Commuters might think they’ve gone back in time when they step off a train and come face-to-face with the resurrection of this old Adelaide Railway Station space. Originally known as the Overland Dining Hall, the historic 1928 venue returns this week as a bar, cafe and restaurant called The Guardsman, following a $6-million heritage restoration by design firm Studio-Gram.
The sprawling 1920s-inspired open-plan dining hall and bar, which opened on Friday, inhabits a long forgotten space that was recently used for storage until SkyCity Adelaide (which owns Adelaide Casino) decided to renovate it a little over three years ago.
“It feels like it’s always been here,” SkyCity Adelaide’s Greg Stirling says of the new venue. “It has integrated beautifully into the building.”
The classic 1920s façade – facing out to the railway station concourse – welcomes patrons with a shopfront cafe and bar either side of two neo-classical columns and era-specific typography and signage from Uppercase Studio’s Tristan Kerr. Once inside, the original jarrah flooring and green and gold leather booths make way for a stone-top central bar with wood panelling and brass finishing and an open kitchen to one side.
“It speaks to that 1930s period where things were done well,” says Studio-Gram's Dave Bickmore. “There haven’t been any shortcuts taken with the venue, we tried to do it justice by bringing it back to life.
“Contextually, this is an incredibly important project for South Australia because it shows what you can do with heritage infill. In terms of restoring a space that has been forgotten for 30 years, we were really keen to hold on to its history and celebrate it.”
The all-purpose venue opens at 6am from Monday to Friday, so commuters can grab a coffee and a bite to eat (there's pastries and sandwiches to take away) on the way to work. It is also open until late for after-work drinks and special events at the nearby Adelaide Oval and Festival Centre.
The bar is stocked exclusively with South Australian beer (Pirate Life, Coopers, Mismatch and Prancing Pony are all on tap) and wine (including Ashton Hills and Murdoch Hill) while the spirit menu features local (Adelaide Hills Distillery, 23rd Street Distillery, Mt Compass Agave Spirit) and international favourites.
The restaurant menu from head chef Luke Brabin (fresh from Feathers Hotel) uses 100 per cent South Australian produce for his take on pub classics with Middle Eastern, Indian and Asian-inspired touches. Brabin, who worked under innovative Adelaide chef Cheong Liew at Grange and Melbourne’s Botanical, returned to South Australia and fermentAsian in 2018 and was blown away by how far local produce and restaurants had improved in his time away.
“This was an opportunity to really showcase [South Australia] and present something that was my food with a South Australian focus,” says Brabin.
Of special note are The Guardsman’s share plates: 36° South beef short rib rendang (with garlic fried greens, kaffir lime, tomato, beans, rice and chilli), Saskia Beer Barossa Valley chicken (with thyme aioli, organic black garlic jus, bitter leaf salad and hand-cut chips) and Robarra baby barramundi (with banana leaf, tamarind, green papaya salad, crispy shallots and coconut rice). There are also pub-grub classics for those who want a burger, schnitty or steak to go with a big Barossa red or craft beer and poke bowls for those after something a little lighter.
When there, be sure to make room for Brabin’s take on two South Australian sweet-tooth specialties: the Berliner jam donut and The Guardsman Fruchoc.
Adelaide Railway Station, North Terrace
Mon to Wed 6am–11pm