With a charcoal grill, fine local produce and takeaway oysters, this summer's new hotspot is poised to open for service.
A view of the sun-lit waters of Clarkes Beach differs markedly to one of the Champagne-scented Ivy pool, says David Lovett. But he's not complaining. The former Uccello chef has just taken up the enviable top job at what is earmarked to be this year's most exciting coastal opening: Beach Byron Bay.
Beach Byron Bay.
Opening on Thursday 28 July on the dunes of Clarkes Beach and backed by the Fink Group and Byron Bay restaurateurs Ben and Belinda Kirkwood, the café has seen a complete refurbishment. It now flaunts a gleaming white interior and an opened-up outlook. An expanded kiosk has been cut into the town side of the building, serving oysters, spaghetti and tomato sauce jaffles, and fish and chips.
Spaghetti and tomato jaffle.
"It's like living in the south of Italy up here," says Lovett. He's taken the term "simple" and stripped things back even more, offering up dishes with rarely more than three ingredients on the plate. Prawns grilled in their shells over charcoal will be brushed with burnt butter and topped with crisp curry leaves, all sourced from the region. "We've found some beautiful snapper and local kingfish, too, plus excellent cime di rapa and cured meats from the hills," he says.
View of Clarkes Beach from Beach Byron Bay.
Though Byron isn't short on excellent eats - Fleet up the road at Brunswick Heads has just been nominated for GT's 2017 Regional Restaurant of the Year, while the Three Blue Ducks team continues to kick goals at The Farm - Lovett is looking to offer something "a little bit different, but not too left of centre. We don't want to scare locals away." Will anyone shiver in their shorts at the sound of clams with 'nduja, chickpeas and toast, or a bright bowl of zuppa verde with local greens and parmesan rind? Probably not.
Clams with 'nduja, chickpeas and toast.**
For breakfast the classics have been given a gentle twist: samphire replaces asparagus beneath a fried egg with parmesan, and polenta subs for oats in bowls of porridge. Dinners will follow once the weather heats up, but for now Lovett is inspired by his new habitat and is keen to kick off service.
Samphire with a fried egg and parmesan.
Beach Byron Bay, Clarkes Beach, Lawson St, Byron Bay, NSW, 1300 583 766, beachbyronbay.com.au. Open daily 7am-3pm; dinners will launch in summer.