Adelaide Dining: The Foodie City’s Most Iconic Dishes And Drinks
The Adelaide dining scene has seen a resurgence in recent years with accolades landing left, right and centre for both chefs and restaurants.
Regular new openings have upped the ante and menus change seasonally, weekly or even daily according to the best produce. But some dishes are forever – this is your Adelaide dining bucket list.
Champagne Breakfast For Two
You don’t need to speak French to order at traditional Parisian brasserie Hey Jupiter in the city’s East End, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself trying. From the traditional subway tiles inspired by the Paris Metro to the immaculately dressed maître d’ who sees you to your seat, this is the real deal.
The pork belly sandwich is justly famous but the best way to start the day is to grab one of the outdoor seats and enjoy a breakfast spread that’s far more than the sum of its parts. And that’s saying something when the parts include eggs, pastries, toast, artisan cheese, french jam, local smoked salmon and fruit.
There’s coffee and tea to drink, of course, or you can dive straight into the Louis Roederer champagne. Is it the best way to start the day in Adelaide? Oui.
There’s no Adelaide dish more iconic than the pie floater – it’s even been recognised as one of South Australia’s heritage icons by the National Trust. If you’ve never encountered one, it’s an upside-down meat pie with sauce served in a bowl of split pea soup and it was traditionally served from a pie cart.
Those are all long gone, but fortunately all South-Australian pub The Kings still offers a version with a gourmet twist. Their hearty brisket pie is topped with Adelaide hills chutney and ‘floats’ in a pea purée – wash it down with one of the many local craft beers on tap.
Since pivoting to a North African-inspired menu, Africola has shown that adventurous fine dining doesn’t need to come with a hefty price tag. Even in the depths of winter its busy and as the night grows old, patrons seated at the well-stocked bar reveal as many secrets as the kitchen hides (many a diner has tried to figure out the recipe for “Mpumalanga fire” hot sauce).
But the dish that gets remembered most fondly is also one of the simplest. It’s simply crispy chicken skin and a few shreds of green held together by pieces of spongy white bread (crusts off) lathered with spicy mayonnaise. Then comes the true joy dunking it in the accompanying dish of drippings that distill the flavour of the famous peri-peri chicken. There’s a reason this one has inspired rhapsodies from food writers and launched a thousand Instagram posts.
If dishes were judged solely on presentation, this wouldn’t make the top 100. The Ayubi’s family recipe calls for eggplant to be slow cooked in a rich tomato and onion sauce until it loses all internal structure and slumps on the plate. A drizzle of yoghurt, fresh mint and sprinkled spices rescue the situation somewhat, but what this cult favourite lacks in looks it more than makes up for in personality – even The New York Times raved about it.
The layers of eggplant are so tender they’re barely there and groans of pleasure can be heard throughout the Afghan restaurant as diners tuck into the almost unrecognisable vegetable and accompanying piles of fragrant jewelled rice. There have been numerous imitators but don’t even think about trying them – there’s only one original. And it’s at Parwana.
Fino Seppeltsfield had its beginnings in a small cottage in the heart of McLaren Vale before the invitation came to move to the Barossa five years ago. Now at home in Seppeltsfield’s grand bottling hall, it still flies the flag for regional produce but there’s nothing pretentious about the regularly changing menu of share plates accompanied by an unsurprisingly wide-ranging wine list.
Grab a seat outside under the palms to experience fine dining at its most relaxed, and revel in the fact that one dish never leaves the menu- the Spanish take on a crème brûlée is a silky delight of lightly spiced vanilla and citrus.
Hennessy Bar at The Mayfair Hotel
The Mayfair is Adelaide’s finest hotel, and the 13th-floor rooftop bar offers more than just a perfect spot for a nightcap. It’s also home to hives full of Ligurian bees that produce honey for the hotel’s breakfast guests and Hennessy’s signature cocktail.
The vodka-based Honey Trap also has lime and ginger so it won’t just leave you with a sweet taste in your mouth – it’s (a little bit) good for you, too.
(Lead images: Crema Catalana at Fino Seppeltsfield & Food spread at Parwana / both supplied)
Published 14 August, 2019