Story and photo by Vivienne Pearson
In January of 1963, a developer donated the land that became the site of the Cabarita Beach Bowls & Sports Club.
If this doesn’t ring a bell from visits up that way, it’s because the club is hidden away in a residential area. Why might you take the time to seek it out? Well, because it has a newly renovated restaurant serving top-notch Asian food.
Cheeky Chopsticks is the name, and there are indeed colourful chopsticks on top of each place-setting. The venue is versatile and can be transformed to accommodate separate smaller functions when celebrations are planned.
Downstairs is decidedly ‘club,’ but Cheeky Chopsticks upstairs is all restaurant and has several notable elements that are unusual among club-land restaurants. Firstly, their previous caterer was in-situ for over 20 years and only left because of retirement. Secondly, with that benchmark of continuity and commitment in mind, the new caterers took their community consultation seriously and curated the wine-list from a (very long and enjoyable!) blind tasting session with club members.
Thirdly, they take their environmental responsibilities very seriously. ‘Over 96 per cent of food waste is diverted from landfill to compost and worm farms,’ says general manager, Nick Brabham. ‘We use paper bags for take-away, instead of plastic, and we have solar panels, timer operated lights and multiple water saving initiatives.’
The menu is extensive, with a focus on both Chinese and Thai dishes. I managed the not-unpleasant sense of overwhelm it created by taking recommendations from Nick. We started with duck pancakes with hoisin sauce, which were as good as any I’ve ever had. We then moved on to king prawns in a pumpkin sauce, which was delicious; warming without being too spicy, the flavours were rich and the prawns enormous and juicy.
In line with attempts to de-festive-season my diet, I eschewed the deep fried ice-cream for black sticky rice with mango and coconut cream – which was a delightful way to end the meal.
Nick suspects that it will be northern Byron Shire residents who are more likely to check out Cheeky Chopsticks. My drive from Ocean Shores took just over 20 minutes, and I enjoyed the gorgeous paperbark-forested Clothiers Creek Road on the way there, and the Coast Road on the return, with a stop at Norries Head lookout for the view and a post-lunch leg stretch. Cheeky Chopsticks is perfect whether you are keen for a day-trip, want to meet Gold Coast visitors halfway, want to support a business striving for sustainability, or are simply keen to eat some truly delicious Asian food.
And the developer who donated the land? He remained a Cabarita Beach local and passed away just last year, at a ripe old age, after nearly 30 years as a life-member of the club.