Time for a burger in Nor’d. Nordburger, 168 The Parade, Norwood, Adelaide, SA

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I am heading out for a semi-quick lunch with a mate on a workday and we need something in the Eastern Suburbs… sounds like a perfect op to try the latest burger place getting some hype – Nordburger on The Parade in Norwood. As per prior reviews it is no secret that I have a big soft spot for a good burger.

As we arrive soon after noon it is already busy and has line ups around the doorway to order. Funky fit-out and a menu above the counter, easy to see wherever you are in the line/store, is always a plus to plan your choice while you wait. The menu is pretty basic and obviously American inspired with 5 burgers, 5 hot dogs, sides and extras to add to your main. Some interesting shakes available too and for the vego’s check out the mushroom burger.

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We both opt for the standard Nordburger but I add cheese and bacon to support the other essentials already included such as salad, pickles, mustard and sauce plus order Chipotle Fries and the special dipping sauce. While I choose a soft-drink my friend grabs a chocolate shake which I am pumped to get a sneaky taste of.

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We luckily grab a stool along the counter before things get even busier and it becomes standing room only for takeaways. The place is fitted out very industrial modern with tiles, concrete, light-up signs and overall is simple yet effective. Maybe a waste of space but a huge concrete basin is along the back wall to wash your hands and looks pretty cool. We watch the burgers being made in front of us as the staff scramble to keep up but it is just whetting our appetite for our burgers to come.

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Dishes out to us in good time and looking good. First thing we notice and love is that they use iceburg lettuce – both of us are a big fan of this old faithful over the fancy-schmacy ‘bitter as all hell’ frilly lettuces. Yay! The meat looks a little weird (smooth and brown) but it smells good and on first bite it is yummy as well. They squash out the patties pretty thin so it means that they aren’t quite as juicy or keeping pink in the middle like many gourmet burgers out there but I don’t mind the consistency, however meat lovers out there may want to get the bacon-double so it is thicker.

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The bun is pretty soft (and sweet) plus struggles to hold the juicy contents through the whole eating process as everything soaks in but it just means a little more handy work to finish the sucker. All in all, the burger is tasty and hits the spot.

The fries are old school crinkle cut and crispy… although seasoned with what must be ‘something’ chipotle, they don’t have any zing or heat to them which is a little disappointing. The actual chips are just a very standard version that you’d expect at any takeaway joint. The special sauce I think has chipotle too and is mild and a little indifferent. I think they could step up the sides maybe to premiumise the offering or differentiate with the seasoning and spice at least.

Now the shake, delicious flavor but VERY VERY VERY thick. Hard to get through the straw. Not sure it was meant to be like this as not advertised as a thick-shake but may have been a symptom of the milk spillage we noticed as they made it. If it had been a little more milky I think it would have been good. Salted Caramel flavor would be the next one to try for sure and sounds divine!

Overall, this was a yummy lunch in a cool location and surrounds which we thoroughly enjoyed and left with our tummy’s happy. Does it set the world on fire? Probably not… I still think the guys at Fancy Burger (and other established gourmet-burger guys) are a step ahead with their broader menu, interesting flavor profiles and a more substantial/balanced burger overall (plus much better fries and sauces) but I would definitely come back here for a lunch when I want a cheap and cheerful meal of a solid/basic burger featuring my favourite iceburg lettuce, that will certainly do just fine. I am sure you will like it for what this place is too, give it a whirl but be prepared for the line ups at busy times.

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168 The Parade, Norwood, Adelaide, South Australia

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Vibe: 8/10

Cost: $

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A fine place to be stranded. The Stranded Store, 14 The Strand, Colonel Light Gardens, Adelaide, SA.

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Well it is a warm Saturday morning and for a long time we have been wanting to check out The Stranded Store in the quiet streets of Colonel Light Gardens which has gained some very strong ‘street cred’ around the ‘burbs while also notable recognition when it won Best Café 2013 in the Advertiser Food Awards. One big bonus, they take bookings, and as we negotiate a spot before heading there the staff are so lovely and helpful as we make opportunity of someone not turning up for their slot.

As soon as you arrive it is hustle and bustle across full tables inside and out this small establishment plus a line of takeaway coffee order-ees. The décor is rustic modern, light and bright plus has a welcoming atmosphere. We love the artwork selections, natural light through windows giving those seated inside streetscape views past the alfresco diners, exposed bricks and the grocery filled shelving displays sitting on beautiful old floorboards. It is easy to feel at home here.

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We quickly are enticed by a great menu but decide that traditional bacon and eggs would hit the spot this morning, as it has been a while since we have enjoyed a cooked brekky.

Coffee out quickly and is good, reinforcing why the takeaway order is popular. Also a winner is the babycino, our daughter so enticed she can’t help but go in face first for a taste. All babycinos are not created equal – this is all thick froth to avoid any milk-mess, good size and marshmallow that is quickly consumed. The only wish I have is that they did fresh juices, they are bottled Nippies, which are nice but never compare, however this remains my only (very minor) gripe.

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Meals are out in a timely fashion and they are generous serves, look superb and piping hot. From both our table, and also observing other diners getting served, we are all giving the same reaction – you get a little smirk when the plate is presented in front of you and sit up a little excited about what lies ahead for your taste-buds. So they are doing well already.

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Poached eggs are sitting up proud and plump and spill out ideally as you cut in. Scrambled option is full of flavor and a lovely denseness and texture, heavily herbed to give it some pop (maybe the dill a little overpowering) but they all go down well. Toast texture has a great combination of crunchy outside and a soft centre. However, the star on both plates ends up being the Barossa smoked bacon, which is simply delicious, ideal thickness, finger-licking-good flavor and perfectly cooked. Yummo.

