Friday, 21 October 2011

Celsius Restaurant and Bar, Gouger St, Adelaide

Celsius Restaurant and Bar, Gouger St, Adelaide

Opened in 2010 and appearing at #65 in the Australian Gourmet Traveller 2012 Restaurant Awards: The top 100, Celsius is a dramatic and appealing addition to the many eateries on Gouger Street.

Head Chef Ayhan Erkoc is a young man with the creativity, talent and deft touch some veteran chefs can only dream of.  His restaurant Celsius embodies his vision; serving organic, fresh and unique dishes that mesmerise the senses.

Unable to decide on what to order, both myself and my partner opted for the eight course degustation menu. At only $120 ($180 if you include matching wines), we couldn’t go pass it. 

Every course was exquisite.

If I had to pick a favourite it would be the caramelised veal sweet breads with forest mushroom, hazelnut and parsnip. The sweet, sticky and gorgeously tender sweetbread was delightfully complimented by the earthy mushrooms and wholesome parsnip. This exquisitely mouth-watering dish was a highlight, and most definitely something I will have again.

I was astounded by the cheese course. Besace Chévre Affine, beetroot, ash, onion, smoke. A smoke filled dome was brought to the table. With a flourish, the dome is removed and aromatic smoke wafts towards you. The smell of something sweet; beetroot, onion and a very rich cheese permeates your senses. The plate is simple and elegant, white cheese dusted in ash, offset by the bright beetroot and miniature caramelised onion rings, edges intentionally burnt. Tiny vivid flowers, delicately placed, finish the dish to creative beauty.

Desert sounded like a simple affair. Carrot, rosemary, beer, walnut, ricotta. This neatly presented desert demonstrated how a simple vegetable can be turned into a gastronomic feast. A moist, rich carrot cake surrounded by gels and jelly was offset by the bittersweet candied rosemary and rosemary sorbet. Crumbled ricotta added a depth of texture while the bed of beer foam finished the delicate flavour of the dish. 

I must commend the excellent and professional manner of the General Manager and waiting staff. I informed our waiter that I was allergic to nuts and he assured me that I would be given either alternate meals or the same with the offending items omitted. Unfortunately, as accidents do occur, half way through our evening (and the sublime sweetbreads) I happened across a nut puree on my plate. There could not have been more apologies. Not only did the staff immediately hover until they were sure my health was fine (oh how anaphylaxis can ruin your dinner…not this time though) and provide another plate of sweetbreads, the general manager apologised in person and brought a complementary cheese course, petit fours, and coffee for myself and my partner. I have never been to a restaurant where such a mistake has been so graciously amended. 

For this alone, we will return to Celsius  

Celsius Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 2 October 2011

The Strand Cafe, Jetty Road, Glenelg

I suspect the most apt description one can give The Strand is hit-and-miss.

The Strand was voted best Café in South Australia 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007 as well as Best Café in Australia 2007. 

During its prime it was without a doubt a fantastic place to dine. It boasted fast, friendly and professional service, a fun albeit noisy atmosphere, clean décor and exceptional food. The Strand paired modern Mediterranean and Australian “café” cuisine with fair prices, offering an extensive menu and seasonal specials. A talented barista encouraged you to linger after a meal or just come in for coffee and to sample some of their wickedly good desserts. If you wanted a table during the weekend, reservations had to be made days in advance.

However, The Strand today is another story.

The menu is relatively unchanged since 2008, and while their cuisine hasn’t kept up to date, the prices certainly have. If you’re lucky enough to dine on a good day, you’ll probably receive a reasonable meal, adequate service and terrible coffee.  Wander in on a bad day (no need to book ahead anymore), and you’ll receive an overcooked meal and you’ll watch the staff stand in a corner, chatting, when someone should be taking your drinks order. You’ll still be served terrible coffee.

The only steak you’ll find on the main menu is the Prime Steak of the Day; chargrilled and set on soft parmesan polenta, flecked with wood oven mushrooms and bacon, served with balsamic jus, agresto and beetroot aioli.  It is a well-presented meal, the polenta is always creamy and the bright pink beetroot aioli agreeably sweet. Although at $35 it would be nice if the steak could be cooked to your request-even just once.

A similar problem is often found with the Orrecciette Sugo di Granchio; pasta caps tossed with crab meat, mild chilli, vodka, cream and tomato sauce. It is a pleasant pasta dish, the chilli cuts through the creamy sauce keeping it light and fragrant. If only it didn’t always have small shards of crab shell in it!

Complaints and criticism are not handled well. On my last visit, I ordered the Steak and Slipper Lobster Tail special. The steak was dry, leathery and beyond overcooked. The lobster tail resembled rubber (I briefly considered rolling it into a ball to determine if it would bounce) and the puddle of mash was over-seasoned. After mentioning the problems to one of the waiting staff, I was somewhat surprised at the response. There was an offer of a new meal (if I wanted to wait another half an hour) and that was all. No discounted bill or free drinks and worst of all, no apologies. The chef then glared us down for the remainder of our visit.

Overall, I am disappointed with The Strand. It seems to be meandering along on a good reputation made years ago-and it would appear management have no desire to bring it back to the note-worthy restaurant it once was.

If you’re in the mood for taking a gamble on your meal and you’re on Jetty Road, The Strand is always an option. Just remember there are plenty of other cafés in Glenelg. You could always try one of them instead…

If you have an Entertainment Book for 2011-2012, you can find a voucher for The Strand in section B.

Cafe Strand on Urbanspoon

Greetings and Salutations!

After a decent quantity of prodding, I have decided to write reviews of assorted eateries around Adelaide. 

I shall also upload some of my favourite recipes. 

Occasionally, there will be photos of my cat.