods QLD 4555 Ph: 07 5445 0933
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