We love to visit Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast to unwind and relax. One place I always get excited about is the Spirit House Restaurant. We discovered this unique, tropical oasis a few years’ ago when we enjoyed an amazing lunch experience there on our wedding anniversary.
Entering the Spirit House is like discovering a magical, secret garden. After a 30 minute drive drive from the coastal town of Mooloolaba we are in heart of the Sunshine Coast’s lush hinterland. The winding entrance path of the Spirit House takes you past an oasis of tropical plants and envelopes you in its tranquil energy.
It’s breathtaking. I personally experience a tingling sensation each time I walk along this path. Tsenla, one of the restaurant managers who has worked there for 15 years tells me, ‘I still get goosebumps when I come to work here — it’s a product of the love that was put in here by the owners. Peter and Helen really poured their heart and soul into what they created here.’
Helen (who sadly passed away last year) and Peter Brierty clearly put Yandina on the map when they transformed a large portion of land into the Spirit House in 1995. Their entrepreneurial spirit saw the Spirit House evolve into not only a world class restaurant but also a thriving cooking school with an overseas food tour arm. The Spirit House is a highly awarded culinary destination drawing people from far and wide.
With the addition of their beautiful ‘Hong Sa’ bar area two years ago, private functions and weddings are well catered for. Tsenla tells me that Hong Sa means ‘golden bird’ and brings good luck and wisdom. The 24 seat private dining room extends into a courtyard area surrounded by lush gardens. It’s an ideal and stylish function space.
The Spirit House wine list is thoughtful and well balanced. It showcases a range of beverages from around the world including some elegant and eclectic wines. A handful of special, premium wines are also available by the glass using the Coravin wine system which adds a nice touch of flexibility. It’s clear the Spirit House goes to a great deal of trouble to spoil their customers. Their love and attention to detail is evident throughout.
Various indoor and outdoor seating options all provide fabulous views and are set around a large water lily feature pond with resident water dragons and turtles. Spirit House staff drive from far and wide to work here such is its reputation, and a real testament to the ‘love of the owners and their family’.
The modern Asian inspired menu includes several banquet options including a vegetarian one, and sharing is recommended. Standards are high at the Spirit House where the team has worked hard to retain its hatted status for more than a decade. Head Chef Aaron Tucker has been with the Spirit House for over two years and is a local Sunshine Coast lad. Aaron cut his cheffing teeth in high end hotels and restaurants throughout the Sunshine Coast and Europe before joining the Spirit House.
Moreton Bay Bug on Betel Leaf is finger food at its best. Staff recommend to scoop the full of flavour seafood and spice mixture in the leaf with your hands and enjoy. After my visit the previous year I had dreams about this dish – it’s that good – this is what food memories are made of!
Duck Braised in Master Stock packs a punch of flavour. The duck is tender and the flavours are well balanced. In fact, this is one of the best red curries I’ve ever eaten – I love the fresh herbs and generous amounts of ginger. A side of Green Beans is fragrant, delicious and a generously sized serve. Later, I notice in the cooking school shop their red curry dry spice mix and master stock are both available to purchase. I can’t resist taking the red curry mix back home to Adelaide.
Since we barely have room for dessert I opt for the Baked Coconut Yoghurt with strawberry, Thai basil gel and rose crystals. The colour pops on the plate and this tastes as good as it looks. It’s the perfect light dessert choice after spicy food — refreshing on the palate and not overly sweet.
I laugh when Tsenla shares with me that their popular cooking school is affectionately known in-house as the ‘retirement village’. Many of the previous head chefs transition here after doing their time in the busy kitchen. What an exciting retirement — some are also involved in leading the varied overseas food tours to Asian destinations such as Indonesia’s Spice Islands.
As we leave this haven of peace I make a mental note to stay in Yandina on our next trip to the Sunshine Coast so I can enjoy more than just one Spirit House meal …
Where: The Spirit House Restaurant, Hong Sa Bar, Cooking School and Food Tours
Contact: 07 5446 8977, 20 Ninderry Road, Yandina QLD 4561 Spirit House Website and Bookings