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Moonlight

  • Restaurants
  1. food at Moonlight
    Photograph: Supplied | Moonlight
  2. food at Moonlight
    Photograph: Supplied | Moonlight
  3. Moonlight
    Photograph: Supplied | Moonlight
  4. food at Moonlight
    Photograph: Supplied | Moonlight
  5. drinks at Moonlight
    Photograph: Supplied | Moonlight
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Time Out says

This intimate bar in Byron Bay is a contemporary take on the Japanese hibachi grill – serving flame-licked food, biodynamic wine and exceptional cocktails

From the deep black booth in the lower dining room at Moonlight, it’s easy to forget you’re in Byron Bay. The tastefully monochrome, moodily-lit space could easily be hidden in an inner city alleyway in New York or Tokyo, or, as my friend reflected, “The VIP section of the moon.” But despite its otherworldly sophistication, Moonlight is, in fact, just metres from the beach: tucked in a laneway a two minute walk from Byron’s iconic stretch of sand. And if you’re looking for a refined, reliably excellent spot for dinner in the beachside town, look no further. 

One of several Byron-based venues from the team behind Lightyears, Moonlight is a creative take on the traditional hibachi grills of Japan: with a huge hibachi grill dominating the open kitchen, and hibachi-fired food forming a large portion of the menu. Alongside the flame-cooked delights (which include Hokkaido scallops that arrive in the shell, doused in a rich Café de Nippon butter, crowned with pops of local finger lime), the menu features a tight selection of creative dishes that nod to contemporary Japanese staples, but with a Byron twist. The watermelon sashimi – a perplexingly savoury creation served with a shiso sesame ponzu dressing  – is a must-order, as are the spicy salmon crackers that have an addictive doughnut-like sweetness. Plates are designed to share, and the Moonlight team are quick to notice when you're ready to order more.

Not shying away from its namesake, Moonlight makes more than one nod to our friend in the sky, but somehow manages to honour the theme without appearing gimmicky. Biodynamic wines have been selected according to the lunar cycle, cocktails have lunar-related names (the Dark Side of The Moon is a silky, sesame and charcoal concoction, and the New Moon is a zingy hit of yuzu sake, coconut vodka and lime juice) and on the far wall, an abstract moon-inspired artwork by Sydney-based artist Georgia Hill hangs in a bespoke niche.

It’s the fresh seasonal produce and warm service that remind you where you are: with a menu heroing locally sourced ingredients, and team members that make you feel like a local. When we finished dessert – a divinely umami yuzu cheesecake – in record time, Dani, who’d been keeping us fed and watered throughout the evening, appeared and asked: “another one?”.

Moonlight manages to masterfully dance the line of cool and comfortable – it’s chic-as-hell, but not remotely intimidating. The kind of place where you don’t think twice about ordering a second helping of dessert.

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Winnie Stubbs
Written by
Winnie Stubbs

Details

Address:
Moonlight
Bay Lane
Byron Bay
2481
Contact:
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