An opinionated foodie that loves to write. Or maybe an opinionated writer that loves to eat.
Published January 24th 2013
Adelaide's newest pop-up has taken over an Adelaide icon
142 Tynte Street was home to the Adelaide institution, The Manse, for as long as I can remember. So when the French doors closed at the infamous eatery, finding a successor to fill its empty walls was always going to be difficult. Enter Vittorio Ventura, Lauro Siliquini and Enzo Zerdino with Ruby Red Flamingo.
Ruby Red Flamingo is residing in the former home of the Manse
To the relief of many, Ruby Red Flamingo is not trying to follow in the footsteps of The Manse. If anything, it's creating its own path – in completely the opposite direction.
The menu, which is scrawled across the walls (a reminder this isn't the fine dining Manse anymore) boasts a variety of Italian dishes courtesy of Chef Zerdino. Menu items are available in two sizes giving patrons the opportunity to try several dishes and still have room for dessert.
The menus are scrawled across the walls - we're not in the Manse anymore
Ruby Red Flamingo offers the Italian equivalent of tapas with menu items all designed to be shared. The only problem is.... well, they're not. What the Italians have perhaps not learnt from their Spanish counterparts is the art of plating up dishes that can be easily divided and shared. The small Spiedini (chargilled prawns, calamari, button mushrooms and capsicum) is served on one skewer – requiring guests to carefully remove items without manhandling the remainder earmarked for other guests. The Salsiccia Di Porchetta (pork and fennel sausage) is served as one sausage and includes one piece of chargilled bread – unnecessarily difficult to share. It seems minor alterations could go a long way to improve the dining experience.
Served on one skewer the Spiedini is a difficult meal for sharing
The widely acclaimed Tuna Carpaccio was sadly not on offer during my visit – the easiest way to pre-empt this shortcoming, or whim of the chef, is the safety net statement "All our products are purchased fresh daily so we apologise if certain items are sold out".
When surveying the wine choices, I couldn't help but wonder if the list comprising of varieties less-frequently sighted on menus around town might be intimidating for some. The addition of tasting notes (even a few mere adjectives) might help the less-familiar wine drinker find their liquid companion. Nevertheless, our knowledgeable waitress helped my dining partner find a glass which was to her liking. Unfortunately the sheer noise made it difficult for us to hear her other helpful advice throughout the evening.
Targeted at walk-ins, Ruby Red Flamingo doesn't take bookings (besides groups of 10 or more) making it commonplace for guests to be waiting more than an hour to be seated. This is not a problem for most, but certainly something to be aware of. Arriving early is strongly recommended – or of course, finding another nine friends.
Ruby Red Flamingo offers a variety of areas to drink or dine
The no-booking policy, coupled with the number of nook and cranny dining areas throughout, makes finding ones friends an awkward game that staff insist on joining in on. Upon arriving I was escorted to several half-filled tables in search of my friend, only to disappoint the eager staff each time. Once it was established my companion hadn't yet arrived the game continued. Streams of guests were escorted in my direction – only to be seen shaking their heads awkwardly at staff explaining that I was not their date for the evening. Many may find this match-making a helpful service, but the words "I made it this far on my own – I can find my own friends, thanks!" were on the tip of my tongue after being hustled along to four unsuccessful matches. Service is otherwise appropriate; providing assistance without being intrusive.
Opening in September 2012 as a pop-up restaurant, judging by the permanent marker labelling the glass doors "RRF" it seems Ruby Red Flamingo might be staying a while. Since winning The Advertiser's Best New Restaurant Award in November the hype surrounding Ruby Red Flamingo has certainly grown. While the idea may be a well-received novelty in Adelaide, I can't say that it warrants the hype.
Although pleasantly surprised by the prices at Ruby Red Flamingo, I'd prefer an overpriced meal at the Manse any day.