By S Haslam
Shelter in Lennox Head is a gem of understated quality. It has a real surf shack vibe; you can even eat on the row of stools along the open front window and allow the feeling of the dunes to come inside, watching the locals turn up on their bikes. But it has proved itself the top place to eat in Lennox Head by earning a hat in this year’s Good Food Guide.
If you’re down the beach, you can still turn up in bare feet, but it’s also worth a special trip from Byron to check out the wine list and menu; Shelter made the list of the Top 12 Best New Restaurants opened this year in the nation, with a focus on ethically sustainable, seasonal products sourced from local producers.
‘We really love the independents,’ says owner Andrew Love. ‘We focus on natural and organic wines, for example, rather than stuff you can buy in a bottleshop. We think it’s important to stick to our ethics, as a company but also as people.
‘When we found this location, we just really wanted to do something special,’ says Andrew. But this also is a ‘neighbourhood’ restaurant, so ‘we won’t turn you away if you have bare feet!’ says Andrew.
‘The locals were really excited for us about the hat, and to tell you the truth we didn’t see the hat coming – we didn’t clock any of the reviewers.’ There didn’t seem to be any reviewers when I was there last week, either; in fact it was a refreshing change from Byron to look around and see 90 per cent of the customers smiling at each other at any one time.
I was smiling too, enjoying a pineapple and sage cocktail, a really excellent sweet and sour eggplant entrée with seaweed and chili, followed by a unique chilled Gentle Folk red paired with a delicious vegetarian ‘maltagliati’ pasta (literally the ‘poorly cut’ offcuts of pasta). Even the black coffee seemed special; the single origin featured this week was from Costa Rica and came with some tasting notes and a bit about the beans.
Adding to the ‘surf shack’ feel is the location. When you hit the beach you turn north out of the bustle of Lennox, and the restaurant seems like it’s one of the houses on the beachfront. Thoroughly recommended as a place to chill near the beach with quality food and wine.
Shelter, 41 Pacific Pde, Lennox Head. shelterlennox.com.au. Ph 6687 7757. 7 days 6.30am–3pm. Dinner (Thurs, Fri, Sat) 5–9pm