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TRAVEL: ADELAIDE

122412-4122432-4122434-4Food shots @ Orana 23/12/2013

Food shots @ Orana 23/12/2013126723-4“Radelaide” as the local crowd have affectionately named it, is buzzing. Nestled in the midst of three major Australian wine regions (Clare Valley, Mclaren Vale and the Barossa) it’s delightfully bohemian.

Sarah’s Sister’s Sustainable Cafe is a beachfront institution. Sarah has been the poster girl for Adelaide’s environmentally conscious for almost two decades. It’s a testament to how involved the café is in local sustainablity projects, but mostly to the quality of the food. Forget raw, this is comfortable vegetarian/ vegan fare in what is essentially a giant tapestry tent. It’s less like an urban outfitters ad than it sounds- Think rich sauces, lentils, vegetarian cheeses and fair trade coffee. Sit and be mindful, they’ve nailed the busy yet calming vibe. 117 Semaphore Road, Semaphore

The Seasonal Garden Café in the Adelaide hills, makes some of the best kumara chips I’ve ever eaten. They come with a whipped avocado dip, which is delicious, and has the added benefit of making you feel healthy while you eat fried potato. It’s a quaint, county bumpkin kind of joint in the German settlement of Handhorf- you could walk right by it… Don’t. 100 Main Road, Hahndorf

CREAM (Coffee Rules Everything Around Me) is so hip that you’ll sort of wonder why you’re there until one of the friendly dudes that runs the place starts chatting to you. They’re so cool, even the names of the roasts are a quiet ode to Wu Tang. The coffee is amazing too, house blend, guest blend or filter. 4/49 Jetty Road, Brighton

Orana has a long waitlist: I’m still on the fence about whether that’s justified. It’s degustation only, at $295 per person for food and wine in the evenings and $150 on a Friday lunch. Jock Zonfrillo’s concept is an authentic Australian cuisine, which is slightly unbelievable coming from a UK expat. You’re likely to forgive him, however, after you’ve made your way through 15 “snacks”, three mains and dessert. We ate ants – how fucking sophisticated. KR

THE CULT PROJECT

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Photographs: David Straight

The Cult Project is Carlo Buenaventura and William Cook, two fine young chefs with impressive CVs who between them have cooked at the Matterhorn in Wellington, the Town Mouse in Melbourne and Orphans Kitchen. Now, they’ve started The Cult Project, a series of popup dinners at Madame George and The Late Night Diner. Starting tomorrow night, they’ll be serving multi-course dinners twice a week until March. Tickets are available online and cost $60 for three courses.

Ambitious, but we reckon they’re up to it. At a recent tasting at Madame George recently, they served up the menu for their first two dinners. There was an entree of gem lettuce, grilled and then chilled and served with sunflower seed “sour cream”, a fish sauce dressing made from kahawai – kahawai! – and aromatic herbs including curry leaves. It was an inspired dish, by turns crunchy and cold, with a faintly grilled flavour that wasn’t overpowering. We also ate perfectly grilled beef flank, served with crunchy endive and a cucumber and kombucha vinaigrette which was also served with roasted avocado: normally we run a mile from warm avocado but somehow, it just worked, adding texture and flavour to a beautifully restrained dish. On the side, creamed corn with goat curd and shiso, which was one of the best things I’ve eaten this year. To finish, a curry vadouvan with goat milk and verbena, which was by turns savoury and sweet, and which I liked a lot.

Buenaventura originally hails from the Phillipines, while Cook grew up in England. The food  they make draws on those influences – as with the fish sauce dressing on the gem lettuce (Buenaventura) and the curry vadouvan, which Cook created in a homage to his childhood. Which is lovely, but the bottom line for us? This is carefully composed, technically accomplished food – there’s a crisp, clean sort of feeling to  it, with distinctive flavours. Make sure you support them. SFG

HOURS Dinner Tuesday and Friday until March, further dates TBC.

