If I could think of one word to describe Bayleaf Café in Byron Bay it would be ‘consistent’. The tiered timber and brick café overlooking the juncture of Marvell and Fletcher Streets is consistently busy. I’m talking seven days a week, rain, hail or shine, busy. But don’t be put off by the crowd. If you do need to wait for a table, it won’t be for long, as the service at Bayleaf Café is consistently swift and friendly, every time. And I am consistently excited when my food arrives at the table because it’s always eye catching, creative and, you guessed it, consistently good.
Bayleaf Café is a mixed space of indoor and outdoor dining on assorted open-air levels and terraces. Outside there are bistro tables and umbrellas for couples and small groups as well as some crafted wooden boxes to stretch out on or to sit in the sun with a coffee. A few steps up there is an outside terrace dining area that leads into one end of the café interior where the coffee making magic takes place. The other end of the café is a bright and light filled space with open bi-fold windows to catch the sea breeze. It’s warm and welcoming. The interior décor features solid timber tables, exposed brick and industrial style lighting along with an open view kitchen. There’s a space or nook for everyone.
The menu at Bayleaf Café is the same across breakfast and lunch, seven days a week. But if you can’t decide between breakfast and lunch, the menu is actually pretty perfectly designed for a lazy brunch in between.
For the earlier part of the day there are lighter options to start with such as the Housemade Granola, Coconut Quinoa Porridge or the Breakky Greens for a gluten free plate of goodness. Other temptations include the seasonally inspired Breakfast Burrito, the Middle-Eastern Falafel and Poached Eggs or the Socca.
I have not seen Socca on a breakfast menu anywhere in Byron Bay before. In fact, I don’t think I have seen it on a breakfast menu anywhere! The dish starts with a chickpea crèpe which is topped with roasted asparagus, mushroom, quinoa, kale and gently roasted cherry tomatoes all dressed with a tangy house made salsa verde. It’s light but filling at the same time and you can order your Socca with an optional poached egg for a protein punch.
The Dukkah Poached Eggs is another Bayleaf Café favourite that has a bit of a cult following. The dish starts with organic sourdough topped with heirloom tomatoes, marjoram and buffalo mozarella that’s dressed with chardonnay vinegar and lavender infused honey served with two poached eggs and a showering of dukkah. This is hearty and wholesome fare that’s substantial in flavour and texture. If you want to gild the lily it’s also possible to add some sides to any dish on the menu such as free-range bacon or pulled pork, avocado or dill and chilli marinated feta.
Heading towards the tail end of the menu, the dishes are styled with a bit more of a lunch bent. There are options like the Roast Lamb Salad featuring sweet potato and black beans, the Ocean Trout, Kale and Wakame Salad or the Portugese Chicken Salad, which is a personal favourite. The dish is served with southern slaw and spicy citrus aioli, warmed tomato and spinach tortillas, charred sweet corn cob with manchego shavings and caramelised chicken pieces that have been marinated in orange and cumin. It’s colourful, balanced and succulent.
Make sure you always take a look at the specials menu at Bayleaf Café as well. Mr GFAF recently enjoyed the Cassoulet Toulouse for lunch on a cold rainy day. It was the perfect panacea to the grey gloom outside. The cassoulet of slow roasted haricot beans, Toulouse sausage, smoked ham hock, mushroom duxelles and a light crumb was earthy and warming. The duxelles was delicate but rich and robust in flavour. It added a complexity to the simple, peasant style casserole that was unexpected. For me, the addition of the duxelles is the perfect example of subtle restaurant style finesse that you will find across the Bayleaf Café menu. The finesse consistently surprises me every visit.
For drinks at Bayleaf Café you should definitely dabble in the coffee menu. The coffee served is globally sourced and roasted in Byron Bay by local brewers Marvell Street Coffee, who have a long association with the café. You can order your regular style of hot brew as well as a coconut cold brew, Vietnamese iced coffee or iced filter coffee. And, if it’s too hard to decide, there is a seasonal coffee tasting plate as well. You can even buy your own Marvell Street Coffee beans to take home.
If you don’t feel like coffee there are teas and chais, hot chocolate, iced beverages, kombucha and the must try seasonal ginger beer with the perfect balance of sweetness and zing. There is a Drinks Specials Menu as well and I can recommend the Humble Apple Crumble Smoothie, which is made on oat milk, frozen bananas, apple topped with crunchy house made granola. It’s a meal in a glass!
For a breakfast, lunch or brunch option in Byron Bay where the food and service are consistently great make sure you try Bayleaf Café. There’s a subtle finesse to the café menu that I absolutely appreciate. Now, I just need to find the time to be visiting more consistently!
BAYLEAF CAFÉ PRICE RANGE:
Meals: $9 – $24.00
Sides: $2.50 – $5.50
Coffee: $4.00 – $12.00 (Tasting Plate)
Hot Chocolate: $5.50
Cold Drinks: $6.00 – $9.00
10% surcharge on Sundays
15% surcharge on Public Holidays
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