Laura and her partner Sarah are two creative foodies out to discover enticing flavours and food ideas. When they aren't tucking into their latest delicious find, they're writing, photographing and designing at www.sarahlauradesign.com
Published February 18th 2015
Come with an empty stomach and an open mind
Cliche Exhibition Restaurant is a brand new establishment specialising in delectable French cuisine. Opened for just 12 weeks as of February 2015, be sure to bring an empty stomach and an open mind and believe everything you see when you visit Cliche.
Enter through the enticing wooden shop front and get ready to explore.
Tucked away next to a French inspired bric-a-brac store and European fashion depot on the corner of Ward and O'Connell Street, Cliche was created by the owners of Ruby Red Flamingo, Tony Tomato and Gin Long to name just a few.
This little piece of France in the heart of North Adelaide is part-restaurant part-art gallery, aiming to push the limits of innovation and expectation. In fact, 'Cliche' is actually the name of the current exhibition showcasing work from 24 local artists with an inspired theme of all things French. Large pieces adorn the walls courtesy of the University of Adelaide Art History Department and the Art Gallery of South Australia amongst other individuals. Our favourite was the very French bulldog next to our table, complete with striped shirt, red bandana and cigar. Oui, tres bien!
Large scale artwork of this size is a rarity, and a big hit with Cliche.
Alongside these fantastic pieces of art is attractive iconography that identifies the various dishes on Cliche's menu. This serves to bring colour and life to the remaining wall space, while providing inspiration on what to order.
Trees on the ceiling is not something you see everyday.
Inside the look and feel of the restaurant's decor is fantastique; Vintage-style Edison bulbs provide a soft, atmospheric light and the chairs are reminiscent of a Parisian cafe. It can be quite loud inside, especially when approaching capacity as it was during our visit, however the quality of the food and the excellent service from staff makes up for this.
The horizontal wine-rack display is intriguing and features a great cross section of imported French and local South Australian wines. The versatile French chardonnays and pinots are a great choice to accompany most of the dishes on the menu if you want to try something different. If wines are not your thing then a range of mouth-watering cocktails are available, including the sour apple 'Frog in Your Throat' and 'French Blonde' with St Germain liqueur.
What cocktail takes your fancy?
Frog in Your Throat was a sweeter mix, while French Blonde is a drink for those who like it dry and bitter.
Having not eaten much during the day we were excited to try as many items from the menu as we possibly could. We asked our waiter to tell us which were the most popular items on offer to help us decide, and we were very happy with the recommendations.
First up for entree we tried the Crepes Aux Langoustine. The soft crepes encircled a delicious concoction of lobster, prawn, parsley and chive served in a spiced cream. We were pleasantly surprised by the flavour of this dish which to us seemed similar to a Thai red curry in fragrance and heat. Right from the start we knew this was going to be hard to beat as our favourite dish of the night.
This dish is a must-try; an amazing combination of flavours.
Next we tried the Nu's Mussels, cooked in garlic, thyme, chive and white wine. These little morsels had a lovely texture and creamy flavour. They were quickly devoured one at a time.
You don't need any 'mussels' to open these delectable delights.
A few slices of authentic French baguette - the real deal imported from France - along with a slice of pure butter were impossible to resist, especially when dipped in the cream and broth from our entrees.
Real hand churned butter was a nice (and tasty) touch.
Other entrees we wished we could have tried include the kooky sounding Winklers Wonderful Potted Duck Pate (duck liver parfait) or the Popcorn Squid (baby squid with paprika powder), the French Pig (pork belly) or Classic Beef Tartare. Or perhaps the more traditional and famously French Escargot. According to our waiter, feedback from customers indicates they are as good as those served in France. Which dish will you try?
The main course recommendations were quite impressive. First was the Bardot's Rack, a herb-crusted rack of lamb served on a bed of brown lentils with carrot puree and cherry tomato. The lamb, sourced from Kangaroo Island, was cooked to perfection; rare all the way through with no blood and absolutely tender. If you're not usually one to order lamb at a restaurant you should definitely make an exception for this dish. Do not be put off by the rare lamb, the flavour is truly delicious.
It's a 'rarity' to get a cut of meat this good.
The Cheeky Beef, or slow braised beef cheek, literally melted in our mouths. Cooked with patience over several meticulous processes, the beef was so tender it was like slicing butter, and was infused with a rich, bold flavour. It was served with some lighter sides including crispy kale leaves and saffron eschalot which helped to offset the heaviness of the beef.
Cheeky Beef was a heavy meal - we recommend sharing this one.
Along with our mains we were encouraged to order a side of Puree Potatoes, which arrived in a small handled pot. A silky smooth texture and buttery flavour meant we quickly realised why this side dish is so popular.
Mash this creamy should be illegal.
Now, after all that it might be surprising but we managed to fit in not just one but TWO desserts (of course!). The Vanilla Brulee had the all important crispy-burnt coating and was served with a side of vanilla bean ice cream and strawberries. It's always a great dessert and especially so after a big meal, being lighter and not too sweet.
Tap Tap...Crack. This brulee was made to perfection.
The Lemon Souffle is to die for and topped off the night perfectly, with a delicate lemon flavour and soft, airy consistency. A word of caution though as it was served piping hot. Cliche bake this dessert to order, so be prepared, order early and allow at least 20 minutes for this dish. You won't be disappointed.
So light and fluffy, this souffle had us grinning with delight.
Cliche's chefs are more than happy to prepare some menu items gluten free on request, just ask when you order. For veggie lovers there are a number of delicious sounding options such as the Champignon Delicieux with portobello mushrooms or Monet's Garden Salad with goat's cheese.
We recommend booking ahead to ensure you get a table as Cliche is becoming more and more popular - even on weeknights. Of course walk-ins are welcome if tables are free, but you don't want to miss out on a feast this good.
Booth seating up the front looks very comfortable, with a great view too.
Large groups are more than welcome and the upstairs dining area can be booked for private functions. For groups of more than 10 a banquet option consisting of entree and main is available for $45 per person.
We give Cliche Exhibition Restaurant 4.5/5 Wanders for feeding the mind as well as the body, providing a fascinating, broad menu (and great cocktails) and showcasing intriguing artwork by local artists.
Where 1 Wander isn't worth getting off the couch for and 5 Wanders should leave a trail of dust in your wake: it's that good.