It’s a busy Sunday afternoon when Broadsheet visits the newly opened Silver Sands Beach Club on the dunes at Aldinga. The 120-seat bar and dining room soft-opened two months ago inside the freshly refurbished Aldinga Beach Surf Life Saving Club, but, after finally getting liquor licence approval, operators Mark Kamleh and Nick Stock are ready to launch.
The pair’s new venue is a surf club, but not as you know it. A bell from an old fishermen’s shelter on the clifftop hangs near the bar, and a vintage surf boat hangs from the ceiling. But there’s not a pair of bathers or a sandy surfboard in sight. A mix of city folk and locals are overlooking the ocean, swilling glasses of Ochota Barrels and dining on schnitzels, burgers and vitello tonnato.
“The ocean and the view does all the work,” says Kamleh, who’s behind pop-ups such as Tiger Mountain and Syrian Mobile Disco. “We wanted it to be just comfortable and warm and not really of a particular style that caters to any kind of group or people.
“We want to feel like a surf club, even though our food and wine is a mix of stuff you would expect in a surf club and stuff you definitely wouldn’t expect to see in a surf club of the past.”
Chefs Annika Berlingieri (ex-Vigna Bottin, Settlement Wines) and Alessandro Gramazio (ex-Herringbone) are putting out a seafood-heavy menu of Mediterranean-inspired dishes alongside pub favourites. There’s a prawn cocktail bun; kingfish crudo; baked provoleta (melted provolone cheese) with truffle honey; Kinkawooka mussels with fries; and grilled swordfish with a side of kohlrabi fritti. There's also six different pizzas, including pancetta and pineapple; a cheeseburger; lasagne; and a chicken schnitzel – the “building blocks” of which are locally sourced, says Kamleh.
“None of our fish is frozen, our burger patties come from the butcher in McLaren Vale, predominantly our seafood is from the fishmonger around the corner.”
On the back of the menu is a succinct wine list, devoted to drops by local producers such as Alpha Box & Dice. There’s also a hefty list curated by Stock, a respected wine critic and Tasting Australia’s beverage expert, which comes on a clipboard and features premium international labels such as premier cru burgundy and chablis from the likes of Domaine Faiveley, Jean-Marc Bouley and William Fèvre. Kamleh describes it as a wine list for those who “want to try something different or try something outside our borders, with a bit of age on it”.
“There’s a lot of winemakers in the area, and they love supporting a local, but they also want to sometimes see how their wines fit in the bigger scheme of things.”
He and Stock, who launched their Wine Country events business in 2020, acquired the venue last year. It wasn’t on their radar until Stock, who lives locally, saw the old clubhouse being rebuilt.
The 44-year-old surf club had to raze and rebuild its restaurant in 2018 after a storm caused severe damage. The club then put the running of the dining room, a spacious area with floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooking the ocean, out to tender.
Kamleh, who’s been running the floor alongside Stock, says the place has been “bonkers busy”. “People down here have been waiting for three years for it to be built – we’ve got regulars already. Aldinga is pretty wide, so anyone that lives in south Aldinga lives pretty far from the hub of Aldinga central. The community have wanted it for a long time because it’s something that is within walking distance, so it’s very special for them.”
The pair may host some future Wine Country events to bring people down to the Fleurieu. Kamleh reckons the area has potential for growth and renewal, similar to that experienced by the Adelaide Hills in recent years. “If we build a precinct down here, people will come for a weekend and be spoilt for choice with things to do.”
Silver Sands Beach Club
Norman Road, Silver Sands Beach
Fri & Sat 12pm–10pm