Byron Fresh Café must have one of the best locations for a restaurant in Byron. On one side its tables stretch down a lane, behind the Beach Hotel, that is crowded with smaller restaurants; the other side looks onto possibly the busiest part of Jonson Street. In fact Fresh have just added a sidewalk bench to their footpath dining options, so that you can sit right in the footpath if you really want to be part of the action.
Whether you are on the small tables on the footpath, or up in the slightly elevated interior that opens onto the street, Fresh is ideal for people-watching, and must be one restaurant that everyone visiting Byron sees almost straightaway.
There’s always been a pretty relaxed vibe about the restaurant. When The Echo had an office opposite, I was surprised to see a woman strip off her bikini and start to dine topless, but I guess the drugs were better in those days.
Restaurant manager Holly Leckie seems to thrive on the excitement of interacting with the throngs of visitors passing daily. ‘We aim to provide a relaxed experience where all walks of life are made to feel welcome,’ she says. ‘We love our live music, happy hour, and hearing about our guests’ travels and adventures. We especially love hearing about surfing adventures and reports.’
To add to the vibe of the place, there always seems to be some live music playing outside the restaurant. Although the website policy is ‘no reservations’, it is worth ringing to see if it is possible to reserve a table; on the evening we visited, dinner was just getting started, some good music was playing out the front, and the restaurant was almost full.
To go with the live music, there’s a happy hour when selected wines and beers from the menu are discounted. We chose a table up the back because I’m the kind of middle-aged person who likes to talk over dinner, and ordered from a wine list where no bottles are over $50 and almost every wine is available by the glass.
Holly says that the menu is ‘mostly aimed at a healthy eating lifestyle, with organic ingredients and a range of freshly squeezed juices, but Fresh do offer a number of naughty menu items as well to keep everyone happy. We use all local suppliers and make our own food; no sauces are bought in bottles or jars and all of our sweets, cakes and muffins are baked on the premises. We cater for gluten- and dairy-free, and vegetarians.’
The breakfast menu includes Bircher muesli, green apples, yoghurt and mixed berry compote ($11.50); spicy caramelised mushrooms on sourdough with ricotta and roasted organic tomatoes ($16.50); and of course the ‘big brekkie’ ($22). A sample from the lunch menu: the fresh deli board of sliced prosciutto, sopressa, olives, hummus, Danish feta, roast peppers, eggplant and warm bread ($22); pan-seared scallops with cauliflower puree, cherry tomatoes, mustard seed and crispy pancetta ($21); and there’s a range of burgers that can be eaten gluten-free if you wish, including one that is surely uniquely named – the ‘snity snity bang bang’, comprising free-range chicken schnitzel, tomato, capsicum relish, aioli and a panini bun ($14.50).
Popular dinner options include the confit Bangalow pork belly with spicy chorizo, caramelised apples, jus and apple puree ($31), fish cakes with potato, parsley and capers topped with smoked salmon ($24.50), and the seafood platter, which varies by the day ($39).
If you want to watch the world go by as you enjoy their Campos coffee, this is a restaurant that’s seriously open all the time: 7am–11pm, seven days a week, every single day of the year at 7 Jonson Street, just near the Beach Hotel.
Byron Fresh Café
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