As the flood of cafes and restaurants continued to engulf Adelaide this year our bar openings slowed to a trickle. Until the final months. The home stretch of 2017 heralded the return of the classic Aussie pub (albeit spiffed up a bit) as two historic hotels were returned to their former glory (and then some). We also got a Russian-inspired gastropub; and a pop-up progressed to permanence. It was the year Adelaide ditched the trends and went back to basics. Here’s the top of the crop.
West Oak Hotel
Adelaide’s pub scene has waned since the proliferation of small bars in the CBD. But the hyped restorations of two storied venues in the final months of the year have signaled a return to the classic Aussie pub. The first, the transformation of the once-loved Worldsend into the slick West Oak Hotel, has seamlessly integrated old and new. The sprawling modern pub houses a deli-cafe (serving coffee, charcuterie and a selection of sangas); a second, upstairs bar (with a history of its own); a gallery space; and a beer garden complete with a live music stage. It’s the latest addition to a transforming West End and a boon for the neighbours – a fully assembled clientele of uni students and hospital residents.
Port Admiral Hotel
With a roll call like this, expectations were always going to be high. The Port’s iconic corner pub has been resurrected by the teams from some of Adelaide’s best: Clever Little Tailor, Low & Slow and Whistle & Flute. Thankfully, it delivers. Like the West Oak, its arrival comes at a time of rebirth and revival for the surrounding area. Both a destination venue for city-dwellers and a local for the locals, the Port Admiral deals in classic pub dining for modern tastes. An open-fire barbeque burns in the former Saloon Bar and a connected bottle shop lets you take home a bottle or enjoy it with your meal.
Red October + Suzie Wong
Moscow-born couple Roman Tazhdynov and Marina Tazhdynova (owners of Bibliotheca Bar & Book Exchange) have doubled down with the opening of a second venue in the West End. The gastropub draws on the couple’s heritage with a menu of modern Russian favourites made with local produce. There are Russian beers, bourbon and on-tap cocktails mixed in-house, plus an (almost) all-Australian wine list curated by The Fruitful Pursuit’s James Hopkins. Head down the dimly lit stairs to find Suzie Wong, a Hong Kong-style speakeasy claiming Adelaide’s biggest collection of whiskey.
After four years of seemingly endless pop-ups at 188 Grenfell Street, Roxie’s has moved in for good. The bones of its previous inhabitants – most recently, Superfish – are still there but the bright and colourful graphics have been replaced with natural tones of terracotta and green. A wood-fired oven (hand-built by chef Jordan Jeavons) pumps out puffed, charred Turkish-style flatbreads alongside charred octopus, lamb shoulder and salty-sweet saganaki. The wine list is South Australian only (save for a bottle of Pol Roger), mostly made up of small-batch, lo-fi juice selected by winemaker Koen Janssens. Swing by on Wednesday nights for $3 schooners.