A freelance writer and traveller who likes to explore the spiritual, literary and hidden gems of Adelaide and beyond.
Published December 21st 2020
New hotspot dining experience in McLaren Vale
Ogre Brewing Co. & Tap House, a new dining experience in McLaren Vale, offers sparkling fresh food, friendly service and top ale. The restaurant and Tap House herald a revamp of the site that was previously occupied by the long-established restaurant The Barn. The site has been vacant for some time but has now been revitalised by the new owners. The location now boasts sleek new signage and an upmarket but rustic menu. The food is best described as modern Australian, which encompasses a wide variety of Asian influences mixed with Latvian heritage. Quite an original and exciting mix. Latvia is a small Baltic country that borders Estonia and Lithuania, of which there is a small community in South Australia. Ogre Brewing Co. has rebranded the venue with its own style of beer and food, which is in high demand and already very popular despite only opening in mid-December 2020.
The name Ogre is striking and conjures up the impression of a giant monster aka Shrek, but the origin of the name is actually a place in Latvia which shows the ancestry of the owner. The Latvian influence is clear to the Latvian community, who have Ogre firmly on their radar. Latvians love the little pastries named Piragi, which are made with a mix of bacon and onion. They are lovingly served at Ogre plated with a side of sour cream flavoured with dill. This is the gateway dish for anyone learning about Latvian cuisine.
Ogre's Main Road entrance has a lounge area for casual drinks, leading to a larger space of indoor and outdoor dining, which caters for large and small gatherings. Food and drink orders are taken and paid for at the counter.
The menu is a mix of traditional Australian pub dining (burgers) and a more ambitious cosmopolitan and modern-style (Pork Belly & Octopus Skewers & Korean Fried Chicken Burgers). There are a number of starters and snacks that make an excellent accompaniment to the house-made beer. When going for a house-made beer, why not try the house-made pickles, a match made in heaven. Pickling food is on-trend and the pickles on offer here are crisp beans, cauliflower, onions and pink pickled eggs. Other recommended starters are the popular Pork and Black Pudding Picnic Pie and Port Lincoln Mussels.
Main Courses include the traditional beef burger and more diverse Korean and Thai-inspired flavours (Beef Cheek with red curry and Thai salad). There is a specials board to look out for which includes the market fish of the day. The side dishes are definitely worth a mention with house-cut chips with BBQ seasoning, grilled zucchini and fresh iceberg lettuce that comes with anchovies and a dill mayonnaise that is hard to resist.
King fish - market fish of the day with a side order of iceberg lettuce
The Panna Cotta is served sprinkled with a cornflake like crumble and who knew the humble cornflake could be highlighted in this way! The pavlova has the desired crunch and gooey component with fresh fruit served on the side.
The all-important house-made beer is a winner. The barman is happy to give patrons a taste test of the different brews and the plan is to offer beer flights in the near future. All of the beers are made using traditional methods inspired by the family's Latvian roots. The house-made pale ale is full and fruity in flavour, ideal on a hot summer's day. The wine list is small and local but will develop as the restaurant finds its feet but being a Tap House, the obvious emphasis is on beer.
The service is friendly and welcoming with the staff quite happy to talk about the food influences and menu and the origins of the restaurant. Our waiter could also alter the sound levels of each individual room via his phone. Nothing was too much trouble. The branding of the name Ogre has the subtitle of Priekā! Which is Latvian for 'cheers!'. So cheers to new ventures, house-made brews, fresh local food and that Latvian connection. Worth finding in 2021 and beyond.
Bookings are required and this is made easy by using their online booking system. Further info here
Great stuff, Jenny! This place looks the goods. Latvian food has been around in the cities for a while so it's good to see it spreading its wings into the regions. I must say it was also nice to not be lectured on hand-washing and social distancing in an article for a change!
Merry Xmas to you and yours.
Ogre is getting lots of good word of mouth and is already popular. I really wanted to do this article to promote a great new local dining experience, but also to highlight the Latvian connection (my husband has Latvian ancestry). I am sure I will receive feedback from the Latvians in my life!