The dining scene continues to heat up in our nation’s south. Here are the kitchens we love, as seen in our Restaurant Guide.
Feb 24, 2023 5:00am
GT 2023 Restaurant of the Year
GT 2023 SA Restaurant of the Year
There’s no ignoring Mother Nature when you’re literally surrounded by her. Towering plane trees lead the way to this world-class dining space in the Adelaide Botanic Garden. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer a view of the seasonally shifting landscape, but it’s hard to beat the vantage from the sleek, wraparound chef’s table. In the kitchen, chefs dip into jars of ferments and preserves used in non-alcoholic drinks and across the tasting menu. There’s drama in the presentation, too. Potato and caviar appear on a starburst of autumn leaves. Green ants tumble across fresh oysters. You’re even encouraged to lick the rock on which braised and grilled abalone rests. Fallen bunya-bunya branches collected from the garden are roasted, infused in cream and served frozen. Beverage director Marcell Kustos’s liquid finale is a garden liquor poured over fresh flowers and herbs. It’s a pitch-perfect sensory experience that revels in exciting flavours.
Chef Jake Kellie mastered the open flame at Singapore’s Burnt Ends and now has his own buzzy, heritage-listed sandstone space in which to shine. He has plenty of kit to play with, too, including a three-and-a-half-tonne wood-burning oven, elevation grills and an open hearth. A coveted seat at the counter surrounding the kitchen offers a view of the team in full swing. When Kellie is in the zone, preparing whole turbot, the intensity is fierce. But the goal here is clearly fun. Flame-licked dishes include bite-sized duck-liver parfait tartlets that melt in the mouth once teeth crack through their brûlée surface. Hot, crisp and salty potato hash browns shipping crème fraîche and Sturia Oscietra caviar, meanwhile, go great guns with Champagne. Inspired cocktails, like a Pisco Punch flavoured with tepache, fuel the convivial spirit even further. All up? Straight fire.
Welcomes don’t get much better than an encounter with exuberant Fino Vino co-owner Sharon Romeo and the megawatt smile delivered by chef and business partner David Swain. The Fino story began in Willunga more than 16 years ago and has grown to encompass their (excellent as ever) flagship restaurant at Seppeltsfield as well as this bustling CBD haunt. Where others try with bells and whistles, Fino Vino succeeds with heart. Swain hits farm-to-plate high notes with directly sourced produce – giardiniera, made with a recipe by Romeo’s late father, is a must. Charred sourdough focaccia begs to be dipped in the lime and pickled chilli dressing Spencer Gulf prawns, and is a fitting resting spot for kangaroo pastrami with beetroot, quandong and rye. Chorizo piled high with pickled green tomato is a masterclass in peasant food for a modern, convivial audience. Crema Catalana, a fixture on the menu since Fino’s early days, still proves a winning finish.
Energy pulsates through this New York-inspired Italian restaurant all seven days of the week. That should come as no surprise, of course, this being Laura and Max Sharrad’s place, which they co-own with hospitality stalwart Simon Kardachi. A seductive front bar full of dark leather and rich red tones leads the way to a bright dining room incorporating intimate timber booths, edgy artwork, charcoal upholstery and marble tables rippled with cobalt hues. Playful, salty snacks – gnocco fritto with whipped ricotta, or “Roman Vegemite” soldiers topped with Cantabrian anchovies, butter and lemon – set the scene for house-made pastas, which are the speciality. Deliberation can prove tricky, especially when you factor in the likes of a dry-aged Angus sirloin or crisp-skinned spatchcock with curry-infused butter sauce sweetcorn purée. Whether you wrap up with the affogato semifreddo or a Negroni nightcap matters not – both conclusions are pure fun.
There’s an instant sense of comfort about Herringbone, tucked in a calm, almost suburban city backstreet. Natural light spills across the spacious interior, with its whitewashed walls, natural bentwood chairs and glistening herringbone-tiled bar. A living tree makes for an eye-catching centrepiece in the adjacent atrium dining space. Yet for all the laid-back charm, it’s clear the restaurant is powered by razor-sharp talent. Freshly shucked Smoky Bay oysters with shatta sauce set the tone for an à la carte menu that pops with colour, energy and occasional Middle Eastern influence. Both the generosity of dishes and exceptional service make this an ideal spot for long lunches and dinner with pals who like to share. The signature slow-roasted lamb shoulder with baharat, baba ghanoush and grilled lemon tickles the senses and fuels convivial chatter. Top it all off with fennel seed ice-cream, dark chocolate ganache and candied orange – it’s a crowd-pleasing (and momentarily conversation-stopping) favourite.
Nearly 180 years of winemaking history pervades the urban vineyard surrounding Magill Estate Restaurant, in Adelaide’s leafy suburbs. The modern dining space is set against the legendary Penfolds winery and has all the trimmings of fine dining without unnecessary pomp. Executive chef and director Scott Huggins recently took ownership of the restaurant and champions exquisite snacks on both his three- and seven-course tasting menus, including the revered chicken wing stuffed with scallops and lobster – a fixture on the menu for six years. Local ingredients such as Ferguson lobster and Adelaide Hills porcini are put on a pedestal. Eyrewoolf Abalone sings next to slow-cooked pork jowl that’s pressed overnight, sliced thin and skewered: wrap it in potato bread, and savour the result. With Penfolds wines poured every step of the way, it feels remiss not to dive into the “Icon and Luxury” pairing, which always includes Grange.