Bakery Abbots & Kinney and Italian restaurant Osteria Oggi share a wall on Pirie Street in the CBD. So it’s little surprise the chefs behind each venue – Jonny Pisanelli of Abbots & Kinney; Andy Daives of Osteria Oggi – are fast friends. Which meant that when asked to collaborate with chef Sam Langley on a European-inspired feast at Hula Hoop – Langley’s European-styled bar in Kensington – the trio were quick to join forces for the Holden Astra European Feast by Broadsheet.

“We all have full faith in what the other does,” says Pisanelli. “We know we’re all equally driven in our work. And Hula Hoop provided us a great atmosphere with a different crowd that fit in with our vibe, which is about the customer having a great experience and not being in a hurry.”

Working to a theme of European-inspired dishes using in-season South Australian produce, the trio conceived a three-course dinner that played to their strengths.

Held on Hula Hoop’s terrace, complete with white lanterns and fire-pits, it’s a relaxed environment for communal eating.

“I like to call an open fire in a restaurant the ‘pit of truth’,” says Osteria Oggi’s Andy Davies. “It’s where people stand around and talk and unveil secrets. It’s great for a casual atmosphere”.

Hula Hoop led the menu with its Mediterranean spin on local king prawns. “The prawns are sautéed in arak,” says Langley. “It’s an aniseed-flavoured spirit drink.” Hula Hoop owners Steph and Jon Hamra say they wanted to recreate a dish they enjoyed on a family holiday in Crete many years ago, where a taverna owner used arak to cook fresh catches of local prawns and pipis, due to an unexpected shortage of ouzo.

Davies wanted to follow Hula Hoop’s opener by offering something also easily shared, but hearty. Inspired by the colder climates of Europe, such as the Northern regions of Italy, Germany, and Austria, Davies says his aim was to create a dish “to roll your sleeves up and get stuck into.” He decided on a main course of braised lamb and herbed polenta.

“We braised the lamb for 24 hours so it became nice and sticky,” he says. “Then we served it with soft, gooey polenta for a heart-warming, earthy meal.”

Davies says the feast’s collaborative aspect extended to the diners, who were encouraged to share. “It’s about having the flexibility to eat the amount of food you want and not have this separation of ‘my’ dish and ‘your’ dish,” says Davies. “People are looking to go out as a group and eat as though someone has cooked it, rather than ‘dine’. There’s a difference.”

To balance out the rich main, Jonny Pisanelli of Abbots & Kinney bakery finished the night with a clean, light, lemon meringue-inspired dish.

“I wanted to make something approachable to everyone and easy for people to enjoy,” says Pisanelli. “The flavour combinations in the dish are commonly accepted for all walks of life.”

Pisanelli’s dessert featured a cinnamon and oat-crumble base, with lemon cream, raspberry jelly and pistachio brulée, topped with dehydrated meringue sticks.

“The combination of pistachio and lemon is very popular in Italy,” says Pisanelli. “When balanced with the lightness of the cream and buttery crumble, it’s a pleasing dessert with big flavour and texture.”

Here’s the recipe for Hula Hoop’s King Prawns with arak and thyme, which was served at the Holden Astra European Feast.

Mediterranean King Prawns with Arak and Thyme
Serves six.

600g king prawns, shelled with tail on
1 tbsp thyme leaves
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 lemon, zest grated
70ml olive oil
90ml Arak
120ml vegetable stock
40g unsalted butter
20g tarragon
½ tbsp lemon juice

Marinate prawns with thyme, garlic, zest and oil for 24 hours.

Fry for two minutes on each side until prawns are pink. Add arak and reduce by half. Add stock and reduce by two-thirds. Stir through butter and tarragon to make a smooth sauce.

Plate up prawns and top with lemon juice.

This dinner and article was created in partnership with the Holden Astra, 2016 European Car of the Year.