Shobosho – Adelaide – Friday 8 September 2017 – Dinner

Spit roast Teriyaki Clare Valley chicken, eggplant cream, shallot bread

I have mixed feelings about our visit to Shobosho. Putting aside the obvious (who you are dining with) when I go to any restaurant, it is always predominantly for the food. However jovial the experience, the food dictates.

The reason I have mixed feelings, is because generally the food was excellent at Shobosho. I can’t help but feel, through a combination of the table we were seated at, the unusual demeanour of the service, and just a vibe, that there is improvement that can be made.

Shiitake “chawanmushi”, toasted grains, dried shiitake, oyster mushrooms

And one element restaurant design that I’ve never really thought about, is having every table in view of the floor staff, or at least the floor staff having a regular need to be overseeing the tables. On a cold night in Adelaide, the position of our table, outside of the main area of the restaurant, but next to the opening, was not ideal.

Honey glazed pork steamed baozi, chinkiang vinegar

In the end, little of this detracts from my personal rating of Shobosho. With some exquisite food, such as nine hour lamb buns, aged wagyu skewers, incredible Japanese custard, and very nice five spice roasted chicken, it is hard to really be critical.

We had plenty of service attention to begin with, but like many catch ups, we spent a lot of time initially chatting rather than reviewing the menu. It’s little wonder why we were left alone, but equally there are very few places that do the restricted time early sitting well. It always feels like there is some sort of hurry to get to ordering, rather than relaxing into the meal to come. Yet for most of the times I’ve done the early sitting at restaurants, we have stayed longer than our allotment, without any consequence for the restaurant or the next set of diners.

Xinjiang style wood roast lamb bun, and Mayura Station 9+ wagyu kushiyaki, yaniniku sauce

As I mentioned, the food was delicious. The shiitake “chawanmushi” Japanese custard dish was one of several recommended by our waitperson, and she was completely correct that this odd sounding dish is beautiful. The Xinjiang style wood roast lamb buns were full of flavour; the blackened crust of the bun adding a great smokiness.

There were dishes like the honey glazed pork steamed baozi that you only expect from a specialist dumpling house. Contrast that with some delightfully plated raw yellowfin tuna, charred edamame, black rice, topped with bonito cream, and you have both rustic and finely presented modern Asian side by side. Though the bonito cream was a touch too much for the softness of the tuna.

With the spit roast Teriyaki chicken to finish, and a satisfying accompanying filler in the shallot bread, we were just too full for dessert. The savouries had done their job, and we had already overstayed our time, eating into the Richmond v Geelong final on at the nearby pubs.

Shobosho was well worth a look. Next time I’ll specifically ask for a table up the top, hoping to get some more consistent attention from the staff, and being away from the door. Some of these dishes would be hard to not order again, which is a big tick for our time here.

Shobosho Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Osteria Oggi – Adelaide – Saturday 9 September 2017 – Lunch

There is something beautiful about Osteria Oggi. The striking entrance lined with bar stools; the communal style room to the back right that feels like you are dining in a secret cave; the promise of some of Adelaide’s best Italian.

Veal tongue, anchovy, tuna mayonnaise, fried capers

The four of us are here to have a lunch feast prior to the AFL final later tonight at Adelaide Oval between Port Adelaide and the Eagles. There is that finals buzz in the air on a nice sunny day. People are happy here, and the service staff vibrant and enthusiastic.

Coffin Bay oysters

We order a bunch of entrees and mains, some to share, and some to ourselves. Coffin Bay oysters are an absolutely delicious way to start, definitely in tune with the celebratory feel. The veal tongue is rich, served generously, and done like a veal tonnato, but probably best for just a taste.

Bra sausage polpette crostini, pecorino

On the other hand, the sausage polpette was a dish that you could probably keep eating and eating. Meatballs, tomato, pecorino cheese, and bread, is a combination that is always some degree of good. In this case it was exceptional. Not far off were the sardines. Again, something so simple, but so delicious. I was already making plans to come back here the next time we are in Adelaide.

Sardines, charred bread, fennel

In a similar vein, my main of housemade pappardelle with shaved pork liver, is about as rich as it comes. Then pasta is beautiful, and the deep flavour of the liver makes for an incredible dish. Towards the end I was struggling, but that wouldn’t put me off ordering it again. It was a seriously good pasta.

