These five restaurants from Adelaide and the Barossa might just be South Australia’s top food and wine experiences; but you be the judge.
Foodies are recognising the potential of South Australia after the Australian Financial Review acknowledged some exciting new South Australian restaurants in its top 100 - among them electic ventures such as the South African-themed Africola to small fine-diners like Orana that are boldly using native ingredients such as bunya nuts, green ants and quandongs. Here’s what to expect when you take a seat at one of the state’s top five.
Restaurant Orana, Adelaide
It may seem strange that a Scot - Jock Zonfrillo - is so passionate about crafting a distinctly Australian cuisine. Yet that’s what the former Magill Estate executive chef gives diners at Restaurant Orana; a 25-seat upstairs space with understated furnishings and a striking parquet floor.
His degustation menus cleverly blend native and introduced flavours: cue Kangaroo Island scallops with beach succulents, charred kangaroo tartare with Kakadu plum, grass and wild garlic, marron with aniseed myrtle, and set buttermilk with strawberry and eucalyptus. In 2017, Orana was awarded Restaurant of the Year by Gourmet Traveller.
Within the first few months of it opening, Africola made quite a splash. Chef Duncan Welgemoed has drawn on his South African heritage, making barbecued meats a central feature of his brightly coloured, boldly designed eatery.
The menu includes everything from 'proper peri peri chicken' – a signature Johannesburg dish spiced with Welgemoed’s family recipe for a fiery chilli sauce – to a slow-roasted cow’s head served with long horns intact. Celebrities including US rockers Faith No More are among Africola’s burgeoning fan base.
Magill Estate Restaurant, Adelaide
City-fringe fine-diner Penfold's Magill Estate is located at the spiritual home of Penfolds – best known as the makers of Australia’s most famous wine, Grange. After closing for a two-year renovation, the restaurant reopened with husband-and-wife team Scott Huggins and Emma McCaskill at the helm.
There’s a delightful minimalism to their menus, which may simply read: 'Crab, almond, artichoke' or 'Partridge, jamon, last year’s pickled peach'. As for the restaurant’s new look, the theatrical redesign incorporates constellations of handmade glass spheres.
Peel St, Adelaide
'Simple, fresh and delicious' is the mantra at Peel St; a buzzy eatery with a semi-industrial vibe that does mouth-watering food with a Middle Eastern twist. Certainly, things are kept simple on the blackboard, which is divided into smaller and larger bites. Tuck into heirloom baby carrots with labneh, haloumi and crunchy cumin and orange dressing with a zatar crisp.
For more substantial fare, try pan-roasted snapper with a fennel and pomegranate salad and crispy fried potatoes with aioli. Many credit Peel St with reinvigorating this part of the city.
Hentley Farm, Barossa
James Halliday anointed Hentley Farm Australia’s 2015 Winery of the Year, but Hentley Farm also boasts a destination restaurant within its converted 19th-century stone and timber stables.
Two set menus (one short, one long) draw on what’s grown on the 60-hectare Barossa property – fruits and veggies, herbs and other foraged ingredients. Chef Lachlan Colwill adds theatre to the dining experience with the likes of dry ice, camp stoves and table-decanted sauces. Menus can be matched with single-block wines from the distinguished Hentley Farm portfolio.