Nothing complements a good breakfast better than good service and this place really set itself apart in my eyes from the way the booking was first coordinated, the warm welcome on arrival, table service ordering and even checking that all was ok with our meals and if any extra drinks were needed soon after we began to eat. The babychino from our order had been missed originally but when asked about, it was promptly fixed and told there would be no charge due to its delay. This type of service leaves an even better taste in the mouth for sure.

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While not super cheap you can gather from my review that the food and supporting elements make it worth its value and you certainly won’t leave disappointed. So for those just south of the city, make a booking to avoid long waits or being turned away, and head to the tree lined streets of Colonel Light Gardens for a delicious brekky (or to grab a coffee) and see the buzz that a really solid venue can get when the recipe is served up just right!

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The Stranded Store
14 The Strand, Colonel Light Gardens, Adelaide, South Australia

Food: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Vibe: 9/10

Cost: $$

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Underground Americano… Jack Ruby Bar & Diner, 89 King William Street, Adelaide, SA

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I have already covered my love of a good burger so when we headed to Jack Ruby for a business lunch it was a brilliant opportunity to check out this new joint and their American cuisine specialising in burgers/sliders. I found it impressive enough to head there for a second try and a more extensive taste test on a Saturday night with friends, so this review is a hybrid of visits.

Firstly the fit out of this place is ultra cool. It feels very American to head down to an underground level from a busy city street and find a dark eatery/bar oasis made up of tables and booths and decorated with rich wood, tiles, exposed brick and even a deer head on the wall. It is looking very different from its previous life as the Bull & Bear and it feels great.

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Mid week lunch was nice as it was quieter, chilled out and the senior full time staff could be much more attentive. It was mostly filled with business people or friends having a casual lunch and despite less buzz I actually think I prefer this dynamic than my next visit. When arriving for dinner a week or so later the place was already pumping and seemed to be popular as both a bar and an eatery. It felt a little manic and crazy though and the clientele was really mixed between the very young wanting a big night out and then middle aged and older smaller groups wanting a nice dinner. Like most new places when they start out it can feel a little schizophrenic until they find their niche then go with it, definitely the case here. The disjoint was emphasized with a long bar queue for the younger folk going hard on the drinks and then a retro jazzy band in the corner. Not sure it quite worked – yet.

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But onto the food…

Either visit the welcome grazer on offer was a tin of hot popcorn served from their vintage popcorn cabinet, and who doesn’t love salt and butter to get the taste buds going. First difference, we got it straight away at lunch but had to ask (and after entrees served) at the dinner service! Regardless, a nice complimentary touch that suits the style of this place – if they remember it.

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Thankfully on my return with a bigger group and more time – entrees were a plenty. First out and most anticipated was the Mac ‘n’ Cheese balls with truffle aioli and these were fantastic. Great flavor and a unique texture experience with the gooey pasta inside and a crisp outer and a lovely light truffle compliment underneath. A winner.

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Kingfish Ceviche was fresh and zingy and the inclusion of coconut was a nice change to what we are used to and works really well with the lime in this mix. Corn and Jalapeno Fritters with a panko crumb and chilli jam were more-ish and the sauce was very hot – but awesome. Popcorn Crocodile was a novelty choice, as most of us hadn’t tried croc. If you are going to attempt a strange food – why not choose small bites and deep fried. It was basically like the KFC version, certainly supporting the stigma of “tastes like chicken”. Served with a corn puree with chilli. Was just that, a novelty, unlikely to be a regular choice but fun all the same.

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Finally, it wouldn’t have felt very American without getting some Buffalo Wings. Sticky and densely coated with a sweet hot sauce and complimented with celery and a blue cheese dipping sauce they were a bit sickly but meat was juicy and flavoursome. Nice heat, left a tingle on your lips.

Now onto the mains. From my first visit I had been so impressed with the “Tex Walker” burger and that lovely slow burn in the mouth that I went it again with negotiation to try a number of other choices by others as ‘contra bites’. This burger is awesome and packed to the brim – beef patty served medium, onion rings, bacon, swiss cheese, chipotle BBQ sauce and jalapenos. The brioche bun is deliciously sweet and melt in your mouth and the mix inside was juicy, tasty, spicy and just fabulous. Complimenting salty fries served in their mini basket worked a treat.

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The best sampler option though, or for those with decision issues, is a trio of sliders for $20 including pulled pork, shrimp and cheeseburger variants. All of these are great. The Shrimp using kewpie was a bit sweet for me and definitely the least favourite but the Cheeseburger was a gourmet version of Macca’s finest. Yum! The Pulled Pork is my next favourite burger overall with a great flavor to the meat (10 hour slow cooked shoulder) served with bbq sauce and slaw. Richer/sweeter overall than the beef versions so you have to be in the mood to commit to a full size but if that is what you feel like then go for it. Chicken burger was ok, think the beef or pork options are definitely better selections.

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Vego choices on our table included the Carrot & Lentil Burger and the Corn and Quinoa Salad. Not sure corn should be the lead in the name with the small portion supplied. It was ok, but poor cousin to the burger alternative which convincingly left the vegos without burger envy which is no mean feat.

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The hot sauce availability, only offered/experienced at our lunch, is impressive. So if you like it hot be sure to ask!

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Dessert options of Apple Pie, Churros and Cheese only. We got the two sweet options for the table.

The Churros looked great and came with a chipotle caramel and bourbon spiked shake as a unique combination. Looks deceiving as when biting into the churros sticks they were hollow and had a strange taste, maybe fried in the same oil as something not complimentary? Not good and put a taint across all elements really to make this one a miss.

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But, as a full contrast the Deep Fried Apple Pie served with butterscotch, honeycomb pieces and tonka bean ice cream was AMAZING. The combination of flavours worked so well. Honeycomb in this mix was almost a revelation. So skip the others and just go for this little beauty.