Housemade pappardelle, pork livers

Trav ordered the spaghetti carbonara, which uses guanciale (cheek), to lift the dish to even greater heights. I think it may have been one of the better pastas Trav had eaten. Catherine and Kerry both couldn’t go past the gnocchi with lamb and peas, a parmesan crust, and celeriac puree. While they found our pastas delicious, they really enjoyed their gnocchi. In particular, Catherine had it above Tipo 00’s which is no mean feat.

Gnocchi with lamb and peas, celeriac puree

As satisfied as we were, nothing was going to get in the way of our dessert. Front and centre, the Oggi take on tiramisu, with coffee anglaise, chocolate parfait and vanilla zabaione, was as delicious and decadent as it looks. A heavenly end to a heavenly meal!

Tiramisu affogato, coffee anglaise, chocolate parfait, vanilla zabaione

Osteria Oggi is a very impressive place to dine. There are obviously a lot of Italian restaurants in all the capitals of Australia. This one is in the top echelon and wouldn’t be out of place in Italy itself.

Osteria Oggi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Udaberri – Adelaide, City – Friday 31 July 2015 – Dinner

IMG_4035_2Now living in Melbourne, I get the opportunity to go to Adelaide around once a year. It is a great place to explore new food and wine options, or return to the better places you have found. There is only one place however, that I go to on every single trip.

Stepping into Udaberri Pintxos Y Vino feels like you have set off for Barcelona, or maybe even San Sebastian. It is popular, a mix of people sitting at tables, on the bar, or standing around, most having a drink and many enjoying some tapas. It is quite dark, but for the well lit bar area, with several intimate spaces dispersed up and down stairs.
I always manage to find staff who are having fun, mingling with the customers, and helping improve the experience for the uninitiated. This time when we sit down we notice a great looking drink being made and like a Mexican wave it flows along the bar, simply too good looking to turn down. That drink uses a gin from Margaret River called The Sabre by West Winds, lemon that is reddened in the centre, and rosemary, to create a G+T that is anything but ordinary.

We are still feeling satisfied from our platter and dessert in the Barossa earlier in the day but decide to get a small selection to try. White anchovies, bacalao croquettes, and patatas bravas is all we need with a good helping of fresh crusty bread.
The anchovies are delicious but have a lasting garlicy effect that is hard to shake! The potatoes are perfectly fried and impossible to not finish, and the croquettes are filled with salted cod but have a light exterior and are quite simply excellent.

Every experience at Udaberri is fun, but there is certainly a lot of effort that goes into the final product, whether food or drink, to achieve that experience. It is part of an Adelaide food scene that goes from strength to strength.

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Bread & Bone Wood Grill – Adelaide, City – Sunday 2 August 2015 – Dinner

IMG_4084_2After three of the more expensive dinners we’ve had in some time it was time to find a dinner that we could afford with the remaining budget dwindling quickly. Answering our prayers was Bread & Bone Wood Grill, an American style comfort food joint hidden down one of Adelaide’s laneways.

We had come earlier to check if we should reserve a table and were told to come back early evening to be assured of getting a table. Now early on Sunday evening it was fast becoming full with tables large and small. This bar restaurant is modestly adorned with light tanned wood, looking sparse when empty, but now buzzing with noisy conversation.
The menu is full of burgers, hotdogs, fried chicken and many other foods you would like to eat more often. I blame places like Belles and Rockwell back home but fried chicken is addictive so we order Bread & Bone’s version to share. We also are intrigued by the hotdogs so we share the simple version served with only some sauce and sauerkraut.

The hotdog comes in a brioche hotdog bun which is excellent. The sausage is full of flavour and the sauerkraut, as well as the salty fries, are delicious. The fried chicken is a nice servicing, coming with some coleslaw that makes us feel a touch healthier. The chicken is moist and the batter is great, but somehow the highlight was the hotdog.
Having enjoyed the vibe at Bread and Bone we decide to stay a little longer for dessert. The salted peanut brittle softserve, with caramel popcorn is cheap, sweet and different enough to have that hint of interest. We do not regret having tried it one bit!

While Bread & Bone offers a more diverse menu than some other American style places we go to, that doesn’t mean the focus on good food is lessened. In such a big space, it seems the floorstaff are run off their feet, but have a reasonable rhythm to get to tables before your experience is hindered. There’s every chance that we’ll be back on a future trip for a beer and a dog.

