Back from Byron

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

byron bay lighthouse
Yes, that’s where I’ve been for an extended long weekend – thanks to the very generous Mr Kitchen Hand. He’d organised the surprise trip for yours truly to attend an art workshop (I’m an amateur who likes to dabble), while he stayed home to mind the mini-critics. (Yup, he’s a keeper this one ☺)

Of course, I couldn’t miss the opportunity of sampling my way through some of Byron’s eating establishments.
(Fyi, Byron Bay is a popular tourist destination on the north coast of New South Wales, Australia).

Holiday breakfast – lemon filled doughnut and baci from L’Ultime (5 Lawson St, BYRON BAY 2481).

This little patisserie near the roundabout on Lawson Street became my regular haunt (all in the interest of research!).

chocolate tart coffee eclairMore L’Ultime treats. The coffee eclair was my favourite

Dinner on the first night was at Why Not. I didn’t dig the name but as I walked past, the words “Slow Roasted Bangalow Pork Belly ($28)” screamed at me from a menu, so I just had to go in. (Being part-Chinese, pork belly has a revered place in my food hierarchy).

why not byron bay

And I was not disappointed by the succulent squares of perfectly crisp crackling, melt-in-the mouth fat, and tender meat served up with rice and asian greens. Sorry, no pic of this because the lighting was too moody and I was too shy to take a snap.

Dessert was a Jamaican warm chocolate pudding with strawberries ($16), that looked fabulous and tasted the same.

chocolate pudding

The restaurant had a lovely cruisy vibe, while the staff were very friendly and attentive (I was treated to a complimentary amuse bouche while I waited for my main to arrive). And, the value for money was pretty hard to beat - considering a curry at the nearby “cheap and cheerful” Thai place cost $20, Why Not were offering a winter special of entrée + main + glass of wine for $30.

Going for an early morning walk one day, I discovered a quirky little café called barcelo down the quieter end of town (Middleton Street). It’s a fun space, with mismatched chairs and tables and I went in for breakfast not expecting too much but came away pleasantly surprised. It’s the little touches that count here- for example, I was given my own dish of salt and my own pepper grinder (something not even some of the bigger restaurants can get right).
pepper grinder

The menu is interesting with dishes like baked eggs and spicy lentils alongside other more standard breakfast fare. I’m boring at breakfast, so went for fried eggs and toast and mushrooms. The eggs were perfectly done and came with a dollop of pesto (not mentioned on the menu), and the mushrooms were sautéed with garlic and thyme (but maybe not so much vinegar next time). A thick crusty slice of Turkish bread and great coffee from the Byron Bay Coffee company completed the meal – all for $14.

About 15 minutes drive from Byron is the town of Bangalow. The main street here seems to be made up of designer giftware and homeware stores and places to eat. I’d been lured here by the chance to dine at ate. The chef used to work at the famous Tetsuya’s, and I was hoping to make it for the Saturday night degustation dinner, but was too tired after a hard day’s painting, so settled for lunch instead. The seasonal lunch menu special ( entrée + main or main+ dessert as well as a glass of wine) for $30 was hard to resist. There was a choice of 3 entrees, mains and desserts with the special menu, while the a la carte featured all the items on the special as well as a few extra.

ate montage(One of the tabletops at ate covered in business cards from restaurant land - spot the Tetsuya's card)

I couldn’t go past the Bangalow Pork Belly Cassoulet, even though it was actually a really warm day outside. Mmmm, it went down very well indeed! And the chocolate raisin clafoutis for dessert went down even better! Thankfully, ate lived up to my (pretty high) expectations and I’d love to come back for dinner (maybe next year hon?)

pork cassoulet raisin clafoutis


Julia @ Mélanger said...

Great review on Byron. I love L’Ultime, too!

shaz said...

Thanks Julia, I only wish I'd discovered the eclairs earlier during the stay (I was limiting myself to one treat a day), but then again, maybe that was a good thing.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

What a beautiful, delicious tour of Byron. THat's my sort of tour! I am also another Pork Belly addict. That chocolate tart looks amazing-almost black!

shaz said...

Lorraine - It was an absolutely indulgent 4 days, and I can't believe I had pork belly twice!! Oh, and that tart...heavenly! Must hit the gym this week ;P

veggie belly said...

What a fabulous surprise weekend getaway! Looks like you had fun!

shaz said...

That I did, veggiebelly, an absolute blast!:)

malacca boy said...

pork belly here i come ...

shaz said...

Go malacca boy!