Dinner @ Topiary Dining (Adelaide, Australia)

January 11, 2021 in Australian, European

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.

Lunch @ Magill Estate Restaurant (Adelaide, Australia)

January 4, 2021 in Australian, European

During my first visit to Adelaide in February ’20, the only restaurant I managed to visit was Orana. So one could say my return trip to Adelaide in October ’20 was very much for me to try the other restaurants that I didn’t get to in my earlier trip.

So while I used Australia Good Food Guide (2020) as a guide in deciding which restaurants to try, Magill Estate Restaurant was also recommended to me during my earlier trip by one of the stall holders at Ebenezer Night Market. So I knew Magill Estate Restaurant was a ‘must’. And thus, reservation was made 2.5 weeks in advanced via their website for lunch. And in my reservation, I made my selection for the tasting menu (7 courses). Actually… There’s only 1 menu available. For both lunch and dinner. Hee.

Most vineyards in Adelaide are only accessible by car. So it’s only natural to assume the same for Magill Estate Restaurant since it’s after all a restaurant located within a vineyard. But luckily for me (since it isn’t new news that I still don’t have my driving license), Magill Estate Restaurant was just a 30 minutes bus journey from Adelaide city centre! I know right! How good! Although if one is taking the public transport, one needs to take note of the bus timing because its frequency is pretty low.

I arrived early for my 12pm reservation, and tried to pass time by exploring the compound. And the keyword was ‘tried’ because I ended up spending most of my time waiting at Magill Estate Cellar Door which was the building beside the restaurant. Ha.

And when I finally stepped into the restaurant, I fell in love with the place. The restaurant overlooked the vineyard and the full height glass provided an unobstructed view of it. I was extremely lucky to be blessed with good weather during my lunch. Think endless greens set against brilliantly blue sky that’s dotted with light, wispy clouds. Such an amazing view!

As the food menu was fixed (being a 7 courses tasting menu), the staff took my order for drinks instead. Besides being able to order alcohol by the glass, there were 2 options for wine pairing. One being ‘icon and luxury wine match’ at AUD260, and the other was ‘sommeliers choice wine match’ for AUD125. Having tried a few wine pairing (at other restaurants), I learnt that wine pairing really wasn’t for me because I couldn’t finish all the glasses. I always end up tipsy if I attempted to drink them all. Haha. But because Magill Estate Restaurant was an extension of the Magill Estate winery, I figured it’ll be a shame not to do the wine pairing. And so, I opted for the AUD125 instead of AUD260.

And with that, I commenced my tasting menu (7 courses), AUD220 with:-

1) Snack #1 (above) – Oyster.


2) Snack #2 (above) – House-made crumpet with trout roe and trout butter.

3) Snack #3 (above) – Swiss brown mushroom on rice cracker.


4) Snack #4 (above) – Lamb sando (sandwich) with pickled cabbage and Japanese mustard.


5) Snack #5 (above) – Chicken wing stuffed with scallop.

6) Snack #6 (above) – Roasted mushroom broth with macadamia oil.


7) Lobster (above) – With kombu, fermented ice.


8) Whiting (above) – With fermented green peppers, blood lime. And the staff mentioned sashimi grade, I was told the sashimi-grade King George whiting was slightly torched. Really good.


  

9) Bread, Complimentary (above) – Butter made with Jersey cream, and served in 4 flavours; Plain with sea salt, roasted mushroom, white miso and seaweed.


10) Ling fish (above) – With turnip, miso. Unfortunately, I found the dish salty. I initially thought it was the burnt butter sauce, but no! It was the ling fish. How odd. Was it overly seasoned, or was the fish naturally salty? The turnip (done 2 ways; pickled ribbon and puree) didn’t help to offset the saltiness.


  

11) Duck (above) – With mandarin, fennel. The staff mentioned the dry-aged duck breast was put in the fridge for 3 weeks before it’s cooked in the oven. And I liked how the duck was paired with the fennel salad. The fennel salad acted like a palate cleanser which I had after every bite of the duck.

12) Lamb (above) – With almond, kale and fenugreek. A cut from between the ribs was used for the lamb. And it’s interesting that mullet roe was shaved onto the kale salad. Italy influenced, the staff mentioned.


