Story and photos S Davey
With a showcase bar and stylish interior St Elmo is an eatery that delivers cutting-edge tapas. It’s a place that keeps things fresh with ongoing new inclusions on the innovative drinks and food menus. The vibe is smooth and contemporary with a welcoming ambience, candles are dotted around the venue, and the generous sit-at bar is an artful tableau of graphic tiles and congregations of shiny glasses and bottles that reflect the warm lighting. The service is also warm, attentive and well timed.
St Elmo’s has an impressive wine list with international and Australian choices, including some that are few and far between. There is a large selection of wines by the glass that change regularly, as well as Spanish and local craft beer. The cocktail menu also adjusts frequently; we tried a special of the night: Herradura reposado made with sriracha bitters, Amaro Montenegro, cracked pepper, and garnished with a candied chilli. Although St Elmo can be a fabulous destination just for drinks you’d be mad to miss the food.
The tapas-style menu is designed to be shared and it works between just two people but the more people you dine with, the more dishes you can share. There are some new dishes on the menu including the cerviche, which uses local fish fillet, a citrus dressing, cucumber, coriander, chili and crispy tortilla pieces. The flavours are beautifully balanced in this dish and it is served with a medicinal dropper bottle of Mojo Picante – a sauce that could be referred to as St Elmo’s fire!
Also new on the menu is Calabaza; a roast pumpkin dish plated with a textured, cured ricotta pesto, toasted pepitas, super-fresh salad and tasty dressing. Another recent addition to the menu is Setas Chamuscadas consisting of local oyster and portobello mushrooms, Jerusalem artichokes sitting on a bed of cauliflower puree, scattered with peas and migas (fried breadcrumbs); it is a generous dish and with a robust garlic character.
St Elmo’s themselves advise that it is a place ‘where food is made to be shared among family and friends’ and our offspring really relished the Arroz con Gambas, a saffron rice dish with seared garlic prawns, crushed peas, herbs and lemon. I was only afforded one mouthful and it was absolutely full of flavour.
Everyone enjoyed the Tarta de Chocolate, a hazelnut chocolate custard tart served with crema Catalan sauce, strawberry mousse and hazelnut praline.
In a town where a transient clientele of tourists mean that some local restaurant menus remain the same for years, with even the specials on a short rotation, St Elmo keeps it fresh by bringing new plates to the already interesting menu choices.
Legend has it that the original Saint Elmo was helped by angels and protects against digestive grievances. From the restaurant you can glimpse into the dynamic kitchen, where the chefs seem to be carrying on the saint’s good work.
St Elmo Dining Room & Bar
22 Fletcher Street, Byron Bay
Ph: 6680 7426 | stelmodining.com