Dinner @ Botanic Gardens Restaurant (Adelaide, Australia)

January 14, 2021 in Australian, European by thywhaleliciousfay

Awarded with 1 hat by Australia Good Food Guide (2020), I was attracted to checking out Botanic Gardens Restaurant (BGR) because of the fact that the restaurant was located within a botanical garden. When I was making my booking through their website, I imagined taking a nice long stroll in Adelaide Botanic Garden before heading into the restaurant for my dinner. Uh huh… I visualised a scenic image.

And on the day of my dinner, I received a text message earlier in the afternoon informing me that the sole entry into Adelaide Botanic Garden was through Friends Gate. Definitely very handy. So while I was supposed to reach a little earlier than my dinner appointment time to explore the botanical garden, I ended up running behind time instead. Boohoo. So while I was supposed to be enjoying the sun set, I ended up walking in darkness and was welcomed by sights of bats flying among the tall tress enroute to the gate.

Because I was still feeling full from my very filling lunch (at Topiary Dining), I decided not to go all out. So from the menu, I went with the shorter tasting menu. Ie, 5 courses instead of 7. There were options for sides, but I didn’t go for any of those too. And with that, I commenced my 5-courses menu, AUD90 with:-

1) Bread, Complimentary (above) – House made seeded sourdough with cultured butter.


  

2) Snacks (above) – Assortment including i) salanova lettuce, pear, pecorino, walnut, ii) baby cucumber, gribiche, caper berries, iii) Gazander oyster, saltbush, bonito bacon, and iv) Baharat scallop, taramasalata, smoked roe, violet leaf.

3) Smoked hiramasa kingfish (above) – With sheep’s milk yoghurt, peas, nigella seed, curry leaf.

4) Humpty Doo baby barramundi (above) – With crab & prawn, preserved orange, black garlic, buttermilk. Wasn’t too impressed with this dish. I thought the kitchen would do something with the fish skin, but it was presented just as it is; Simply pan fried. I expected more. Or have I been spoilt by most restaurants?

5) Roasted eggplant (above) – With kelp, turnip, king brown mushrooms, green elk. And to cater to my dietary restriction, I was told the beef dish was replaced with this dish of eggplant. What!?! I preferred if they replaced it with another meat dish. And the eggplant was a very big portion. I didn’t finish it. Probably because I wasn’t excited about the taste too.

6) Chestnut cake (above) – With apple, rosemary, apple ice cream, candided chestnut, creme fraiche. Texture wise, the cake was slightly sticky with some crunchy bits. Loved this!

7) Petit fours (above) – Salted caramel with sea salt.

8) Latte, AUD4.50 (above)

The food at Botanic Gardens Restaurant was average. It failed to impress. A real pity. But I enjoyed myself nonetheless thanks to the wonderful staff. While I wouldn’t say Botanic Gardens Restaurant is worth making a special trip for, I say one may consider popping by the restaurant if one intends to visit Adelaide Botanic Garden and would like to have meal that’s not too far away. I loved the restaurant’s interior and could imagine how beautiful the venue would be during the day.

BOTANIC GARDENS RESTAURANT
Plane Tree Drive, Botanic Gardens of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia
+61 8 8223 3526, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Thur – Sun : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Thur – Sat : 18:30 – 21:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon, Tues & Wed
** Hours are post-COVID lockdown, and may change when normality resumes.

Dinner @ Topiary Dining (Adelaide, Australia)

January 11, 2021 in Australian, European by thywhaleliciousfay

Topiary Dining wasn’t in my initial ‘meal planning’ for my second trip to Adelaide. I had intended to use that ’empty meal slot’ to rest my stomach. I know… Like what was I thinking. But during the trip and on the night before (my empty meal slot), I got uneasy. Haha. Was thinking to myself what a shame it would be if I didn’t fully make use of my ‘meal slots’.

And remembering a friend recommended Topiary before, I quickly searched for information on Topiary’s reservation process. Although I wasn’t sure what got into me then because I didn’t make my booking via online booking system that same night. I think I was worried if my booking was too last minute since some restaurants only prepare enough ingredients based on secured reservations. But thankfully, when I gave the restaurant a call at 10am to make lunch reservation for the same day, the staff was able to accept my booking. :)

It was a good thing the restaurant started operation early at 9am because it’s quite a long journey to Topiary from Adelaide city centre. Almost 2 hours! Including waiting time to board the second bus from Tea Tree Plaza Interchange to Tea Tree Gully city, and a 10 minutes walk (on a hiking trail) to the restaurant.

