By Caz Parker
Led Zeppelin band members penned Stairway to Heaven long before they were guests at Rae’s, but if there was ever a restaurant poised to reflect on that song title then The Restaurant at Rae’s is it. Heavenly views span from the glistening waters of Wategos Beach, along coastal walkways and ascend to Byron’s iconic lighthouse.
Rae’s coastal-calm décor is now accented by whimsical artwork of butterflies and birds, by artist David Bromley (Archibald Prize finalist). The calming mood is nudged along on Long Lunch Sundays (last Sunday of every month) by the soothing talents of Luke and Sebastian, an acoustic duo who croon and strum the afternoon away. Your muscles melt as soon as you are seated.
The seats are warmed by rock legends, Hollywood’s glitterati and well-sandaled Byronati. It was Rae’s cuisine that fuelled a hooded Lenny Kravitz for his lighthouse walks. Perhaps former guest Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones) finally did get some satisfaction undertaking Rae’s spectacular cocktails list, like the explosive Espresso Martini which warrants leisurely sipping.
New owners have engaged Steve Tribe as restaurant manager. Steve expertly guides diners through the exclusive wine list and new menu with panache and gentle humour while effortlessly balancing three full wine glasses in one hand.
Diners linger over dressed-to-impress creations by clever new head chef Guy Skinner-Hutchison. Guy’s skills were sharpened in Michelin-starred London restaurant Chapter One. Guy says, ‘The kitchen’s our playground. It’s a place to be innovative. The new owners have given us complete creative freedom with our menu; modern European with a seafood focus.’
Scallops paired with bonito butter poached leek and crispy enoki mushrooms are an elegant beginning. Alternatively the juicy scallops can be enjoyed as part of the sinful six-course seafood degustation which celebrates local seafood, hot smoked oysters from pristine waters of Smokey Bay and signature dish Moreton Bay bug ravioli with black truffle and creamy cauliflower velouté.
Academy Award-winning actors Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz favoured saddle of rabbit recently and Hamish Blake (of Hamish and Andy fame) became an avid fan of Guy’s sashimi. Many diners can’t resist the handsome pork belly crowned with a crunch of crackle.
Skilfully presented dark chocolate hazelnut dacquoise, with vanilla crème brulee and pillows of blood orange sorbet, provides layers of bliss for a fairy-tale finale.
Long lunches could easily merge into further escapism at Rae’s opulent day spa, where revitalising treatments and luxurious massages beckon.
• Rae’s on Watego’s
6-8 Marine Parade, Byron Bay, phone 02 6685 5366