ADDRESS Madame George, 490 Karangahape Road; Late Night Diner, 152B Ponsonby Road. thecultproject.co.nz

IMPORTANT DETAILS Tickets don’t include booze – there’s a cash bar on the night.

EHN x CASSIA

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We’re super excited to invite you to our next supper club at Cassia on February 24. If you haven’t been, Cassia is the modern Indian restaurant of Sidart‘s Sid Sahrawat: the restaurant takes Indian classics and pushes them about, twisting and pulling so they’re at once recognisable and new. The service is casual but accomplished and the room is beautiful, in a bricky bunker on Fort Lane in Britomart.

On February 24, we’ll be sitting down to a special menu of new dishes that have not been tried by the public before – five fabulous courses which may or may not include such things as skirt steak, onion ash and sorrel sorbet. The menu’s still being worked on, but you get the idea: this is Indian food, just not quite as you know it. We’re matching this with some special wine (and possibly a beer), and we’ll kick everything off with a bespoke aperitif created by Cassia’s highly excellent barmen.

We’re looking forward to it – tickets are $150 for food and wine, and available below. We hope to see you there.

MUMBAI CHAAT

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Photographs: David Straight

Mumbai Chaat is spotlessly clean and brightly lit: it is bright orange on the outside and yellow on the inside with one big long line of tables down one side. There is a lot of Formica and a television on the wall streaming – what else – Bollywood movies.

You are here for some of the best Mumbai and Gujarati food in Auckland – it’s vegetarian street food, essentially, and designed to be snacked on while sitting about talking. The flavours are light and clean, and the curries are gently spiced and everything is fresh that day. There’s a whiteboard telling you what’s on special below the PLEASE ORDER HERE sign, though we don’t usually pay much attention because it’s all good – vegetarian, and best shared in a thali with a curry or two, papadam, rice or pulao, salad and pickles.

That leaves you with room for chaat, including the pav bhaji – a vegetable curry with a soft roll – and the masala dosa, its pastry light and crispy, the potatoes fluffy and gently spiced. The dahi puri are delicately crunchy and sour from the tamarind: brilliant, in other words. SFG

HOURS Lunch and dinner, seven days.

ADDRESS 1A Kitchener Road, Sandringham, ph 846 9393. mumbaichaat.co.nz

IMPORTANT DETAILS If you don’t know what you want, ask the staff. They’re helpful.

TASTY NOODLES

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Photographs: David Straight

We went to Tasty Noodles, oh, about a year or so ago and we didn’t really like it. We had a plate of noodles in a bland sesame sauce and an insipid bowl of spicy beef noodles and the place felt forlorn. A year on, everything at this northern-Chinese diner is different.

Tasty Noodles has the same owners, but the menu is new – it’s different, and better – and the service is really helpful. There’s a fitout that has big comfy booths, which remind you of a truck stop, in a good way, an impression helped by the gas station next door. And there’s a big ceramic urn with a metal top in the corner – inside there’s slow-burning charcoal, and little clay dishes with lids: they call this “jar soup” ($7) on the menu, a traditional Chinese medicinal soup, slow-cooked and smoky, full of umami and slowly cooked meat and mushrooms. There are also complementary little dishes of pickled carrot dusted with chilli powder to get you going: very few Chinese restaurants do this.

We’ve also recently ordered lamb dumplings ($6.50 for 10) which are fabulous, served upside down direct from the pan with a big fan of crispy pastry underneath them. The dry noodles are the biz – make sure you order the hand-pulled ones, for $1 extra, and get the wide belt noodles while you’re at it and then combine them with the sour-spicy pork (10 for a large bowl). We also love the cold dishes: beef and tripe in sesame and chilli sauce ($6) is perfectly piquant for a hot day, as well as “black fungus with mustard” ($6) which is a dish of black mushrooms with a jagged mustard oil. There is spice and heat and pickle and balance. Most excellent. SFG

HOURS 11am to 10pm, seven days.

ADDRESS 1/919 Dominion Road, Mt Roskill, ph 620-5618.

IMPORTANT DETAILS Heaps of parking outside.