Story and photos by Carolyn Parker
Helen Culligan-Parkes and helpful hubby Jeffrey Parkes have taken over the reins of Byron Bay Bowling Club’s bistro. Launching Our Table three months ago was a natural evolution for the duo, since they’d previously been club members and relished its friendly atmosphere. Plus they were already on the Byron foodie scene with their Cape Byron Platters business.
Helen’s food journey has also evolved from years ago when she only used her oven to store her shoes – but Jeff soon changed all that. Coming from a family of restaurateurs, Jeff schooled Helen in catering skills. Helen has since become a virtuoso of platters and is infatuated with bringing people together over enticing fresh food.
Helen says, ‘The bistro menu has classics… with a twist’. They include burgers from $16, kids’ meals for $8, salads, opulent grazing boards, and desserts. Classic mains under $20 include chicken parmigiana, schnitzel, and Cooper’s beer-battered fish. Plenty of creative dishes are found on the specials board too, like their satisfying duck schnitzel with beetroot purée and tomato salsa.
My recent dining experience started with Spiced Cauliflower coated with house-made Korean sauce. The same sublime sauce coats their chicken-wings starter, one of the menu’s biggest finger-licking hits. Jeff holds this tantalising sauce recipe close to his heart and won’t give away his trade secrets to its zesty flavour.
Portobello mushroom and haloumi burger in a soft glazed bun is a deliciously juicy combination and the accompanying chips are dusted with another special seasoning.
In keeping with the Byron vibe, the reclaimed timber décor has an earthy and rustic edge to it. A sprinkling of vases with pretty jonquils and Matt Sansom artwork on the walls signal Helen’s personal touches.
Their outdoor space is a hidden nook ideal for sharing a cheese board or chicken grazing boards with friends. The tropical enclave is shaded by umbrellas and palms and party lights give it a magical charm in the evening. The adjacent lawn is blessed with the bowling club’s green thumb – not a bindi in sight – and is scattered with beanbags designed for you to chill out in with a burger and beer.
It’s not often you see such joyful faces from people stepping out of a busy bistro kitchen. It’s clear Helen and Jeff love what they’re doing – and we’re loving it too. Good quality food at welcoming prices. Bring it on at Our Table.
Carolyn Parker began writing for The Echo in 2015. Carolyn’s taste for freelance journalism developed after founding Byron VIP Travel in 2009, which promotes hotels, restaurants, festivals, and events. She’s since contributed to luxury travel publications and collaborated with international hotel chains, such as Hilton, Marriott, and Sheraton.