This courtyard is one my favourite places to sit in Bangalow. Tucked away from the procession of sightseers looping up and down Byron Street and its offshoots like marching ants, it’s a hidden haven where he and I can enjoy a relaxing breakfast or lunch or in-betweens incognito. The courtyard belongs to Town Café and it’s a relative oasis complete with cool tropical plantings, mosaic tables with outdoor umbrellas to shelter diners from drops of rain or the afternoon sun and a corner pond that attracts an entertaining lineage of water dragons.
Inside the café it’s a more upbeat feel with regulars zipping in for their takeaway brew, couples enjoying a food lovers brunch and small groups of day trippers who are seeking a flavoursome Bangalow experience. The décor is a fusion of quirky elegance. There’s something to catch the eye all around you, from the creative window displays styled along kitchen and café themes or the latest event on the Bangalow community calendar to the vast collection of cookbooks and restaurant paraphernalia that ornaments the café’s walls and shelves. There are high tables and designer stools lining one side of the café while small tables are spaced on the other side along a striking black and white striped bespoke bench seat. Outside facing the street there is a high bench and more stools where you watch the marching ants one by one with your morning coffee as you pat a customer’s devoted dog tied up out the front anticipating its master’s return.
Back inside, beware the glass cabinet of temptation! The freshly baked tarts, cakes, pastries and irresistible desserts that lie within are prepared daily by co-owner and celebrated pastry chef Katrina Kanetani and they are guaranteed to tempt you. I highly recommend you do indulge as Katrina has a gift for dessert making, so much so that she was awarded the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide’s Chef of the Year in 2006.
Katrina and her husband Karl, also a celebrated chef, have owned Town Café for more than five years and in that time they have built a loyal local following of daytime visitors. They also have a loyal following of nighttime diners, as three nights a week the second story space of the building becomes Town Restaurant. It’s an elegant and intimate dining room serving a memorable seven course degustation. The menu has influences from Karl’s Hawaiian and Japanese heritage and, of course, dinner always end with a divine dessert from Katrina. Just make sure you book well in advance because Town Restaurant has earned a well deserved reputation for being one of the ‘must visit’ dining establishments in the region thanks to ‘Hats’ from the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide for the past five consecutive years and the Delicious magazine Use of Regional Produce Award in 2013.
Seven days a week the café is alive serving impressive fare from 7.30am to 3.00pm (9.00am on Sunday). For breakfast you can start with something small and light such as a freshly baked Friand through to Pancake with pineapple-vanilla compote, kaffir lime labné and coconut. Savoury options I can recommend are the popular Scrambled Eggs with toasted corn, cheddar cheese, ranchero sauce, coriander and masa tortillas. The creamy scramble marries well with the Mexican flavours of perfectly spiced ranchero and fresh coriander that you can scoop up with the warmed blue corn tortillas. Another longstanding dish on the breakfast menu is the Bangalow Ham, green tomato, poached eggs and goats cheese on sourdough. It’s a great use lof local produce. The breakfasts at Town are made with as many ingredients from the Northern Rivers region as possible. I should also mention the locals’ favourite – the classic Bacon and Egg Roll made decadent with melted Swiss cheese, fresh frissee lettuce, tomato relish and mayonnaise. You can have it takeaway too!
Come lunchtime the menu switches to a range of Sandwiches and Baguettes, Hot Dishes and Salads. From the baguette list I can recommend the Bánh mì with grilled teriyaki chicken, daikon and carrot pickle, coriander and spicy sauce. Next time I am definitely going to try the Croque Monsieur featuring Bangalow Ham, Swiss cheese, béchamel, Dijon mustard and lemon zest on brioche. A menu stalwart and favourite is the Chicken, bacon, leek and mushroom pie which is baked larger than life and served as a generous slice with a side salad.
For drinks there is a full menu of coffees and teas and cold café drinks, juices, ginger nectar and mineral waters to choose from. Thanks to the restaurant’s license you can order beer and wines by the glass too. I can also recommend the house brewed Kombucha for a refreshing drink at any time of the day. The Town version is brewed on Rooibos tea with fresh orange, apple and ginger and is delicate in flavour and fizz. The service at Town Café is always welcoming and friendly and its very easy to while away time in the courtyard watching the water dragons at play. Just be careful when you push your chair back as they are quite tame and like to get up close and personal, especially the inquisitive juniors.
For a relaxing breakfast or lunch or a coffee and cake, Town Café is the perfect refuge for dodging Bangalow’s ant trail while you enjoy some delicious fare.