In terms of city locations, one of the most beautiful in any city must be the botanic gardens.
Vistas, open space, quiet, greenery, birdlife, art, fountains.
What more perfect place, then, for a very special restaurant.
Across the lake, sits the Botanic Gardens Restaurant, in a classic garden rotunda building.
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.
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.
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.
Settled by the lake, bubbly water in hand, we opt for two courses ($52) for myself and 3 courses ($70) for Mr 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.
Botanic Ale Beer is a dark amber in colour, with a citrus hops nose and taste, clearing to light maltiness and lasting flavour.
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.
The second amuse is a perfect cube of pork hock terrine, with avocado mayo, crackling and pickled cauliflower.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Menu: Modern Australian.
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.