Trying to capture eating local in Adelaide in a few paragraphs is like trying to pick up the raw egg that hit the floor during one of your more cheffy moments. It’s a slippery little sucker.
To start with, Adelaide is the magnetic North of all that is great about South Australian produce. Sure, we send those eastern seaboard types some prime produce but if you know where to look you’ll find it here too, in the hands of respectful chefs and ambassadors for the cause.
As with an Oscar acceptance speech, there will be Adelaide Eat Local SA purveyors and producers not mentioned here but nonetheless worthy of your attention and your dining dollar. You will find lots of them participating in the Eat Local SA campaign to showcase premium local produce on local menus.
The Kings Head
Our plate-licking pick for now starts with the opportunity for a quiet beverage while watching the rest of the world go by. As Adelaide city empties on a weeknight, I like to plant myself quietly on a bench outside the doors of the venerable The Kings Head in King William Street, just around the corner from Sturt Street. Other people rush past; I sip slowly and let them. After all, someone’s got to do it. Inside, the only machines to be seen are the beer taps. No pokies or TAB to interrupt your food appreciation moments in here. There are spots to sit and chat, music to listen to and even games provided to play.
How to choose from the menu though? You can tour most of South Australia around this menu. Will it be Fried Spencer Gulf Prawns, Crispy Kapunda Pork Belly or a Stuffed Virginia Capsicum with your Roast Beetroot and Feta Risotto? There’s more: Beerenberg Farm Tomato Chutney for your Lemon and Thyme Marinated Clare Valley Lamb Pie Floater. You get the idea, I’m sure. The menu changes according to produce and season and the $10 bar plate specials can repair a bad day at the office faster than you can say Schnitzel baby!
Grace The Establishment
Out in the wilds of the eastern suburb you will find similar reverence for SA produce in the kitchens of Grace The Establishment. By day The Grace, as she’s known to her friends, is a languid, light-filled space with indoor, outdoor and bar seating. By night, DJ’s step in and a jug of sangria is recommended to get your night off to a good start.
Grace is not a girl to take life seriously but it would be a mistake to think there’s anything slapdash about the food. On the menu (think tapas meets gastro pub) you will find a nod to the warmer flavours of autumn in the ethically raised Savannah Lamb in Spring Rolls served with Ras El Hanout, Eggplant and Preserved Lemons and San Jose prosciutto nestled with figs from the Adelaide Hills in the Prosciutto and Ricotta Salata.
GOODLIFE Modern Organic Pizza
Family-friendly food can be decidedly unlovable at times but seven time winner of Best Pizza in Adelaide, GOODLIFE Modern Organic Pizza is a revelation. The first certified organic pizza bar in Australia, they serve selected local and organic pizza, wines and coffee at three locations around town: Hutt Street in the city, O’Connell Street in North Adelaide and down by the beach at Glenelg.
If you find yourself out west of the parklands, amble down to The Highway. They are very social (media) down in Plympton. Tweeters love this pub and not just because they can shorten the name to @HWYhotel. Easy. Making a decision about what to eat is a bit harder.
This is a full-on pub with many faces. In the Lounge Bar there’s a program of live local music every week that goes down especially well with a house special FruChoc cocktail (currently serving Dark Mint Choc, PineappleChoc and White FruChoc – ask for a recipe card and ye shall receive).
In the Bistro you can start the fun with a dish of warm Coriole olives from McLaren Vale teamed with award-winning artisan breads from Skala Bakery, and continue on to flappingly fresh seafood (there’s not a frozen fillet in the whole joint) including Coorong mullet and seafood from Coffin and Streaky Bays, pizzas topped with premium Barossa Fine Foods prosciutto or pork from Murray Valley.
All the tomatoes are organic heirloom varieties from the Adelaide Hills and all the mushrooms are plucked locally too. The mushrooms even get their own annual seasonal feature menu, and every May Nick Finn teams up with Macro Meats Gourmet Game to showcase some of Australia’s best game meats, pushing the boundaries of regular pub fare in what has become an annual highlight on the hotel’s program.
The grains used are sourced from Thistle Be Good and every condiment in the place is local, sourced from Beerenberg Farm, Spring Gully Foods or Newman’s Horseradish (did you know the very best horseradish hails from Langhorne Creek? Well, now you do).
I would be thrown out of my family if I didn’t mention Haigh’s Chocolates; I was raised on them. The oldest family-owned chocolate retailer in Australia, they are one of the few who still actually make their own chocolate from the cocoa beans, and hand finish them too.
Haigh’s premium milk chocolate has recently been named one of the world’s best. Enough said. Tours of the Parkside factory are very popular, and not just because they end with a complimentary chocolate and a cuppa. These lovely people also share recipes like this Haigh’s Chocolates Dark Chocolate Orange Tart. Masterchef, here you come.