‘This was always our favourite spot in Lennox,’ says Dan Stott of Williams St, the cafe that he used to frequent and now owns. Dan tells a great story of buying a car from one of the previous owners and then getting into conversation about his quest to find a business to buy. His timing was fortuitous. ‘She said that if I’d asked two weeks previously, the answer would have been no.’
Dan, along with wife Katie Stott and friend, Jeremy Knutt, had been looking for somewhere to set up shop for some time. Dan and Jeremy, both chefs, had been working together at Treehouse on Belongil. Katie brings front-of-house and barista experience from work including at Espressohead.
‘It was time for us to settle and do our own thing,’ says Dan.
The cafe, located on the corner of Pacific Parade and Williams Street in Lennox Head, was already called Williams St, having been re-branded slightly from the previous version of Williamsburg (when it specialised in burgers).
‘We didn’t want to change everything,’ says Dan of keeping the name and the coffee (Wide Open Road, a roaster/cafe in Brunswick in Melbourne). ‘We added some paint, introduced table service, and started opening nights from Thursday to Sunday.’ The main change is the menu, which has been completely refreshed.
Breakfast options include smashed avocado (‘We’re just wearing the price increase,’ says Dan, noting that the cost of avos has not risen here as much as in cities), an open-style chorizo omelette, served with roast cherry tomatoes and caponata (a Sicilian eggplant-based stew), and pancakes with fresh berries, lime and orange mascarpone, candied almonds and maple syrup.
The lunch and dinner menus have overlapping dishes. I tried the house-smoked salmon bowl. The salmon fillet, like meats elsewhere on the menu, is smoked onsite, a skill that Dan has been learning since holding smoker nights at the Treehouse. The dish is aromatic with the elements – including quinoa, kale, miso broccolini, pickled ginger and carrot, radish, coriander and a poached egg – perfectly placed in the bowl so that they are separate but easily combined in whatever combo takes your fancy with each mouthful.
‘There’s no set cuisine,’ says Dan of the menu that includes Banh Mi, a fish taco (served with ruby grapefruit and slaw) and a delicious crispy soft-shell crab burger (with apple slaw and sweet potato chips). Chili sauces feature in a non-heavy-handed way, thanks to Dan’s expertise in making them – he sells his own line of bottled sauces from the cafe.
The venue has a full licence – even for having a drink without eating (though you’d surely be tempted by the great food!) – with beers on tap as well as a full bar.
There’s live music on Saturday nights, usually singer/songwriter style. ‘It’s mostly original music with some covers, some folk, some blues, some more rock,’ says Dan of the different musos who have graced the verandah so far. ‘There’s so much talent around here.’
Williams St is pet friendly, with space off the footpath out the front for water bowls. All this fits with the friendly, welcoming vibe that the trio are creating. ‘You can come in straight from the beach with sandy feet and feel comfortable,’ says Dan. Given that Williams St is just across the road from the beach, and just down the road from Lake Ainsworth, this is ideal.
Williams St Kitchen & Bar, 50 Pacific Parade, Lennox Head (heading to Lake Ainsworth), Ph: 0476 892 194,
Facebook: @williamsstlennox, Insta: @williamsst.lennox