Put a day aside and head up the Princes Highway. In minutes you’ll be sipping rich reds by the fire and digging into hearty, belly-warming dishes.
BY SAM SMITH
By April, South Australian’s sweaty summer days are long gone. With autumn comes cool, crisp mornings, idyllic daytime temperatures, and mild evenings. While die-hard beach dwellers may lament the change in season, South Australia is every bit as beautiful in autumn as it is in summer.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the Adelaide Hills. Just 20 minutes from Adelaide’s CBD, sleepy story-book villages blanketed in leafy canopies of red, gold and orange spring out of nowhere. The Adelaide Hills also happen to be home to some of the state’s best restaurants and pubs. Put a day aside and head up the Princes Highway. In minutes you’ll be sipping rich reds by the fire and digging into hearty, belly-warming dishes in what is undoubtedly one of South Australia’s most stunning regions.
Stirling is one of the first towns you’ll discover while snaking your way up the Princes Highway. Brimming with lush parks, leafy lanes and heritage architecture, it’s also one of the prettiest. On weekends, Stirling’s Main Street is a hive of activity with regular markets, cafés and a range of quality shopping on offer.
The Stirling Hotel is one of the Adelaide Hills’ most awarded eateries. Surrounded by a peppering of evergreens, and set back from the road, it’s perfect for a long lunch or decadent dinner. There’s a luxe European feel to the recently renovated dining and outdoor areas, with a sprawling marble bar, open fireplace, warm lighting and huge decked patio draped in fairy lights. Décor is classy and understated with prominent silvers and whites.
From the humble crunch of beer-battered fish and chips, to the delicate flavours of lobster roll with Yuzu aioli – The Stirling Hotel’s a la carte menu caters for all tastes and is exceptionally well-balanced. There’s also a separate breakfast menu, bistro menu, pizza menu, grill menu, degustation menu and patisserie. Phew.
Of course, they’re far from lacking in the wine department, with a fantastic range of international and local labels on offer. The Stirling Hotel bistro is open 7 days a week, and the grill, from Wednesday to Saturday for dinner and Sunday for lunch. For more information see the Stirling Hotel website.
Stirling is home to another one of the Adelaide Hills’ best restaurants – The Locavore. Look-out at leafy Mount Barker road from the multi-tiered dining area, complete a with floor-to-ceiling glass frontage. Share a regional platter, made-up of only the best Adelaide Hills produce and crack open a luscious bottle of red.
You’ll find The Locavore at 49 Mount Barker Road, Stirling. It’s open Tuesday to Thursday from 11am till 9pm, Friday from 11am till 10pm, Saturday from 9am till 10pm and Sunday from 11am till 4pm. For more information see The Locavore’s Facebook page
Relax with a beer at the Stirling Hotel
When you think of Adelaide, chances are you think hot summer days, rugged coastal scenery, delicious seafood and world-class wine. Unless you’re a local or seasoned visitor, you probably don’t think 1830s-style German village, complete with striking traditional “Fachwerk” architecture, barmaids in full lederhosen getup, pretzels galore, and more sausages than you could poke a stick at.
Kitsch, but undeniably cosy, Hahndorf is home to a smorgasbord of quality restaurants and pubs. At the top of the list is The Hahndorf Inn, plating-up authentic German dishes, some so large they defy the laws of physics. Step inside and be greeted by authentic German décor: think bare brickwork, rustic fireplaces, lederhosen, rich wood panelling and – of course – various taxidermy animal heads, all illuminated by the warm glow of faux-gaslights.
And then there’s the food. Oh, the food. In true Bavarian style, the common denominators are meat and potato. Sink your teeth into bratwurst, bockwurst, weisswurst, or try the best of all wursts with the gigantic wurstplatte. Then there’s schnitzel, and brezel (pretzel, basically) and a range of brotkorb (bread). If you’re particularly hungry, order the German Butchery Plate, but don’t except to finish! Wash it all down with one of our state’s most extensive beer/wine lists, and you’ll be set for hibernation.
You’ll find The Hahndorf Inn at 35 Main Street, Hahndorf. It is open from 10:30am till late, 7 days. For more information, see The Hahndorf Inn website.
If truck-loads of meat is not your thing, Hahndorf’s The Haus may be more to your taste. Self-described as a “modern country” restaurant, The Haus serves dishes made from a wide range of Adelaide Hills produce. The menu is huge, with breakfast, lunch and dinner options aplenty and décor is modern/clean-cut. Standout dishes include the Strathalbyn “gold” lamb shank, traditional Flammkuchen pizza with sour cream, mustard, potatoes, onion, bacon and mozzarella cheese, coffin bay oysters, and the South Australian grazing board with Hahndorf grilled chorizo, Hahndorf double smoked ham, Barossa duck liver and walnut pâté.
