When word got out that Olivia Moore (Loc Wine Bar), Tom Campbell (Summertown Aristologist, Igni, Relae) and James Spreadbury (service director at Copenhagen’s Noma) were teaming up to open a venue in the Adelaide Hills, eaters and drinkers were – understandably – expecting big things.

As it turns out, the trio went the other way and decided to think small. The result is Thelma, a cosy cafe-style eatery and shop anchored by its owners’ collective interest in food, drink and community.

Not that such things are unknown in this patch of Piccadilly. For years, the Thelma space operated as Brid, Duncan Reid’s soulful community cafe and bakery. Sadly, Reid called time on Brid over the holidays and team Thelma – like everyone else in Adelaide’s food and drink community – was disappointed. But unlike most other eaters and drinkers, Moore, Campbell and Spreadbury were in a position to take over the space and pick up where Brid had left off. It was a case of right time, right place and right team.

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“Brid was such a beautiful venue in such a beautiful location that was linked to its community, we just couldn’t let it go,” Moore tells Broadsheet. “We’re all excitable humans that were aligned in the kind of place that we wanted to open. When this space came up, it was important that we could we see ourselves here doing what we wanted but without taking away from what was already there.”

Beyond the paint job and some subtle layout tweaks, Campbell’s presence in the kitchen is another major change at 176 Piccadilly Road. As those that have eaten our man’s cooking will know all too well, Campbell is a cook that fills his trolley first and then figures out the menu afterwards.

For his opening lunch dishes, he’s leaned on farmer Tim Spreadbury (James’s brother) of Presqil for great vegetables and leaves, and gotten hold of gently handled octopus and fish from small-scale South Australian fishers from around the state. Seedless mandarins and feijoas scored from farm gate stalls might also make an appearance. In short, the menu will change constantly, as dictated by ingredients and space in both the fridge and Campbell’s cosy workspace.

“It is all going be European country cooking with beautiful ingredients,” Campbell tells Broadsheet. “It’s always going to be a small menu because the kitchen’s so small. I’m cooking off two household inductions and about a metre of bench space.”

He’ll also be rising early to prepare baked goods for the breakfast and morning offering: think savoury pizzettas and Comte tarts, escargots and croissants. Again, space is at a premium and items will be baked and served throughout the day, hot out of the oven, as they’re ready. In other words: guests should prepare themselves for the very real possibility that their favourite pastry may not be available when they come in. At the very least, good coffee made with beans from Adelaide roaster Kindred will be a constant throughout the morning.

While James Spreadbury has since returned to Copenhagen to take on a new full-time role, he’ll still have a hand in Thelma, not least helping steer the direction and make-up of the wine list. (The list, at present, is made up predominantly of wines from Spreadbury’s Adelaide Hills cellar supplemented by cuvees that Moore has been stashing away too.) As it is at Loc, the wine list goes big on small-scale, organically farmed wines.

We also have Spreadbury to thank for the cafe’s name (his daughter is called Thelma). Although, Spreadbury and his Norwegian wife pronounce Thelma the Scandinavian way – the h is silent, so it sounds like “Telma”.

“People have been calling us Telma and Thelma,” says Moore. “We’ll take either pronunciation. Thelma can be whatever you want it to be.”

Thelma
176 Piccadilly Rd, Piccadilly

Hours
Fri & Sat 8am-5pm
Sun 9am-5pm

@thelmapiccadilly