Botanic Gardens Restaurant Review 2015

Image: Willunga Wino

In terms of city locations, one of the most beautiful in any city must be the botanic gardens. 

Garden vista. Photo: Willunga Wino

Vistas, open space, quiet, greenery, birdlife, art, fountains. 

Sacred Lotus in bloom, Nelumbo Pond. Photo: Willunga Wino

What more perfect place, then, for a very special restaurant. 

Our destination across the lake. Photo: Willunga Wino

Across the lake, sits the Botanic Gardens Restaurant, in a classic garden rotunda building.

Adelaide Botanic Gardens restaurant. Photo: Willunga Wino

Chef Paul Baker sources many of the restaurant’s ingredients from the gardens, in their ever changing seasonal variety.

You can’t eat more local than that.

List of ingredients from the gardens. Photo: Willunga Wino

We are greeted warmly and offered a choice, inside dining outside. 

Given the beautiful day, outside it is. 

We’re escorted to what turns out to be the best table on the terrace by the maitre’d who lets us know our waiter for the day will be Daniel.

Lakeside garden terrace. Photo: Willunga Wino


On the wine list which has a good selection of local drops and a compact but clever choice of imports, our eye is drawn to the extremely limited run “Botanic Ale” beer ($10.50), which Daniel tells us was made from barley grown in the “City Crop” garden last year, and brewed by the Lobethal Bierhaus.

Nice wine list, plenty by the glass. Photo: Willunga Wino

Settled by the lake, bubbly water in hand, we opt for two courses ($52) for myself and 3 courses ($70) for Mr Wino.


Tempting menu. Photo: Willunga Wino



Drinks arrive quickly, and you are first shown the bottle before it being poured, a nice touch.

The K1 By Geoff Hardy Gruner Veltliner ($10.50) has a riesling-like nose, with a hint of oiliness. Mouth filling like a Pinot Gris, but then clean at the end like a Riesling. The nose opens to citrus blossom as it warms.

Aperitif of the K1 Gruner. Photo: Willunga Wino

Botanic Ale Beer is a dark amber in colour, with a citrus hops nose and taste, clearing to light maltiness and lasting flavour. 

This is a cracking brew, but the restaurant has only about 2 cases left (minus the two we polished off!)
There is no more this year, as the City Crop is corn!
Here’s hoping for 2015 it is hops.


Hyper local brew. Photo: Willunga Wino

They are followed suit by a choice of house baked sourdough bread, white or a loaf coloured with squid ink and vegetable ash.

Cultured tang to the house churned butter matches well with the superfine, soft bread with slightly chewy crust.

The squid ink and veg ash add colour but not flavour.

Squid ink & vegetable ash sourdough. Photo: Willunga Wino
An amuse bouche with the chef’s compliments is offered before entrees are served.
For me, the vegetarian bite is a quinoa crisp topped with a smoky-sweet-tangy pickled shiitake mushroom, garlic chive and nasturtium.


Quinoa crisp with pickled shiitake and herbs. Photo: Willunga Wino

The second amuse is a perfect cube of pork hock terrine, with avocado mayo, crackling and pickled cauliflower. 

Pork hock terrine with crackling. Photo: Willunga Wino

Entrees were served on beautiful, rustic, handcrafted pottery plates. 

Hiramasa kingfish, with kohlrabi, avocado, miso, garden ash and puffed rice was presented simply and prettily. crunch from kohlrabi and the smokey ashed puffed rice contrasted with the soft, seared fish. 

Mr Wino loved this dish.

Seared kingfish entree. Photo: Willunga Wino

Rainbow coloured heirloom garden grown tomato pieces and slices were layered with crunchy heirloom radish slices, herbs, silky Woodside goat curd, and herb meringue shards that dissolve on the tongue, in my entree.

Salty olive tapenade and sweet-smokey charred onions lurk at the bottom.

Delicious and very seasonal.

Garden tomatoes entree. Photo: Willunga Wino



For mains, I added a glass of the Jericho Fiano ($10), a cracking wine (the Adelaide Hills Wine Show agree) with lifted florals and grapefruit on the nose. A rich mouthfeel has juicy but not racy acidity.

Mr Wino had a glass of the O’Leary Walker Pinot Noir ($8.50), a solid wine with nice balance between red fruits and darker mushroomy flavours.

Wine o’clock. Photo: Willunga Wino

For mains, I had the Anise Carrots, which included the largest – and most delicious – carrot I’ve ever had. This dish won me over that a carrot can be a main meal! It was soft but far from textureless, rich, sweet and buttery with a kick from the anise spice rub on the outside.

The lentils were al-dente and in a salad with cracked wheat, tangy with sumac. Native mint was a new flavour for me, strong and clear but different to garden mint. Labne added creaminess and heirloom beets crunch. 

Loved it!

Anise carrots main. Photo: Willunga Wino

Mr Wino’s saltbush lamb was unbelievably tender and flaked apart at the barest touch of the fork. It’s barberry braising giving it a Middle Eastern hit, along with ras al hanout eggplant puree. Pickled veg and edible flowers added crunch and more unique herb flavours. 

I particularly loved this plate which reminded me of opals. 

Saltbush lamb main. Photo: Willunga Wino
We were having a really good time. Service was chatty and fun whilst not being at all intrusive. The view was stunning and breeze was warm. So, we decided to order a sticky to go with our shared dessert. 
The Val Despino El Candado Pedro Jimenez from Jerez, Spain, smells like dates, prunes burnt caramel and tasted like it too – heaven! Mr Wino had to remind me to save some to match with dessert.
At this point, another surprise, a pre-dessert each of one of the prettiest dishes I’ve seen. 
Rosewater poached rhubarb, with whipped white chocolate, a little meringue, granola (including my favourite goji berries!) and charred petals. It is a creamy, tangy, smoky, crunchy delight. 


Pretty as a picture Rhubarb dessert. Photo: Willunga Wino
Mr Wino was right to save some Pedro Ximenez for the dessert, they went so well together. 
Dark, 70% chocolate delice with a tangy cumquat mousse, earl grey chocolate jelly and freeze dried mandarin. In my books you can’t go wrong with chocolate, the darker & richer the better. 


70% cocoa chocolate delice with citrus. Photo: Willunga Wino


With our lunch over, it was time for Mr Wino to head over to the cricket and for me to explore the gardens. 

We had a really delicious meal, interesting native & garden grown ingredients, and perfect service. What more could you ask for?

What did you most like the look of from the summer menu? Answer below!
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Rating: 5 Glasses 

Price: $$
Menu: Modern Australian.
Meal Size: Mains aren’t huge so opt for at least 2 courses.
Atmosphere / Ambiance: Outdoorsy, produce driven, relaxed.
Standout Dish: Anise carrots, Rhubarb pre-dessert.
Service: Friendly, chatty but not intrusive.
Online Booking: Bookings by phone 
(08) 8223 3526.
Restaurant Details and Location:

  • Plane Tree Drive
    South Australia 5000
Tel No(08) 8223 3526
Opening Hours: Breakfast Sat & Sun 8am-11am. Lunch Tue – Sun from midday. 
Access: Metered parking along Plane Tree Drive. 15 min walk from Adelaide Train station.
Botanic Gardens Restaurant on Urbanspoon


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