A worldly influence has exploded in Adelaide’s restaurant scene. A visit to the produce markets is akin to a gastronomical world tour; it’s a place where the influence of ethnic migrant farmers is forged with that of chefs and restaurateurs, both passionate about top notch product. Placed within arms-reach of a vibrant and diverse local wine scene, you have the perfect storm for the makings of a world-class dining destination.
Over the years Adelaide has seen many waves of immigrants come to settle, bringing with them their food traditions. Recent changes to bar and restaurant licensing in 2012 made it much easier to establish and run small business, which saw an influx of young, vibrant chefs, bartenders, and entrepreneurs come from around the globe to settle in Adelaide and give it a red hot crack. Ethnic eateries servicing all types of immigrant communities in the suburbs have also fortified their popularity by branching into the city dining scene – taking their deliciously authentic fare to the masses.
With such immediate access to top quality produce, chefs work with local farmers who bring A1 produce daily from the farm to your plate. Some of the best and most dedicated restaurant teams even having their own organic gardens just outside the CBD or, in the case of the Botanic Gardens Restaurant, right outside the door! It doesn’t get much fresher than this.
With so much choice and an ever growing list of hot new digs, here’s a list of what the team at Small Batch Wine Tours believe to be some of the best restaurants Adelaide has to offer. Enjoy!
2KW Restaurant – modern australian
Perched above the Adelaide skyline facing North-West, 2KW has a view over Government House, Adelaide Oval, and North Adelaide. You’d think that would top the highlight reel, but this place is one of the coolest venues in Adelaide for a multitude of reasons. From commissioning individual barrels of wine from rockstar winemakers as the “house pour”, to one-off wine-tasting events and meet-the-maker masterclasses, 2KW leads the way on all things fun and innovative, especially on their stellar seasonal menu. They don’t do closhes, and foams, and smoke & mirrors here. It’s all about the great produce and deft touch that makes this one of Adelaide highlight restaurants that’s somehow managed to avoid the social/bloggers limelight. I can guarantee – you will not be disappointed.
We recommend – Get adventurous! Check out the extensive wine list and find a bottle you fancy, then ask the staff to recommend dishes to suit. Or, flip that around – find some dishes you like the sound of and ask for a wine to match. The staff here really know their stuff.
DAILY FROM MIDDAY TIL LATE
ADDRESS: The Rooftop, 2 King William Rd, Adelaide SA 5000
PHONE: (08) 8212 5511
Peel St Restaurant – s.e asian & persian inspired
Many credit Peel St with spearheading the late-reconnaissance of the West End dining scene, leading the way for others to follow suit. They’ve carried on the tradition with a food and wine offering that never gets tired, dated, or passe. Peel St do not publish a menu yet prefer to focus on seasonality on a day to day basis, highlighted on their ever changing blackboard menu. Set among the heart of the west end’s bustling atmosphere it’s easy to see why this is a favourite go-to for the locals. Generous portions and made to share, we suggest ordering three smaller dishes betwen two people and sharing over a bottle of local wine.
“at peel st, we have a really easy formula. our food is simple, fresh and delicious. we want everything we make to be generous, abundant and bursting with robust flavours. chefs jordan and marty draw on their diverse food experiences, use the best ingredients they can get their hands on and most importantly, cook the food they love to eat – for you.”
We recommend – Banana blossom with chicken, coconut, chili jam, & peanuts; hot-smoked ocean trout; pan-roasted spatchcock with heirloom carrots & kipfler potatoes
DINNER WED-SAT + MON 6PM-10PM
ADDRESS: 9 PEEL ST, ADELAIDE, SA
PHONE: (08) 8231 8887
Gondola Gondola – fun & fresh vietnamese
Vietnamese food has to be one of the world’s greatest cuisines and the team at Gondola Gondola have given it a modern touch-up. Much like Thai-food, Vietnamese often balances the salty, sweet, sour, spicy tightrope but does so with a bit more crunch and aroma, making things a whole lot lighter. Think five-spice duck leg, DIY cold rolls, crispy salt and pepper quail or squid tentacles, or a favourite G.G’S BUN CHA – crispy pork with rice noodle, mint, crispy shallot, chilli and purple leaves.
