Midnight Spaghetti arrived with plenty of hype. Not one but two launch parties and, remarkably, online user reviews before the public had even set foot inside the venue had anticipation high.
It’s no surprise. The new city pasta joint comes with some familiar faces attached to it. Superfish alumni Jordan Jeavons and chef John Stamatakis are steering the project alongside The Social Creative’s Stuart Duckworth and Tom Skipper. It’s part of a rollout of changes happening along Grenfell Street that encompasses The Crown and Anchor, the newly minted Chateau Apollo and the former Superfish site.
A glowing neon noodle leads guests from the street-level foyer of the Cranker up the stairs to the laid-back diner. The simple but kitschy fit-out echoes the old-school, community-club-style interior of cross-town mates Sunny’s. Peculiar Familia’s Carlo Jensen lent his branding expertise to both projects. Sans-Arc designers Matiya Marovich and Sam Cooper have stripped the space back after the busy fit-out of its previous inhabitant to allow the heritage building’s features to shine (after a bit of a scrub-up). “We wanted something that felt like it had been here for a long time,” says Jeavons. “This venue and the pub are going to talk to each other a lot.”
In the main room is a central bar stocked with Italian varietals; olive-green booth seating; and mismatched black-and-white photographs. Down the hallway is a separate poolroom-of-sorts (minus the pool table) with a couch to enjoy some pre-pasta proseccos on. Posters of “giallo” films (a genre of cheesy 20th-century Italian thrillers) and scrawled crayon – courtesy of launch-night customers – cover the walls. “I think we’ll just keep adding to it every day,” says Jeavons. “We need more stuff written on the walls.”
A second bar on the balcony has sparkling water on tap to cleanse the palate between dinner and dolce (dessert).
Hype aside, Midnight Spaghetti is not reinventing the wheel. But it doesn’t have to. With higher-end, contemporary Italian restaurants Osteria Oggi and Andre’s Cucina and Polenta Bar in close proximity, Midnight Spaghetti has opted instead for back-to-basics comfort food. It’s pub-grub with Italian flair.
Wednesdays are notte di famiglia, or “family night”, at which you’ll get $15 bowls of spaghetti and cheap jugs to coincide with the Cranker’s famous $3 schooner night.
“We’re not trying to write a menu that’s super cutting edge,” says Jeavons. “It’s not ACME or something like that – it’s more to provide a place that’s really friendly and easygoing and approachable for anyone.”
“Obviously spaghetti is the hero,” adds Stamatakis. “We’re starting out with really traditional, homely dishes that everyone’s familiar with … the all-stars of the pasta world.”
Expect fettucine carbonara (sans cream, as it should be), spaghetti bolognese and chitarra (a variety of egg pasta) pesto. Of course, Midnight Spaghetti is the star. The rustic, red-sauce pasta with anchovies, pangrattato (breadcrumbs) and chilli has long been a go-to among kitchen staff at the end of a long shift, or an impromptu late-night dinner option.
The menu caters to modern tastes with a significant lean towards plant-based dishes. Straying from the starch-heavy and meaty meals of many other Italian joints around town, Stamatakis (a vegetarian himself) has opted for fresh, green, tasty plates of creamy burrata with broccoli, broccolini and cauliflower. And okra and brussels sprouts with chili and mint yoghurt. There’s also a gluten-free pasta option with zucchini “noodles” tossed with cherry tomatoes, basil, ricotta and spinach.
“All of the menu is really malleable for coeliacs, gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance, vegetarians,” says Stamatakis. “We try to celebrate some of the more seasonal stuff – we’ve replaced those meat-heavy menus with more veg and cheese.”
Local suppliers include Say Cheese and pasta purveyor L’Abruzzese. Lasagna sheets and pasta for specials will be made fresh in-house.
Yetti and the Kokonut’s Koen Janssens has curated the wine list, but you won’t find his drops on the menu – it’s Italian vino only. Fiano, montepulciano, sangiovese and nero d’avola come from local and Italian producers, and there’s an exclusive garganega from the King Valley. Soon there’ll be a house red and white on the menu, bottled – if Jeavons gets his way – under the name Chateau Apollo Estate.
With the launch of Midnight Spaghetti, the team will turn its attention to the next project – breathing new life into the former Superfish site. Jeavons is tight-lipped about plans but has confirmed a new food venue is on the way.
196 Grenfell Street, Adelaide
Wed to Sat 5pm–2am