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What’s Hot – The Smoking Camel

The Smoking Camel, Turkish Delight Cocktail - photography Parker Blain

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and the culinary scene in Byron Bay is certainly ablaze. The recently opened establishment, The Smoking Camel, situated on Lawsen Lane, is igniting a fresh wave of excitement with its contemporary Middle Eastern cuisine.

The creative minds behind Light Years are continuing to expand their portfolio in Byron Bay with the launch of The Smoking Camel. The boldly designed space showcases a modern Middle Eastern culinary experience, with communal-style dishes prepared over charcoal flames and accompanied with a well-curated beverage menu.

Joachim Borenius and Robbie Oijvall, photo credit Jesse Prince

Robbie Oijvall, the executive chef and co-owner, has enlisted Joachim Borenius as the head chef of The Smoking Camel. Borenius, who played a pivotal role in the successful launch of Light Years on Jonson Lane last year, now brings his expertise to this new venture. Collaboratively, they have curated a menu that captures the delightful playfulness familiar to Light Years, while infusing Levantine flavours from countries such as Lebanon, Turkey, and Israel.

photo credit, Jesse Prince

The culinary offerings are diverse and enticing. Mezze options feature traditional dips like hummus adorned with harissa oil, baba ganoush drizzled with parsley oil, smashed falafel accompanied by green goddess tahini, and sumac-spiced tuna tartare. From the BBQ selection, indulge in dishes like baharat beef shish, shawarma-spiced chicken, and a combination of halloumi and mixed vegetables. The salad assortment includes a refreshing blend of watermelon, shanklish, and mint, as well as a ‘village salad’ complemented by whipped feta. For desserts, savour the ‘desert mess’ with baklava gelato from Frankies Gelato, pistachio sand, strawberries, rosewater, and honey coco whip.

Oijvall says of the food offering, “It’s been really exciting to work collaboratively and adventurously with Eastern flavours. Joachim and I have loved playing around with spices from different regions and seeing how we can enhance traditional dishes to create a unique offering.”

The beverage menu is equally appealing, featuring a lineup of cocktails that embrace unexpected flavour combinations. Choices include the Turkish Delight with Bookies Dry Gin, cranberry, rose, and lime; the Dead Sea Ice Tea composed of dark rum, pomegranate tea, lemon, and apricot brandy; and The Oasis, which combines tequila, lime, cucumber, orgeat, mint, and coriander. The wine selection, curated by Group Beverage Manager Sean Duncan spotlights Lebanese producers working with indigenous grapes from the historic Bekaa Valley, one of the world’s oldest wine regions. Complementing this array are offerings from local breweries like Stone & Wood, Earth Beer Co., Wandana Brewing, and the beloved Egyptian favourite, Stella Lager.

Dead Sea, Iced Tea Cocktail, photo credit Jesse Prince

The venue, with a seating capacity of 55, has undergone a remarkable transformation from its origins as the first Light Years location. Designed by Week Days Design, the same creative team behind the Japanese Hibachi and wine bar, Moonlight, the Smoking Camel boasts opulent and vibrant interiors inspired by the Middle East. With arched entryways, flowing curtains, and golden camel cutouts above the bar, diners are immediately transported to the vibrant metropolises of Cairo, Tel Aviv, and Istanbul.

The Smoking Camel bar, photo credit Jesse Prince

“It’s been incredibly nostalgic to watch this venue transform. Closing our first Light Years was a bittersweet moment for us all. But the reincarnation of the space has been one for the ages, and we’re beyond excited to have our customers reacquaint themselves with the old stomping ground!” Oijvall adds.

The Smoking Camel, 17 Lawson St, Byron Bay NSW 2481

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