Although I have to say the journey to Topiary was pretty cool. Although long, it allowed me to experience O-Bahn Busway; A guided busway part of the bus rapid transit system. A system first conceived to enable buses to avoid traffic congestion by sharing tram tunnels in the German city of Essen.


Indoors

Between indoors and verandah, I opted for the latter as my preference of seating. But unfortunately it was raining on the day of my meal. So while I was still able to sit at the enclosed verandah, I wasn’t able to enjoy the view as much because of the rain shield. View of the (small) garden and patio with the overhanging plants. But don’t get me wrong… The indoors was charming too. I liked how a touch of nature was given to each table. For the day that I dined in, rosemary was used.


Verandah

Topiary offered 2 courses (AUD45), 3 courses (AUD60) and tasting menus. And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3), I ordered the tasting menu (journey), AUD140 which comprised of:-

1) Bread and crackling (above) – Wood-fired sourdough served with 2 types of butter. I thought the butter with crackling was pretty interesting.


  

2) Snack #1 (above) – Fried haloumi topped with ricotta and watermelon, and pork rillette wrapped within nasturtium. And the pork was batter fried such that it was (slightly) crisp on the exterior but soft within. The attention to details. Wow.

3) Snack #2 (above) – Chicken liver pate on cracker.


4) Snack #3 (above) – Smoked mackerel with abalone sauce.

5) Smoked mussel crumpet (above) – With mussel water mayonnaise, citrus marmalade and sour fennel.


6) Our ham and blackberry jam (above) – Paired with beetroot and hung goat’s yogurt.


  

7) Whipped house feta buried in brassica (above) – Was told to mix the salad up as there was pickled white onion, wild garlic flowers, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts under the crispy brassica. But I thought the dish was a little sour. Probably due to the dressing.

8) Pork with spring peas and beans (above) – Whole broad bean pod ghanoush, fresh pea and bean salsa dressed in allium vinaigrette. This was meant to be beef. But it was replaced with pork due to my dietary restriction. And the grilled aroma from the charred peas was really strong and fragrant. Pity about the pork which was on the fattier end.

9) Fair fish with Riverland asparagus (above) – With peasant’s bisque mousse and Riverland asparagus poached in smoked tomato butter.

10) Lambs neck and nasturtium (above) – With celeriac cream, nasturtium oil and juice, and dried lamb’s liver.


11) Mushroom macaron (above) – Was told that the macaron was made with Swiss brown mushroom. But the mushroom-ing didn’t just stop there. The cream sandwiched between the (macaron) biscuits had pine mushroom, and the macaron was further dusted with Swiss brown mushroom powder.


  

12) Colleens lemons and rosemary (above) – And the staff shared that the dessert was created to thank a neighbour who gave the restaurant rosemary and lemons from her property. Cake was unfortunately a little dry, but manageable when eaten with the rosemary-infused panna cotta or the lemon curd ice cream.

13) Latte, AUD4.50 (above) – And to end my meal, I ordered skinny latte for myself.

It was only after my meal that I realised Australia Good Food Guide (not to be confused as being awarded with hat) recommend another dessert dish called ‘Fallen Leaves’. It was on the menu, but not included in the the tasting menu. I probably could have requested to switch or order additional, but… I guess I only have myself to blame for not doing my homework prior to my meal. Sob.

Lunch at Topiary was nice. But the food didn’t exactly wow me though. So taking into consideration that the restaurant was a little far out (maybe not so if one drives), Topiary wouldn’t be in my Top 3 for recommendation in Adelaide.

TOPIARY DINING
1361 North East Road, Tea Tree Gully, Adelaide, SA, Australia
+61 8 8263 0818, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sun : 09:00 – 15:00
Ambience: 7
Sat : 18:00 – 20:30
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Hours are post-COVID lockdown, and may change when normality resumes.