In terms of drinks there are plenty of local and imported beers on offer, spiced shakes and cocktails look interesting but there is a massive hole in their drinks menu – the wine list is abysmal. Very small range, not cheap and really poor quality options from what we sampled. Whites and sparkling skew to the sweet spectrum and the best of a bad bunch chosen were very average wines. Given the local quality available in this state or a much better spread available across US wines (they didn’t even have a Pinot ranged) there really is no excuse and they need to fix it pronto.

However, my greatest criticism is the service when it was the busy night… it took ages to find someone to help us and take us to our booked table, service was unfriendly, un-proactive and totally scattery. We were constantly waving someone down to get another drink or follow up on something. Unfortunately, it appears to be a symptom of young staff who simply think they are too cool for school! Secondly, the sequential entrée delivery felt unstructured and detracted from the ‘food’ experience, perhaps the “Route 66” menu with a chef’s selection of 5 courses for $45 would be an option around that but if they want to pride themselves on food they need to think about the delivery and overall experience.

All in all it is a cool place and I admire what they are trying to create, it just needs to find itself and get the right clientele and staff to get things in sync and all moving in the right direction. Food is solid and good value, burgers delicious and that apple pie… wow! I think the challenge remains that there are only certain times where you want so much deep fried or sweet bun action, but when you do they have found their spot in the Adelaide market. Overall this place has lots of potential and is still a good option to try and hopefully will improve quickly. I personally would only head back when it isn’t peak time as that first experience and vibe suited me much more than the second or I will wait to hear that this place has evolved a bit before heading in on a Friday or Saturday night.

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Jack Ruby
Basement, 89 King William Street, Adelaide, South Australia

Food: 7/10

Service: 5/10

Vibe: 6/10

Cost: $$

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A Feast Fit For Kings… Dinner at Press* Food & Wine, 40 Waymouth Street, Adelaide, SA

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Most Adelaideans would agree that when you host visitors to our fine state there is an intrinsic proudness that inspires you to help break the stigma of “sleepy little Adelaide” and want to show the most vibrant and impressive parts. I usually find that you just need the opportunity, as with the right exposure to the charm of our city it almost instantly turns them into an advocate and you can tick ‘another one off’ your tally.

Time and time again when I have interstate or overseas guests I find myself often deciding that Press or it’s ‘little sister’ The Pot are consistently reliable, charismatic and delicious to boot.

Tonight though we first head to bar Clever Little Tailor for a starter. This place offers a warm and intimate location to catch up, have a perfectly mixed drink and get in the mood for the night ahead. The fit out is stylish and the staff friendly where you pick up on the genuine fun they are having with each other and it seamlessly migrates across to you as a stranger too. Confident, premium – but not arrogant – there is a lovely tone across the bar. Make sure you call in for a drink.

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Hungry after a couple of drinks, we head onto Press and its modern industrial style is instantly appealing but through wood, lighting and décor it adds the right amount of warmth and interest to still be welcoming. While downstairs always feels more busy, communal and vibrant, the upstairs area still remains my favourite with it’s tall roof, exposed beams and mix of booth and table seating.

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We review the menu and I get that little flutter in my stomach, excited at the ‘favourites’ I can again have (although many dishes change based on season and local produce), there is a combination of raw, smaller plates, offal (we’ll skip), wood grill and bigger mains. We decide to all share lots of choices across the menu to avoid any food envy and quickly get the rolling courses started along with a nice bottle of vino to wash it down.

First up we have the raw scallops with avocado puree and miso dressing, which are delicate and beautiful while offering a cleansing start. Followed by veal croquettes; a warm contrast with a crisp outer and goozey soft pillow centre… yum.

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Next round is pork buns and “my oh my”… this is an essential any time you are at Press or The Pot. Pork is no doubt a specialty of this group; showcased through their offer of a half suckling pig with all the trimmings for a party of ten (with advanced notice). Bun is sweet and crisp but melts in your mouth and the internal pork and mixture is just divine. That’s all I can say, just get them!

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Sticking with the bun theme we also get the Press Burger with onion rings. The meat is so flaoursome and juicy, all the complimenting elements stacked inside and onions rings an ideal extra. Finger licking good – literally!

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Onto our more main style items… First out is a salad and while beautiful looking is just too bitter. I know many people love this style of salad but it does fuel the debate of iceburg vs the more fashionable varieties at our table. Entertaining discussion. The proof is that ‘man is no rabbit’ tonight and the bowl is left almost full.

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Then we see our Hereford Pepper Rump out. Perfectly cooked to medium, beautifully juicy and a lovely flavor. So tender it barely needs chewing and as its perfect compliment, despite it coming with onion confit and green bean salad, is some fries… They are crisp, well salted and the ideal partner in crime.

Also out is the roast pork belly (as I said they are pork experts) with the golden crackling proudly across the top. You know it is going to be crunchy as all hell just from the look of it. Not too much fat below between the tender flesh it is a lovely combo of parts. Being critical the top is probably just a bit too hard and thick for me, but old time crackling lovers would be in their element I am sure.

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Our other main side that deserves its own review is the Press Mac & Cheese. Thankfully with it only being an accompaniment to some dishes, on our request they do it as a separate side tonight. Let me tell you as someone who never liked mac and cheese before – you can not deny yourself a taste of this. Don’t know what cheeses are in there but it is a mouthful of creamy and fatty heaven.

Wowsers. Full to the brim we lay back in our seat and giggle at the feast of deliciousness that just passed by. That was amazing. We keep chatting and in some miracle make a little bit of room for dessert. Why not see this feast out to the end, it is only fair!

Bombe Alaska comes out and is flaming, a spectacular site to the table. It is nice but there isn’t enough of the meringue and cake layers to icecream for me, but it is still delicious. The Crème Brulee has a golden top that cracks nicely and offers a beautifully smooth custard. Less hoo-ha than the first but probably just a simple classic done better.

