Lord Howe Island is surrounded by a Marine Park and is far enough away from the Australian mainland to be completely free of pollution, sediments, big tourist boats and cruise ships. Our waters are absolutely pristine. Yes, the occasional yacht sails past and we do have local fishing boats, but we respect our place and know that our tourism future hinges on its purity.
From these surrounding waters come our table fish – kingfish, trevally, tuna, blue eye, wahoo, flame snapper, bluefish, garfish and other seasonal species. Each is beautiful in its own way, and we regularly sit down with a sashimi platter of four white fleshed fish, caught a few hours earlier, and analyse the differences (there are many). We can even tell how a fish was caught, killed and treated by slight variations in colour, texture and taste. Clearly, we’re spoiled when it comes to fish, and so are our guests.
As you can imagine, we know a thing or two about kingfish, and our repertoire is large. At last count, we had over 120 unique dishes that we’d served at Pinetrees in the last five years. Like Bubba Gump’s shrimp, we fry it, grill it, bake it, poach it, sauté it, braise it, BBQ it, and of course, eat it raw. We’ll serve it with spices, pulses, grains, vegetables, carbohydrates, salads, sauces, condiments and so on – in recipes from Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain, Morocco, France, England, Mexico and Peru. Just to name a few. It doesn’t take many combinations of the above to reach 120 delicious recipes. We could probably write two cookbooks of kingfish recipes alone.
We eat a lot of fish. So much so that, even with endless variations, we get a bit sick of it. Our local cows are organically grown, grass-fed and have very few sources of stress – except the ones that walk on the road at night and collide with bike riders without lights. Suffice to say that the bike riders come off second best. Yes, Lord Howe beef is incredible, but you’re not allowed to eat it. These days, the bureaucrats have a different view about our beef, and they’re all powerful. Enough said about that.
As a substitute for Lord Howe beef, and frankly it’s hard to replace, we use the best mainland beef we can find. Our supplier sold us some very expensive MSA 4 beef (that’s the star rating for marbling) that was apparently used by Tetsuya in his Three Hat restaurant in Sydney, and it was so good that we chargrilled the fillet in indulgent 300-gram chunks and served it with Café de Paris butter. From that day, about five years ago, our guests have told us consistently that it’s the “best steak” they’ve ever had. It can be an expensive problem when you accidentally set the bar so high.
We also serve pork, lamb, venison, duck and chicken in all shapes and sizes. These days with vacuum packaging, the meat is kept fresh and is good as anything you’ll find in a big city restaurant.