Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published February 28th 2012
Adelaide's Food Culture
People who haven't spent much time in Adelaide - or, less charitably, snobs - often charge Adelaide's food culture with supporting quantity over quality. The restaurants, they say, offer lots of food cheaply, at the cost of such trivialities like making sure everything is cooked properly, or acquiring fresh ingredients.
Pictured: a man cooking things properly with fresh ingredients.
It's a common argument, but should get less common as time goes on. More and more Adelaide diners are showing that they care about good food by flocking to good restaurants, regardless of the quantity or the price. There are probably a hundred restaurants and cafes that could serve as examples of this, but here are three of the most classy ones. If you like a restaurant that's gone unmentioned, tell us about it in the comments - unless it's the kind of place that offers parmas for nine dollars fifty. Then you're probably better off saying nothing.
On 22 Grote St in the city centre, Auge is a retro restaurant that excels at what it does. Which isn't surprising - 'auge' in Italian means 'the desire to be the best one can be'. The food is modern Italian, but so much more than your standard pizza, pasta and parma joint. Expect delicious lamb cutlets, rabbit dumpling pasta, and duck, accompanied by a very decent selection of wine. You can choose the wine, if you fancy yourself a member of the upper classes, or let the sommelier choose it for you. Bear in mind that the menu reflects the seasons - don't expect Auge to have the same meal available in winter that it does in summer - so the food is genuinely fresh. However, if you're searching for something familiar, you can always order an affogato for dessert.
On the negative side, service can be a mixed bag, especially when Auge is busy, but that just shows how deservedly popular the food is. There are few better places to go in Adelaide for Italian cuisine.
Chloe's has sat on 36 College Rd in Kent Town for over twenty-five years, delivering classy European food to hungry diners. You'll find yourself wondering if you stepped into a vampire's mansion, with flowing tablecloths and crystal goblets - however, the ornate mirrors should convince you otherwise. You owe it to yourself to try the pheasant breast or venison. In fact, why not go the whole hog? Bring your monocle and cravat, and make like the revolution never happened.
Nick Papazahariakis, owner.
Don't worry about the food being old-fashioned: there's a (relatively) new chef, Johnny Triscari, who has introduced some Asian flavours and modern takes on a variety of dishes to the menu. The three-course set menu is around sixty-five dollars, which is quite reasonable, considering the quality of the food and the general classiness of the venue.
On 142 Tynte St, The Manse offers a degustation menu to remember. It's self-consciously French, and, since its renovation in 2005, has some very impressive architecture. Expect huge rooms with chandeliers dangling over the tables, finished off by modern plates and a dash of stylish black wallpaper. As you'd expect from such an image-conscious place, the plating is meticulous, and the food itself is designed to look good. Sauces are aerated and arranged with minimalist precision.
This should be a given for any degustation menu, but don't go here if you're hungry. Even more so than Chloe's and Auge, The Manse makes no attempt to fill its diners' stomachs. Don't go here if you're a vegetarian, either - unless you have to - since the vegetarian options are surprisingly uninteresting. You'll probably get more enjoyment out of looking at them as art, rather than eating them. Still, if you eat meat and understand the principle of classy food, The Manse is an Adelaide treasure. Pick a special occasion and visit it - at least once.
I've tried The Manse once, and thought it was ok. I had the degustation menu but I just didn't appreciate the "fine dining" or exotics foods (eg. pork belly) as I would enjoy something simple like a good pizza. The price isn't exactly cheap either so you must be really open to trying different things to enjoy the experience.
I agree however, that people should give them a go at least once. The restaurant has a nice ambience, and it is very warm and comfortable.
I'm fairly certain this restaurant is set to close soon. It will be a shame, although on our last two visits the standard had dropped a little. I believe they are connected to Sparrow, which is also meant to be nice. For us, we switched to Jolley's Boat House for now.
Since when did knowing about which wine you'd like make you a member of the upper classes ?! What a bizarre comment. The sommeliers there are great and will gladly tell you about any wines you've not heard of before. And they dont seem to mind which school you went to.