Red Salt, the signature restaurant at Crowne Plaza Adelaide in Hindmarsh Square launches a new menu each season.
I was lucky enough to be invited to a bloggers launch of the Summer 2014/15 menu by PR company Neon Moose.
On first impressions, the lobby bar had a modern feel. With its’ own entrance, you could be forgiven for mistaking it for a regular bar.
That’s the first stereotype of hotel dining smashed for the evening.
After introductory drinks at the bar, we were invited to take our seats in the restaurant.
Floor to ceiling glass windows let in abundant natural light and views to Hindmarsh Square. Wooden tables warm the space which has high ceilings and a matching modern feel.
From most seats in the restaurant, you are afforded a view into the open kitchen, to see where the magic happens.
Nothing to hide here, Head Chef Fran is on show front and centre.
A variety of house made breads were set upon a plate constructed of a thick slab of Himalayan pink salt.The breads were delicious with the house made butter, olive oil and balsamic.
Ready and awaiting our arrival was a beautifully presented amuse bouche of of cold pea soup with goat cheese cream, sweet fresh baby peas, mint and beautifully short pepper crisp.
It didn’t last long, creamy, sweet, tangy what a mix.
Service was polite, speedy and accommodating. Another hotel dining faux pas avoided.
We were offered a variety of drinks, including a lovely Pinot Gris from Langhorne Creek winery Bleasdale.
With the fruit coming from the cool climes of the Adelaide hills, the nose held peach & paw paw scents, that followed through on the mouth coating palate, finishing with just a touch of juicy acidity.
Wine in hand, it was the perfect opportunity to peruse our special menu for the evening.
Time to make a decision too, of which main course to select out of four choices.
For starters, we were presented with a Chef’s tasting plate, which for me was prepared vegetarian. It was served on a beautiful piece of slate.
There were no three elements to try.
Firstly, a vegan beetroot ravioli, made with thin slices of pickled beetroot sandwiched together with a smooth and flavourome vegan cashew cheese.
Quinoa & eggplant salad with pistachio cream and crispy shallot stood in a little cylinder and had a great blend of nutty, creamy and crispy tastes and textures. It was a little like a reinvention of a tabouli.
Thirdly, there was an heirloom tomato salad with baby basil, buttermilk gel and my favourite element on the plate – balsamic spheres that pop a jelly like shell into tangy sweet liquid balsamic centres.
Prior to mains being served, we were offered a glass of Pike & Joyce Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir.
True to form, the nose had nice earthiness as well as a bit of blackcurrent and a hint of warm caramel. On the palate it was medium bodied with nice juicy acid and a little light grippiness.
Head Chef Fran Ghidini– originally from Milan, and who came to Adelaide by way of London and Washington – introduced our main courses.
Fran has a warm manner, and an enviable accent, and a love of doing the classics well, while experimenting with the new, like the raw beetroot ravioli and vegan cashew cheese.
Keep an eye on Chef Fran for more interesting dishes to come.
Chef Fran wasn’t finished with us yet.
We were treated to a trilogy of coffee (and Italy) inspired desserts.
Working my way left to right, I started with Nonna Lucia’s tiramisu. Rich, sweet, smooth with bitter cocoa to top it off.
In the middle was a smooth chocolate and coffee mousse, with an almond croccante – or praline. Not too sweet, light & airy, and richly coffee & chocolate flavoured, with the crunchy praline beneath as a biscuit.
Rounding out the trio, an unbelievably good grappa and coffee ice cream. A grown up ice cream indeed, it had a nice little kick! Smooth, rich and so, so coffee flavoured. My favourite of the three. The chocolate wafer was also beautifully short and crumbly soft.
Tea & coffee was offered, and we thanked Chef Fran and Belinda from Neon Moose PR who sent us home with a gorgeous goodie bag of treats from suppliers to Red Salt, so we could have a little taste of it at home.
Forget about bland, overpriced hotel dining. Red Salt is smart, modern and well priced (I snuck a look at the real menu!) and is overseen with love & care by Chef Fran.
What did you most like the look of from the summer menu? Answer below!