It’s been a huge year for Adelaide’s food and drink scene. Banks, churches and many a warehouse were converted into cafes, restaurants and bars with adjoining patisseries, roasteries and studios thrown in for good measure. Pizzas proved popular, fine dining took things up a notch, and New York provided a burst of inspiration for many. Here are some of the best.
This cafe, patisserie and roastery sits in a three-storey former bank and video-gaming bar on Franklin Street. The bank vault is still intact, and has been converted into the access bathroom on the ground floor. Owners Katie and Kim Palmer also run The Loose Caboose, so it’s in some very good hands. The all-day brunch menu is inspired by the homeland of British head chef David Bennett. It includes bubble and squeak, brioche Welsh rarebit, house-made black pudding and gingerbread pikelets. Local suppliers are front and centre, including Fleurieu Milk Company, Gumview Free Range Eggs, Hood’s Earth Eggs, Flavacado, San Jose Smallgoods and Say Cheese.
Fairweather feels remarkably accomplished for a debut. It’s the result of careful design, which founder Simon Heinrich (ex-Please Say Please) achieved with friend and designer Samuel Jeyaseelan. Important personal touches include the acknowledgement of country at each entrance. Fairweather runs Melbourne’s Small Batch Roasting Co’s signature Candyman blend through its grinders. It also offers pour-over and batch-brewed filter coffees using seasonal single origins. On the menu you’ll find fattoush (a fresh bread salad), shakshuka (baked eggs, cumin-spiced labneh and house-made Turkish bread) and a saucisson sandwich with Dijon mustard, French salame and goat’s curd.
Karma and Crow
This west side cafe doesn’t rely on eggs or avocado for breakfast. Menu items include sticky roast pumpkin with chilli kale, whipped fetta, baba ganoush and caramelised chickpeas on toast. There are also ricotta hotcakes with strawberry, white chocolate and berry labneh; honeycomb butter; and maple syrup. Coffee is supplied by boutique roaster, Elementary. The huge converted warehouse also has nine studio spaces for local artists.
The Flying Fig Deli
Few people are going to come back from New York without raving about the Reuben sandwiches. Paul Serafin is no different. His new cafe pays homage to the New York deli classic. A “from scratch” mentality dictated his new venture’s direction, producing housemade cordials, pickled vegetables, smoked pastrami, and lox (cured salmon). The venue is now open for dinner three nights a week, so you can continue feasting into the evening.
Whistle and Flute
Whistle & Flute comes courtesy of a hospo dream-team, which includes Josh Baker (Pink Moon Saloon, Clever Little Tailor), Jamie Botten (Edinburgh Hotel and Cellars) and chef Stewart Wesson (ex-Flinders Street Project). Wesson’s menu features maple-roasted granola with lemon curd and mascarpone; peanut-butter parfait; and ricotta and herb gnocchi. At night the venue transitions into a small bar, offering charcuterie, desserts and share plates. There’s also “depressants” including Delinquente vermentino; Ochota Barrels pinot noir; and bottles of Pirate Life pale ale. “Stimulants” include Five Senses coffee and juices by Besa.
This cafe and micro-roastery is run by coffee guru Brad Nixon, who has worked for several of Australia’s major coffee companies (Code Black, Five Senses, Axil Coffee Roasters). Expect bright, complex black coffees (espresso and filter – Nixon’s preferred brewing method) and subtle, sweet milk coffees. The menu features sandwiches, all-day breakfast options, pastries; and smoothies. If you’re not a coffee drinker, Elementary also serves ridiculously tasty peanut butter and smoked hot chocolates. The light, bright and modern fit-out was designed and constructed by Josh McCallum of Wholegrain Studio.
Third Time Lucky
Dessert master Quang Nguyen brought a new treat to the suburbs this year (following Devour Cafe Patisserie in Richmond and its former Prospect Road site). At Third Time Lucky the focus is on pastry done well: pies, sausage rolls and some very special doughnuts. The dough was developed over months to get the taste and texture just right; starting out as a brioche and evolving into something quite unique via a slow ferment. The small kitchen also turns out breakfast and brunch Monday to Saturday. And there’s great espresso and filter coffee, thanks to Hyemi Lee (ex-Bar 9).
An imported Italian wood oven brings to life the pizzas that Tony Mitolo dubs “Oztalian”. Together with his father Vito and mate Tim Anderson, he serves up Napoletana pizzas with an Australian twist, including margherita, quattro formaggio, and truffle and mushroom. Tony and Vito already worked together as winemakers under the guise of V. Mitolo & Son. Their wines are on pour to match, or available to buy at cellar-door prices. Overlooking McLaren Vale’s wine region, the restaurant space and loft features family photographs and signature pastel-pink and green accents.
Blackwood’s menu is hardly the fine-dining spread its chef, Jock Zonfrillo, presents upstairs at Orana. But that’s the point. Zonfrillo is globally acclaimed for using native Australian ingredients and highlighting Indigenous culture and knowledge. While those flavours can still be found at Blackwood, they appear on a more familiar, bistro-style menu. Weekend brunch includes roasted wild mushroom, chestnuts, goat’s cheese and sourdough toast; and brioche French toast with crisp zig-zag wattle syrup. The bar serves an impressive selection of gin mixed with special native touches such as finger limes and Geraldton wax. Sommelier Louis Schofield assists with low-intervention wines from across the globe.