Pair this up with a cracking small-producer wine list and zippy cocktails, the girls at Gondola Gondola are a force to be reckoned with. Highly recommended to order out of your comfort zone and be surprised.
We recommend – Salt + Pepper eggplant; Sashimi Salad with citrus namjim; house-style market fish; crispy pork belly
LUNCH TUES-FRI 12–2:30PM
DINNER MON-SAT 6–10PM
ADDRESS: 1 Peel St, Adelaide SA 5000
PHONE: (08) 8123 3877
Lantern – Deboned whole crispy Barramundi with red curry sambal and pineapple.
Lantern by Nu – traditional & contemporary thai
Having spent much time diving across both the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, Thailand is like a second home to me. Lantern successfully captures the spirit of Thailand in a menu that authentically replicates crowd favourites with the depth and complexity a true Thai would expect. Chef Nu changes the menu monthly, with regional specialties rotating among crowd favourites. Get adventurous by steering clear of the dishes you’re familiar with, or ask the staff for their current favourites. Order large and share the love.
We recommend – Pad Ga Prao Moo Grob (Crispy Pork with Holy Basil), Som Tum Thai (Papaya Salad), Crying Tiger, Jungle Curry Beef, anything Barramundi, slow-cooked beef cheek
ADDRESS: 10 Selby Street, Adelaide SA 5000
PHONE: 0491 173 802
Little NNQ – traditional vietnamese
Born in the backstreets of inner-west suburbia, Nghi Ngan Quan (NNQ) has essentially been around for some 30 years feeding mainly Vietnamese locals. With the rising popularity of Vietnam as a holiday destination and returned holiday makers heading to the burbs to seek out great Vietnamese food, Little NNQ was a reaction to the hoards of Westerners who regularly flooded the famed backstreet haunt. And for good reason! Full of fresh herbs, crunchy, vibrant, aromatic, guilt-free dining – perfect for a hot summers day or if you’re wanting something light and refreshing.
We recommend – Beef salad; sugar-cane prawn cold rolls (best if you try rolling your own); crispy quail with salt & pepper; tamarind fried snapper; ginger & shallot mussels; Little NNQ fried rice; combination vermicelli salad; Noodle soups – Bun Bo Hue (spicy beef soup) and Hu Tieu Nam Vang (pork & prawn soup)
ADDRESS: 125 Gouger St, Adelaide SA 5000
PHONE: (08) 8211 8558
Shobosho – inspired by japanese cuisine & fire
“At Shobosho, we blend smoke, steam, and fire; ancient traditions of Japanese yakitori, with the finesse, skill & texture of all that is raw, cured, pickled and fermented. From a specially-commissioned cooking line consisting of a wood oven, hydraulic grill, rotisserie and customised yakitori pit, the element of fire will speak through simply seasoned, seared meats and vegetables. The menu takes a journey through raw to cooked, with yakitori, noodles, dumplings, bao, robata grilled and spit roasted meats. “
We recommend – Terriyaki chicken with miso corn; chicken meatball with salted egg butter; Katsu sando; potsticker dumplings; anything yakitori
LUNCH TUE-SUN 12-2:30PM
DINNER 7 DAYS 5:30PM-LATE
ADDRESS: 17 Leigh St, Adelaide SA 5000
PHONE: (08) 8366 2224
Sunny’s Pizza – pizza / natural wine /disco
Down a derelict alley and next to one of the city’s most pumping dive-bars, Sunnys is part disco, part natural wine bar, and 100% awesome pizza joint. You may have to loiter outside crushing a tinnie or smashing a pet-nat with others as you await your table, but it’ll be worth it in the end. Sunny’s regularly have co-lab events featuring rockstar chefs from across Australia or obscure EDM DJs, so check their socials for the latest. Get in early to avoid disappointment, and be prepared to wait a little.
