A new generation of hipster chefs is shaking Adelaide's culinary foundations. If you’re looking for cheerful pub grub, foraged ingredients, stylish regional dishes or a degustation you’ll find it right here.
Penfolds Magill Estate head chef Scott Huggins talks proudly of sourcing pork from Barossa Heritage Pork, which only kills seven pigs a week.
Moreover, the pigs’ diet consists of milk produced by the farm’s own small herd of Jersey cattle, which are milked daily for the pig’s supper. test
“We’re also the only restaurant in Australia sourcing Wagyu striploin and tenderloin from Mayura Station on South Australia’s Limestone Coast.
The Station’s managing partner Scott de Bruin only prepares five or six carcasses a month and they produce amazing meat,” Huggins says.
Huggins and fellow head chef, Emma McCaskill were given the opportunity to step behind the stoves at Penfolds Magill Estate restaurant just over two years ago and they embraced it wholeheartedly. After peripatetic careers in some of the world’s finest diners they decided the opportunity to create great Australian cuisine and match it with our most iconic wines was one not to be missed.
Their philosophy is a simple one. According to McCaskill, it’s about preserving the integrity of a star ingredient while surrounding it with startling flavours.”
“We want to work with ingredients people can relate to but prepare them in a way they’ve never had before,” she says.
This philosophy stretches into the recently added Magill Estate Kitchen next door where diners can enjoy a more casual, pared back experience. Gone are the accoutrements of a fine dining experience but Huggins and McCaskill’s take on local seasonal produce and flavours matched with Penfolds wines remains.
And just like its slightly older sibling next door, the Kitchen offers a cinemascope landscape view over the vines, back across the city and out to the Gulf of St Vincent.
Interestingly, Penfolds Magill Estate’s two contrasting dining experiences serve as a microcosm of how Adelaide’s dining experience has evolved in recent years. It’s a city catering for every palate and budget from classic Italian lunchtime fare to groovy late night tapas.
A new generation of hipster chefs is shaking the city’s culinary foundations. So whether you’re looking for cheerful pub grub, foraged ingredients, stylish regional dishes or a degustation you’ll find it right here in Adelaide.
The New Wave to dine in Adelaide
Adelaide’s dining scene has been busily reinventing itself over the past two years.
The 2014 opening of Jaimie’s Italian on King William Street marked a turning point, luring people back into the inner city in the evenings and on weekends. The ornate dining room, buzzing open-kitchen, rapid-fire service and accessible Italian regional fare made this UK import an instant success.
A little further down North Terrace you’ll find two other mouth-watering arrivals: Sean’s Kitchen and Madame Hanoi Bar & Bistro.
Sean’s Kitchen, the latest venture from Sydney-based chef Sean Connolly, occupies an elegant, barrel roofed space in the Adelaide Casino. The menu ranges from snacks (sardines & soldiers) to wafter thin slices of Iberico ham, freshly shucked oysters and the city’s best scotch fillet.
Near neighbour Madame Hanoi Bar & Bistro serves stylish, up-market Vietnamese street food, with a distinct French colonial twist. The restaurant is a masterful recreation of a Hanoi dining room from the 1950s, complete with sepia photographs, old advertising posters and iron lanterns.
Venture back up King William Street and you’ll come across Electra House – a shimmering three-storey complex housing a contemporary bar, funky beer garden and an ultra-modern Japanese-fusion restaurant, Level One
Whether you’re looking for a cold beer or a well-made cocktail, a healthy snack or something more substantial, like slow cooked lamb shoulder with tzatziki, you’ll find it all here under one immaculately restored heritage roof.
The winds of change are also sweeping though Adelaide’s East End, a precinct best known for its designer threads, quirky homewares and old school pubs.
Scottish chef Jock Zonfrillo recently shot to fame on the TV show Restaurant Revolution, but he’s also the guiding light behind Orana, a pocket-size dining room on Rundle Street which promotes foraged and native bush foods in a sophisticated, multi-course tasting menu. Ingredients range from sea celery to green ants.
