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For those who drive through Adelaide, much of the excitement and magic of Adelaide is invisible. But for pedestrians and cyclists (perhaps using the free bikes), a completely different perspective of the city becomes apparent as you meander through its smaller streets.
Narrow Gilbert Place id Well Suited to Pedestrians and Cyclists
Perhaps one of the best places to experience this is in Gilbert Place, one of the older parts of the city which is quite accessible if you are walking and cycling. If you enter from Hindley Street opposite the old Miller Anderson Department Store the lane is quite narrow, passing between the curiously named "The Little Pub Just Off Hindley St" and the Paringa Motel.
As you pass the Pancake Kitchen, think of the many University students who congregated here in the 1970's, making the most of the affordable food and the motto "We never close". It was a very popular spot in those days, and I understand it was the first of many similar businesses in Australia.
Myladys Rest Centre
Myladys Rest Centre 1953 (Courtesy State Library of SA B12699)
Just around the corner heading east is the ornate entrance to the rather mysterious Quelltaler House. I have been unable to find out much about its origins, other than it being designed by architect Albert Langhans as the premises for Buring and Sobel vignerons, probably in the 1920's.
It is much easier to find out about people who dined at Quelltaler House over the years, One such account about "Music and a Brekker" in 1946 gives an interesting insight to the times.
There is another story of Premier Don Dunstan lunching with developer and arts supremo Len Amadio in 1970. The name of the restaurant is unfortunately not recorded.
Noted Adelaide wine writer Philip White recalls a dinner at Buring and Sobels Quelltaler House in his blog, after which he enjoyed a bottle of Grange while sitting with a friend in a gutter on King William Street.
In his thesis on City Planning, Michael Llewellyn-Smith recounts how power brokers in Adelaide City Council's City of Adelaide Development Committee would dine at Quelltaler House before adjourning to the Town Hall's Colonel Light Room for the formal meeting.
Arkaba Steak Cellar
Well known Adelaide personality Peter Goersrecalls eating at the Arkaba Steak Cellar at Quelltaler House: When I was 16 family friends took me to dinner at the Arkaba Steak Cellar. Discounting the odd visit to the Target Red Apple Restaurant, at Fulham Gardens, this was my first real and really posh restaurant. I was nervous but, alas, not nervous enough to keep my gob shut.
Another former customer recalls Now that place knew how to cook steak, open flame, superb meat and their sauces, especially bearnaise, were plain awesome.
The most recent use of this building was for the Penang Restaurant. Who knows how many more famous diners will feature in this building's future?
27-29 Gilbert Place
Infinity Games, Once the Location of the Roma Cinema
Moving on a few steps south is the current premises of Infinity Games, a very popular site for young gamers in Adelaide. Many people hurry past this building with barely a glance, not noticing the period lights or the extremely unusual arch over the doors. It is worth reading the words of prominent heritage consultant Tim Simpson in an article for "Heritage Living":
No-one remembers now whose horses and carriages passed through the dignified sandstone gateway at 27-29 Gilber Place or who designed the elegant voussoired arch with its heavy entablature... A two storey stone stable building survives at the rear, now incorporated into later structures
Later it would become the Roma Cinema, eventually becoming associated with pornographic films and visions of the classic dirty old men in raincoats. A photograph of the building from that era can be seen here.
The present and future
Returning to the present day, a number of the building in the laneway are earmarked for demolition to make way for a 31 level office tower. Some buildings in neighbouring Peel Street are also at risk.
But that is the price of change, isn't it?
Walk or cycle past and enjoy the scene while you can.
I couldn't agree more about exploring places on foot. It is sometimes surprising what you discover. Gilbert Place has alot of character and I often take out of town visitors exploring these lanes, nooks and crannies. I love old style architecture.
I used to hang out alot at The Pancake Parlour in my uni days - but hey, it wasn't that long ago - definitely not in the 70s hahaha