TOP 100 QUEST: PAPER DAISY, Cabarita Beach, NSW
Paper Daisy is the restaurant at Halycon House, a 21-room boutique hotel at Cabarita Beach. I hadn’t heard of Cabarita Beach before this restaurant appeared on the Top 100 list so I had to look it up – it’s in NSW, about a 40 minute drive north of Byron Bay, not far from the Queensland border.
The first thing you notice about Paper Daisy is it’s feeling of beachside holiday. It’s stylishly casual with lots of blue and white. The room is large, and at the far end is the open kitchen where you’ll find chef Ben Devlin from Esquire in Brisbane (also Top 100). He also did a stint at Noma in Copenhagen (formerly number 1 restaurant in the world). At the other end of the room is the bar. The décor is an eclectic mix – rattan chairs, cushions, lamps, and the walls are decorated with landscape and other paintings, framed butterflies, plates and mirrors.
The menu is small with 12 dishes in total plus bread and 3 sides. We started with the Coal roasted fish with citrus and native pepper and the Grilled cauliflower with sunflower seeds and kefir. The fish was simply presented – a fillet garnished with flat leaf parsley. So simple and pretty, and the flesh was sweet. The cauliflower was, once again, simple in presentation – a good big chunk on a plate, nicely charred with a scattering of sunflower seeds and fried garlic. I love cauliflower.
Now, I’m not usually a chicken breast person – I often find the meat a bit dry and stringy and MUCH prefer the thigh and leg meat, however Ben is working absolute magic with the sous vide machine – I was absolutely amazed at the texture of the Ashen chicken with shitake, leek and chicken skin – so juicy and so tender. A-M-A-Z-E-D!! Similarly, the texture of the Coal roasted young lamb with Brussel sprouts and black garlic was equally stunning. So succulent! This was the winner dish for me. Lamb, Brussels and black garlic – what a combo!
Dessert was a Stone fruit tart with caramelised white chocolate and nectarine sorbet. We did question the need for the nectarine sorbet but regardless, it was a beautiful dessert and something I hadn’t seen on a menu before.
They were fully booked so it was a bit noisy, but all up, a mighty fine meal with friendly service.