My City Adelaide
Duncan Welgemoed, Chef/co-owner of acclaimed Adelaide restaurant Africola, reveals where he goes to eat, drink and be merry in his hometown.
Having enjoyed a food scene in the 1980s that saw Maggie Beer, Cheong Liew, Phillip Searle, Cath Kerry and Christine Manfield among those rattling the pans, Adelaide is once again at the epicentre of Australian culinary innovation.
Home to a veritable melting pot of fabulous restaurants, the city’s culinary landscape has blossomed, offering loads of different genres, cuisines and price points. Add to that, phenomenal wine from some of the world’s most acclaimed wine regions, where prestigious producers sit alongside cutting edge winemakers, and it’s a perfect storm of creativity.
With so much going on, we turned to Duncan Welgemoed, co-owner and chef of one of Adelaide’s best restaurants, Africola, and Food Consultant for the Adelaide Festival, to take us on a tour of some of his favourite local restaurants, cafes and bars. Of course, when visiting Adelaide, your first stop should be to sample the cool vibes and African-inspired meals at Africola. Here’s Duncan’s list of where to go afterwards.
Orana is one of the most unique restaurants in Australia. Jock Zonfrillo and his team have worked tirelessly to create their taste of Australia, with a distinct and direct focus on native ingredients. It’s challenging, interesting, and like no restaurant in the world! Their showcase of Australia’s Indigenous ingredients is second to none.
Sunny’s is completely different to anything else here, perhaps even in Australia. At once a bar, a pizza shop and, here’s the kicker, it’s also a dance hall. It’s operated by one the young legends of our South Australian bar scene, events guru Andy Noel. Really good booze and wicked DJs.
MAGILL ESTATE – TAKE THE IN-LAWS
Magill Estate is a restaurant hosted in one of Australia’s best wineries, Penfold’s. Simplicity is key, with the food providing the perfect seasoning to the wine, rather than a menu being built the other way around. Pared back luxury.
HENTLEY FARM – ONE FOR DATE NIGHT
Head chef Lachlin Colwill is South Australia’s silent achiever – I think he’s cooking some of the most ambitious food in the country. Lachlan grew up in the Barossa, and while he’s cooked at some brilliant restaurants in between, he is back on home turf and you can taste it. The team harvests produce from their own farm, but also draws on friends and family in the area. There’s a sense of luxury and yet it remains informal, delicate, with a distinct personality.
EBENEZER PLACE CAFÉS
Situated just behind Rundle Street is a little strip where you could happily spend a whole day bouncing from café to restaurant to bar! This is the essence of what Adelaide’s about with so many brilliant operators doing really super diverse stuff. There’s a symbiosis to their offering that speaks to me about what Adelaide is … what Australia is.
PARWANA – THE KIDS WILL ALSO LOVE IT
This is the best Afghani food you will eat outside Afghanistan, but there’s so much more to this restaurant. Parwana is run by a beautiful, humble family – the entire family – and there is no one who does more for the community.
Keen to share all aspects of their culture with the people of Adelaide, Zelmai and Farida Ayubi run a couple of restaurants. Parwana Afghan Kitchen showcases dishes that would be at home in a royal feast, while Kutchi Deli Parwana, run by their four daughters, is more of a celebration of their rich culture and celebration – this is street party food.
And while the Ayubi are devout Muslims, they offer BYO in their restaurants and send all the proceeds to feed the homeless. Their food and culture punctuates the Australian landscape so beautifully. More of this please!
One of Adelaide’s most underrated restaurants, serving up the best charcoal-licked Lebanese food. They make their own bread, while all the pilaf is out the back in giant sunken pits. It’s brilliant. As with all the very best bakeries around the world, it’s so entrenched in our daily routine that we’d all be completely lost if it disappeared.
David Swain is cooking some of the best regional food in the Barossa: a touch of wood, a touch of smoke, incredible produce. Add to that heady mix Sharon, one of the best Maître D’s in the country, and package it all up in one of the most beautiful and oldest wineries in South Australia. That’s hard to beat!
LA BUVETTE DRINKERY – FOR AFTER WORK DRINKS
I’ll often grab my restaurant manager for a post-work de-brief at La Buvette. We can nab some natural booze, have a little cheese, charcuterie, snails, or a croque monsieur – the most excellent snacks, really high quality and a great vibe.
Golden Boy, serving their take on modern Thai, has to be one of Adelaide’s busiest restaurants. The food ticks all the boxes, but it’s really the service that blows me away, it’s super slick, seamless. Luke, the restaurant manager, brings that old school Italian generosity to the floor. The cuisine and service provide an excellent juxtaposition.
STEPPING OUTSIDE FOOD
The South Australian Museum is one of our best kept secrets. The ‘curious beasts’ exhibit is absolutely world class.
For a casual drink, the Exeter Pub is one of Australia’s most iconic; it’s the pub that started the Australian wine industry, the sawdust on the floor in direct (but delightful) contrast with the Krug in the fridge (incidentally some of the cheapest you will find in Australia). This pub is still a place to enjoy conversations between wine makers, chefs and drongos.
For shopping, I love Beg Your Pardon where super talented tailor Michael Bois has been dressing the who’s who for many years. It’s the only one of its kind in S.A. and like all small businesses, hopefully the more we visit, the longer they will stick around! I also love my trips to the Slick Lobster – best barber shop in the world with the best banter.
For fresh produce, I think Boston Bay Small Goods in Port Lincoln has some of the best pork I’ve tasted in Australia. And then there’s the Motlop family and their business Something Wild. They are doing incredible work in the community to showcase Indigenous ingredients to greater Australia; this is fundamental to building and maintaining that industry.
THE ADELAIDE FESTIVAL FOOD LINE UP
If you want to see collaboration at play, check out the delicious line-up (across the board) for the Adelaide Festival this March. Among many highlights, there’s a series of long lunches to be prepared by great Adelaide chefs (Karl Firla, Christine Manfield, Mark Best, Cheong Liew, Michael Ryan) all designed to celebrate those golden years of the 80s.