13) Palate cleanser (above) – Blood orange, strawberry, vanilla. And this was beautiful. I liked how the dish incorporated different textures of the blood orange; Flesh of the fruit, and blood orange jam.

14) Apple (above) – With pine nut, brown butter. And this would Magill Estate Restaurant’s rendition of the apple pie.

15) Petit fours (above)

16) Coffee, Complimentary (above)

I had a blast at Magill Estate Restaurant. It was such a good meal. Definitely deserving of its 2 hats by Australia Good Food Guide (2020). I highly recommend Magill Estate Restaurant!

There’s no question of how delectable the food was. And it’s amazing to see a vineyard in a residential area. Uh huh… Urban vineyard. But what made my dining experience extra memorable was the service. To cite an example… The staff knew I was due to fly out of Adelaide later in the day (at 5.10pm). She constantly checked with the kitchen to make sure I could finish my meal within 2.5 hours; She learnt that I was taking the public transport and knew the bus heading into Adelaide city centre only comes hourly. So she was making sure I wouldn’t miss my bus (and thus my flight. Ha). Really appreciated it!

And because I was conscious of time, I noticed the crowd come in around 12.45pm. So if one has a flight to catch (like me), do make reservation for 12pm because the pace of the dishes between 12pm to 12.45pm was faster. Another observation that I made was that it got a little glaring/harsh on the eyes around 2pm (for my meal in mid October). There wasn’t direct sunlight entering the restaurant through the full height glass, so I guessed it’s probably UV (ultraviolet) rays.

With my wine pairing, my meal came up to AUD345 (inclusive of tax). And yes… I actually left the restaurant slightly high. Haha. How do one finish all the glasses of wine for wine pairing, I still wonder.

PENFOLDS MAGILL ESTATE RESTAURANT
78 Penfold Road, Adelaide, SA, Australia
+61 8 8301 5551, Website
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Sat – Sun : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 9
Wed – Sat : 18:30 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon & Tues
** Hours are post-COVID lockdown, and may change when normality resumes.

Dinner @ Orana (Adelaide, Australia)

September 20, 2020 in Australian

After I arrived in Sydney in July ’19, I didn’t do much interstate travelling except for a trip to Canberra in October. You see… My flight tickets were mostly all bought for 2020. So while some of my trips were cancelled because of COVID-19, I was fortunate I managed to travel a bit before the lockdown (in April ’20). So yes, I’m actually very thankful I got to head up to Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne.

  

For my dinner reservation in February, I made mine in December ’19 through Orana’s website since Orana accepted reservation up to 3 months in advanced. And as taken from their website, Restaurant Orana is home to chef-owner Jock Zonfrillo’s intimate dining room where he uses Indigenous ingredients to showcase Australia’s modern gastronomic identity.

The accommodation that I stayed in Adelaide happened to be within walking distance from Orana. And if one’s headed to Orana on a weekend and in summer, I recommend reaching the area earlier to check out Ebenezer Night Market too. It’s a pretty small market, but I walked away with 3 pairs of earrings. Haha.

I arrived at the restaurant punctually for my 7pm dinner. And as I took my seat, I noticed every unoccupied table had what looked like dough proofing in banneton baskets. And true enough, the staff said the dough would be taken to the kitchen be baked. Pretty awesome, I got to say.

The degustation menu named ‘Alkoopina’ meant snacks in Aboriginal language. And yes, ‘Orana’ had a meaning behind its name in Aboriginal language too. ‘Orana’ meant welcome. And I commenced my dinner menu, AUD295 with:-


  

1) Potato damper & lamb butter (above) – Placed on hot coals, I was told to turn the potato damper on lemon myrtle branch skewer around after 5 seconds. Unfortunately I got a little carried away with my picture taking which explained why mine turned out to be more charred than it should be. Though the staff did come over with tongs to help me remove the burnt bits and excess ash. A neighbouring table got equally carried away, but theirs probably couldn’t be saved because the staff had theirs replaced.


2) Macadamia & native thyme (topmost, right) – And this was certainly interesting; Warm macadamia milk with native thyme oil.

