You've got just one day in Byron Bay - where would you eat?
Recently I was faced with a wonderful opportunity to eat my way around Byron Bay, combined with a healthy dose of exercise in between meals, to further stoke the appetite!
When you are in Byron on a Thursday, the Byron Bay Farmers Market has a delicious stall called The Nomadic Kitchen. I've eaten from their stall a few times when I've visited the area, Michelle and Roberto (who has worked in Sicily and at The River Cafe in London) are serving up rustic, Italian influenced, wholesome food, at various market stalls in the Northern Rivers region.
On this visit to Byron Bay we were there on a Friday and with so many possibilities of where to eat, I did a little research and then deferred to local friends, to be sure we'd strike gold on our plates. We started early with a vigorous walk from the Byron Bay Lighthouse car park, down to Little Wategos Beach and then return. The only challenge of the scenic walk down, is the thought of the return journey back up, with plenty of stairs and a steep incline most of the way, it certainly left us hungry. The views by the way were magnificent.
First stop for a late breakfast was a vegetarian cafe with the full hippy vibe, known as FOLK.
Eat Drink Guide Byron Bay describes the cafe this way;
"FOLK Cafe is a popular Byron Bay hangout where you'll get local, organic plant-based fare served thoughtfully on old-school enamel kitchenware, turned wooden bowls and kitsch 70's era ceramics."
For those a little sceptical about plant-based food (which is often the latest way to describe vegetarian/vegan fare) take the plunge and allow yourself to be surprised, breakfast can indeed taste good without bacon or sausage on your plate!
Poached eggs on toasted sourdough w. smashed avo, house dukkah, garden greens, grilled citrus, toasted seeds $18
w local organic feta $3.50
FOLK organic buckwheat banana hotcakes w house-made labne, fresh fruits, raw bundjalung honey & maple mint, crushed almonds $18
I spotted at the table alongside us, whilst trying not to stare too much, a rather drool worthy dish;
FOLK rainbow roll w fried egg, house relish, fennel & mustard pickle, tahini slaw, avo, local organic cheddar $15
And passing by our table heading to another table outside;
FOLK nourishing bowl of toasted & spiced organic brown rice, quinoa & raisins, cumin roasted pumpkin, tahini slaw, hummus, kraut, garden herbs and baby greens and a poached googie egg $19 - which had me thinking my plant-based loving husband Mr G, may have ordered that one were he here with me!
House Cold Pressed Orange Juice $5.50
and a pot of House Organic Naturopathic Teas; Wild Woman detox herbal blend $4.50 (I simply couldn't resist the wild woman name!) kept us hydrated. I really loved this place - an oasis, a little out of the way, removed from the busyness that has over-taken the town centre of Byron. On weekends, FOLK is a popular place to be and you may have to wait for a table, but isn't that why you visit Byron Bay, to slow your pace and chill a while!
FOLK is open 7 days / 7.30am - 2.30pm - so civilised really!
Refuelled from breakie, we enjoyed a walk and ocean swim at Watego's Beach, and a leisurely sit in the Autumn sunshine. It wasn't long before I was thinking about lunch and going on a friend's recommendation, we headed to 100 Mile Table Cafe!
100 Mile Table Cafe is a dynamic hub for locals and tourists alike with a focus on food that is local, seasonal and sustainable. Our space is modern, industrial and eclectic, focussed around a long communal table and taking full advantage of the sunshine all year round with space for perching at our garden beds. We serve Marvel Street Coffee, Mayde Teas, juices, smoothies, chai and the epic Bucha of Byron kombucha with native finger lime and kaffir lime leaf. Food offerings change on a regular basis based on the best available produce – bacon and egg butties, chicken and ginger congee, sour yellow curry of fish, crispy pork belly roll with Asian pickles and our popular three cheese toastie with homemade mustard pickles amongst the standard offerings.
Yes you read correctly; bacon, chicken, fish and crispy pork, meaning we are no longer talking plant-based only food! There were baby focaccia's fresh from the oven gracing the counter and some large chocolate chip cookies still sitting on their cooling rack, tempting us as we walked in the door! Lovely long tables beckoned, a peaceful place to linger and eat some aromatic food with real zest and gusto. A small but smart menu, many of the dishes carrying a subtle asian influence, done so well.
What we ate - sharing between three of us;
Green Fish Curry $15
Chicken Shawarma $15
Pork Bo ssam $15
And speaking of zesty with the added tang and pop of native finger lime, I loved the; Bucha of Byron kombucha with native finger lime and kaffir lime leaf $6.50 (that's a refreshing drink that's also good for your gut health, for those of you who are wondering!)
The food at 100 Mile had me wishing I lived just around the corner!
An afternoon drive, some chat and chill time together with dear friends, and before any of us could think to say 'what's for dinner?' our stomach's were suitably rested and ready to eat once more! Byron Bay town centre was buzzing on a Friday night, people everywhere, overflowing into the street from the countless places to dine. We left the main drag and found our way to a well-lit back lane, behind the Beach Hotel, to taste the fare at DUK Chinese Eating House. Recently opened, DUK has become a Byron Bay hot spot, with no bookings taken, you simply show up and wait, hopeful for a table! Arriving at 8pm, we were fortunate to only have a ten minute wait to secure a table - once inside the place was humming.
Gourmet Traveller made me giggle with this review;
"There might be a different smoothie bowl for every day of the week in Byron Bay. But finding a bowl of great Chinese? That's another story. Sarah Swan and Jeremy Burn of Byron café 100 Mile Table are behind the new 40-seater, which stays classic with a tight menu of five main choices: char siu, soy chicken, crisp-skinned roasted pork, roast duck and fried tofu. Going with a group means you can eat banquet-style, throwing in twice-cooked eggs and pickles for starters, but there's also a selection of individual bowls where the protein of your choice is served on rice with steamed greens. The five-spice and salted peanut chocolate cake is a must for dessert."
Upon being seated, our waitress immediately convinced us to begin with the starter special that night; Sichuan eggplant - it was crunchy and creamy, spicy and salty all in one - so good! We certainly didn't need any convincing to order the roast duck, however being that it is a small menu, we still had trouble deciding what to choose as it all sounded inviting.
Again sharing between three, here's what we ate;
Half Roast Duck
Steamed greens with oyster sauce
Steamed jasmine rice
And a bottle of Jilly White Wolf Tempranillo Shiraz Cabernet Franc from a local winemaker in nearby Clunes. A delicious array of house made condiments including a green sriracha and roasted chilli sauce were bought to the table and complemented the meats delightfully. We were last to leave DUK that night, unable to manage a slice of the 'must have dessert cake'! We just couldn't fit anymore food in, particularly since it was now 10.30pm and we had spent most of our day in Byron Bay - eating!