With a delicious blend of world-class food and wine and beautiful beachfront eateries, Adelaide (recently voted one of Lonely Planet’s top ten cities of 2014) is fast becoming a hotspot for the gastronome. Exsus’ Australia expert Annette (below) steers us through the highlights of this city’s flourishing food scene.
My top tip for the best introduction to the city’s love of food is to visit Adelaide Central Market. Choose from fresh fruit and vegetables picked in the morning, the most eye-boggling range of meat and freshly caught local fish and seafood. Grab a spot at one of the popular cafés for a coffee or something delicious to eat – everything from a good Aussie meat pie to a Russian piroshky: a meat-filled doughnut, which sounds hideous but tastes amazing! If Gregg Wallace from Masterchef visited he’d no doubt say: ‘Street food doesn’t come fresher than this.’ Mark Gleason runs some fun tours of the market, and knows it well having been a trader here for over 20 years. Get out to picturesque Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills for some bakery perfection in Australia’s oldest surviving German village.
So you’ve seen the produce, now you want to eat it. Well the good news is that Adelaide is awash with great restaurants. Whilst the Michelin Star accreditation doesn’t reach Australia, they do have a Chef’s Hat award that holds much sway in the food world. I was lucky enough to have dinner at two Adelaide restaurants that in my humble opinion would be worthy of at least one Michelin star. Penfold’s Magill Estate restaurant, which is just 15 minutes from the city in the Adelaide Hills, is extraordinary; the views alone, looking back at the city, are worth the visit, but the food and wine matching is incredible - a definite treat for a special occasion. I also had the pleasure of dining at Restaurant Orana: a complete contrast to Magill Estate, this feels like you’re in a private dining club in the heart of Rundle Street, firmly at the cutting edge of gourmet dining. You’ll need to book, and I urge you to go for the tasting menu with wines - I think I counted 23 different dishes... luckily not 23 glasses of wine, so I do remember it!
South Australia produces fantastic wine in abundance, and the nearby Adelaide Hills is home to award-winning wines by the bucketload. If you’re a wine connoisseur, do the Great Grange tour at Penfolds with a private guide, and taste some of Australia’s most prized wines (a bottle of the 2009 Grange retails at $785). It’s fascinating to hear the history of this iconic place and sit amongst the barrels in the underground tunnels for a tasting session - who knew that you could have your precious Penfolds wine re-corked at a clinic once it’s 15 years old or more? And not just in Australia, the Penfolds clinic goes out to visit collectors in China and North America too. For the non-connoisseur wine lovers amongst us (I include myself firmly in this category), visit any one of the cellar doors in the Adelaide Hills for a voyage of discovery... there were 51 at the last count!
Most of Adelaide’s metropolitan beaches are located less than 30 minutes from the city. What’s more, the Mediterranean climate means you can enjoy them most of the year. Catch the tram from the city for a 25-minute ride to historic Glenelg, my favourite sandy white beach in South Australia. It’s just 10 kilometres from the city centre and the site of South Australia’s original settlement in 1836 – plus it’s also a popular dolphin hangout. You’ll find an abundance of cafes and restaurants peppering the seafront, all perfect for sampling the freshest of seafood. Other hot favourites are Brighton Beach, located next to Glenelg, with an attractive art deco style beachfront and vibrant cafes and restaurants; Henley Beach, a family-friendly hotspot with gentle waves and plenty of fish and chip eateries; and Semaphore, backed by grassy sand dunes, a historic seafront, and a cafe strip with a vibrant mix of cosmopolitans and old salt.
Adelaide is the gateway to the Barossa and Clare Valley – both easily reachable within an hour or so. The region produces cooler climate wines, and is internationally renowned for its deliciously crisp Sauvignons. There are a number of fabulous boutique hotels scattered across the valleys, all perfectly placed for a day or two spent touring the wineries – let us help with recommendations for where to stay and what to see.
Further afield on the mainland, you can head south to the McLaren Vale wine region and the Fleurieu Peninsula to cruise the Murray River for the day. And don’t forget that it’s not all about the food; along with spending time soaking up the gourmet scene, Adelaide is a great city to wander around, with boutique shops and galleries across the neighbourhoods, interesting colonial architecture and rich Aboriginal and European heritage – and let’s not forget those fabulous beaches.
Browse our gourmet holidays in South Australia for more inspiration.