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We roll out, somehow, and head home. That is the most I have eaten in a long time but it was all simply too good. I actually have a stomach-ache and need to lie down as my body struggles to deal with the excessive intake.

So it is easy to recommend Press as it has delivered yet again. Great atmosphere, attentive staff, beautiful food and another great experience for visitors that easily shows off our city’s cuisine credentials. My one fault tonight was that some of the wait between courses did feel extended, but in hindsight I probably needed it to make room and wasn’t in a hurry so it worked. If you haven’t been to Press then make sure you do, just ensure you eat light for 24 hours before and go with a group if you want to give it a really good sample like we did.

Clever Little Tailor
19 Peel Street, Adelaide, South Australia

Press* Food & Wine
40 Waymouth Street
Adelaide, South Australia
(Closed Sundays)

Food: 9/10
Service: 8/10
Vibe: 9/10
Cost: $$+

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Hungry in the Hills… Breakfast at Aldgate Providore & Cafe, Mt Barker Road, Aldgate, Adelaide Hills, SA

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I love the hills, especially in the cool weather. It is so pretty, the air is crisp and it makes you want to huddle into warm places and eat up. So it didn’t take much convincing to head to the hills and visit Aldgate Providore & Cafe for a Saturday brekky.

First things first… this place has character and it is all its own. It isn’t a carbon copy of any of the new vogue places (no drinks in jars here!), it is unique and true to itself. As you walk in it is instantly warm, friendly and charming. Inspired by Spanish/European old world decor along with some country rustic-ness the result is cute, quaint and homely.

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We take our seat at one of the red tartan tables and peruse the menu. There are REALLY good options that all sound interesting. The classics and then some great fresh combinations. What certainly comes through is that where possible it is local produce, clearly called out such as Nairne bacon or Mylor sourdough for example.

Across the table the choices are poached eggs and bacon, scrambled eggs and bacon (with added haloumi) and the baked beans with spinach and chorizo. The mexican scrambled sound good but the local bacon must be tried on this first visit.

Hot drinks out and the coffee is good, tea generously served in a pot and hot chocolate ordered weak but still very rich (they said this was weak compared to normal, wow). Coming in from the cool crisp morning these warmers certainly hit the spot. The fresh juice, squeezed to your chosen combination, is beautiful as well and the ideal side to our breakfast plates when they arrive.

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Dishes out and they are all vibrant, piping hot and get us salivating. Poached eggs are cooked perfectly and sit as proud oozing pillows. The bacon is deliciously flavoured, juicy but lean and the bread is rustic and lovely. Haloumi is a nice flavour and ideal texture but very salty. The beans are hearty and the chorizo adds a beautiful smokey and rich flavour. Overall, everything is fantastic and we are all savouring every mouthful. I love it when a place just gets it right and you are completely satisfied.

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The only criticism if being picky would be that the service isn’t particularly diligent. You find yourself going to find water for the table or sugar for your coffee… I didn’t get annoyed about that though as it isn’t through being uncaring or dismissive but more a symptom of the laid back style of the place which is part of its charm so you just go with it. All the staff are very friendly and responsive when asked for anything, throwing in a smile and genuine small talk so you don’t really mind.

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This place diversifies too… it has produce & groceries for sale, would be great for coffee and cake (with fresh made options on the counter daily), a lunch menu, does dinner/dance events and I have heard great things about their paella days. To be kept updated on everything on offer, be sure to like their Facebook page.

So beat the chaos of the city and head to the hills for some fresh air and and a fresh take on breakfast at this supurb little spot.

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Aldgate Providore & Cafe
Aldgate Village Arcade
6/220 Mt Barker Road, Aldgate, Adelaide Hills, South Australia

Food: 9/10
Service: 7/10
Vibe: 8/10
Cost: $

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Beef Bestowed Upon Us… A Hereford Beefstouw, 143 Hutt Street, Adelaide, SA

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Excluding vegos out there of course… Many of you will agree that sometimes you simply feel like a hunk of meat. If you are like me, you have a pretty varied diet across protein and cuisine types but occasionally you get a hankering for a solid dose of iron and want a nice big juicy steak.

As a fortunate addition to a work dinner I am off to A Hereford Beefstouw where we will no doubt be treated to delicious food and by default of my workplace, it will be complimented with some pretty special wines.

I have heard a few people mention this steakhouse in recent times but it is my first visit and the initial impression is good. A beautifully renovated bluestone building, wall full of carefully selected wines, natural wood abound and clever integration of branding (sorry, I am a marketer). However what I like most is its overall demeanour, which is lighter and brighter than the traditionally dark and masculine steakhouse decors you come to expect. It is both refreshing and appealing.

Then the intriguing concept of this establishment: It originally started in 1971 as a restaurant in Denmark, which kept expanding locally & in nearby countries, in recent years they developed a beef supply from South Australia and then an Adelaide version of the venue was born. It will make you feel proud of our exceptional beef industry here in S.A.

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Then there is the format: A long menu across seafood and meat presented as your placemat and an ordering card where you select the menu options and how you want them cooked, potato and butter choice. Marking with your pen attached to your place setting and ready to eat with your tea towel style napkin looped onto the table also. We are all enjoying the novelty of the set up.

The menu is conclusive. You certainly don’t have to only eat (or favour) red meat as there are plenty of seafood options throughout and one lone chicken dish, but as a warning, you wouldn’t want to be totally vego and come here. I happily settle for an entree of salt & pepper squid and a small (“girl” size) fillet steak with fries (other option baked potato) and side salad. Many of the men on the table get excited by the dry aged t-bone or the novelty of items carved at the table including the wagyu beef ribeye or cot de boeuf ribeye on the bone (each shared between two).

