Everyone’s talking about Mavis’s Kitchen. It’s the place to go in the Tweed Shire. I’m staying at Mistere Urliup, a short drive away so I’m planning to check what the fuss is all about. Snaking through the hinterland, I feel like I could be on the North Shore of Hawaii with the Dole pineapple plantation to the west. It’s lush. It’s green and there’s a magical feeling. It’s hard to describe. Like the energy, you get when you’re surfing a wave.
I find out later, Mount Warning is one of Australia’s most sacred and spiritually significant mountains. It’s said to be the first place in Australia to receive energy from the sun each day. Uncle Eric Walker said during the 2002 Wollumbin Festival that ‘Mount Warning is the place where the Aboriginal Holy Men went to receive the word of God so they could teach those laws to the people’.
And it’s in the shadow of this mystical energising mountain that Mavis’s Kitchen squats – an iconic white weatherboard Queenslander, one of the most Instagrammable places on the North Coast of NSW. I walk past a family sipping coffee from mugs with two dogs looking lovingly at their owners and up the stairs. Inside, I count four blackboards hanging on the walls. There may be more. Each has a chalk written quote. The one closest to me says “Great restaurants are of course nothing but mouth brothels. There is no point going to them if one intends to keep one’s belt buckled. (Frederick Raphael).” I loosen my belt, liking this place already.
My table is number 13. It’s the one by the window looking over the garden. One of the waiters is outside picking some leaves perhaps for someone’s salad. The chef wanders down and picks up a big stick and knocks a pawpaw from the tree. Then the chef and the waiter sashay back together smiling and happy, drinking up the sun as they nip back under the verandah and are lost from sight.
The place is busy. There’s a long slightly noisy table. A cake is being carried out with candles. The other tables are twos and fours and they are all full. I look over at the entrance where a miniature scarecrow guards pots of honey and preserves and a bowl of organic mandarins. Eight dollars a bag. Brown paper of course. No plastic here.
The menu declares that the food is seasonal and most produce is local. The salad I have is all mainly from the garden. Fresh organic greens are filled with flavour compared to the cardboard tasting greens one finds at a supermarket.
There are vegan items on the menu or they’re only too happy to veganise a dish. The pumpkin, orange, chickpea falafel with avocado, hummus, dukkah and petite salad is pumping with taste. The rich colours make it almost too pretty to eat.
The owners must be animal lovers. There’s a flyer on our table calling all four-legged friends to bring their humans for a day of fun and music. Mavis’s Kitchen have four special events each year. This one offers natural therapies for pets, furry family photographs, an obstacle course pet playground, a doggy menu, pop up food stalls, bar and coffee cart. So wonderful to do when you have twenty-five acres at your disposal.
On Sunday, August 4, the third seasonal market for the year will take place called the Magic Theatre Imaginations PlayGround. There will be an open fire feast with wines, stalls and music with a tent of curiosities for the kids. Entry is free.
If only I were getting married again, this would be the perfect place. I can see the photos now with bridesmaids amongst the citrus trees or hanging down from the verandah posies skew whiff.
Besides weddings and events, there are picnic baskets to be had. Mavis’s Kitchen will create a handcrafted picnic hamper for the following day which starts at $95 for two people and includes fresh baguettes, cakes, seasonal dips and more.
Surrounded by World Heritage rainforest and the fertile farmland of the lush Tweed Valley, it’s no wonder the focus here is all about sustainability.
Open for lunch Wednesday to Sunday and dinner Friday and Saturday you’ll be in luck if you can get in without a booking.
The Mavis’s story is all about family, the families we’re born with and the families we create.
The legendary ‘Mavis’ is Charlie’s mum, the woman who taught him a love of food and the joy of sharing. When we thought of all things this restaurant stands for, it made perfect sense to name the place after her.
The beautiful old Queenslander that houses the restaurant looks as though it’s been here forever, but it was in fact Peter’s childhood home and then home to a restaurant we ran on the Gold Coast, Harley Street Brasserie.
When we decided on a tree change we brought the building with us, cut it into three pieces, put it on three massive trucks, put it back together and started creating the Mavis’s magic.
We’ve been here since 2007 and our Mavis’s family continues to grow. From our tight-knit team, to our regular guests, to the new faces just discovering this place for the first time, we’re grateful to each and every one of you for allowing us to continue to do what we love in this very special part of the world.
For more personalised information tips and advice, or to book this incredible holiday contact your local TravelManagers’ personal travel manager here.