This article was published on July 2, 2019. Menu items may have changed.
Industry veterans (and their kin) have continued to stoke the fire of Adelaide’s dining scene this year. Six months in we’ve already welcomed a stack of restaurants by familiar operators, from a couple high-profile rebrands to the long-anticipated offshoot of Vietnam Restaurant. Tick them off this winter.
After 20 years, Simon Kardachi’s keystone venue The Pot called it a day, rebranding as neighbourhood pasta and aperitivo bar Nido (“nest” in Italian). It’s a fresh start for the Hyde Park institution, which has seen some of Adelaide’s best chefs pass through the kitchen. The current team is headed by husband-and-wife duo Max Sharrad (The Pot’s most recent head chef) and Laura Cassai (ex-Orana).
On the plate, find traditional, home-style dishes such as pork ragu and acqua pazza (“crazy water” – a lightly herbed broth) with Coorong mulloway, plus a knock-out riff on vitello tonnato (a traditional dish of cold, sliced veal with a creamy sauce) called “rootello bonnato”, with kangaroo instead of veal and a bonito-spiked mayo instead of the traditional tuna sauce. Order big and settle in, or pull up a stool at the bar, sip a drink, and pick at a plate of salumi or pillowy gnocco fritto (crisp, fried dough). Keeping pace with the kitchen, the bar stocks mainly Italian wines – choose from around 35 bottles, including some large-format options. There’s also a tight, aperitivo-heavy cocktail list.
After six months as refined bistro Charlick’s, the restaurant beside The Stag Public House reopened as Yiasou George. The precision of former chef Blake Drinkwater’s menu is replaced with more approachable, Mediterranean-style cooking. It’s not solely Greek, as the name might suggest, but draws on Italian, French and Middle Eastern influences too: think crisp fried quail adorned with rose petals, say, or potato gratin with Comté. The new direction was spurred by Drinkwater’s departure and the arrival of new head chef Matt Eustis. It’s more friendly neighbourhood diner than slick CBD restaurant, with taverna-style hospitality from warm, laid-back waitstaff who are likely to pour you a free shot of ouzo when the evening shifts into gear.
The menu revolves around the woodfired oven, which fires at 400 degrees. Out of it comes fall-apart lamb shoulder, slow-roasted pork belly, whole barramundi and fluffy, steamy pita. The showstopper is that quail: double-coated, fried and slathered with a sweet-and-spicy butter sauce. There’s also a first-class wine list with minimal intervention producers from here and interstate, including Jauma, Ochota Barrels and WA’s Brave New Wine.
Viet Next Door won and was shortlisted for several national design awards before it even opened. The fit-out, designed by Genesin Studio (in collaboration with owner Ben Phan), is neutral-toned, sheathed in granite, and not what you’d expect to find among the no-frills diners of Pennington. The modern Vietnamese restaurant is run by Ben and his sister Linda, the children of Dinh Phan and Suong Ho, who run the longstanding Vietnam Restaurant next door. The modern Vietnamese menu nods to Ho’s recipes. But where it clashes with other cultures, things get interesting.
There are cheeseburger spring rolls, garlic egg noodles with blue swimmer crab (a take on the American-Vietnamese staple), and a hearty, spicy beef stew with pillowy gnocchi (which are made in-house daily). The desserts also riff on Italian classics: Vietnamese filter coffee (condensed milk included) swirls in the signature panna cotta, and there’s matcha in the “tea-ramisu”. Cocktails are shaken up with punchy flavours such as yuzu, tamarind and Asian celery. Exquisite eggshell-mosaic tables are made from actual eggshells salvaged from Vietnam Restaurant. Ben and his team laid each tiny sliver out piece by piece. So use your coaster, please.
You'll find DIY barbeque, kimchi fried rice and Korean hip-hop at this spot in the city’s west end. The newest restaurant from the Plus 82 group (behind Korean street-food joint Pocha and modern Thai eatery Mimi) introduces a largely traditional Korean barbeque experience – with a few tweaks – to the former Mama Jambo space on Eliza Street. Like most Korean barbeque restaurants, everything here is intended for sharing.
To make things as breezy as possible, head chef Janghoon “Kurtis” Choi has designed a “Choi’s Choice” set menu, where the biggest decision you’ll have to make is which gogi (meat) you want to cook on your table’s grill (choices include beef ribs, pork belly and ox tongue). It comes with banchan (small side dishes) and a spicy noodle salad – a combination of noodles, kimchi, mushroom, apples and mixed vegetables. The signature dish, though, is “shake shake rice” – kimchi fried rice topped with a sunny-side-up egg that comes in a container so customers can shake the ingredients together. Drinks include Korean beer, soju, sikhye (Korean rice punch) and local wines.
“When you go to Perth everyone says to go to Little Creatures, or you go to Byron Bay and they tell you to go to Stone & Wood. We want to be that for South Australia.” That’s how Leigh Morgan of Mismatch Brewing Co views Lot 100. The multipurpose venue – just outside of Nairne in the Adelaide Hills – is a joint home for Mismatch, Adelaide Hills Distillery, Vinteloper, Hills Cider Co and Ashton Valley Fresh. The brewery and distillery launched last year before the next-door cellar door and restaurant opened to the public in December (just missing out on inclusion in our 2018 list). At the bar there are 40 taps pouring Mismatch beers, Hills Cider Co ciders, and cocktails made with Adelaide Hills Distillery spirits. Tasting flights make navigating the choice a little easier.
In the kitchen, meats are flame-licked over a fire pit burning local red gum. You might get a flank steak, porchetta or rotisserie-cooked baby chicken. The menu is “Italian-ish”, “rustic as fuck” and “99.9 per cent” local, says chef Shannon Fleming (ex-Orana), who runs the kitchen with Tom Bubner (Pizza e Mozzarella Bar, Chicken & Pig). Antipasti plates are draped with meats from San José Smallgoods and cheese from Woodside Cheese Wrights and Section 28. There’s also a great big ball of burrata, woodfired pizzas and a few handmade pastas.