With our order cards in we begin our first flight of wines and I can see my workplace is ensuring some great tastings seeing both premium and back vintage Chardonnays and Rieslings. The 2012 Steingarten due to be released soon is exquisite and goes perfectly with the squid which is out in good time and a generous serving. The meat strips are tender and coating crisp and deliciously seasoned with a nicely balanced sauce to accompany it. It is the more hearty/big style but I actually like that and I can’t fault the dish. Near me the oysters and carpaccio plate look like nice starters too.

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We then get to the main event and streams of beef and lamb come pouring out of the kitchen. Either on individual plates or at the carving stand. Everyone is pretty excited with eyes darting to all the offerings.

The ribeye portions being carved look amazing pink and juicy and the boys have eyes fixed on each knife stroke, keen to dig in.

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My fillet (160g) is small but just what I wanted and all I can eat. The plates are hot, almost sizzling temperature, which seems odd as I would think it would keep cooking the steak rather than be true resting temperature. Anyway, mine is cooked ‘medium’ perfectly but sure enough my colleague opposite with the same small cut sees her rare fillet overdone slightly, maybe as a result of the hot plate? The t-bone next to me is gigantic and gloriously presented with it’s perfectly patterned grill marks.

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All agree the flavour and quality of the meat is exceptional. The butter quickly melts and envelopes the already juicy steak. It is the best tasting steak I have had in Adelaide in a long time, only beaten ever so slightly by my favourite SA restaurant Fino of Willunga and their aged scotch fillet (but they only have one steak choice).

Despite much of this place really delivering I am still left a little duped by two criticisms. Firstly the fries, they were just too greasy and salty, then secondly, the salad concept. The only side option comes in the form of a salad bar, I understand it suits the restaurant style and the ingredients were high quality but good sides can make a meal and it would be fantastic to see some bright and vibrant vegetables or more deluxe menu salad options rather than a MYO. The truth is that by not having them on the table either, the uptake across our group was very limited although arguably the men of the table were pretty happy with protein and carbs exclusively. Too much effort and not enticing enough?!

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Now on our flight of red wines across Pinot and Shiraz. It is no lie that good wine elevates a great meal and tonight has been no exception. High end red wine and meat is a match made in heaven.

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As we enjoy chatting for the rest of the evening we notice a pretty spectacular wine contraption that we check out and the staff kindly put on a little show for us with the house wine it aerates and serves dramatically into a decanter. Another novelty here but arguable smoke and mirrors around a basic house drop.

We are too full for desserts but they have some simple classics available at reasonable prices. Crème brulee or Sundae sound nice. I simply can’t fit anything in.

It has been a really nice evening and I have been suitably impressed with the fit out, the concept, the staff and the steak. There is no question that the quality and flavor of the meat, which is the deserving hero, is exceptional. If they could perfect those sides then it would be a pretty special place for me and would be that one stop when I really want a beautiful steak and a great atmosphere. It isn’t cheap but when it comes to quality ingredients and particularly steak, you get what you pay for here, there are all size options to match your appetite (or budget) and the serves are quite generous. I love the outside area overlooking Hutt Street too, which would be fantastic in summer and I would enjoy seeing antics at my old haunt, The Havelock Hotel, out of the corner of my eye.

If you are looking for a place which prides itself on great meat, provides a lovely atmosphere and attentive service then most certainly give A Hereford Beefstouw a try… you’ll be able to fully satisfy your iron fix here for sure!

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A Hereford Beefstouw
143 Hutt Street
Adelaide, South Australia.

Open Monday through Saturday for dinner and only weekdays for lunch.
Closed Sundays.

Food: 8/10 (steak 9/10)
Service: 8/10
Vibe: 7/10
Cost: $$$

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Go West… Plant 13. 18 Park Terrace, Bowden, Adelaide, SA

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As the Village People said…. “Go West”…. And it seems I have followed that popular instruction well of late across a number of great breakfast venues just west of the city. So far so good, so happy to keep coming!

This time another one that I have had a lot of people suggest to me. Plant 13. It is an historic site where from over a century ago workers of the old Clipsal company would gather for a drink and due to superstition there was never a plant 13 (only 1-12 & 14-18) so this meeting site nearby became aptly known as that. Cute story!

The owner’s offering includes locally sought produce, with some very close to home… vegetables grown out the back, smallgoods produced in-house and bread baked onsite too.

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On my arrival I can see it is bustling already with the car park full but street parking still available. Heading in we nab the last non-booked table – so they do take bookings which is rare, but handy. Design follows the industrial vintage modern theme which works well with the Bowden development surrounding every part of this venue. It has a ’nice’ ambiance but lacks a little bit of warmth and character in my opinion. There is a cute outside area which is pleasant, although you are just looking at temporary fencing and development, I wouldn’t call it scenic at any stretch.

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The menu is really interesting covering brunch/lunch items; made up of lots of combinations beyond ‘standard brekky’ which is great to see and makes choosing hard. It does seem to have a North American influence across pancakes with maple syrup & bacon, buttermilk biscuits with eggs & bacon and even spare ribs. The ones that catch my eye are baked eggs, triple cheese toasted sandwich with jalapenos & pork buns, what to choose?! The prices are really reasonable from just $10 to $20 for the “full brekky” which I see coming out and is a feast (hash browns look amazing) but too much volume for me this morning. The other bonus (for some) is they have a comprehensive kids menu which is great for anyone with little tackers.

We opt for the baked eggs with tomato, mushroom, bacon and sourdough and the buttermilk biscuits filled with smoked bacon, relish and egg (a favourite of my dining partner from her latest Canadian trip) along with an iced chocolate and cloudy apple juice.

Drinks are out in reasonable time and well well well – another serve in a jar… not sure about this anymore! Move on people please. Everything tastes good. Belgium iced chocolate especially – yum. I do notice later, juices coming out better garnished with fruit on the side. A problem with consistency in presentation it seems and all the staff did see me taking plenty of photos before we ordered – blogger blind maybe?