3) Scarlet prawn, crocodile lardo & boab (above) – A close-up of the dish revealed boab powder, deep-fried-till-crisp prawn legs and thin layers of lardo placed over the prawn flesh. In fact, the slices of lardo were placed slightly overlapping one another to replicate a prawn shell. The attention to details was simply amazing. And this tasted so good too. Was also told to suck at the prawn head.

4) Streaky Bay abalone & gubinge (above)


5) Murray river cod, succulents & eucalyptus (above)

6) Bunya nut, wild salmon roe & long yam (above)

7) Set custard, Coorong mullet bottarga, bunya & saltbush (above) – And this staeamed egg (chawanmushi) dish was a surprise in terms of plating. The staff removed the lid to reveal the bunya nut miso and saltbush leaves ‘stuck’ to the bottom of the lid.


8) Surf & turf (above) – Smoked over coals, this was supposed to be cubes of blue-fin tuna belly with Davidson plum curry and wagyu beef with Dorrigo pepper. But because I don’t take beef for religious reason, the beef was replaced with mushroom.


9) ‘Tongue in cheek’ roti (above) – Jerked lamb tongue & leather jacket cheek. This was enjoyable, although I wished the roti was a little less oily.

10) ‘Soup soup’ (above) – Crocodile with Australian botanicals.

11) Kohlrabi, quandong, lemon myrtle & dorrigo (above) – Pickled kohlrabi discs rolled into tiny cones, and held together by chilled burrata foam within. Topped with pickled quandong strips, and each cone piped with lemon myrtle and dorrigo dressing.


12) Return of the bread (above) – With native thyme & macadamia butter. And yes, this was from the same dough that was proofing on the table under a glass cloche. Bakers would know we sometimes have our ‘off baking days’, yet Orana boldly placed the balls of dough on every tables. And that to me spelled confidence.

13) Marron, Geraldton wax & wild plum (above) – Orana usually served this dish with green ants. But I must have come when ants weren’t in season. Although to be very honest, I think I was secretly happy I got the ant-less version. Keke.

14) Quail, minya, Ngeringa farm greens & bunya nut shoyu (above)


  

15) Coopers sparkling ice-cream pop, paperbark ice-cream sandwich & Orana vovo (topmost, left to right)

16) Set buttermilk, strawberry & eucalyptus (above)

17) Twin Lakes Mob Jillungin tea (above)

18) MacRobertson chocolate – Freddo Frog (above)

It was a fun and interesting dining experience at Orana. I did a little research and realised bush damper is part of the Aboriginal culture. So yes, it’s pretty amazing how head chef Jock designed the dish to allow us to experience a little of the Aboriginal culture by getting us to ‘cook’ our own (potato) damper. So if I could say… The meal doubled up as being educational too. At least forty seasonal Indigenous ingredients were used. And the restaurant was decorated with different pieces of Aboriginal artworks and native flower arrangement.

One definitely has to give it to head chef Jock. Even though he wasn’t born here, he chose to take on the task of preventing the Aboriginal tradition and culture from being wiped out. I read from an article that he first came to Australia in 1990s. After a few years, he left before returning in 2000 because his fascination of Australia refused to swindle. And it was his past conversation with an Aboriginal man in 1990s that inspired him to establish the Orana Foundation. Wow. And the Orana Foundation is a non-profit venture that works with Indigenous communities to preserve and promote Indigenous food and culture, and share skills training and employment opportunities.

No surprise that 2 sachets of native tea leaves were in the souvenir bag, which the staff passed to me as I made my way to the exit. And it’s a pity head chef Jock wasn’t at the restaurant during my meal. It’s only later that I realised it’s probably because he was filming MasterChef Australia: Back To Win, which premiered on 13 April ’20.

Do I recommend Orana? Oh yes! It may be pricey than other fine-dining restaurants, but I feel it’s justified. Please dine at Orana and experience the incredible things that head chef Jock and his team are doing!

RESTAURANT ORANA
1/285 Rundle Street, Adelaide, SA, Australia
+61 8 8232 3444, Website
Overall: 8.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 9
Fri : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Tues – Sat : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 9
* Closed on Mon & Sun