An opinionated foodie that loves to write. Or maybe an opinionated writer that loves to eat.
Published January 31st 2014
Does this place have more soul than a tax collector?
They say the only certainty in life is death and taxes. Well maybe the other certainty was that Adelaide's newest bar, The Taxpayer, would be packed on its opening night.
And packed it was. A good yield some might say.
Note to readers: I owe you an apology in advance as you may find this article rather taxing, but with a name like The Taxpayer the puns cannot be deducted. And I wouldn't bank on them getting any better either.
The Facebook page claims in no uncertain terms that The Taxpayer has evolved from 'tragedy'. Perhaps those on the inner circle understand this reference, but I'm just left wondering if part owner and Adelaide restaurateur/self proclaimed entrepreneur, Kristian Livolsi, had another business partner go into administration (think XO Supper Club) or if liquidators have stepped in (think Citrus). But in the interest of equity I should also point out that Livolsi has done some great things in the Adelaide restaurant scene and with a solid team behind him (Frank Vounassis, Owen Colin, Michael Harrison, Ian Callahan and Filip Odzak) the Taxpayer should be no different.
The dark space inside is perfect for night time drinks, but perhaps a little seedy for breakfast fare.
Located across from the newly renovated Victoria Square, one can't help but wonder if it was the city square's new unveiling (and hosting of the Tour Down Under Village) that may have influenced the timing of The Taxpayer's first collection. Their Facebook page boasts the opening was the best kept secret of 2013 and in early January it was declared the site's former owner, The Dragonfly, would be transformed within ten days - to a sanctuary for taxpayer's (and perhaps even those who aren't). But perhaps a little more time would've allowed the team to overcome some of the opening night blunders that may depreciate their value.
The security at the door promptly found our booking by surname, which became confusing when the staff inside had it only by first name (maybe I just should've used my TFN). Sure, we were moved tables twice, and couldn't quite work out if food (from the not-yet-final-menu because "we didn't get it done in time") should be ordered at the bar or with the waitress who promised to return promptly (don't despair though - after waiting at the bar for 10 minutes the waitress did indeed return to take our order).
Soon after placing an order the waitress returned with a beer (in a red frat party beer cup) and champagne, only to explain the beer requested wasn't available (it didn't get delivered in time) so a suitable alternative was instead provided. At the time her honesty and thoughtfulness received much appreciation, but in retrospect perhaps recommending (rather than pouring) an alternative would be the right way to go. When apologising for the service, for nearly the final time, the waitress explained they were two staff down. On opening night? I'd be finding myself an understudy. But overall the staff here are a real credit, showing a genuine interest in the concerns of patrons and a good use of the Taxpayer's funds.
The Taxpayer serves its frothies in frat party beer cups.
While the outdoor area, surrounded with its wheelbarrow [not-yet-planted] planter boxes, offers a pretty space and view over the square, I couldn't envisage enjoying breakfast inside. With a narrow space and a painted solid black wall gracing the length of the room I could only imagine during daylight hours it would still feel very much like a bar (with a sticky floor at that). Compared to the many wine bars popping up around Adelaide, on its opening night The Taxpayer unfortunately offered about as much soul as a tax collector.
The Taxpayer's outside seating area is probably the best option for breakfast.
The food on offer seemed to please, and the Tax Evasion burger was without a doubt tasty – but a creative name doesn't make up for lack of creativity in the kitchen. The Taxpayer is now part of the growing trend of offering street food in Adelaide - which means yet another popular spot is serving food in cardboard boxes (think Street ADL and Little Miss Mexico) I'm keen to see what the final menu looks like and how it will evolve – promises are being made that Livolsi is still working away on new street dishes - so fingers crossed.
While still trying to determine what Taxpayer's are up for, their Facebook page looks set to be the place to watch for hot offers and new ideas. At the time of publishing the page has over 3,500 likes, so this place is obviously appealing – we'll just have to see how many return.
So the bottom line (and my final pun) – it was fine. In their words "The future at the Taxpayer is yet to be forged, but we are committed to excellence and our people" – and you know what? I believe them, I really do. And I bet this place goes off on June 30.
A fascinating audit Hannah, and it will be interesting to see if you found the whole experience 'taxing' or whether you will submit to a return. I hope any refund comes as promptly as from their alter ego.
Personally I am still grappling a little with places that have a dual identity, but they do accommodate both the daytime and nighttime economy.
Who knows, entrepreneurs may be able to activate the city without the benefit of the Capital City Development Commission? Then they can get on with the job of demolishing heritage places like the former Jade Monkey while wearing their DPTI hats.