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Orana – Adelaide, City – Saturday 1 August 2015 – Dinner

Crab & Yoghurt sorbet, codium & sea purslane

Crab & Yoghurt sorbet, codium & sea purslane

Noma’s Executive Chef, Rene Redzepi, recently contacted his peer at Orana, Jock Zonfrillo, to discuss Jock’s take on “Australian” cuisine. It is fitting that I was reading about this on the way to Adelaide, and our eventual date with Orana. It must be quite an honour considering Orana is undoubtedly taking more than a pinch of inspiration from what Noma is doing with Nordic ingredients.

When I am going to a new restaurant I rarely read any reviews, or even look at the menu, because the less expectation, the better. However, whilst doing preliminary research, and making a booking, there is still a certain amount of information you take in, as well as when speaking to others about your future visits. At one Adelaide Hill’s winery, the owner mentioned that some people try thirty new ingredients when dining at Orana. I found that incredibly exciting.

Alexander palm heart, native honey & green ants

Alexander palm heart, native honey & green ants

Orana is not the only restaurant in Adelaide making huge waves. It is located around the corner from another trendsetter in Africolo, and there are a host of other new names. Upstairs from popular sister eatery, Street ADL, the space is in a word, tiny. Small enough that Catherine and I counted twenty-six chairs, nicely spaced, facing the middle of the room, and the largest table of six. Oddly, everyone facing inwards towards one table seems to work out, especially given there is no decent view outside. The space is simply furnished with some smart fittings that are both stylish and noise reducing. The tables are also simply adorned, making room for some artistic decanters later on.
Once seated we are given an explanation of the tasting menu to come. Amazingly we are told we will start with fifteen “snacks”, before going on to four savoury mains, and then dessert, which again includes several snacks. One thing I did research, but can’t remember being specifically told, is the price of the tasting menu ($175). Equally, when asked about whether we wanted to take the option of matching wines, the price ($120) does not come up. This happened at Vue de Monde too, but I’d prefer to know or at least be given an overview when booking (which was on Dimmi) or when the restaurant confirms. All the same, we are eager to get into the food and with a couple of small requests for change on the wine matching, which the sommerlier agrees to, we decide on the wine matching too.

Potato damper, lamb butter; Emu in background with wild plum & mountain pepper

Potato damper, lamb butter; Emu in background with wild plum & mountain pepper

The snacks are brought out by head chef, Shannon Flemming, in what is a trend for the rest of the evening. I like the chefs having an opportunity to present their dish to you, and explain what ingredients are used, along with any story about the creation of the dish. For the first snack, damper, Shannon asks us to grab the tongs and turn it over in the hot coals that have been placed on the table. In one minute we can grab the damper off the hot coals and dip in the lamb butter to begin an evening of gorgeous combinations of local and Australian ingredients; invention abounding, and discovery similar to the road trip we have enjoyed from Melbourne via Mildura.

Without detailing each and every snack, which could go on for pages, I’d like to focus on a few of the new ingredients we tried, and some of the more inventive, or delicious bites we tried. It’s hard not to first mention the Alexander palm heart with native honey and green ants which I enjoyed two serves of! The ants are clearly sitting atop the delicately chopped palm heart and my curiosity needs to try one on their own. Surprisingly, they taste of fruit, berry like, with a burst of flavour as you crunch into them. The small spoonful of a dish works as a combination, purposely quite sweet to provide balance to the other savoury bites.

Prawn & Davidson plum

Prawn & Davidson plum

The red dust of the Davidson plum on the barely cooked prawns is spicy. The absolutely beautiful emu is gently seared with wild plum inside oozing out in your single bite. The lamb in kohlrabi is bursting in flavour. The macadamia cream drunk from a cup is a pure expression of the impeccable nut from Queensland. Never off the menu to date, the thinly sliced pumpkin again demonstrates the ability of the chefs to harness and accentuate a single ingredient.

Roast beef & pumpkin

Roast beef & pumpkin

One of my favourite snacks was towards then end where the last few were slightly larger. The crab and yoghurt sorbet is creamy and slightly sweet, on a bed of codium and sea purslane, which both are found in or near the sea. Reminiscent of the oyster ice cream at Brae, you will see sorbets and ice creams of seafood more and more, because somehow it just works.

