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Karkalla Restaurant, Byron Bay

Home > Byron Bay > Dinner | Food and Wine | Restaurants
by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Published March 11th 2022
Native Australian flavours feature highly in this restaurant
Karkalla is one of the names of a native Australian edible succulent as well as a restaurant in Byron Bay that features karkalla along with other native Australia flavours in its food. Enjoy fine dining in this relaxed and increasingly popular restaurant.

Karkalla Restaurant in Byron Bay services up great food with native Australian seasoning
Karkalla Restaurant in Byron Bay services up great food with native Australian seasoning


About Karkalla Restaurant

With a relaxed attitude and friendly service, Karkalla serves up stunning fine dining at a reasonable price. For dinner, you will either want to have the combination of entree, main and dessert, or mains teamed with sides. However, the dishes are designed to share and mains are divided between medium and large, so it is easy to order food to share so you will be sampling many different flavours in your group.

Karkalla is a popular & relaxed dining option in Byron Bay
Karkalla is a popular & relaxed dining option in Byron Bay


The highlight is the use of native Australian flavours that pay homage to the owners' Bundjalung heritage. These are the people who are the traditional Aboriginal custodians of the coastal region around Byron Bay. Karkalla goes beyond the lemon myrtle and finger limes used by nearly every restaurant in the area, to the generous use of saltbush and the Karkalla edible succulent. They also use bush tomatoes, native thyme, muntries jus berries and wattle seed, among other flavours.

Some of the native Australia flavours used by Karkalla, include saltbush, finger limes and the edible succulents known as karkalla
Some of the native Australia flavours used by Karkalla, include saltbush, finger limes and the edible succulents known as karkalla


Some highlights from the menu

It might be facetious to say it's all good but there is nothing that I have tried that wasn't good. In fact, good is as bad their menu gets, with most things being great to amazing. Here are some highlights that I have tried on the menu. Please be aware that the offerings change with the season.

The 'Damper' is definitely something to order. The quotes are used by the restaurant itself because this is not the soda bread you used to cook in the campfire as a kid, but a proper bread that is beautifully blackened on the outside. It comes with wattle seed butter. Sorry, my photo doesn't do the flavour or the look justice, and the moment we saw others eating it, we had to order it.

My photo doesn't do the look & flavour of the dampers served at Karkalla justice
My photo doesn't do the look & flavour of the dampers served at Karkalla justice


Another item that doesn't look that great in my photos is the crispy salt bush. For a long time, saltbush had a reputation as an inedible Australian weed, but it all depends on the variety that you use. Not only can you just eat the leaves by themselves without any preparation, but you can also throw them in a salad or use them as a herb. Karkalla cooks them to a crisp and covers them with bush tomato mayo. A popular option at our table.

The crispy salt bush is one of the highlights on the Karkalla restaurant
The crispy salt bush is one of the highlights on the Karkalla restaurant


For an example of the great use of saltbush as a flavouring, the butterflied king prawns, are a beautifully presented item. The butterflying of the prawns make them much easier to eat with a knife and fork. There is also an entree option for prawns that are flavoured with lemon myrtle, so often the biggest challenge is deciding which type of prawns you will order or whether to order both prawn dishes.

Butterflied prawns at Karkalla
Butterflied prawns at Karkalla


If you are by the sea, then enjoying some great seafood is a must. The steamed barramundi is served in a kombu broth with blistered sea succulents. I am now researching where I can buy my own succulents to grow at home, as they make a great addition to lots of different foods.

Steamed barramundi and blistered sea succulents
Steamed barramundi and blistered sea succulents


I might also mention the sardines on toast. Just looking at the photo below gives you a clear idea that this isn't the sardines on toast your parents might have made you eat. This is a nice entree option.

Sardines on Toast, Karkalla style
Sardines on Toast, Karkalla style


Dessert

The only dessert we tried is the one shown below. This chocolate mousse is served with bush honey ice cream and is so delicious that just when you think you can't eat any more, you will find room for this.

Dessert at Karkalla
Dessert at Karkalla


Cocktails

There are plenty of cocktails on the menu. For something adventurous, look for ones featuring native ingredients. I stuck to wines that complemented the meal perfectly.

Wine and cocktails at Karkalla
Wine and cocktails at Karkalla


Overall

If you are looking for a fine dining experience in a relaxed atmosphere, then Karkalla in Byron Bay does more than just deliver on this. Using many native ingredients to add unique flavours, every dish shows the care taken to develop it. Well worth a visit and well worth sharing multiple different dishes with your friends and family with cocktails or a glass of wine.

The author dined at Karkalla as a guest of Crystalbrook and Kiff & Culture

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Why? Native Australian flavours in a relaxed fine dining restaurant
When: Currently only offering dinner, but check out their website to see if they are offering breakfast & lunch again
Phone: (02) 5614 8656
Where: 10/8 Fletcher Street Byron Bay, NSW Australia
Cost: Entrees from $10, mains from $20
Your Comment
An unique eatery Roy. Having share dishes means that if you don't like one dish it is not wasted.
by Neil Follett (score: 3|4358) 199 days ago
Trust Byron to be so innovative
by Gillian Ching (score: 3|5350) 198 days ago
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