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All the food coming out does look magnificent though, which only teases us on how long we are waiting for our food. The onion rings going past look really good and we cheekily add this to our order late which they happily tack on for us.

Once it all finally arrives it looks pretty specky and I am excited. We dig in and then in sycronisation both look up at each other not as excited by the taste as our eyes were on arrival, but keep going in the hope it will improve. My baked eggs aren’t that great and unfortunately don’t get any better… the eggs are overcooked to the point where the whole top layer is hard and rubbery and only the below surface portion really edible (if you like hard eggs that is). I rummage through for some bacon and find some only to then realize it is basically a huge chunk of fat. Search some more and find a piece half fat and half meat – my groomed of fat mouthful tastes great, the smokiness is really dominant and it is delicious. The few other pieces in the dish are also predominantly gristle and put me off continuing – and I LOVE bacon. The tomato ‘sea’ around everything is tasty though and ends up being a great dip for my yummy, but jaw breakingly crunchy, bread and so I end up with a tomato toast breakfast really.

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My friend’s biscuit with eggs and bacon looks good. Bacon a little leaner thankfully and really nice flavor (again the smokiness is the trademark), egg cooked a little too much maybe but passable, however the biscuit (arguably the proposed hero of the dish) is so dry. One side is good covered in relish which desperately draws in as much moisture as it can to be edible but the top gets left as it is not appetising on its own.

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The winner is the late call onion rings, greasy but divine and the dipping sauce is yummo! We’re both glad for the tummy saving addition that at least hit some of the spot left wanting.

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So with plates not empty we call a finish to our breakfast and try to find the positives. The menu does look great as a compilation, it isn’t overly expensive, the staff were friendly, there was table service and there is a buzz across a full café in this cool area. The negatives, it took too long to come out and plain and simple it didn’t deliver as it should have. You almost feel a little more cheated because it looked so much better than it actually tasted too.

So, the west has hit a hurdle it seems. A pity. I would still be interested to come back and give a ‘standard’ breakfast of bacon and eggs a go or a pork bun for lunch sometime. However I think they need to step it up if they want to compete with their neighbours like Loose Caboose or Queen Street Café as they cream this place in both food AND atmosphere currently. Word on the street is that people are having either a great or very average time at Plant 13 which isn’t a good sign. The best places out there are consistently good which these guys will need to find if they want to play with the big boys, especially out this way. I really hope they do as they have the signs that they could be great, it just needs a bit more attention.

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Plant 13
18 Park Terrace, Bowden, Adelaide, South Australia

Food: 6/10
Service: 7/10
Vibe: 7/10
Cost: $+

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Fancy a Burger in the city? Fancy Burgers (FB’s), 17 Synagogue Place, Adelaide, SA

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There is no doubt I have a love affair with burgers… ever since my visit to the “US of A” five years ago I realised just how much I love a good burger and had a new definition of what ‘good’ actually was. The fact is that the seemingly simple burger can in reality be amazingly divine or devastatingly average.

So this post is one I am unashamedly excited about. Not just because of my affection for the old meat patty and bun but also because I have been itching to see what some old high school mates have done with the recent opening of a city Fancy Burgers store. In full disclosure I am already a fan of Fancy Burgers (original Blackwood shop style) but if anything, I know I will be extra picky on if they have been able to step it up a notch with this city location.

Today a weekday lunch and an escape from the office has been organized and as we head down the seemingly quiet Synagogue Place off Rundle Street I am impressed at the external fit out of this cool little joint which is perfectly framed by urban buildings towering around it.

Pleased to see Justin’s friendly face and founder George flipping burgers out the back I already feel at home and we grab a menu and are no doubt spoilt for choice across 15+ beef, chicken, lamb and vego burgers and even steak sandwiches too with an average price of about $12. Justin’s reco is “The Legend” a lamb patty with a field mushroom, Woodside goats cheese & other goodies (but it is big apparently). However I can’t go past the “Holy Smokes”. My dining mate gets tempted by the “Sunrise Surprise” due to the avocado inclusion but is wary of the pineapple in the combo but decides to give it a go – this trip is all about testing. Seasoned chips on the side (of course!) and one of George’s homemade sauces are a non-negotiable staple. The other interesting thing is that they only offer wholemeal rolls now – fine by me. As always the full menu is very much about fresh, high quality local produce in diverse yummy combinations and with amazing store-made sauces.

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After we order there follows a late lunch rush and a line appears almost all the way to the door – wow – it seems that despite this relatively new venue being down a quiet dead end street, word has most definitely got around that this is the place to be. The open kitchen in full customer view seems every bit capable to step it up a notch, barely breaking a sweat, and the burgers are streaming out to all the punters with open arms (and mouths).

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While we wait I take a look around and the fit-out it really snazzy. Unique, quirky, vibrant but definitely calculated. You can tell a lot of thought has gone into every element and I am super impressed. I love the ‘pods’ down the side which are distinctively like the oval shelter sheds I recall hanging out in with these guys at school – but these ones are decked out, each with an individual style. The artistic checkerboard floor and walls full of frames is my favourite. Street art and retro 50’s illustrations fill any gaps around the place and it is cool. Very cool!

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Burgers are out in the blink of an eye, which is great as since I read the menu I have been incredibly hungry. Full, juicy and layered to perfection we dig in and my shoulders relax as it lives up to every expectation. Phew! Loving the combo of an awesome patty, layers of roasted peppers, salad, cheese and the moist-maker layers of smoked chilli mayo and BBQ relish… it has an undertone of heat that is perfect and lingering while letting all the other elements still play their part. One of the best things is the roll, even wholemeal, it isn’t too much bread (common issue with burgers), it is still soft and you wouldn’t even really know it is wholemeal.

