A little bit of Casablanca – Paper Daisy, Cabarita Beach
21 Cypress Cres, Cabarita Beach NSW
Chef: Ben Devlin
A trip north to the beautiful north coast of NSW was always part of the plan in May, so when there was a chance to stop by beautiful Cabarita Beach to Paper Daisy, the forks were in hand, ready to indulge. Paper Daisy rests inside the crisp white walls of the boutique Halcyon House, past the indigo waters of the resort pool and on the cusp of Cabarita Beach’s crashing waves that you can just glimpse through the treeline. The cool interior reveals itself as you enter the floor to ceiling doors into a Casablanca-come-Hamptons dining room. Paper Daisy is run by Ben Devlin (ex-Noma and Esquire) and his take on beach side dining is enveloping and exquisite.
The menu is awash with local ingredients including macadamia, finger lime, lemon myrtle, native pepper, red kelp and tamarind. It is a light and playful menu with a few surprises like lambs tongue & yoghurt with lettuce. It ranges from vegetarian – Fresh ricotta with raw & preserved vegetables – through a range of meats – fish, chicken, pork, wagyu. (Note: I would love to see kangaroo on this menu instead of the beef as I see Wagyu everywhere. It could add an authenticity to the dark meat on the menu. Just a personal opinion – the Wagyu is probably amazing.)
The Pippies with lemon myrtle, semolina pasta and native pepper were sweet and salty. My waiter insisted they were fresh from Cabarita, which is a nice change from the long haul versions in Sydney. The pasta was a subtle inclusion that you might dismiss as the pippies take the focus. However the juices are absorbed by the semolina pasta creating a succulent and delicious end to the dish. Devlin’s NOMA days are evident in the Paper bark grilled fish with onion, seaweed & beach plants. The use of beach plants or ‘succulents’ is core to the foraging Noma-eque approach to modern cuisine. It was seen in the NOMA pop up in Sydney and more recently in Silvereye in Chippendale (also ex-NOMA alumni). The fish is perfect and the crispy onion adds a caramelised smokiness to the juicy and fleshy fish.
My meal ends with a moreish dish of Slow Grilled banana with tamarind & macadamia. It’s comfort food at odds with my bright, fresh and fishy dishes, but it is satisfying for its deep creaminess, tarty tamarind and sweet banana.
Paper Daisy is a hatted restaurant in the wings … a discovered gem that is worth the diversion off the highway to Cabarita Beach. Take the time, enjoy the atmosphere and be smug in your discovery of this decadent oasis by the beach.