Adelaide’s restaurant and bar scene is suddenly exciting again. In the 1990s, the city led Australia with innovative, adventurous dining, but then the inspiration stalled.
Adelaide still had the best food market in Australia – in fact one of the best in the world, with the Adelaide Central Market. It still had one of the best “eat streets”, Gouger Street, which remains a mecca for polyglot dining. It had great coffee houses, such as Lucia’s in the central market.
But in the past year, driven partly by new, relaxed licensing laws which has brought a swarm of new wine bars and cafes, Adelaide is glowing again as new chefs and restaurants hit winning formulas and rake in the customers.
Here are the best of them – and some old favourites.
Orana and Street-ADL
With a spate of new bars and restaurants opening in Adelaide this summer, the standout newcomer has to be owner-chef Jock Zonfrillo’s extraordinary 25-seat restaurant Orana, with its streetfront cafe-bar sibling Street-ADL. Its site was previously occupied by the landmark Universal Wine bar.
The exciting newcomers are the culmination of 10 years’ research by Scottish-born Zonfrillo, who migrated to Australia in 2000 and took to it as if he’d discovered his spiritual home. And he set about discovering the real taste of Australia.
For diners at Orana that has led to two tasting menus (lunch $150 including wine, dinner $155 food only/$295 with wine). The more casual Street-ADL offers more native flavours and ingredients on its wall-mounted, neon-lit menu.
Go-to dish:kangaroo backstrap paired with mountain pepper and sow thistle.
One of the most keenly awaited openings last year was chef Jordan Theodorous’ new restaurant in a precinct rapidly becoming known as ‘‘bar central” as smart new bars take advantage of South Australia’s revised licensing laws.
Peel Street has a pared-back, semi-industrial style with exposed beams and brick walls, and a long polished concrete bar where lunchtime “on the concrete” specials are displayed.
It’s full flavoured, gutsy, simple cooking governed by the seasons. It looks casual, just like the atmosphere at Peel Street but food that tastes this good doesn’t come easily.
Go-to dish:mulloway fish pasty with sauce tartare and iceberg lettuce.
Ruby Red Flamingo
The once-sedate oasis of fine dining The Manse has undergone a startling transformation into an ultra-hip Italian, casual but clever diner. Outside, the 140-year-old former Baptist manse looks much the same, but the inside has had a total makeover with a mixed bag of slightly retro seating, bare tables, colourful walls, bold blackboard menus, dishes to share – and all at prices even less than when the place was called The Fish Manse 20 years ago.
The result is a lot of fun with chef Enzo Zerdino giving a fresh face to many Italian classics, sold as either small or large dishes, while partner Lauro Siliquini keeps control of the mayhem as the customers flood in.
Go-to dish:maccheroni eggplant with smoked scarmorza and ricotta salata – but you won’t want to miss the spaghetti with blue swimmer crab either.
Full flavoured dishes governed by the seasons are on the menu at Peel St.Photo : Ben Searcy
Peel St has a pared-back, semi-industrial style with exposed beams and brick walls.Photo : Ben Searcy
The go-to dish at Peel St ... The mulloway fish pasty with tartare and iceberg lettuce.Photo : Ben Searcy
A South Australian icon ... The Adelaide Central Market.Photo : South Australian Tourism Commission
Eating in with atmosphere at the Adelaide Central Market.Photo : Ben Searcy
Make a coffee pitstop at Lucia's in the Adelaide Central Market.Photo : South Australian Tourism Commission
The well-established Apothecary 1878 has a comprehensive and carefully thought out wine list.Photo : Supplied
Magill Estate is more than the vineyard, winery and cellars. The restaurant re-opened in 2013 under executive chef Scott Huggins.Photo : South Australian Tourism Commission
New look ... Magill Estate's theatrical interior redesign will appeal to many.Photo : Supplied
Jock Zonfrillo's 25-seat Orana has been one of the standout openings of the summer.Photo : Matt Turner
Offering a taste of Australia ... Orana.Photo : Matt Turner
Ruby Red Flamingo is housed in a 140-year old former Baptist manse.Photo : South Australian Tourism Commission
Ruby Red Flamingo is a casual yet clever eatery serving up Italian cuisine.Photo : South Australian Tourism Commission
Press Food and Wine
The instant and continuing popularity of Press is due to the fact that it’s run by some of the most experienced operators in town: restaurateur Simon Kardachi (Melting Pot, Melt) and his partners who include wine writer Tim White in charge of the wine list and highly experienced chef Andrew Davies.
Downstairs is clever industrial chic aimed at the lunchtime crowd while the quieter upstairs dining room with booth seating and freestanding tables is for more leisurely dining.
The butcher’s block standing inside the front door sends a message about Andrew Davies’ no-nonsense style of cooking, with a slick and finely honed menu divided into sections such as “raw”, “offal” and “from the wood grill”.