For something a little more casual check out Africola, a lively South African eatery on nearby East Terrace. The menu offers plenty of favourites from the old country, such as boerewors, mielies, biltong, bush meats, potjie and, of course, a proper braai plate. The wood oven roasted whole cauliflowers are not to be missed.
Tasty Small Bars
The introduction of more relaxed licensing laws for small bars has enlivened some of Adelaide’s neglected laneways – and has provided some much-needed grazing options in the city.
While handmade cocktails, exotic vodkas, local craft beers and obscure wine brands are the main drawcards, many of these hot new bars are equally adept in the food department.
While some, such as Brew And Chew, a cheeky little pop up on Hindley Street, restrict themselves to burgers and spicy buffalo wings, others provide a more rounded dining experience.
Visitors to Kaffana, a warm-hearted Serbian bar on Peel Street, can order small share plates at the bar or book a table in the adjoining dining room. The chargrilled ribs are excellent and then wash down your meal with one of the 30 types of slivovitz available.
There’s a similar sense of generosity at the neighbouring La Rambla Tapas Bar, which is popular for its authentic Catalan dishes, such as the ox tripe and chickpea stew and well-priced jugs of sangria.
Lovers of craft beer should head over to Lady Burra Brewhouse in Topham Mall, the only microbrewery within the Adelaide CBD. Apart from sampling the house beers, which range from pilsners to dark ales, patrons can tuck into some of the city’s best comfort food. The menu includes wood-fired pizza, flaming chorizo, charcuterie and patatas bravas.
Just around the corner in a basement on King William Street is Jack Ruby. This moody subterranean bar serves the best American style meatballs, sliders, burgers, ribs and southern chicken in the city alongside an equally impressive list of small batch wines, craft beers and classic cocktails.
Iconic Dining Rooms
No other city on mainland Australia preserves its built environment with such fervour as Adelaide. The city displays the same loyalty to some of its much-loved older restaurants, some of which date back to the 1960s.
A prime example of this longevity is Rigoni’s Bistro, the grand old lady of Leigh Street. Adelaide’s movers and shakers have been dining at this authentic Italian ristorante since 1979 and the quality of the food, or the attentive service, has never wavered. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner six days a week.
Chianti on Hutt Street is another Italian diner with a long pedigree and a supremely loyal clientele. Frank and Maria Favaro have been running this Italian dining room for over 30 years. Despite its heritage, Chianti is not afraid to embrace new flavours and techniques; this was one of the first restaurants in South Australia to be awarded the Ospitalità Italiana accreditation by the Italian Government.
For something equally august but a little spicier, consider Jasmin which has been operating on Hindmarsh Square for longer than most people can remember. A favoured haunt of Adelaide’s moneyed elite, Jasmin offers classic North Indian dishes, such as beef vindaloo and Punjabi lamb tandoori, a hushed atmosphere, elegant silverware and a robust wine list.
This is the sort of place where, hopefully, the long, lunch will continue to survive for many years to come.
The public house might be under threat in many parts of the world, but continues to prosper in Adelaide.
While eschewing the ‘gastro pub’ mantle, many hotels in the city and suburbs have gleefully made good wholesome food an essential part of their identity.
North Adelaide is pub central, with both The Archer Hotel and The Lion flying the flag for superior pub grub.
The Archer serves traditional pub fare such as burgers, steaks and seafood – plus 17 different beers on tap; for something a little more formal head upstairs to the Library Restaurant.
The Lion Hotel, meanwhile, is a favourite with locals, offering great value pub fare and sophisticated a la carte dishes in the restaurant.
Stylish Norwood, in the city’s eastern suburbs, also offers a thriving pub scene – perfect for fashionistas in need of refreshment.
The Bath Hotel, a family-friendly establishment with a no-nonsense menu and well-priced drinks, has recently added a hip side bar called Base to its portfolio. Base serves wood-fired pizza, sliders and delicious share plates, plus a good range of wine by the glass.
Back in the city Hotel Wright Street and the Gilbert Street Hotel enjoy a loyal following among people of all ages who value a traditional pub atmosphere and enjoy beautiful, seasonal fare. Both serve a good range of craft beers and boutique wines, offer indoor and outdoor dining and operate seven days a week.
Which one will get your vote?