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I get to try the “Sunrise Surprise” as well and it is great. Not being a huge fan of pineapple on pizza I am not sure on this inclusion either but the ‘surprise’ for me is that it really works in this combo and ironically suits this 30-degree summery day we are enjoying. Chips are plank style, crunchy, seasoned perfectly and the sauces (dips) awesome as always. Smoked Chilli Mayo is my favourite.

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A benefit today of sitting on the communal ‘old door – come table’ out the front is our new ‘dining friends’ get some other menu offerings that I get to cheekily inspect – the vego “Farmers Market” burger is an impressive stack full of veg favs and goats cheese and we also see two mini “Moo Moos” (salad optional) come to the table as well. I am thinking these are great cheeseburger substitutes but SOOOO much better in every respect than anything you will find at maccas. These customers are also really impressed with their lunch and are ‘cleverly’ washing it down with a beer. That would be nice if work wasn’t to follow.

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It has been a really good lunch and lived up to every expectation on the food front, it is as good as any other burger I have had in a very long time. What has really impressed me today has been the service, which is all really efficient and super friendly, and then the set-up and surrounds is the perfect cherry on top. Hats off to these boys for getting it all so right and the result is a fantastic vibe that only enhances the whole experience, no wonder there are lines to the door.

One of my burger favourites and a great benchmark is “Grill’d” in Melbourne that ticks all the boxes for me, which has today been surpassed by Fancy Burgers and that is no mean feat. As a result, I have a feeling I am going to be calling in pretty regularly from now on and am genuinely excited at what new burger variant I will try next – there certainly is plenty to sample and I have a feeling I will like them all.

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Fancy Burgers
17 Synagogue Place (off Rundle Street), Adelaide, South Australia
Food: 9/10
Service: 9/10
Vibe: 9/10
Cost: $

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All aboard to The Loose Caboose, 21 First Street, Hindmarsh, Adelaide, SA

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I have been looking so forward to checking this venue out as I have literally had half a dozen people tell me “I must visit for my blog”. Given that now I have overcome my fear of venturing down Port Road, I have been excited about heading back to this side of town for brekky, although this spot today is actually more familiar to me as it is near “The Gov” – frequently frequented thanks to my music interests but it is nice to see this area in the light of day. Google maps does send me on a bum-steer trying to enter First Street from non existent entrances off Park Terrace but save yourself the loops and turn off Port Road directly opposite the Entertainment Centre which is a paved carpark lane way.

It is actually pretty awesome to see this old railway building at the Bowden station used for something of this nature… and they certainly promote the association to the train line with large windows looking through to the station so you get to see & hear all the trains stopping or passing by regularly. It really adds to the atmosphere quite nicely.

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My first impression inside is that it is big, but when you continue through a lot of the area is the entrance, kitchen and what is after 10am on a weekend also used for significant ‘line ups’… Then there actually is a modestly sized eating area inside and an outside deck. I like the open-ness and admire the huge lofty exposed ceiling with a bar area in the centre which is already a-buzz with activity. Looking around they have really made the décor their own, it is very ‘now’ but it doesn’t feel like they have tried to fill it with ‘funky retro’ for the sake of it. Things seem to belong, which is why it feels nice. We grab a decent sized table thanks to an early start and peruse the menu. Lots of great offerings. I have heard rave reviews on the banana bread and the chocolate chip pancakes also sound nice to me but having just gone back onto sugar it may be an overload so I revert to my staple of scrambled (or as they call them folded) eggs and bacon on the side, the other girls get the Avocado Smash. Following the run of over 35 degree days in Adelaide the three of us all opt for juice over coffee too.

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We go up to order, personally a place with this style and the decent price tag on menu items I would really like table service, I am tired and in an ideal world I just want to sit and absorb time with my friends. Oh well.

We all order and from their assorted fresh juices I ask for an apple/orange but am declined as they “will not go outside the standard combinations”. Really? Is it too hard to assist with this seemingly basic request? The girl at the counter seems flustered by any request to be honest. They do go outside ‘policy’ for my friend who has fructose issues and prefers to have a combo without apple. So if you have a medical reason you can be an exception it seems. Could I be allergic to orange only but ok if apple is mixed with it?!?! Hmmmmm.

The juices are out quickly and are good. Served in jars like my Café Troppo review but a less ‘poor-mans’ version as they are amber glass with a cool neck at the top – almost custom made – I likey. My orange, orange and orange juice (minus some wanted apple) is nice and refreshing.

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It seems like twenty seconds after the juice is out and first sip taken that the meals arrive. Seriously, like the blink of an eye. Wowee. It is all looking generously served, bright and piping hot on big plates. We dig in enthusiastically and everyone is happy… you can tell that it is hitting the spot for all. My folded eggs are rich and generously laced with parsley (it’s ok I like it though) and good seasoning, bacon is nice and still juicy and a lovely flavour. Poached eggs cooked really well and the avocado and tomato add some freshness ideal for a summer’s day that the other girls really like. If I am being over-critical I wish they didn’t give me a butter spread for the toast in the foil folded sachet – couldn’t they serve a wedge of butter in a little dish like their house-made tomato relish I have on the side or even pre-butter it for me? It would just look more premium, better for the perception they are obviously trying to achieve here. But this is the end of my criticism on the meal really, so isn’t really of any major consequence.

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Bellies full and happy we just sit for another forty minutes or so and enjoy the place, play with the bub and catch up like we really wanted to in this great setting. The venue continues to pump… seeing ‘The Board Breakfast’ go past to other tables it looks like breakfast mecca – too much for me but with the right appetite (or hangover) it would be awesome!

While we didn’t check out the coffee today, being so hot and bothered in this Adelaide heat, their machine certainly presents that they are serious about coffee and you can see they have their own beans, also available for sale… which are apparently house sought and roasted. So check it out for sure in one of their signature blue cups.

