SUMMER 23/24

In the aptly named ‘green room’ at the new Shady Palms restaurant in Avoca, chartreuse leaves peer through glass-louvered windows, ceramic birds fly across walls, while other walls are painted a faded lime, and another features an artwork reminiscent of an Elvis flick.


The green room’s name is a nod to surfers’ love of barrels, but the more obvious link is the garden-like atmosphere. Leadlight shades grace the ceiling, adding 20th-century glamour to a space that feels like an observatory for tropical plants. The plants are outdoors, with the odd hibiscus and frangipani popping up among the palms. It’s Tropicana meets vintage surf, with a very casual, fun vibe.

Shady Palms opened on November 21 and the owners (who also own Mumbo Jumbo in Terrigal) have big shoes to fill, after taking over the premises of much-loved Italian restaurant Bombini.

At a quick glance, the sophistication of Bombini has gone but in its place is comfort. Shady Palms is a welcoming restaurant where you’d be happy to take the family. It’s the kind of spot you’d eat at on a regular basis, instead of special occasions, and, for locals, that’s always a good thing.

One of the highlights is the fact upcycled materials have been used throughout the premises. Wicker shades and wrought-iron chairs have been given a new lease on life with a lick of paint. Jetty timbers have been re-purposed, the bricks are recycled, and plants have been saved from the compost.

A big change is the increase in seating, with the front garden gone, replaced by Shady’s Shack, an alfresco bar area. There is also chilled-out patio dining in the back, where the only soundtrack is that of a water fountain. The front barn that sold gourmet food will now stock homewares in the style of the restaurant, along with vintage surfboards for diehards and collectors.

As for the food, the wood-fired pizza bar isn’t going anywhere, but the main menu will be fresh, tropical and unpretentious; dishes such as yakitori skewers, poke bowls and fresh seafood.

All four owners have backgrounds in the music industry, so it’s no surprise they have extended the upstairs gazebo for live music and DJs. However, it’s the ‘vintage surf’ vibe they’re most keen to promote. They rebuff all references to island locales when it comes to a theme, preferring the chefs and bartenders have creative freedom to play with the cuisine and beverages. This ambiguity, with both the menu and styling, leaves diners reminiscing, in the nicest way, where exactly they’ve seen this scene before.



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