Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck opened in Melbourne this week and tales of whimsy, Willy Wonka doors and jigsaw puzzles are already flowing from the lucky few who won a spot in the ballot. If you are not one of the 14,000 people that scored a booking to the most coveted restaurant in the Southern Hemisphere, then fear not, for Adelaide has your degustation desires covered.
Adelaide it-boy Jock Zonfrillo opened his Rundle St venture last year, working ever since to carve out a bigger spot in Adelaide and place it on the culinary map. With a focus on native and foraged ingredients, before saltbush and lemon myrtle were everywhere, this is fine dining but not as you know it. The menu features ingredients such as sow thistle, sea lettuce, aniseed myrtle, sprouted bunya nut, bitter grass and of course, kangaroo. While the price tag is hefty ($295 for dinner and matched wines), it is still $200 shy of what you would be shelling out at The Fat Duck, not including wine or a trip to Melbourne. Orana is one of only 3 South Australian restaurants to receive 2 stars in the 2015 Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide, and was also named Restaurant of the Year and Best New Restaurant in the 2014 Advertiser Food Awards. An Orana degustation also begins with 'Alkoopina', which consists of 15 different dishes, such as Samphire Risotto with Smoked Roo Tail and Lamb Tongue with Bitter Grass, just to start you off. So don't fill up on bread.
Instead of “Nitro Poached Apertifs” at The Fat Duck, try…
“Riberries, Jilungin Tea and Frozen Gin” at Orana
Hill of Grace
Another newbie from last year is Adelaide Oval’s fine dining restaurant, run by Head Chef Dennis Leslie, whose Filipino background features on the menu, along with Australian and French influences. With sweeping views of the oval and a focus on seasonal and local produce, this is galaxies away from your usual meat pie and chips at the footy. Think muntries, king fish and ingredient of the moment, quandong (Thrift Shop Bar have just released a Quandong Gin).
Pro Tip: Almost all fancy restaurants do a cheaper lunch version of their dinner degustation one or two days a week. Because, who has time for a 3 hour lunch...? Students! So take advantage of the student life timetable and book your next special occasion for lunch. Hill of Grace do a 3 course Friday lunch for $85 (versus $100-$300 at dinner).
Instead of Egg and Bacon Ice Cream at The Fat Duck, try…
“Toasted Stout Sourdough, Stout and Sourdough Ice Cream, Roasted Dates and Pecan” at Hill of Grace
Penfold's restaurant has long been outshining its winery overlord, with awards and accolades popping out of their cork. Last year could have been different when chef Jock Zonfrillo left to start his own restaurant (see above), but what is the best thing to do when you've been dumped? Get a make over! With a new design, new menu and new head chefs Scott Huggins and Emma McCaskill, Magill Estate has kept its fine dining roots but added some modern flair. Their transformation has won them some fans as they were named one of the Top 10 restaurants in Australia by Gourmet Traveller for 2015. Degustations start at $175 for seven courses, but if you are feeling ludicrously lavish then you can opt for the 'Icon and Luxury' wine match which will come to at total of $425... still less than The Fat Duck.
Instead of “Jelly of Quail, Marron Cream” at The Fat Duck, try…
“Quail, Ginger Beer, Coriander” at Magill Estate