What determines a great regional restaurant? Is it the location, produce, service or the food?
Seaside dining in Australia is potentially anchored in trepidation or buoyed with optimism. An ocean of promise delivers hope that the food and service may match a breathtaking view is often dampened by shallow service or mediocre food. A bureaucracy of red tape and hefty public liability insurance levies prohibit beach dining in many parts of Australia. At best in Byron Bay, if you’re lucky, you can eat by a car park overlooking the Bay.
Foam Restaurant, in the beachside town of Lennox Head, has a unique blend of dynamic surf location, a weekly changing menu, beautifully appointed, precise wine list curated by co-proprietor Marcus Corcoran whose passion for wine and food service has placed in him in iconic restaurants including Biota, Bowral and St. Elmo, Byron Bay. His discerning, surf-chic professional service guarantees a refreshing dining experience amongst a sea of ordinary, tourism driven hospitality venues within the region.
From the menu, an entrée of grilled prawns, pickled cabbage and caramel miso ($24) arrived as a lattice of charred ochre prawn boats, butterflied and fastened to scattered shiso leaves. The plate was dressed with a sweet caramel miso, chards of salty cabbage kimchi are dotted with deeply fried black rice with the added crunch of white sesame, all delightfully popping in my mouth like a nutty gobble bliss bomb. An accompanying glass of 2014 Brokenwood Pinot Gris was buttery with luscious floral and pear note, a hint of citrus and a dip of acidity balanced the sweetness of crustacean and caramel.
Next, a suggested second entrée of clams with jamon serrano, oregano and white wine with buttered ciabatta ($22) was a triumph of surf and turf. Like a stowaway, the unexpected guest jamon surprises the bivalve with a slither of salty sweet meat and a value added protein bonus. Indigo clams encouraged from their shell with the allure of butter and white wine reveal themselves sweetly, and were the most tender I have eaten. I enthusiastically scooped the liquid up from the shells and swallowed with passion and a generous nod to Hemingway’s love of oysters:
“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.” Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
Happy as a clam I stepped into the drink and sipped a robust and potent 2012 Zarate Albarino, Rias Baixas. With red apple tones, an elegant structure and crisp finish to slice through the buttery saltiness of clam and ham.
Foam is a feel good, food lovers’ paradise with an enticing surfing ocean vista. It is a place where everything works well. A professional restaurant with crisp linen napkins, fine cutlery and glassware, smart food that has been thoughtfully prepared and very well crafted. This is a celebration of location, local produce and fine cooking. No tricks, great style and wonderful service has generated a regional destination restaurant that is not to be missed in Northern NSW.
Foam is where the art is.
Hemingway, E, 2010. A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition . 1st ed. New York New York: Simon & Schuster.
Restaurant Review – Foam, Lennox Head NSW
A 500 word count submission for Food and Wine Writing unit. Session 1, 2015.
COM03422-2015-1: Samantha Gowing 22009869
Grade: High Distinction
Samantha Gowing is a candidate in the Le Cordon Bleu Master of Gastronomic Tourism program. She is a chef, nutritionist, author, blogger and former judge for the NSW Restaurant and Catering Association of NSW. She happily paid her own way and tipped the staff at the end of this dining experience. This is an unsolicited review for the purpose of academic submission. No chefs were harmed in the process.