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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Cairns restaurant regains former glory


ONE of Cairns’ most renowned and established restaurants has regained its former glory as one of the most highly rated restaurants in the world after receiving a Tripadvisor Travellers Choice Award.

When the restaurant was at its Shields Street address seven years ago, it was rated as one of the top 10 restaurants in Cairns however after moving to the current waterfront location, an entirely new Tripadvisor account needed to be established, meaning Ochre had to start completely fresh.

Ochre was then in the bottom rung of the 348 restaurants listed in Cairns, which includes anything from cafes to ice cream shops – it now sits as the 23rd best rated restaurant in the city and in the top 10 per cent worldwide.

Owner Craig Squire said receiving the award was a huge compliment to the business and the staff that the food and service they provide are of a consistently high standard.

“That comes back to one of my aims, to provide a consistent product which when you struggle against the vagary of supply issues and the quality of produce that varies from your suppliers,” he said.

A restaurant isn’t something you can just set and forget, you can’t choose a butcher and say ‘I want this strip loin steak’ and expect to get the same quality every time

Ochre owner Craig Squire

As well as being a top choice for diners, Ochre has consistently been a top pick in the industry, winning several awards from the Australian Culinary Federation and other established bodies.

Ochre uses native Australian food married with modern Australian ingredients and other cuisine influences from around the world which proves to be a hit with diners.

The restaurant currently sits at four and a half stars on Tripadvisor, which Mr Squire said is the highest average for most restaurants on the site.

Ochre’s story started in Adelaide in 1992 before moving to Cairns two years later, by 1997 it was a franchise named Red Ochre and Grill with five restaurants around the country.

A few of the restaurants went broke and finally the franchisor which meant Mr Squire, who invested in the Cairns location, became independent and changed the name to Ochre.

Over time Mr Squire leaned more heavily into using local produce and products in the restaurant which at the time, was not common.

“I worked with some industry bodies on helping develop local produce up here from a tourism and agricultural perspective,” he said.

“We developed some guides to some food trails around the region and the organisation at the time was called Australian Tropical Foods.

“The concept was to get people out there and exploring the region and places like Mungalli, Gallo Dairyland, Mt Uncle, Coffeeworks and things like that.”

Mr Squire said the key things to success was a consistent product and good friendly service which is reinforced by both the staff and the owners.

“Having those familiar faces for local guests that come back who understand their needs and the product,” he said.

Keep up with the latest news in Cairns and the Far North, and check out some of our top stories this week: Flying Testicles return to Shitbox Rally and The Reef House celebrates Palm Cove history.

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