--- Palisa Anderson is host of the brand-new series, Water Heart Food with Palisa Anderson, premiering 7.00pm on Sunday, 29 November, on SBS Food and On Demand. ---
Ah, Byron Bay. It may be best known these days as the official home of the Hemsworth brothers and the perfect spot to bust out your best organic linen, but it’s got one other major calling card: the food. Palisa Anderson, who owns the Boon Luck farm in Byron Bay and is host of the new series Water Heart Food with Palisa Anderson, says that the soil in the region is “extremely fertile,” making it ideal to grow and enjoy delicacies such as macadamia nuts and finger limes, subtropical fruits and vegetables such as jackfruit, pitayas, as well as the temperate crops like stone fruits and broccoli.
“Though everything has its season, we are just lucky here that there's always something delicious to eat and gather,” she says.
Here are eight places to add to enjoy some fresh produce, locally.
1. The Byron Bay General Store
Much has changed in Byron Bay over the past few years, but The Byron Bay General Store has remained a staple since 1947. Here you’ll find exactly what the town is best known for - chilled but still stylish, healthy but also decadent. Most of the menu is vegan, with many gluten-free options. Think falafels with carrot hummus and hemp dukkah, and house-made waffles, topped with coconut ice-cream, maple syrup and fresh fruit.
2. Treehouse on Belongil
Located opposite Belongil Beach, Treehouse on Belongil is perfect for re-energising after a big swim. Along with big appetites, Treehouse has a big menu, with the faithful avo on toast for breakfast or popular comfort food dishes beer-battered barramundi and chicken nachos because that’s just what holidays are all about.
A half-hour north of the Byron township in Potsville is Pipit Restaurant. Chef Ben Devlin incorporates sustainability into his kitchen by sourcing produce from local farms, reducing the use of plastic and packaging, and minimising waste with innovative recipes. “It’s about showing how much you care about not wasting product, ... using the best quality product... and representing the communities that are part of this area,” he says.
4. Rae's on Wategos
An icon of Byron Bay, Rae’s on Wategos focuses on local seasonal produce peppered with Mediterranean influences. With a light and breezy dining room, the menu reflects the restaurant’s - which is part of a boutique hotel - laid back but sophisticated vibe. Ex-head chef at Pilu in Sydney's Freshwater, Jason Saxby, recently made a sea change to take the helm at Rae's and leave the 'rat race' behind, blending his Italian influences with local produce.
5. Beach Byron Bay
A favourite with tourists and locals, this is relaxed sophistication at its best. With stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, Beach Byron Bay is fine dining that mixes fresh seasonal ingredients with Japanese influences. Try the decadent caviar with savoury doughnuts, or wood-grilled scallop with sweet corn and puffed rice, and don’t forget to make room for dessert. If you’re after something more casual, check out the kiosk, which has an extensive menu for both snacks and stomach-filling meals.
6. Harvest Newrybar
Far more than just a restaurant, Harvest Newrybar is also a bakery, private dining room and deli, which sells fresh produce boxes, hampers and gourmet pantry staples. It even has its own edible garden, which features in many of its menu items. Stay for a quick coffee or a long lunch, just make sure you leave enough appetite to take home some items from the deli: the truffle oil, cultured butter and cherry Cointreau jam might find their way onto your shopping list.
It’s said that good things come in small packages, which is a perfect description for Fleet. With room for only about 20 diners, its menu is equally paired back, changing frequently along with the seasons. Praised for its strong wine list and attentive service, Fleet also offers something that many restaurants shy away from: happily tweaking menu items to suit customers’ dietary needs.
If you're heading there soon, take inspiration from Palisa Anderson's Water Heart Food and order the 'poor man's lobster' which chef Josh Lewis cooks for Palisa in the series.
8. Folk Kiosk and General Store
If a cafe can visually represent Byron Bay, it’s this Folk Kiosk and General Store. Located away from the busy main street, and home to a lush outdoor area, this relaxed and calm oasis specialises in vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free meals. The chefs in the kitchen don't shy away from taking cues from global cuisine, with a range of inspired specials to choose from. These meals are made for Instagram; just try and eat there without snapping a few pics.