Eltham Valley Pantry
It would be challenging to imagine a more idyllic setting than that of The Eltham Valley Pantry. Set on a plot surrounded by 300 pecan trees, beautiful gardens and a 100-year old farmhouse, this gourmet retreat is worth a detour.
Those staying in the Byron Bay region, or anyone travelling along the northern NSW coast, would do well to plan a visit. Coming from the south coast, you get off the Pacific Highway at Woodburn. Heading down from the north, you’d depart the M1 at the Byron Bay turnoff.
Approaching the valley, the hills begin to undulate, and the terrain changes from eucalypt forest to farmland. We’re not talking massive industrialized estates, however. Here natural systems are valued, and spray-free and organic acreage dominate the region.
This suits Matt and Ash, the proprietors of The Eltham Valley Pantry, to a T as they focus on providing “delicious, affordable, quality, local, café food.” Much of their produce is sourced from the Nimbin and Lismore markets, which are renowned for fresh, seasonal ingredients.
The Eltham Valley Pantry Menu
A quick glance at the menu shows dishes catering to a good variety of dietary needs. Highlights are a decent number of gluten-free and dairy-free recipes, and, of course, plenty of pecans.
One of The Eltham Valley Pantry signature dishes is Hickory Smoked Salmon ($25, GF). Smoked with pecan wood from the onsite plantation, the fish has a warmth in the palate. It’s served with the traditional accompaniments of crisp potato rosti, crème Fraiche and capers interwoven with peas, pepitas and rocket. The green supply contrast to the pink salmon and freshen the mouth from the natural oiliness of the fish. It is plated beautifully with drops of balsamic dotting the rim of the plate.
The Free-range Chicken Schnitzel ($26) is another great lunch option. Again, the presentation is highly appealing. Presented on a wooden board on legs, the poultry rises in a tower as the focal point. The crumbed chicken is just the right thickness, moist, and the coat furnishes a light crunch. Onion jam and roast pecans crown the top contributing a mild sweetness and nutty finish. Aussie potato salad is an adept side, and pickles, harissa and brittle prosciutto shards complement the protein with an attractive tang, harmonizing crunch and an artistic red streak of capsicum sauce (that is as equally tasty as it is stylish).
On a warm summer afternoon, The Eltham Valley Pantry refreshers are flawless thirst-quenchers. Mum chooses a Ginger Refresher ($6.50) made with lime, mint and soda. I pomp for the Blueberry Tingle ($6.50), which promises to be a pretty hue with blueberry, pomegranate and soda. Mum’s has a nice zip in it from the ginger, while mine is gently sweet. Both are well-chilled. Excellent choices.
You can’t leave The Eltham Valley Pantry without trying the Pantry Pecan Pie ($9, GF) – it is enveloped by a pecan farm after all! The crushed pecans and caramel are baked in a vanilla pastry shell, with a generous topping of whole nuts. Vanilla ice cream, fresh berries, and a berry coulis complete the plating.
Besides the two desserts on the menu (the other is a Pecan Sundae), guests can choose from a bunch of sweet temptations from the cake counter. Today we find the Chocolate Mud Cake ($9) irresistible. It’s a double layer of rich, moist, dark chocolate cake hugged by chocolate fondant, chocolate flakes and an additional dob of chocolate. It too is plated with ice cream, berries and coulis with a few kernels of popped corn offering a little savoury to the profile and encouraging us to continue to fork in.
Espresso-based coffee comes on locally roasted, Republic of Coffee, beans. White beverages ($4.20 small, $4.70 large) are made with local Norco milk, but all-manner of dairy alternatives are available (soy, almond, lactose-free and coconut). The coffee has a good balance of bitter and sour with some chocolate notes in the conclusion.
After lunch, we take advantage of the lush landscaping by taking a walk to digest. The pecan trees are spray-free, and the nuts are available for purchase in their raw form but also maple or cinnamon-roasted, drizzled with chocolate, or in an organic trail mix. They make a fab gift to take away (for yourself or someone dear).
The Eltham Valley Pantry Review
You can’t go past The Eltham Valley Pantry for fresh, wholesome and delicious meals. Add to this the picturesque setting and friendly team, and you have yourself a wonderful day out in the Byron Hinterland.
Reasons to visit The Eltham Valley Pantry: a fantastic day trip in the Byron Hinterland; beautiful setting; a lovely drive to get there; beautifully plated dishes; we especially love the salmon and the schnitzel.
The Eltham Valley Pantry Opening Hours
Wed – Fri: 10 am – 3 pm
Sat & Sun: 9 am – 4 pm