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Botanic Gardens Restaurant

Home > Adelaide > Fine Dining | Food and Wine | Restaurants | Romantic
by Chris Nugen (subscribe)
I can't get enough of food! I'm also passionate about music, dance, writing and makeup!
Published October 14th 2015
Wonder in the forest and see what you'll find
It was a beautiful warm spring day, the perfect reason to have lunch at the Botanic Gardens Restaurant. I'd put on a white summer dress and strolled in the Botanic Gardens, without a clue where the restaurant was. I stumbled across it, like how Hansel and Gretel found the confectionery house. Except there wasn't a witch, and my friend and I won't be eaten. In fact, I had a positive feeling that we will have a fantastic meal - and we did.

The venue was smaller than I expected but it made it cosy and comfortable. It was just beautiful to sit in an airy ambience surrounded by sunlight and greenery.

sourdough, bread
Sourdough without squid ink

To start, we were offered housemade sourdough bread with cultured butter. The sourdough was made either with or without squid ink. The addition of squid ink gives it a more earthy essence.

sourdough, bread
Sourdough with squid ink

When given the entrée platter, we were advised to eat it in a specified order: kingfish, followed by duck ham then pork terrine. Kingfish sashimi is my favourite crudo dish but this one was devine. It was served with avocado, pickled kohlrabi, puffed wild rice and parsley. I thought there were lots of competing flavours, but they all worked together because the proportions of each component were just right. The next one was cured duck ham with chicken liver parfait, witlof, plums, and seed crisps. There was a lot of technique in this dish. But for all that effort, I still liked the kingfish more. The last dish was my least favourite, probably because it's something I'm not so used to. It was pork and horseradish terrine with plum ketchup, ginger bread and mustard leaves. It was quite strong with a slight fermented taste to it. I did finish this dish and was starting to enjoy it as I kept trying.

entree, tasting plate, platter
Entree tasting plate of kingfish, pork and duck ham

For main, I had the Coorong mullet with caramelised octopus, warrigal greens, spring onions and centella leaves. I picked this dish for two reasons: I've never had mullet at a restaurant so was curious how they served it; and I've never had centella leaves with mullet. In fact, I've never been to a restaurant who served centella leaves. But it's the Botanic Gardens. They grow their own herbs and vegetables. I was afraid that the centella may ruin the dish. But I won with my gamble. All the components worked well with one another. The mullet was only slightly seasoned. The flavour was more in the caramelised octopus, which could have been more prominent. The greens and centella leaves added pungent freshness to the dish. The only criticism I have is the tiny little bones in the mullet that would have been impossible to remove. But these bones were small enough to be eaten. I just had to be slightly careful in swallowing. Perhaps this is why mullets are not usually on the menu at restaurants.

mullet, seafood, fish
Coorong mullet with caramelised octopus, warrigal greens, spring onions and centella leaves

My friend had lamb neck with belly bacon, globe artichokes, preserved lemon, spring peas, and wild pea tendrils. The lamb had been cooked for 16 hours and was so soft and falling apart. The bacon and other accompaniments added even more depth to the lamb. This was one of the best lamb dishes in Adelaide.

lamb, bacon, meat
Lamb neck with belly bacon, artichokes, preserved lemon, spring peas and wild pea tendrils

For dessert, we could not ignore the bombe alaska with pistachio, cardamom and strawberry icecream, and cumquat and rosewater. It was my first bombe alaska and well worth the wait. The meringue was just the right consistency The icecream had such strong aroma. The bombe was the bomb!

bombe alaska, dessert, sweet, meringue
Bombe alaska with pistacchio, cardamom and strawberry icecream, and cumquat and rosewater

We had caramelized quince and frangipane tart with whipped white chocolate and native violets. I'd lost my photo somehow but the dish beautifully presented, and a decent size for just petits fours. The dish was quite sweet as both components were sweet. If we didn't have the bombe Alaska first, then this would have been a good way to finish dinner.

bombe alaska, dessert, sweet, meringue
The bombe!

Overall, stumbling across the Botanic Gardens was a bit like discovering a confectionery house. It gave me lots of little sweet surprises. I'll definitely wonder around the forest every now and then!
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Phone: 08 8223 3526
Where: Plane Tree Drive, Adelaide Botanic Gardens
Cost: $$
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