Dinner @ Nido Bar & Pasta (Adelaide, Australia)

January 7, 2021 in Italian by thywhaleliciousfay

For my second trip to Adelaide (in October ’20), my line up of restaurants included Magill Estate Restaurant, Nido Bar & Pasta, Botanic Gardens Restaurant and Topiary. I was really keen in checking out Nido because of ‘MasterChef Australia: Back To Win (2020)’. A program which I faithfully followed (while in Australia). My curiosity was piqued because the judges would often rain praises on Laura Sharrad’s pasta dishes.

With that… Reservation was made for dinner, 2 weeks in advanced via Nido’s website. And one could say I was excited for my meal. I even went to their website to check out the online (sample) menu. Trying to anticipate what pasta dishes would be on the actual menu when I reach the restaurant.

And I was really hoping for cacio e pepe to be on the menu, but was slightly disappointed to see it’s not. Sob. But the real disappointment came when the staff said the tasting menu (AUD52 or AUD78) was not available for solo diner as the dishes on the tasting menu were meant to be shared. SOB!

And from the menu (pages 1, 2), I ordered:-


1) Sicilian anchovy finger, AUD7 (above) – With fermented chilli, ricotta and basil. I knew I ordered anchovy, but nothing prepared me for what was to come. It was too salty for my liking! I couldn’t. There were two flavours on the menu for this finger food/morsel; Anchovy and crab. I probably should have stuck to blue swimmer crab.

2) Market fish crudo, AUD24 (above) – With lemon mascarpone, pickled fennel. And I really enjoyed this dish. The tangy sauce and pickled fennel ribbons went really well with the kingfish.


3) Gnocchi, AUD30 (above) – With spiced pork ragu, pecorino. With no cacio e pepe on the menu, my next choice of pasta was gnocchi. Gnocchi was also one of the pastas which Laura made on MasterChef, but with ricotta, peas, apple caramel and mint. And now… I am not who would crave for Italian cuisine. And even if I do have Italian cuisine with my friends, we would be sticking to the spaghetti, linguine, angle hair pasta or ravioli. So this gnocchi dish was honestly a first for me, as far as I could remember. And to be honest, I always thought gnocchi was the size of our pinky finger. But boy was I wrong. They were huge. And they were cooked to perfection! The texture of the gnocchi… It was light, soft (not to be mistaken as mushy), and… Airy. If we could eat clouds, this would be it. And I would say the gnocchi was adequately sized such that one could feel its texture as one chewed. Oddly addictive! And pork ragu was a good match; In terms of texture, the pork ragu was more chewy than the pasta. So beside nailing the flavour, I honestly felt it was a good balance in the textures too. Am really glad to have my proper taste of gnocchi at Nido.

4) Yoghurt gelato, AUD10 (above) – With bay leaf oil. This looked deceivingly simple, but it was so good! This was also a dish which Laura pulled out on MasterChef! Just that the restaurant’s rendition was without the snow-like salted white chocolate.

5) Tiramisu, AUD16 (above) – Creamy, with a very wet sponge. Just the way I like my tiramisu, though I nearly choked on the generous amount of cocoa powder. Ha.

Out of the 5 dishes, 3 were brought out by Laura. And it was pretty cool to see her up close and personal! And the thing was… When I was enjoying my meal, I wondered if the dishes (especially the pasta ones) were personally cooked by Laura. It was later from my conversation with her that I learnt they had been looking for a manager. And in the absence of one, she had been temporarily filling that role while her husband Max Sharrad (who is also a chef) took charge of the kitchen.

And now… When I was making my reservation, I was given the option to choose my seating. Between standard (table), outdoor and counter, I opted for counter. Was expecting to be seated facing the kitchen, but was assigned to a table that was smacked right beside the entrance instead. And because it was pushed against the closed bi-fold door, I was basically sitting with my back facing the restaurant and looking out. And what annoyed me was that whenever someone entered, my table would rattle when they closed the entrance door since it’s all part of the same bi-fold door system.

But that aside, I enjoyed my meal at Nido Bar & Pasta. Worth a visit, especially if one is a fan of Laura because of MasterChef.

NIDO BAR & PASTA
2/160 King William Road, Hyde Park, Adelaide, SA, Australia
+61 8 8373 2044, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sun : 12:00 – 22:30
Ambience: 7
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Hours are post-COVID lockdown, and may change when normality resumes.