You’ll find The Haus at 38A Main Street, Hahndorf. It is open from 7:30am till 10pm daily. For more information, see The Haus website.
Switch country and step back in time at the Hahndorf Inn
Bridgewater is a tiny Adelaide Hills town, surrounded by a mix of stately European trees and native gums. At the town’s centre is a historic mill, complete with a huge waterwheel, built in the late 1850s. Today, the beautiful old mill houses an award-winning restaurant – The Bridgewater Mill. Nearby lies a trickling stream, surrounded by lush lawns and picnic areas, perfect for autumn daytrips.
Bridgewater Mill is without a doubt one of South Australia’s finest dining experiences. Set inside Bridgewater’s 1860s flour mill, the restaurant prides itself on share platters, fresh, organic produce and its outstanding wine list. The menu is a multicultural mix of Japanese, French, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine with a wide range of dishes on offer, from crumbed Berkshire pork loin, to squid ink spaghetti. Regional share platters are on offer on Monday, Thursday and Friday. Rug-up by the fire with a coffee during the day; sink into a plush lounge and let the afternoon roll-by. On sunny afternoons, take to the iconic deck with a cocktail or award-winning Adelaide Hills wine.
You’ll find the Bridgewater Mill at 386 Mount Barker Rd, Bridgewater. Opening hours are Monday, Thursday & Friday with regional platters from 11am. A la carte dining is on Saturday and Sunday from 11am. Dinner is only available on Saturday night. For more information, see the Bridgewater Mill Facebook page.
Right next door is the more relaxed Bridgewater Inn. The sunny beer garden, overlooking picturesque Cox Creek is the perfect place to sit back and relax on a mild autumn afternoon. Inside you’ll find cosy booth seating, plush lounges, and a no-nonsense dining area. The Bridgewater Inn is open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week with the option of all day dining on Saturday and Sunday. Dishes are consistently tasty and well-priced with pub-style favourites such as salt and pepper squid, Thai beef salad, kangaroo fillet, and Adelaide Hills tasting plates on offer all week. Cox Creek is especially popular with kids, and with a nearby picnic area and playground, lunch at the Bridgewater Inn is a fantastic daytrip for the whole family.
The Bridgewater Inn can be found at 386 Mount Barker Road, Bridgewater. Opening times are Monday and Tuesday, 12pm-2:30pm lunch and 6pm-8:30pm dinner, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 12pm-2:30pm lunch and 6pm-9pm dinner, Saturday all day dining 12pm-9pm, Sunday, breakfast 8:30am-11:00am and all day dining 12:00pm-8:30pm. For more information, see the Bridgewater Inn website
The Bridgewater Mill's impressive water wheel
At just 15 minutes’ drive from Adelaide’s CBD, Crafers is the Adelaide Hills’ most accessible town. With the stunning Mount Lofty lookout and Botanic Gardens right next door, you could spend a whole weekend discovering the region.
The Crafers Hotel is one of Adelaide’s first pubs and has recently undergone an extensive makeover. In its newest form, it’s a beautiful combination of new and old with exposed stone walls, glossy wood floors, a roaring fireplace and touches of iron and leather throughout. Mirroring its décor, The Crafers’ menu is a delightful mix with avant-garde duck l’orange and cheese soufflé served alongside pub-grub staples: chicken breast schnitzel, John dory, burgers and steak. The Crafers Hotel’s recent renovations have resulted in 7 new rooms, combining elements of the building’s 1830s heritage with cutting-edge design.
The Crafers Hotel can be found at 4 Main Street, Crafers. Opening hours are 11am till 10pm Monday to Thursday, 11am till midnight, Friday and Saturday and 11am till 10:30pm on Sunday. For more information see the Crafers Hotel website.
Famous for its unrivalled wood-oven pizzas, Crafers’ Jimmies sits snuggly at the foot of Mt Lofty. The century-old building has a colourful history as a printing press, bowling alley, motor workshop and post-master’s residence. Humbly, but tastefully decorated, Jimmies is now known throughout the Adelaide Hills for its exceptional food. Award-winning pizza toppings include seafood and prosciutto, pumpkin and zaatar, mushroom, pesto and potato, Turkish lamb and Moroccan chicken.
You’ll find Jimmies at 6 Main Street, Crafers. Opening hours are Tuesday to Thursday, 5:30pm till 9:30pm, Friday, 5:30pm till late, Saturday, 11:30am till late and Sunday, 12pm till 9:30pm. For more information see