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Almost everything about this place is near perfect – the vibe, the setting, the food. It is nice to see a restaurant that gets so much right. Feedback from others is that it is consistent too – no one I have spoken to has seen it slip yet – which is good news as great expectations can be hard to uphold. There is also a lunch menu which looks delicious and I will definitely be back to check that out. So make Loose Caboose your next stop, you won’t be sorry you got off at this station.

The Loose Cabosse
21 First Street, Bowden, Adelaide, South Australia
(enter Station Place laneway, a paved carpark lane off Port Road opposite the Entertainment Centre, or catch the train to Bowden station)

Food: 9/10
Service: 8/10
Vibe: 9.5/10
Cost: $$

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Fringe Festival Festivities – Little Miss Mexico & Vinteloper Urban Wine Project, 188 Grenfell Street, Adelaide, SA

This time of year the city is a-buzz and I absolutely love it. Fringe, Adelaide Festival, Clipsal, Womadelaide (soon) and hot summer weather… it is a great time to be in this city with so many venues and activities humming around every corner. If only we could stretch it out, as there isn’t enough time to enjoy everything out there in such a short time.

One of the new additions perfectly timed around Fringe is this pop-up (potentially permanent) bar/eatery/art-space called Little Miss Mexico, strategically placed in the east end. It has certainly caught the eye of many, as several mates have mentioned I should check it out.

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I am lucky enough to mix a visit with some “work” interest as a way to justify a trip out of the office. David Bowley (Vinteloper) is running a wine pressing over the lunch period so a few of us head along. I figure it is nice to check out a venue in the light of day too, it is almost like the morning after a hook up where you can see if they are as good as you thought they were without beer goggles and getting caught up in the momentum of the evening.

As I walk in on a warm day it is obvious this is going to be a place hard to leave when my work desk calls in about an hour. On a Thursday afternoon it is pretty busy as people enjoy Mexican food, cold Coronas, sangria carafes and some boutique vino on offer.

We settle in and first things first – we head to Vinteloper bar area and sign up for the “Urban Winery Project Tasting” card that allows us 5 (from 8 varietals) tasting samples for $15. We begin with the Rose as the recommended starter before later testing out the Riesling. The ‘Adelo’ blend sounds very interesting and will be tested next visit (a seemingly random blend of Touriga, Shiraz, Pinot and Grenache – wowee). Overall I commend him for the offer in a venue like this, not only are his wines (tasted so far) clean, crisp and easy drinking but the fact that it is likely to push the “I only drink Sauvignon Blanc” drinkers into actually trying a few varieties, who knows – they might actually like something else. A great initiative and arguably also a community service! Unfortunately spoilt by a wine industry palate, the wines in my opinion could do with a little more complexity but for the likely crowd and the setting a simple and well-constructed crisp wine is very very easy to swallow. As I sit in the sun and look around, it probably is perfect for here and don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining.

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Now onto the food… heading to the counter I notice that the menu is for the most part exactly the same as my La Cantina Co food-truck experience (review here) so I now understand they are related. However, luckily I see some tapas options which is a great thing as I don’t really want the same again. As a result I order the dip plate (deconstructed nachos with beef), some zucchini fritters and chicken skewers to share. They come out in reasonable time and are all yummy. Nachos feature a very tender and flavoursome beef mixture with dense (non breaking as you scoop) corn chips, fresh guacamole and salsa… the fritters are a little watery and lacking a great deal of flavour [especially compared to my zucchini slice I made at home this week – I suggest they add some chilli flakes and maybe some tomato for some interest – especially trying to channel Mexican flavours?!] but the chicken tenderloin skewers are so juicy, tender and well flavoured. I wouldn’t mind a bit more marinate to really add some zing though. My major issue is the presentation, they are all served in the same takeaway style box which is fine for the bigger items, but for the fritters and skewers they look really lonely as a small thing in this big white boat with a splash of sauce in the corner. It could be done more cleverly I think, we do eat with our eyes too. Could they also maybe move away from budget white plastic cutlery? At least go wooden if they want to remain disposable? It feels cheap as is.

A colleague who didn’t get the La Cantina experience recently gets the Quesadillas and enjoys them, I see the mix is the same as we had from the truck but has been served more evenly and generously than our portable serving version which is good to see.

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The venue ambiance is what makes each mouthful taste better though. All set up to enjoy nice weather and support the crowd atmosphere is the retro and recycled furniture (which I believe was from a community call out to donate) complemented by cooky extras like the basket lamp shades along strings of lights and succulents in planter boxes. The Urban Winery is also providing some interest during this quieter time and generally the crowd has a great vibe – all wanting to enjoy the space.

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I can see that this place would be great at night, and advice is that the atmosphere is amplified thanks to a DJ on the decks and the buzzing ambiance after sunset. I can tell it would work really well. Not sure how well the bar or food would keep up in a busy influx but get the carafe between two and just sit and enjoy perhaps?!

Side note; Porta-loo toilets I hope may be upgraded if this does become a permanent offering. I only really accept this type of toilet in short term locations and at music festivals!

Here is hoping that this venue, and many others like it (or not even created yet), can benefit by the new laws around licensing of small venues. I would love to see more of these options really spice up our city. We are all calling out for them, which is why this place is already so popular.

So I recommend you head to this little urban oasis and try the Vinteloper Wines (and more than just Sauvignon Blanc), some cheap and cheerful Mexican/Tapas food and soak up the atmosphere in this good weather before heading to the Garden of Unearthly Delights or your Fringe show. Get in early on popular summer nights as it isn’t big and would fill up quickly… and support this great venue format which hopefully might become more prevalent throughout the city and that this one will stay around post-Fringe. I might see you at the bar?!

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Little Miss Mexico
188 Grenfell Street, Adelaide (Next to Crown & Ancor)

Urban Wine Project – Vinteloper

Food: 7/10
Service: 8/10
Vibe: 9/10
Cost: $$

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La Cantina Co on Urbanspoon