The Northern Star

Abundance of O-Pes

FOLLOWING advice from a Sydney-based friend who is a frequenter of fine restaurants the world over, I headed off to O-Pes in Lennox Heads expecting a good night out.

And a good night was what I had – along with everyone else in the restaurant. O-Pes has been open for just over two years, and has managed to attract both tourists and loyal locals.

O-Pes, which is Latin for ‘abundance for life’, has a widely varied menu that, along with interesting mains, offers a good selection of (genuine) tapas.

We chose to share half-shell scallops with mountain pepper and lemon myrtle ($15) from the tapas menu and half a dozen oysters natural ($14.90). The scallops were perfectly cooked but the pepper and myrtle was very subtle. The oysters were local, shucked to order and beautifully fresh; tasting of the sea as good oysters should.

We were mistakenly served a half dozen each, but they were so fresh we were happy with the error (the waiter offered to return the extra serve).

It must be said here that the wait staff at O-Pes are extremely professional and added to the enjoyment of our meal; knowledgeable and friendly, but unobtrusive.

Our mains were a confit duck leg with sweet potato mash, sugar snaps, caramelised eschalots and orange and champagne sauce ($29), and fresh-caught fish of the day with a green mango and papaya salad and nam jim dressing ($28.90).

The duck was outstanding; melt-in-the-mouth and with a sticky, lip-smacking tangy citrus reduction that was so good, had no-one been looking, I would have licked the plate. The caramelised eschalots added an earthy note that complemented the duck well. The fish, blue-eyed cod that night, was perfectly cooked and seasoned; served on a bed of julienned salad full enough of lively flavours (including fresh chilli) to make the palate sing, including fresh chilli. A side of fries ($7) with aioli pleased us both.

As I was the designated driver, I contented myself with a glass of excellent Redbank Sunday Morning Pinot Gris ($8 per glass, $33 the bottle), a crisp dry white, while my companion lashed out on a mango daiquiri ($15.90) and a glass of Hazard Hill semillion sauvignon ($8 per glass, $31 the bottle).

We shared a dessert, a chocolate and hazelnut torte ($13) that was sublime; the coarse-ground hazelnut meal forming the base of the cake topped with a rich, smooth chocolate topping with the smooth rich consistency of truffle.

The wine list is, as one would expect, a smart blend of mostly Australian wines, with a few appropriate ring-ins from New Zealand, France and Spain.

Proprietors Chelle and Wayne Slater have hit the nail on the head with this chic restaurant. The decor is bright and fresh, including some pleasing artworks that may be purchased.

Artists featured include abstracts by Rosetta Santucci, a well-known and highly regarded artist from Melbourne. Chelle’s background is in retail, and her careful eye for decor is evident in the smart fittings. Wayne has a 20-year career in hospitality backing him.

The kitchen is in the very capable hands of chefs Tim Faggotter, Sam Morton and Craig Rose.

It’s clear to see why O-Pes has become a favourite with Lennox locals. Ideal location, good, fresh food beautifully prepared, and owners and staff keeping a careful watch on proceedings. Top marks.

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