We love cafes, don’t we? Wherever they are, there’s an enticing aroma of treats in store, perhaps a signature coffee or cake, and always the lure of a little time out. For us, the cherry on top of a café date is when the signature dishes showcase the local producers, and that’s exactly what these cafes around South Australia are doing.
Eating your way around South Australia is such a pleasure! You can find more great places to taste, eat and buy more at Eat Local SA cafes.
Two’s company (or three, or four)
The Company Kitchen
The South Australia Company Store is a bit of a legend among visitors to the Barossa. Once home to the Gawler Park Glace Fruit Company, and before that an army barracks, the historic buildings are a taste of the past, right down to the 100 year old Linke’s Butcher counter and the iron marks on the floors (a soldier has to iron his uniform on something, you know).
The Barossa’s German roots are on show in the Kitchen’s version of Smoked Salmon Bruschetta, with a light spread of Zimmy’s horseradish for bite and some velvety Barossa Valley Cheese Company’s Washington washed rind cheese for complex sweetness.
The Kitchen’s famous Long Lunch Platter comes in share entrée or main course versions, both providing a gastronomic tour on a (long) plate, including more of Barossa Valley Cheese Company’s multi-award winning cheeses, a choice of cured meats from Mt Pleasant Meats, Zimmy’s sauerkraut, Apex Bakery bread and the Kitchen’s own dukkah, wild olives, olive oil and balsamic. Not to mention the pickles, gherkins, and pesto bread. That should keep the hunger pangs at bay.
The Court House Café
Over Normanville way, The Court House Café is a great spot to find many a well-fed local. Let’s take a tip from them and settle in for a delicious tapas lunch, with a heartfelt thank you to the herbs and vegetables in Sue and Paul Elliot’s backyard, naturally. They add special flavours to all the dishes, adding complexity to the Yankaponga lamb cutlets, the Hindmarsh Valley goat cheese, even the Wakefield Grange steaks.
The Court House Cafe was, actually, a court house. In the summer, this café is heaving with people sunning themselves and dining al fresco in what was once the prisoners’ exercise yard. In the winter, you can toast your toes by the open fire, just like the circuit judges did last century. By night, The Court House Cafe goes modern Australian, with a menu of tapas or traditional mains. Think share plates of Kuitpo forest wild pine mushroom caps or beautiful rainbow carrots, pulled from a local vegie patch and roasted with Inman Valley honey and Willunga walnuts or a main of Parawa pork kassler chop, served on a bed of Currency Creek sweet potato mash with caramelised McLaren Vale pears. The ‘Can’t decide’ menu caters for anyone wanting to taste from across the menu, and keep an eye out for perfect Fleurieu lamb as we head into spring.
Would you like a classic car with that?
Gally’s Meeting House
The Clare Valley has a secret. In Farrell Flat, in an 1880s building known these days as Gally’s Meeting House, they’re almost as crazy about cars as they are about food. That’s why they offer winery tours in their classic cars, and private morning or after teas and lunches for group bookings of 10 or more, serving a selection of dishes showcasing local producers, and their own range of jams, sauces, jellies and preserves as well.
Gally’s is open by prior booking and your private group will be the centre of attention, which is just as it should be in a venue where the classic cars even have names (there’s Dolly the Daimler and Choco, the chocolate brown Rolls Royce). Homemade jams are a treat with Gally’s fresh scones straight from the kitchen. And our worldwide search for the perfect lemon tart could be fulfilled right here, especially as the eggs are fresh and free range, from Rohdes in nearby Tarlee, and the lemons are the best sort – sourced from neighbourhood gardens and lovingly raised by gardeners who believe organic is best.
Down Goolwa way, the locals know there’s a fine time to be had on the riverbank at Aquacaf. This little café’s deck area is a favourite spot to enjoy the breeze and watch other people muck about on boats. Any closer to the water and we’d be fighting with the pelicans for somewhere to sit.
Friday and Saturday night tapas and flatbread nights have just been launched at Aquacaf, along with a brand new menu, and the new owners (self-described ‘food tragics’) have been scouring the local landscape, collecting cheese from Alexandrina Cheese, honey from Gilbert’s Honey, just-caught fish from Hoads Fishery on Hindmarsh Island, Matt Rowe’s free range eggs and just-milked milk from Fleurieu Milk. All this and more is going into an eclectic menu that ranges from mac and cheese for the little kids to hommus served with warm Talinga Grove olive oil, paprika and toasted Heritage Bakery ciabatta for the bigger kids.
Those eggs are showcased on a breakfast menu that (pause for gasp) actually offers a one egg option. It comes on a giant slice of Heritage Bakery sourdough toast with one rasher of bacon. Hallelujah! Big appetites can add Aquacaf’s own house-made baked beans or go for an egg and bacon damper roll. Beyond eggs, local Heritage Bakery sourdough, apricot, walnut and raison toast shines with Gilbert’s Honey, and their cobb is the perfect bready bowl for rich French onion soup. The tapas menu ranges the globe for inspiration and then comes right back home to include much-loved Coorong mullet, smoked and served as a pate.
Goolwa Fish Café
Meanwhile, over on Cadell Street, Goolwa’s original Fish Café is going strong. Golden crisp batter and crunchy chips are the order of the day here, sized to suit any appetite or party, and those with gluten issues don’t have to miss out because they has gluten free and vegetarian options too.
That’s just one of the signs that Goolwa Fish Café is not your average fast food joint. Far from it. The cruelty free pork and bacon in the house-made hamburger patties, is sourced from Maidments at Strathalbyn, and partnered with free range eggs. There’s a charcoal spit for the Café’s famous yiros, and the café turns on weekend specials including old-fashioned roasts and Asian dishes. Café favourites include locally caught Coorong Mullet, King George whiting, flake and garfish. This commitment to quality local produce has earned Goolwa Fish Café a Cittaslow award, more than one customer award and the undying loyalty of new generations of families who traditionally holiday up and down the Fleurieu Peninsula.