A Radelaide Weekend Off the Island
by Lily Whiting
With a four-day gap in both mine and my good friend’s calendar, it seemed like a sign from above to shoot over to South Australia for a long weekend.
While there was going to be no beach hopping in July, accommodation was instead aplenty and cheap, and without a snowy mountain in sight, it was mild and no extra thermals were required. It was to be a long weekend of enjoying ourselves, so we left Hobart with dinners booked, afternoon bars in mind and a hire car ready to take us beyond the city fringes.
Within hours of leaving Hobart, we had descended into Adelaide and swiftly made our way to lunch. A former bank turned restaurant, Fishbank has a sense of old school glamour with its gold detailing, oyster and raw bar stations and a caviar cart making its way between tables. We settled into an old bank booth while devouring seafood plates and the first of many South Australian wines for the weekend. Our fried kingfish wings were dismantled and cleaned of any soft parcels of fish – my Dad would be proud that one of my very few talents has finally come in handy.
While bar seats may not be for everyone, perched at Shobosho on Friday night was as entertaining as it was delicious. Observing chefs working seamlessly among the smoke, steam and fire had our eyes fixed. We bonded with the very chatty chef working near us over our NSW ex-pat status, while swiftly appreciating scallop wontons and slices of raw tuna dressed in bonito cream and grilled nori. Manoeuvring long tentacles of snake beans topped with fermented chilli and nuts with chopsticks were worth the fight, while the handpicked blue swimmer crab udon noodles with dashi butter was light, warming and packed a deliciously lemony, sea-water punch. We asked for their Spotify playlist upon departure, shamelessly, so be sure to search ‘Progressive Dinner Tunes’ if you’re hosting anytime soon.
Worth the visit: MOD museum to release the inner child. Think MONA but PG rated and an entertaining way to kill an hour or so. Leigh Street Wine Room and Pink Moon Saloon to pass time with a cocktail in hand.
A search for a pastry and coffee led us to the Adelaide Central Market on Saturday morning for a warm Portuguese custard tart. Taking in all the sights and smells, we were fuelled up for the short windy drive to the Adelaide Hills. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by very wine-passionate people in Hobart, so I left town with a list of wineries/winemakers to visit. Sadly, some were without cellar doors during winter so I would probably suggest doing a little more research than I, however, with vineyards around every corner, there were plenty of places to still visit. Lunch was spent at the Summertown Aristologist where vegetables grown in house are served on one-off ceramics and milk curds were finished with honey shaved black truffles. We plucked mussels from shells resembling squawking bird beaks, cleaned up all the pan juices with bread and sipped cloudy natural wine from hand-blown glasses. Yum.
We may have underestimated how exhausting all this fun and games was going to be when we booked a late dinner at Africola and sadly our full bellies couldn’t keep up with all the punchy small plates. With McLaren Vale on our radar for Sunday and our tired eyes were begging for bed, we admitted defeat and toddled home. There’s a first for everything but perhaps a second trip back might be needed to fully absorb the funky, eclectic energy of this North African canteen.
Worth the visit: CRFT wines was a beautiful spot for a tasting, and the cellar at Summertown Aristologist is also worth a visit after lunch.
We started our day at Glenelg Beach before making a beeline before the crowds to the d’Arenberg Cube. A walk through the very MONA-esque gallery left us with raised eyebrows and tilted heads before a wine tasting above the rolling hills. The Salopian Inn was continually suggested for lunch over the course of the weekend and fortunately we snagged a last-minute early lunch booking. Small plates of Hiramasa Kingfish sashimi dressed with ponzu, daikon and ginger was followed by a bigger share plate of uttapam, a dosa style pancake topped with cashew cream, spiced cauliflower and garden pickles. Like Tasmania, distilleries are aplenty so naturally a gin with lunch was a must. Winery seasoned, we decided less is more and narrowed our list of wineries to spending more time enjoying less. If it wasn’t for the South Australian postcode, a venture to Down The Rabbit Hole Winery transported me to the Northern Rivers Hinterland. Wine tastings were held in a pastel blue double-decker bus, while groups laid on floral throw blankets across the lawn of a white weatherboard house serving share plates, wine and amaretto sours.
Just to stretch our belt buckles a little further, we ended our trip with dinner at Fugazzi Bar and Dining room with an array of Italian New York style share plates. By now, you might have figured out we were eating pescatarian for the weekend, and by no means did we miss out at all. Anchovy toasts, fried artichokes with pancetta (an exception to the rule) and whipped ricotta with fried bread were savoured and could have been consumed twice over. I’m always a big fan of places that can make anyone love vegetables like cabbage and Brussel sprouts, regardless of how scarred they were by their childhood and this sugarloaf cabbage was no exception. I seem to be salivating over the blue-swimmer crab casarecce as I write this, and the crème caramel was almost as yummy as my mum’s.
Worth the visit: Hugh Hamilton to pat a sheep and drink wine. Hellbound wine bar for Cacio e Pepe chips before dinner and Maybe Mae for a hidden cocktail but you have to trust the aloof doors.
With our belt buckles busting, and some wine carefully stashed in our suitcases, we said goodbye to Adelaide after a quick croque monsieur at Hello Jupiter. Whilst we may have gone down the boujee boulevard, there were many moments where the city felt just like Hobart and perhaps a second trip is on the cards sooner rather than later.