‘Harvest’: a bounty that follows a season of work, culminating in Thanksgiving; a veritable feast. It’s a fitting name to describe this well-established Newrybar cafe/restaurant, bakery, delicatessen and farm.
We’ve heard lots about Harvest, and decide to visit for Saturday lunch, a relaxed chance to breathe in the country atmosphere with no pressing timelines to keep.
“How will I find the restaurant?” I ask by phone. There’s a laugh on the other end, as I’m told that the café can’t be missed. Fifteen minutes from Byron Bay and five from Bangalow, Newrybar is little more than a hamlet, with ‘Harvest’ forming half the town!
All country charm, Harvest is housed in three century old whitewashed weatherboard bungalows, lovingly restored. Started ten years ago as a café, owners Kassia and Tristan Grier and Brooke Hudson have made Harvest a true food lovers’ destination. Café, Deli and Bakery are interwoven with the Harvest Farm, their produce moving from one sector to another. The essential and common link is the garden; metres of raised beds that are a fruitful symbol of Harvest’s philosophy: local, seasonal, organic, fresh and sustainable. Less noticeable but still as real are the other indicators: all green waste is composted, there are 8KW of solar panels onsite, plus a grey water facility, and five acres of certified organic farmland just a kilometre away.
The Harvest Deli, complete with marble cheese room and an ageing room for meats, stocks local products from boutique farms and suppliers in Bangalow, Byron Bay, Nimbin and the Northern Rivers, homemade jams, chutneys and pickles, rustic artisan loaves of bread baked in the restored bakery behind the café, as well as a range of international produce.
The Harvest Bakery, with its restored wood-fired oven, operates as a bakery in the morning and function centre at night, housing elegant specialty dinners.
Harvest Café is ‘Country Life’ gorgeous! We sit relaxed on a verandah, overlooking the garden and shaded by jacaranda branches. Nearby, there’s a local working on his laptop to the company of a Vale Ale and a faithful dog lying under the table. Inside, decked out in cottage antique and wooden floored glory, the open kitchen and bar forms the hub of the restaurant’s activity. Meals line up along the counter, showing off Chef Joseph Griffin’s fresh, seasonal cuisine; waiters dart in and out.
We choose from a tight menu of six mains and three desserts, but still suffer food envy when an Asian inspired Berkshire Pork Belly floats past. How could our meals possibly be as delicious!
Our lunch includes produce from both the farm and deli: Spanish Pujado salted anchovies on fresh house bruschetta ($18.50), and Spaghetti Marinara – Giovanni Fabbri spaghetti tossed with a generous selection of fresh plump seafood, olive oil, lemon and parsley. The Tuna with Caprese salad and Shaw River buffalo mozzarella proves to be an exquisite dish in unassuming disguise. Char-grilled to rare, the tuna takes centre stage, the best we’ve tasted, its subtle smoky flavours finely balanced by a side of fennel-pickled carrots.
Somehow, we’re transported away, far removed from the stresses of city life, the push to turn over tables, and the traffic of fast-moving cars filled with faster moving people. Even the work boots on our waitress, the pinnie and stray locks of hair, add to the rustic charm. When we ask about the wood-fired fig and walnut loaf on the menu, a loaf is obligingly fetched from the deli to be added to our bill. Service, though the restaurant is packed, never falters.
There’s something refreshing about Harvest. Sure, nothing about it is ‘cheap’. It’s city smart applied to country chic, but it’s refreshingly enervating, ambient, relaxed and even soul-filling. Exquisitely fresh and innovative food accompanied by an excellent wine list; well worth the trip away from the beach for a little country air.
18-20 Old Pacific Hwy, Newrybar NSW, Ph: 02 6687 2644
Open: Breakfast on Sat & Sun from 8am. Lunch 7 days from 12noon. Dinner 7 nights from 6pm.
NOTE: This review has also been published on Blank Gold Coast.