We recommend – PIZZA: Mushroom; Pepperoni + Chili Oil; Quattro Formaggio. NOT PIZZA: Brussel Sprouts
WED – SUN 5-12PM
ADDRESS: 17 Soloman St, Adelaide SA 5000
PHONE: 0455 522 356
Osteria Oggi – impeccable italian
CNN named Osteria Oggi as one of the 10 top new restaurants in the world in 2016. In March 2017, World Interiors News awarded Osteria Oggi the best restaurant interior in the world. Don’t let these accolades fool you – the food is unpretentiously honest with a heavy focus on freshness and seasonality. In keeping with the Oggi philosophy of ‘today’, pasta and gnocchi is made in-house daily. The menu traverses appetizers and salumi, through to pasta, wood-smoked slow-roasted meats and fish, distinctively re-interpreted desserts and of course, formaggio presented in its own trolley.
With an extensive catalogue of Italian wines including all the big names, and a drinks list to make any Italian mad with excitement, Oggi is definitely here to stay. Settle in and keep ordering because you won’t want to leave.
We recommend – Any of their pasta dishes, but I’m especially a sucker for their squid ink pasta and any gnocchi dish; their lamb/pork shoulder dishes designed to share are melt-off-the-bone delicious
MON-SAT 11:30AM – LATE
ADDRESS: 76 Pirie St, Adelaide
PHONE: (08) 8359 2525
Botanic Gardens Restaurant – contemporary Australian
Nestled in the heart of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens you’ll find a rotunda-glasshouse set among the Moreton Bay figs. Cue the Botanic Gardens Restaurant, quite possibly one of the State’s best kept secrets. With acres upon acres from which to forage, much of the green produce comes from the Botanic Gardens themselves, so seasonality is fundamental in thier take on modern Australian food . This is Australian fine dining with a unique edge, and a meticulously curated wine list to suit. Satisfaction guaranteed – book early!
We recommend – All dining is fixed-menu, so a late summer dinner is the perfect setting for the restaurant, before or after exploring the Adelaide Fringe nearby.
LUNCH TUES-SUN FROM 12 NOON
DINNER FRI + SAT FROM 6:30PM
ADDRESS: Plane Tree Drive – Botanic Gardens of Adelaide, Adelaide
PHONE: (08) 8223 3526
Africola – a full-flavour kick in the teeth
“For its flavours, its cooking and techniques (lots of charring and smoke), its clever melding of new ideas and staples that have been kicking around the desert for millennia, Africola may well be the hottest restaurant in the country. There was nothing like it before; there still isn’t.”
“It’s like Ottolenghi on steroids, with a sense of humour.”
“In an era of obsessed foodies traversing the globe to seek out the ultimate experience, Africola is influencing itineraries. When dining here, rock stars are humbled, industry counterparts gush (with envy), and the rest of us are just happy to join the party. Welgemoed has learnt from the best, not just from other chefs, but from his ancestors, his trans-continental journeys, and thousands of hours of trial and error in an effort to provide diners with pure unadulterated pleasure. Boom chakalaka!”
We recommend – Start with the chicken skin tea-sandwich and settle in for an epic feast of full on flavour as guided by staff. BOOK EARLY!
ADDRESS: 4 East Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000
PHONE: (08) 8223 3885
Star House – cantonese & yum cha
This is Adelaide’s best Cantonese restaurant, hands down, and their yum cha selection is without peer. Book to prevent disappointment as this restaurant is ALWAYS packed. Ding Hao across the road is a good alternative without the crazy selection, or Concubine at the other end for “fine dining” Chinese food.
We recommend – Salt + Pepper Eggplant; Coral Trout or Barramundi with ginger & shallot; Mapo Bean Curd with Pork; Star House Fortune Roast Chicken; Chinese Chutney Broad Bean with Bean Curd. YUM CHA: XO Radish Cake; Chinese pastry in rice paper roll; red vinegar ribs; Salt & Pepper soft shell crab.
Daily yum cha available but head in on Sunday mornings for the full event.
ADDRESS: 31-39 Gouger St, Adelaide SA 5000
PHONE: (08) 8221 6303
About the author:
Matthew Kurko is a WSET trained wine lover and passionate tour guide, operating class-leading wine tours in the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, and Adelaide Hills wine regions. He owns and operates boutique wine tour business Small Batch Wine Tours.
To visit the regions and find out more about the hidden gems of South Australia’s premier wines why not join a small group wine tour?
Visit www.smallbatchwinetours.com.au for more information.