Sitting in the front row at Beach Byron Bay, when there are clear blue skies and glassy waves for days, it’s pretty easy to fantasise that you are a one of the holiday set enjoying lunch at the table next to you. It’s a picture-perfect postcard setting, with dolphins catching waves and swimmers making their way from The Pass, while learn to surf students practice their beginners’ moves in safety on the sand. Beach Byron Bay is the perfect venue for getting into the holiday groove. It’s open 7 days a week for breakfast and lunch and Tuesday to Saturday for dinner.
For breakfast, the menu at Beach Byron Bay makes decisions difficult. On a recent visit with three others we each tried something different and were all tickled with our choices. For me, the stand out dishes were the Pea and mint fritters, leaves, beans, quinoa, poached eggs, Sriracha, which was an abundant plate with fritters as the foundation and a healthy quinoa salad built on top with two eggs to finish. Another standout dish was the simple but perfectly seasoned Avocado, local raw fish, grilled sourdough. The fish that day was tuna, which was cubed, gently seasoned and served plentifully on top of a piece of sourdough with slices of avocado. Close behind in the standout dish department was the Slow baked eggs, San Marzano tomato sugo, chickpeas, pesto, ciabatta which came as a small iron pan filled with a sweet and flavoursome sugo in which two eggs had been baked to just set, served with a crunchy slice of ciabatta for scooping.
For lunch and dinner, the menu at Beach Byron Bay is practically identical. It is Italian influenced, but don’t expect any heavy styled dishes. Rather, there is an emphasis on using plenty of local, seasonal produce and coastal flavours. We recently ordered the Fillet of local fish, Sicilian tomato salad, which was ideal for lunch served with a crisp glass of white. The flavours were simple and well balanced . Tomatoes were the hero of the accompanying salad combined with capers, basil and red onion tumbled in olive oil. We also enjoyed the Char-grilled baby octopus, kipfler potato, cherry tomato, parsley which comes in an entrée and main size. I went with the entrée size for a light lunch option and it was just right. Maybe a man would prefer the main size, though. The ‘occy’ was tender and the potato al dente. The dish was tossed in a fresh olive oil and herb dressing to unite the flavours and textures.
It was nice to see local produce listed on the menu including Salumi Australia’s sausage in the Maltagliati, sausage ragu, parmesan and Byron Bay Burrata in the Burrata, char-grilled zucchini, garlic sourdough crumb starter. Local brands feature on the drinks menu at Beach Byron Bay as well, with Stone and Wood, Byron Bay Coffee Company, Bucha of Byron, Ink Gin and Jilly wines listed. The quality wine list at Beach Byron Bay is priced accordingly and offers an extensive list of premium Australian and international options. You can also order a selection of wines by the glass.
By day, Beach Byron Bay also has a kiosk out the front, which serves takeaway coffees and small food including Piadinas, Fish and Chips and Pastries. There’s room to sprawl on the lawn or you can sit at a picnic table. The fresh juices are always good after a pilgrimage up to the lighthouse, but they can take a while to make, so don’t be in a hurry.
Beach Byron Bay rebranded itself last year when the Fink group invested in the restaurant. Along came a fresh exterior and a revamped menu which some regular folks were uncertain about. Locals still fondly recall the days of old when the beachside venue was the old Byron Beach Café serving bacon and egg rolls and milkshakes to hungry surfers! After teething issues and menu adjustments during the settling in period, Beach Byron Bay seems to have found its new stride.
One thing I think needs consideration is the restaurant noise. Sitting in the front row is fine, as you are mostly listening to the surf and noises on the breeze, but sitting further back in the restaurant can get really rowdy when the venue is full. The culprits are the concrete floors and the ceiling which angles down towards the beach and traps the noise.
The service at Beach Byron Bay is mostly excellent but recently we were in on a very busy weekend lunch and attention to detail was not up to their usual standards. Our meals arrived with a waiter who just put the plates down in the wrong places and walked away without any introduction. Then, another wait staff accidentally topped up our single glass of wine with wine from the table next to us. I’m not sure what happened when the patrons went to pour themselves another!
Those things aside, our other experiences at Beach Byron Bay have been totally enjoyable. It’s definitely a venue where I would take visitors to show off Byron at its best. My recommendation would be to make a booking in advance and request one of the front row tables closer to the beach to avoid the ambient noise, soak up some rays and smell the salty air.