South Australia is Oz’s food and wine capital, from the celebrated vineyards of the Barossa Valley and Coonawarra to the farmers’ markets of Adelaide and the abundant waters of Port Lincoln. It’ll come as no surprise, then, to learn that the state is also home to some of Australia’s very best restaurants – here our Australia expert, Annette, talks us through her top five.
Hentley Farm offers the quintessential South Australian food and wine experience, with the restaurant housed in beautifully restored stables set amongst 150 acres of vineyards. The seven-course ‘Discovery Menu’ is a culinary extravaganza which takes you on a gastronomic journey through different taste concepts, flavours and wine pairings, served and explained to you by the chefs themselves course-by-course – so the experience is not only delicious, but educational too. For a pure wine experience, tasting at the cellar door in the property’s original, painstakingly restored 1840s homestead is an intimate affair: the four tasting rooms include the Gallery room, where you can enjoy Hentley Farm’s award-winning produce while admiring the work of local artist Greg Donovan.
In the heart of the rich wine country of the Barossa Valley lies Apellation at The Louise, one of the finest restaurants in all of Australia. Characterised by a commitment to seasonal, fresh ingredients, head chef Ryan and his team move to the rhythm of the seasons to make the very best of South Australia’s delicious produce – favourite seasonal selections include Hutton Vale lamb with smoked eggplant puree. Apellation’s commitment to local produce is such that more than 85% of the daily menu comes from no more than 30km away, and the extraordinary wine selection is no different, making the most of the Barossa Valley’s status as one of the premier wine-growing regions in the world – the area’s famous Shiraz is particularly worth a try.
Orana might be located in the bustling heart of the city of Adelaide, but this restaurant’s vision is, in their words, “all about country” – top man Jock Zonfrillo is tireless in his foraging of South Australia’s bountiful countryside to find the best ingredients for a Danish-inspired smorgasbord of artisan delights, featuring the ambitious likes of green ant sorbet alongside more classic, exquisitely prepared dishes such as local seafood, kangaroo and lamb. With a mission to define a new Australian cuisine, Orana sets the bar high and delivers – and not just with the food. The ‘Alkoopina’ degustation menu perfectly pairs local and international wines with delicious dishes forged from South Australia’s finest produce to mouthwatering effect.
Next up on my pick of South Australia’s top eateries is Southern Ocean Lodge, a luxurious sanctuary on the rugged coast of Kangaroo Island. Chef Tim Bourke and his team are passionate about making the most of local, seasonal produce from Kangaroo Island and South Australia, including grain-fed beef, local cheeses and the abundant fruits of the Southern Ocean. To complement the food, the Lodge’s convivial open bar (drinks are included in the rates) boasts a wide range of wines and beers from Kangaroo Island and wider South Australia, with team members always on hand to help you choose the perfect tipple.
A sleek, modern restaurant in the Adelaide foothills, Penfolds Magill Estate has a highly conceptual approach to food, with a focus on flavour, simplicity and invention and on the freshest, seasonal ingredients sourced from the same land as the estate’s famous wine. Penfolds is one of Australia’s oldest and best wineries and is home of the Grange, the country’s most sought-after drop: this pedigree is reflected in the quality of the wine list and the expert pairings with the food, including chardonnay from the Adelaide Hills, shiraz from the Barossa Valley, and the famous Grange. The expertise of the staff, talking you through the finer points of the degustation, along with the beautiful location and the exquisite food and wine combine to make this the ultimate gastronomy experience in South Australia.