Paper Daisy, Cabarita Beach, NSW

Author: Fiona Donnelly
Photography: Courtesy Halcyon House

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country right now: Paper Daisy, Cabarita Beach, NSW.

Prepare to have any outdated prejudices relating to regional hotel dining well and truly smashed. There's nothing cookie-cutter about Paper Daisy, the restaurant at new boutique hotel Halcyon House, set in an old Cabarita Beach surfer motel, now beautifully re-imagined as a casually luxe 21-room beach getaway. And the light but cleverly detailed dishes from chef Ben Devlin (formerly of Esquire, Brisbane) follow suit. The airy dining room, with its white and blue Parisian bistro chairs and comfy banquettes, overlooks the resort pool via retro arched windows. Behind the dining space, spiky pandanus trees frame dunes and glimpses of white-topped breakers. There's a definite holiday feel, aided by the likes of pepper-grilled whiting, served whole, the lightly smoky skin dotted with pink pearls of finger lime and marked with just the right amount of char to play off the white flesh beneath. Chips arrive in a jar, a neat stack of paper-thin slices of dried beef and translucent tomato slices, served with a pot of punchy green mustard-leaf dunking sauce - perfect with a Stone & Wood Pacific ale from Byron Bay, or perhaps a Negroni. A tomato and mozzarella salad sees at least five varieties of tomato with basil, smoky pancetta, black garlic, olives, pickled onion and deep fried shallot. There's a lot going on, but it all makes the finest of flavour sense. Sure, you could opt for a classic burger from the house menu (which runs from 10am-10pm), but with this kind of next-level dining on offer at such reasonable prices, you'd be crazy not to dive right in.

Paper Daisy, Halcyon House, 21 Cyprus Cres, Cabarita Beach, NSW, (02) 6676 1444

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