Discovering Australia's hidden gems

Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Ballina Gallery Café – Local Art and Food with Heart.

Ballina Gallery Café – Local Art and Food with Heart.

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A  Sunday morning social gathering in the Northern Rivers: meeting new friends, admiring local art, and discovering the culinary and aesthetic delights of the Ballina Gallery Café!

This delightful Café and Art Gallery form part of a heritage listed building which was constructed during the 1920’s in the Northern Rivers coastal town of Ballina. The large, high ceiling rooms adapt perfectly for a gallery, and provide an open, spacious feeling inside the café, with an abundance of natural light streaming in from the open-air verandah.

The weather decided to bestow ‘liquid sunshine’ on us this morning, so we chose the roomy indoor table for our group. Despite the intermittent deluges, the alfresco verandah dining was still a popular option and every table was full.

Our young waiter made an especially strong impression on me with his friendly, cheerful manner, and I found the overall service to be extremely attentive and efficient. We felt very ‘looked after’ even though the café was extremely busy, and appreciated the service with a smile!

I was also impressed with my coffee. In a region renowned for its high quality coffees, this one was definitely up there.

The menu is seasonal and varies according to the freshest produce available. It was extensive and a pleasure to peruse; making the ‘task’ of choosing from many tempting dishes a joyful, albeit difficult activity.

After much delightful deliberation I decided on the grilled sweet potato and pumpkin in herbed hash cakes with red quinoa, avocado, fetta and grilled zucchini salad with two poached eggs. I was not disappointed.

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Other dishes that adorned our table included buckwheat pancakes with baked maple pears, fresh ricotta and hazelnut praline; and roasted button mushrooms with garlic and herbs, roasted cherry tomatoes, goat’s cheese and roasted almonds on toasted sourdough. We were all thoroughly impressed.

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In the relaxed and casual atmosphere we felt comfortable to linger longer, and enjoyed a second round of coffees while we got to know each other better.

Still not ready to leave, we leisurely wandered through the art gallery and marvelled at the creative genius of several local artists. The exhibitions change regularly and usually run for one month.

We enjoyed our morning so much that we decided to regather for the next exhibition. And combine it with a meal from the fabulous café of course!

The café is open for breakfast and lunch Wednesday to Sunday from 730am.

46 Cherry Street Ballina

Phone: (02) 6681 3888

www.ballinagallerycafe.com.au

 

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The Best Exotic Indian in Billinudgel!

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The Best Exotic Indian in Billinudgel!

If you build it they will come. And come they do, to Billinudgel for a delightful Indian taste sensation.

The sign at the door of Billi’s Indian urges patrons to “please book in advance”, and I can see why.

Word of mouth by raving fans has built a large, loyal customer base since the restaurant moved into town just three years ago.

And the reputation is well deserved.

The place was buzzing with a pleasant, upbeat vibe, even though I dined mid-week.

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Happy, hungry locals filled a cosy indoor space with a fireplace, and the heated outdoor deck was taken over by a large party.

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It was a full house, but staff were friendly and the service prompt. They were also doing a brisk take-away business.

Billi’s is easy on the wallet. The menu boasts a tempting selection of value for money curries: vegetable $12.90, chicken/lamb/beef $13.90, and seafood $17.00. A good excuse to try an extra dish or two.

All meals are freshly cooked, with vegan and gluten free options available.

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My food arrived hot and steaming in authentic Indian karahi bowls. Sweet, fluffy coconut rice and a decorative basket filled with mushroom and garlic naan were delightfully different accompaniments to the meal.

The highlight of the night however was my mango chicken. The first mouthful gave me an unexpected jolt of joy. As succulent as a juicy, ripe mango, it invoked feelings of summery freshness and childlike fun. Its luscious sweet creaminess almost qualifying it as a dessert item.

Billi’s website has an easy ordering system for takeaway, and they offer home delivery to Billinudgel, Brunswick Heads, and Ocean Shores; an alluring option for a relaxing night in PJs, with a DVD and some great Indian food.

So, the secret’s out! Billi’s Indian is a hidden gem that northern residents have been keeping to themselves. Now it’s time to discover that a quick trip up the freeway leads to a deliciously inexpensive night out. But don’t forget to book!

Open Tues – Sunday, 5pm-9pm

8 Wilfred St. Billinudgel

www.billisindian.com.au

(02) 6680 3352

(c) copyright 2015

Fishmongers Byron Bay – The Most Easterly Chip in the Nation

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Fishmongers Byron Bay

The Most Easterly Chip in the Nation.

I am a chip connoisseur.

My partner and I travelled the entire East Coast of Australia in search of the perfect chip. We found it in Byron Bay. We moved here.

Located in Bay Lane, Byron’s favourite eat street, you’ll find Fishmongers, home of the East Coast’s best chip.

Mongers, as it is affectionately known, is a gourmet style fish and chippery which offers a wide range of seafood meals for dine in or takeaway.

So what makes their chips a cut above the rest, so to speak?

Hand-cut is non-negotiable of course, and the ratio of crispiness to fluffiness is also important. Mongers nail it.

They are golden brown in colour and some days a little darker and sweeter depending on the sugar content of the spud. It’s my opinion that generally not enough consideration is given to the humble chip. But if you’re particular about your potato, then Mongers is the place for you.

And for those whose focus is more on the fish in the fish ‘n chips, you won’t be disappointed either. You’ll receive a generous portion, cooked perfectly, and lightly seasoned with herbs and spices; or tempura battered if preferred. A standard fish and chip meal also comes with homemade tartare sauce.

The crowning glory is a smattering of bright orange, crispy sweet potato shavings, making this a visual and gustatory delight!

Despite the enticing array on the menu, I find it hard to go past my favourite – grilled fish and chips, with a side of char-grilled corn on special occasions. Other meal options include BBQ baby octopus, prawns, succulent calamari, and a specials board with exotic temptations such as snapper with coconut, chili, and lime marinade, or barramundi with cashew and almond crust. Meals come with a choice of homemade chips, salad, rice, or tempura veggies.

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Mongers also have outlets in Manly and Bondi, but let’s face it – it doesn’t get better than Byron!

So relax and dine in at the friendly Bay Lane restaurant, or take your treats down for a grassy beachfront picnic; feel the breeze in your hair, and take in the ocean vista while you enjoy the most delicious, and the most easterly, chips in the nation!  

Fishmongers are open from 12noon 7 days a week. BYO.

Bay Lane (behind the Beach Hotel) Byron Bay. Phone: 02 6680 8080

Visit website for more details: www.byron.mongers.com.au