Later last year when I heard the venue going into the empty space on Mullumbimbi Street in Brunswick Heads was going to be called ‘The Kingswood’ I felt a bit nostalgic. The first family car I can remember Mum driving was affectionately known as ‘THE Kingswood’. It was more tank than family car and required the strength of Thor to pilot. From the back seat I recall baring witness to several near misses and one not so near miss when Mum reversed up the driveway, carefully avoiding the garden beds on her side of the car only to collide with our house on the passenger side. Perhaps we should have given that car a more personalised pet name like ‘The Beastwood’ or ‘The Tankanator’? I digress.
Stepping into The Kingswood in Brunswick Heads does evoke feels from the archive. The mint condition retro furniture, the original tiled floor, that archway, the old photos, the original record player with vinyls and the palm tree mural all remind me of my childhood but with a clever contemporary touch. (Growing up we had a wallpaper mural of a Swiss Mountain in the good room!)
The Kingswood owners describe the menu as a coastal kitchen of Mediterranean flavours, and that works for me. I also feel that the offering does tip its lid (in parts) to some classic restaurant dishes made delicious and new. The menu is all about shared dishes – whether for two mouths or more. You can choose from bar bites, share plates or larger meals. That makes it a great venue for tapas and sundowners right through to a substantial dinner over several hours. The Kingwsood in Brunswick Heads is open from midday on weekends and from 5pm Monday – Friday (closed Tuesdays). The menu includes plenty of options for kids, vegetarians, vegans and gluten free diets.
Where to start? Between visits over the Summer the menu changed at The Kingswood so I’ll give a little run down of the style of dishes you can expect. The menu begins with smaller shared plate options like oysters or incredible rustic cut fries served with rosemary salt and French onion dipper (ok – so that’s a little retro!) Then there is the Duck + pork rillettes with jardinère, seasonal pickle and sourdough. The rillettes is generous and comes served in glass jars with the pickled vegetables and sourdough. If you run out of bread you can always ask for more! Then there is a delicious selection of cured meats like bresaola and soppressa served with condiments. And you should treat yourself to the Croquettes – crunchy on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside. We had a jamon and cheese version.
Moving through the menu, the Beef tartare with potato kettle chips is fresh and with lovely acidicity from capers and caper berries to awaken the palette and complement the chips. The Fish and chip roulade is fish elegantly wrapped in potato ribbons served with burnt lemon and a creamy herbed aioli. The Octopus with chorizo, pumpkin and saffron aioli is a stand out with crunchy pan fried seeds for texture to contrast the soft pieces of octopus and a rich aioli that brings it all together.
The bowl of Mussels with salsa verde butter, coriander and cherry tomatoes is clean and fresh and must be mopped up with sourdough and any remnant broth finished with a spoon. It’s so delicious. Then there is a perfectly small cheese selection featuring Nimbin Valley creations and a short list of classic desserts like the Semifreddo of glacé apricot, ricotta and Frangelico prunes.
But The Kingswood isn’t just about dining. It’s just as much about the drinks offering. There is a focus on natural and low intervention wines and craft beer. There is a snappy list of classic Italian Spritzi and Cocktails with a twist as well as beers (some on tap), cider and non-alcoholic options plus coffee and tea (takeaway available). For me it’s the wine list that’s a drawcard with a good blend of imported and Australian wines that are a reasonable price point and encourage experimentation. From a French chenin blanc, to a ‘pet nat’ sparkling from the McLaren Vale in South Australia. There are wines from Germany, Portugal, Italy and so on and from closer to home our local Jilly wine gets a nod as do the Mornington and Margaret River regions.
The Kingswoood in Brunswick Heads is a great addition to the dining and drinking landscape of this burgeoning riverside township. Over the Summer there were plenty of venue openings across the Byron Shire (see my post New Byron Dining: Summer 2019 ) but I think the best two restaurants to open this season were The Kingswood and now La Casita – both in Brunswick Heads (blog post about La Casita to come)! Make sure you try both.
STOP PRESS: The Kingswood has just announced it’s new Head Chef as Alessandro Pizzolato along with Sous Chef Sam Grant so expect to see some Italian influences in the menu!