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  • Milt Barlow

Paper Daisy Restaurant, Cabarita

Ambience 5/5 Food 5/5

Staff 5/5

Value 5/5

Would I return 5/5

Overall 5/5

Living in the Northern Rivers we are blessed with some of the best food in Australia. Matched with innovative chefs and great locations, paradise abounds. Gone are the days when dining out in provincial locations either meant a roast at the RSL or a Chinese takeaway.

When it comes to treating yourself to a great lunch or dinner with family and friends, I have always been one for maybe not going out, but when the occasion calls for it we spend that little bit extra and head to the type of venue that leaves you smacking your lips in delight.

Such a destination is the iconic Paper Daisy at Cabarita Beach, an award-winning restaurant attached to the iconic Halcyon House. Situated right on the beach, the former surfing motel, The Hideaway, was purchased in 2011 by sisters Siobhan and Elisha Bickle who transformed it into the beachside treasure it is today.

Walking into Paper Daisy transported me back to some of the great beach side restaurants of California. Shutters on the Beach Santa Monica meets Cabarita Beach. The beautiful relaxing décor, impeccable service and smell of the ocean wafting into the dining area is heaven.

The cuisine can best be described as modern Australian, giving you a very wide palate to choose from. The dining experience is created by Executive Chef Jason Barrett, one of Australia’s hottest chefs who honed his skills at some of the finest restaurants in the country including the three hatted Attica in Victoria. Prior to joining Paper Daisy, Jason was Head Chef at Raes on Wategos. Over the years the awards and accolades kept coming, including a hat in the Good Food Guide 2023, a 3 Glasses award in Wine List Of the Year Awards in 2022 and being listed as one of Australia’s Top 100 Restaurants in The Australian Financial Review in 2018.

A culinary delight

While you can order individually, the set menu is the way to go with an eye to local produce and sustainably sourced seafood.

Prior to heading into the restaurant, we enjoyed a glass of wine and some delicious freshly shucked native rock oysters from Merimbula, served with preserved citrus and fennel. The tastes superbly complimented each other. Then it was inside and onto the ‘main event’.

For starters I went straight for the Yellowfin tuna with smoked tomato, yoghurt and trout roe while my wife ordered Tasmanian lamb rib, labneh, linseed and river mint jelly. There was plenty of ‘cross tasting’ going on between us.

We loved the way the attentive staff took time to explain the ingredients of each dish and the way it was prepared - I’m a big one for a ‘bit of theatre’ prior to ordering. Each of the descriptions of what was to come was delivered in spades.

For mains I chose a beautiful piece of Wagyu that melted in my mouth, accompanied by grilled winter leaves, mushrooms and black garlic. My wife zeroed in on the coal roasted fish served with lemon and fennel jam, vongole, kale and wild fennel. Again, there was much ‘taste swapping’ going on.

The wonderful dining experience was capped off with desserts of Daintree chocolate and ripe banana parfait and a delicious combination of blueberry, candied orange, vanilla, and Davidson plum tart.

The verdict

With summer upon us, head to Cabarita and Paper Daisy and treat yourself to lunch or dinner. Summer can get busy so make sure you book ahead. I am delighted to say that for us Paper Daisy scored a perfect 5 out of 5 in all categories.

Author visited as a guest of the destination.


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