There is something idyllic about a café where wafts of sea air intermingle with fresh brewed espresso.

For Shelter, a new restaurant in Lennox Head, such a scene is quotidian, but the setting is only part of the seaside newcomer’s enchantment.

Shelter has a lot to boast about: its owners Andrew Love, Troy Noonan and Grant La Brooy are fresh from Three Blue Ducks, the café at Byron Bay’s foodie haven, The Farm. Views of the Pacific abound from every table. The boys are just as serious about their cooking as they are about their coffee and cocktails. The menu is never stagnant, reflecting what’s local, in season, and fresh. “Shelter was one of the first names thrown out there. It basically sums up exactly what we wanted to create,” said Andrew. “A welcoming place of comfort and refuge where we sell food and drinks.”

The food, while relatively simple, is tinged with The Farm’s legacy – only the best ingredients and best quality will be delivered to your table.

The hamburger, for example, is like no hamburger you have known before. My partner ordered it — dripping with cheese, chipotle mayo, and pickles and accompanied by potato wedges — declaring it not just a meal, but a “work of art”.

I opted for the fish of the day, a blue-eyed trevalla situated on a hefty smear of mashed avocado and a pickled salad with Asian herbs and peanuts. It was fresh, light and inventive, a true harmony of spring flavours. Fish, unsurprisingly, is a lunchtime focus, whether that be the daily special, prawn bisque, or pasta with Balmain bugs. “There’s a large focus on local and fresh ingredients over all of our menus, making sure we support local and buy what’s in season,” said Andrew.

The menus themselves are creative affairs, deferring to the chefs’ talent for making gourmet, healthy meals. “It’s important that the chefs cook what they are passionate about,” said Andrew. “Obviously freshness, local, seasonal, organic and free range is important. All those things that should be an industry standard by now.”

Shelter lends itself to being a full-day affair, with a hearty breakfast – including the likes of fish cakes with poached eggs and gentleman’s relish and buttermilk pancakes lavished with honey and candied pecans — while a selection of small plates, and a lengthy cocktail menu, make for a dinner spent watching the sun dip over the horizon with a glass of wine in hand. “There is more of a focus on the food at night. The view is gone, there are no distractions. It’s all about service, food and wine. I love it,” said Andrew.

Though the team has ambitions to expand their influence with several more titles, right now, their energy is devoted to Shelter. “Apart from having the creative freedom to do what we like, I think the most exciting thing for me would be the response from customers, locals, friends and family,” said Andy. “Sometimes you’re so caught up in the day to day, you don’t really take a step back and look at what it is, and what it can be.”

 

 

 

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