Settling into the main dishes, a spelt dish starts us off. It is soft and generous, but not as exciting as the other mains. Next we have the first of three impeccable savoury courses. The kangaroo is encased in thinly sliced beetroot, along with many other accompanying ingredients including grasses and wild garlic. The roo itself is softly cooked, separated into bite sized tastes, almost pulled, and just tastes amazing. Whether combined with the other ingredients or on its own, it is beautiful, which is not easy to do with kangaroo.

Charred kangaroo, beetroot, grasses & wild garlic

Charred kangaroo, beetroot, grasses & wild garlic

The fish course is one of Catherine’s favourites. Mullet is again lightly touched, showing off its unctuous goodness. It comes with an ingredient we only first tried two nights back at Penfolds Magill Estate where several of the staff here have worked. The ice plant is a succulent used here that you will see more in mainstream restaurants in years to come because it has an inviting but unique flavour.

Coorong mullet, lentils, walnut & ice plant

Coorong mullet, lentils, walnut & ice plant

My favourite dish of the night is the Angus beef, served aside ox tongue. When combined with the caramelised leaks, and soft smoked potato, it has nothing of the flavour you would expect from what is often just another meat dish at the end of a tasting to make sure you are full and satisfied. This is a very adult version. Strong flavours in balance, to be eaten in small bites and not devoured.

Coorong Angus beef, smoked potato & leek

Coorong Angus beef, smoked potato & leek

Each dish was well explained by the chefs or floor staff who were serving us, and service was the highest quality, balancing attentiveness with absence for conversation. The sommelier did a terrific job too. We had started with a versatile blanc de blancs from Champagne producer Jose Dhondt (topped up without our beckoning by the sommelier to see us through the fifteen snacks), and went on to a 2012 Chablis by Patrick Piuze (as requested) with the spelt. The kangaroo was theatrically presented inside a large bowled Riedel glass which was full of smoke. Once lifted and wafted in your direction, the glass is filled with a local South Australian Amber Ale beer by Robe Town. Not a huge beer fan, Catherine requested a wine to be matched instead and got to try a great red from producer “Head”.

Pocky sticks!

Pocky sticks!

With the oily Mullet fish, we tried an equally inventive wine. Oddly Cabernet Sauvignon from the Adelaide Hills is combined with Sauvignon Blanc and Petit Verdot from the same block in an experimental vineyard. While the team at Domaine Lucci understand there is more Cab Sav in the blend, the actual proportions are not known as all the grapes are combined in the winemaking process. The result is offputtingly delicious for a traditionalist like myself, and the combination with the fish is superb. More traditional but equally delicious, the SOS 2014 Sangiovese from the Yarra Valley finished our savoury courses off, combining gracefully with the beef.

Bunya tubers & Davidson plum molases

Bunya tubers & Davidson plum molases

Going into our dessert snacks the Australian theme did not subside at all. We tried marshmallows tasting of bush lemon and dusted with mountain berries. Cinnamon jam doughnuts featured too, only the jam was made from riberry bush berries, and pocky sticks came in flavours of dark chocolate with local porcini mushrooms, white chocolate with quandong, and Spruce pine. To match we had a glass of Joseph Riesling Traminer by Primo Estate which is a Botrytis dessert wine that I’ve liked for many years.

The first of our main desserts is Davidson plum molasses over Bunya tubers in the form of ice cream. It is the sweeter of the two desserts and is followed by the only other dish besides the pumpkin that has stayed the distance on the menu (though I did suggest they might want to think about keeping the beef on!) It is not overly sweet, and is one of those dishes that works far better in combination than tasting the ingredients separately. Set buttermilk is surrounded by a strawberry juice with eucalyptus oils dispersed. It seems simple but it isn’t.

Set buttermilk, strawberry & eucalyptus

Set buttermilk, strawberry & eucalyptus

Even the petit four with our tea and coffee was imaginative, looking like a normal chocolate truffle, but tasting just like your classic chocolate crackle from the local bake stall at the fete!

We had an extraordinary time at Orana. With ingredients coming from far and wide, across our beautiful country, many of them indigenous to Australia, it was a journey. The floorstaff and chefs guided us with care and humour through the experience, and I can see why Rene Redzepi is taking lessons from Jock on his venture into what is Australian. Orana is Adelaide’s dining Fringe Festival, and it promises to be just as successful.

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