Mullumbimby is a relaxed town, and yet, it is blessed with a number of quality eateries. Perhaps its greatest lack in the past has been a quality restaurant open regularly at night. The arrival of French Chef Bruno Pouget and his Australian partner Louise’s five years ago initiated an evolution in the Mullumbimby café scene, raising the bar particularly in regard to the evening fare.
The twin café & restaurant of La Table stand side by side on Mullumbimby’s main street and both combine ‘naturale-grooviness’ with relaxed, modern style and offer interior dining, as well as alfresco seating extending from a large pergola to an expansive courtyard garden with plenty of shade.
The Sydney morning Herald ‘Good Food Guide’ has recommended & reviewed La Table every year since 2009, and it was the first in the Byron region to be recognised in their Top 10 Sustainable restaurants in NSW.
According to Bruno and Louise, from the beginning the aim of La Table has been integrity and quality; to ‘not want to settle for less’. Chef Bruno says the aim is to serve, ‘French Mediterranean style cuisine from quality, seasonal, local produce’.
Visiting the café at 10.30 on a Monday morning, there were about 50 people sitting in couples eating and talking. Given that there’s a lot of cafes and not very many tourists in Mullumbimby, what’s going on? Cafes can become a de-facto office; La Table with its large covered private tables also seems to double as a meeting room for groups of 20 or so from around the shire.
As a regular vegetarian diner, it’s possible to cycle through the options without getting sick of them – favourites are the omelette Provencale with ratatouille, goats cheese, basil and sourdough ($16); zucchini and haloumi fritters ($15) and the lentil and veggie burger with beetroot relish, caramelised onions, cheese and aioli on Turkish bread ($16). If you’re feeling extravagant try the pan-fried potato and goats cheese gnocchi with Napoli sauce, courgette, pesto and olives ($21) which can be washed down with a bottle of wine, or if you’re feeling ascetic you can enjoy the daily-changing salad.
If you’ve noticed the similarity between the cake offerings around the region, you’ll be pleased to know that the restaurant’s kitchen is in operation six days a week and all the cakes and pastries are made in-house. A quick scan of just the gluten-free options: Italian torte, mixed berry friand, almond fruit cake and chocolate mousse cake, and for the dairy-lovers apparently the house-made Barambah organic vanilla bean icecream is very popular.
La Table takes their coffee seriously – it’s one of the best coffees in Mullumbimby and they pride themselves as being pioneers in the region: they were the first to serve organic coffee with organic milk; and since mid last year are now coffee merchants, offering different blends of Espresso Botero fresh coffee that customers can take home packaged, whole bean or ground to order.
Anyone in the restaurant industry knows the long hours required to make a success of one establishment, let alone two at once. To create a more desirable work/family balance, Bruno and Louise changed the restaurant concept in June 2013. Now, in addition to offering private catering for intimate gatherings and special groups, the La Table ‘Resto’ hosts a special event dinner in the style of what the French call ‘table d’hôtes’– a set menu at a fixed price with a certain number of dishes.
This unique set menu, three course dining experience is on the first Saturday of each month. The menu is based on this model, Louise explains, ‘serving the food we love, using fine ingredients cooked beautifully. The whole experience is wrapped in enthusiasm, love, fun and with a great deal of soul. It’s about eating with friends and enjoying what has been cooked for you… adapted to our Australian version of hospitality.’
Guests are normally informed of the event by private newsletter; the next monthly dinner is this Saturday 1st March and the menu includes a surprise appetizer followed by entrée of goats cheese & pecan tartlet, carmelised fig and baby greens; a main course of braised wild barramundi, tomato and tarragon risotto, saffron buerre blanc, wilted greens and dessert of poached Bosc pear, coconut macaroon and chocolate sauce. $59 per person. Reservations are essential as seating will be limited for these ‘table d’hôte’ events and special dietary requests need to be discussed at the time of reservation.
LA TABLE Breakfast / lunch Mon-Fri 8am-4pm, Sat 9am-2pm. Dinner once a month.
72 Burringbar St Mullumbimby.
Ph 02 6684 2220.