I'm an Adelaide comms professional and I love to share my dining experiences. Although I'm a vego my husband isn't so my reviews often include his meaty meals.
Published January 10th 2015
Fleurieu Peninsula's hidden gem for foodies
If you find yourself on the Fleurieu Peninsula, on South Australia's south coast, Leonards Mill is a must-visit.
We didn't have any expectations, not having researched the venue prior, and were thrilled by the refined food, congenial wait staff and warm atmosphere.
The character and authenticity of the old flour mill that houses the multi-level restaurant has been preserved. It has a country charm whilst also being elegant.
The Leonards Mill menu showcases the region's best produce and is prepared with respect and mastery. You can choose from two or three courses at a set price, a six course degustation with optional wine pairing, or for a more casual experience they have a menu of snacks and simpler fare (only available for lunch and on Friday nights). A separate vegetarian menu is provided on request too.
They are so accommodating that each person on the table can choose a different dining style – you could enjoy the degustation while others the simpler fare.
Our table all chose the two course menu.
The complimentary snacks and bread to start hinted that this would be a meal to rival South Australia's best fine dining establishments. One board came with flavourful olive crisps, their texture reminiscent to prawn crackers, with dollops of creamy garlic aioli. Another board had delicious flaxseed biscuits, plus still-warm dark rye bread and sliced ciabatta with a light fruity oil and house-made butter.
When the entrees arrived at our table we all salivated - the plating was beautiful. Smoked kingfish sashimi with chargrilled octopus, dashi pearls, daikon and yuzu was presented with unostentatious theatre. A cloche taken off at the table freed a haze of smoke that wafted around the table. The meal was fresh, succulent and perfectly smoked, with the octopus earning the highest praise. Tender, braised pork belly was served with crispy crackling and a suite of mouthwatering accompaniments - sesame and smoked aubergine puree, shitake mushrooms and onion oil. The vegetarian entrée was flavoursome and wonderfully textural, consisting of heirloom tomato and quinoa, goat's cheese, fermented garlic and tomato tea.
The mains on our table included Kangaroo Island lamb neck with charred shallots, apple and sheep labneh; Local snapper with cauliflower, dried scallop and grape; Beef onglet with horseradish buttermilk, pumpernickel, pickles and nasturtium; And dukkah-crusted falafel with radish, sheep labneh and smoked eggplant. The meat and fish were perfectly cooked and each component balanced the next on all our plates. The horseradish buttermilk was good enough to drink. The soft braised lamb had an appetising jus, its richness cut through by the freshness and acidity of the apple. The snapper was perfect for a diner who steers away from "fishy fish". And the falafel was a delicate rendition of what can sometimes be a dry and heavy meal.
The service was unpretentious despite the fine dining quality of the food. The waiters offered friendly banter while maintaining great professionalism. We felt welcomed on arrival and left wanting to return.
It is also worth noting that Leonards Mill has a productive vegetable garden and multitude of fruit trees, plus source and support local ingredients where possible, purchasing from local farmers, cheese makers, wineries, fisheries, potters and artists.