Town Café and Restaurant, Bangalow
Town has pinned Bangalow on the map, scooping up a calvalcade of awards for Katrina and Karl Kanetani, Sydneysider chefs who ditched the metropolis for life in the slow lane. Now they can hardly move for locals crowding into their tiny restaurant. At street level is Downtown, a breakfast-brunch-lunch hub with specials of the day scrawled on mirrored walls and a countertop piled high with cakes by Katrina (a pastry chef). Upstairs is Uptown, a six-course degustation (or ‘dego’ as the Aussies like to call it) serving local classics such as scallops, kingfish and macadamia for about ?.
?Utopia Cafe Restaurant
Bangalow is fast becoming the regions foodie haven and a great lunchtime choice is Utopia. It’s a light and airy space with sunny yellow espresso machine and counters laden with freshly baked muffins and goodies.
This restaurant in an old cottage exists to make real the fantasy of Australia’s well-fed outdoor lifestyle. The place positively spills over with happy, sea-change baby boomers, and the fresh, modern Australian food, much of it from the owners’ organic farm, is the best around. Sourdough bread is pumped out of a century-old wood-fired oven at the back; meat is dry-aged in the next-door deli.
Mavis’s Kitchen and Cabins, Mount Warning
The charming owner of this lovely place, Charlie Ebell, once ran a smart restaurant on the Gold Coast out of his Auntie Glad’s stunning Queenslander house. After nine years he bought a plot of land overlooked by Mount Warning, and cut the house in three before driving it here in a lorry. Charlie and partner Peter Clarke planted the vegetable farm which now supplies half of the kitchen’s produce, including bananas, pecans, pawpaw and macadamia. Sharing platters (courgette fritters, home-made pâtés, calamari) are popular, and Friday and Saturday nights at this remote outpost are always buzzing.
Footbridge, Brunswick Heads
Even the children’s toys are vintage-style at this pretty beach-meets-river café, where the furniture is reclaimed and the walls are covered with pencil illustrations. More importantly, the pulled-pork burger and the tea-smoked salmon with hashed potatoes and tomato relish are the best brunch in town by a mile.
Doma Café, Federal
Federal is a clapboard village reminiscent of the faded hinterland of yesteryear. But it has had the best sushi in Byron Shire ever since a crew of all-Japanese culinary wizards took over a tiny wooden cottage next to the general store (itself a little film-set gem). The prawn tempura, basil yogurt, organic lentil and green-bean roll is a crunchy hit.
Milk & Honey, Mullumbimby
This is a pizzeria with an eclectic, fiercely loyal clientele: hippies, foodies, young families with rowdy kids in tow. The interiors are rustic-simple, with bare wooden tables and a chalked-up menu, and the no-corkage BYO policy keeps the prices down. An ever-changing menu of creations bursts with classic Italian ingredients. The thin-crust pizza with roasted pumpkin, goat’s cheese and rosemary was a recent favourite.