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Published October 15th 2012
This classy modern Australian is a winner
The Adelaide Botanic Gardens is undoubtedly one of Adelaide's highlights for visitors. Set in its heart is The Botanic Gardens Restaurant. Entering from Plane Tree Drive, an avenue of Moreton Bay figs pave the way to this fine dining establishment. Lunch promises to be a little fancy today.
The Botanic Gardens Restaurant blends effortlessly into its surrounds. With its green facade and dark tinted window panes reflecting the lush greenery, the restaurant is almost camouflaged. The building appears to have been a gazebo in its past. After gaining entry through a set of double doors, a predominantly white interior is a striking contrast to its dark exterior veneer.
The interior is somewhat stark and bare. Dining tables with crisp white linen tablecloths are paired right back with the odd combination of white polyvinyl chairs. The white hues continue onto the friezes and up to the ceiling. Even the shades of the pendant lights are white. There is a sense of cool but lack of warmth.
From the moment of entry, service was professional without being stiff. Courteous greetings from experienced wait staff were followed by prompt delivery of the menu after we were seated. The waiter was well informed and provided good insight into the menu choices.
Table bread was offered with a choice of either rye or white. The bread was good. Perhaps it was the rich butter spread that elevated the bread's status. Perhaps it was the calming view of the sycamore as we gazed out of the the polygonal sides of glass that made up the structure of the building.
Plump Coriole olives marinated with herbs in olive oil prepared our palate for the main affair to follow. The olives had a delicate taste and lovely texture. It was firm to the touch but al-dente in the mouth. We commented to the waiter that the olives were excellent whereupon he gave us another plate. Such was the service!
The Gawler River spatchcock was delightful in every way and was beautifully presented. Wrapped in pancetta, the flavorsome bird was kept moist during cooking. The stuffing consisted of finely mashed green olive and dragoncello and this combination of ingredients was perfect. Using an Italian name like dragoncello instead of tarragon made the dish sound exotic. The delicate taste of the kohlrabi puree made for a creamy smooth base for the main. It is a wonder why kohlrabi is not as popular a vegetable as it ought to be.
Whenever confit duck legs features on a menu, I cannot help but
be excited. Without a doubt, it was safe to say the confit duck leg at The Botanic was succulent and tasty. It was accompanied by a medley of colourful spring vegetables on a rich buttery mustard and lavender sauce, which brought Pro Hart's palette to mind. Although the sweet floral aroma from the lavender did not get through, the sauce was nonetheless delicious.
The pumpkin was an innovative side dish of contrasting flavours. The hummus with its sandy texture and slight acidity balanced out the sweetness of the soft roasted pumpkin. With the addition of chilli imparting a hint of spice, it was a bold and exciting mix of ingredients and flavours.
A simple dessert of Eton Mess took on an interesting approach with the addition of moscato jelly and raspberry foam. It still held all the elements of an Eton Mess - fresh strawberries, crispy meringue and vanilla cream. However, the strawberries could have been better chilled. With riper macerated strawberries, this dessert would have been less ordinary.
The liquorice parfait was brilliant. Velvety smooth, the parfait was paired tantalisingly with caramelised pineapple, filo wafers, pineapple chiboust and saffron sauce. The combination was like a fusion of Scandinavia and South East Asia. It was a delicious conconction of flavours.
Complimentary Rosewater Turkish Delights made a great ending to the meal.
It was an afternoon well spent, not only in terms of food satisfaction, but also the view was fantastic. Sitting there watching the world goes by, with the added pleasure of birds chirping past, was most relaxing and rewarding. What more can I ask?
Lunch at The Botanic Gardens Restaurant is offered as either a 2 course or 3 course option. Expect a long and languid lunch. It is not an experience that can be rushed. If parking at one of the metered parking bays on Plane Tree Drive, allow for at least 3 hours or risk incurring a parking fine.
If aiming for a lighter lunch with lesser demands on the wallet, options within the Botanic Gardens are Simpson Kiosk (next door to The Botanic Gardens Restaurant) and Cafe Fibonacci which is nearby.
Not cheap, but worth it from your review.
You are clearly a food professional to write about some of these things that I need to reach for a dictionary for!
It must be a great place to dine in the greenery of the gardens, and with service as good as you describe they may well have more customers very soon.
To think I had to put up with eating a La Cantina smoked chicken quesadilla with some rather zingy chilli, while sitting on a concrete bench at UniSA!
Mine was delish too tho :)
Your descriptions were great and the surrounding atmosphere sounds gorgeous... sounds like just the place for that very special occasion! So, in that instance, you wouldn't begrudge spending up just that bit more.
Your photo of the olives is just lovely. Don't really know how olives can be lovely but yours were in that photo. Good review.