Lost in a Forest
Set in a 130-year-old church, this new pizza joint in the Adelaide Hills is co-owned by winemaker Taras Ochota, Charlie Lawrence and Nick Filsell (former head chef at Jamie’s Italian and Red Ochre Grill). The menu focuses on pizza done very well. Toppings include Brussels sprouts, speck, trecce mozzarella, roasted garlic puree, and parmesan; and Spencer Gulf prawns; tomato passata, sriracha, treccia mozzarella, rocket salad and lemon juice. Many of the ingredients come from Ochota’s home garden and the local pine forest. Apart from Ochota’s exclusive pour, there are natural wines from around the world, including his Basket Range neighbours.
When the sun goes down and the oven fires up, Sunny’s is where you want to be. The pizza joint and watering hole doubles as a dance floor where you can boogie until the wee hours. It’s the combined work of Andy Nowell, Josh Dolman, Rob Denisoff and Ashley Wilson. With designers StudioGram they have created a diner that excels in delivering what so many venues overlook – fun. It’s often rowdy and unashamedly kitsch. The pizza is crispy and fluffy with toppings full of flavour, such as eggplant parmigiana, San Marzano tomatoes, confit garlic and basil. The wine list is brief and considered and three beers pour on tap, with plenty more cold tins in the fridge.
The Summertown Aristologist
More than a place to eat and drink, this cellar door and restaurant – from Basket Range winemakers Anton van Klopper (Lucy Margaux) and Jasper Button (Commune of Buttons) and Aaron Fenwick (Orana, Street, Blackwood) – is about community connection. The dining area features a long communal table and much of the produce is sourced from local growers. The minimalist menu – from former Magill Estate chef Thomas Edwards – features small goods, cheese, local produce and a selection of natural wines available by the glass and half bottle. Don’t forgot to look up for the light shades, which have been crafted by glass artist Mandi King from repurposed demijohns.
The menu at St Hugo transcribes a dialogue between head chef Mark McNamara (ex-Appellation) and chief winemaker Dan Swincer. McNamara crafts dishes that respond to characteristics in Swincer’s wines in texture and flavour. Book a seat at the chef’s table for a 3.5-hour guided meal overlooking the kitchen. Not just a luxury dining experience, the multi-million-dollar cellar door is redefining wine tourism with a new level of service. For a cool $150,000, guests can blend and bottle a wine from their own private vineyard row – which is cellared for three years before being hand delivered by the winemaker to them. Also included in this premium experience are two nights luxury accommodation and private-jet transfers. Not too shabby.
Croydon Social was born when neighbouring Red Door Bakery owners Emma and Gareth Grierson saw the opportunity to bring a bit of nightlife to cafe-heavy Croydon. The star of this show is a wood-fired oven made from COR-TEN steel, a corrosion-resistant alloy that’s sold pre-rusted. It looks as if it’s been there since the start of the building’s history, rather than 2016. It turns out pizzas topped with combinations such as Dutch cream potato, rosemary and three cheeses; and smoked mozzarella, sopressa, broccolini and anchovy. The share plates are also a hit – the Brussels sprouts with sourdough croutons and anchovy mayo is a standout.
Hardy's Verandah Restaurant
Just a short drive up the freeway, the 165-year-old Mt Lofty House has long been an icon of the South Australian culinary scene. And the new Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant – or HVR – is a bold step into the contemporary. Capitalising on a sweeping view over Crafers and the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens, it has a head start on most other establishments. Four- and seven-course menus are served against this stunning backdrop, which also serves as a local larder for executive chef Wayne Brown. Brown forages for ingredients grown on his doorstep and presents them alongside regional produce.
The on-again, off-again site beside the Crown and Anchor on Grenfell Street has once more taken on new life. The Social Creative (Little Miss venues, Royal Croquet Club), Jordan Jeavons (The Happy Motel) and Carlo Jensen (Peculiar Familia) have revived the space now named Superfish. The menu includes aguachile (lime and habanero) ceviche, bold churrasco platters and an all-local wine list.
The Henry Austin
After a 48-year golden run, Chesser Cellars made a return this year – as Max Mason and Tess Footner’s inspired bar and restaurant The Henry Austin. The Renew Adelaide space features a basement bottle shop with a stellar South Australian wine selection and a takeaway area serving up dishes to dash. For those with time, modern-Australian yum cha is prepared by chef Shane Wilson (ex-Bistro Dom). The concept is exactly what you think – staff rove the floor with trays of small dishes and if you see something you like, grab it.
The vowels might be missing, but it’s plain which New York borough inspired Rashaad Chenia’s bar. Walk past the faux-subway foyer (complete with white-tiled walls and bench) and you’ll find yourself in a miniaturised Brooklyn streetscape. There’s a functioning barbershop, a New York-style deli that serves as the bar’s kitchen and the main event – an intimate, low-lit bar that looks out over Rundle Street. The specialty is pastrami on rye, given an extra kick by housemade pickles. The drinks list features a selection of South Australian wines, beers on tap and cocktails.
The polished design of a small bar and the casual environment of a pub roll into one at this Peel Street venue. The casual and welcoming space is inspired by owner Scott Quick’s grandfather, Alfred, who enjoyed brewing beer at home and entertaining the locals. You won’t find any airs and graces here. There’s a dartboard upstairs and a large brass “time to go” bell downstairs. Tap beers include recognisable brands such as Coopers, Heineken and James Squire. A new local wine list has just been added to the menu.
Seamus Noone and Seira Hotta were inspired while travelling the world to set up an intimate bar-meets-cafe in their hometown. Enter 55ml. You’ll find it on quiet Mill Street, just off Gouger Street in the CBD. The building was previously an old fish market, abandoned for the past 20 years. The fridge behind the bar is mainly packed with beer but cider and wine also make an appearance. The bar-snack menu includes cheese and small platters.