The Henry Austin
Back in the day The Henry Austin was Chesser Cellars, a grand restaurant popular with business types. It hosted champagne-fuelled long lunches for 48 years before closing in 2012, when then-owner Primo Caon announced his retirement.
Enigmatic Brit Max Mason and his business partner Tess Footner took over in 2016 with help from Renew Adelaide. After cleaning up the site (staying true to the original design) and dividing it into a bottle shop, takeaway and restaurant, the Bollinger-fuelled good times are rolling again.
The duo made some bold changes. The basement bottle shop is stocked with thousands of wines from the state’s best independent makers. Producers drop by for regular Friday night tastings and bottles can be purchased at cost price plus $15 corkage. You can take your bottle anywhere – downstairs to the couch-packed Ha Bar, to the private mezzanine, or to the upstairs dining space where waiters present trays of Australian “yum cha”.
That right, Australian yum cha. Chef Shane Wilson (ex-Bistro Dom) prepares small dishes using foraged ingredients. Think Smoky Bay oysters with native finger lime; Kobia king fish served with riberries, cultured cream, and Red Foo potatoes; smoked Coorong beef, pickled lettuce and fried coastal saltbush; and 10-hour braised kangaroo with grains. They’re all priced at $15 to $20. As the staff roves the floor with options, grab anything that takes your fancy.
The daily takeaway menu is posted on social media at 8am. Orders can be collected from midday onwards in an Indian-style tiffin tin, to be returned the next day.
Cocktails made using foraged ingredients are also available in the clandestine underground Ha Bar. Mason will do his best to encourage you to stay on for another glass of Bollinger. Do it. Especially during Adelaide Fringe, when the restaurant transforms into cheeky venue Henrietta’s.
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