Mark and Lia Wilson’s romantic history with the Greek Islands sparked the creation of arguably the most infamous peppermint door in Northern New South Wales.
Sophistication and charm exude from Greek restaurant Taverna in Kingscliff, a sparkling white muse capturing the pristine seaside culture of the Greek Islands. Owners Mark and Lia first met at Mark’s restaurant Osteria in Casuarina 13 years ago. Little did they both know their eventual nuptials would inspire another of Mark’s ventures. “My wife and I were first engaged in the Greek Islands (Santorini) and later got married there in a little Greek taverna. Lia has Greek heritage, and we were inspired by the tavernas scattered across Greece.”
Taverna’s location was not found by luck — Mark and Lia had been watching the space for years. “When we got a hold of that space we could see it being such a natural fit sitting on the Kingscliff coast. We had been stalking that space for years and had a lease within 24 hours of the For Lease sign going up.”
Alongside business partner Lee Middedorf, Taverna is one of four restaurants under the company masthead, including Tweed Coast Mediterranean beach club Ancora, seaside hub Osteria and Indian cuisine The Bombay Cricketers Club at Salt Beach. With this venture, the trio envisioned a European coastal eatery where “magic happens” — and decorated with soft turquoise pastels and white just metres from the ocean, Taverna has succeeded in capturing true Greek nostalgia. “We wanted to recreate that European coastal feel and experience as it is just amazing when you visit them. Our business is widely considered one of the best in our region and our service, food and wine lists are all very smart. Mission accomplished.”
Mark describes Taverna as “outside what is conventional” using local produce with a Mediterranean twist. “Greek food is pretty simple and there is so much you can do with the Greek flavours but mostly, we have captured the essence of the Greek taverna experience and combined with our humble yet sophisticated service, we do the little things right.”
Taverna is share style, serving plates designed to be set in the middle of the table and divided with loved ones, an important part of Greek culture where generations of knowledge and skill has been passed down to create each dish. The menu boasts modernised classics like Byron Bay haloumi with bush honey and fresh rosemary, and beetroot polenta, broad bean and mint hummus, and even a Greek style beef tartare. But Mark’s pick has always remained the same. “The squid is the people’s choice but the 48-hour lamb is where it is at for me,” referring to the slow roasted lamb shank with pickled zucchini, smoked yogurt and cumin. The drinks menu is laden with timeless cocktails, beer and wine, with an emphasis on Greek wine.
Between the authentic flavours, washed ivory decor and the wafts of salty sea air, a meal at Taverna is like dining in yia-yia’s cliffside courtyard — without the airfare.
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