SALOPIAN INN, McLaren Vale, SA
The new Salopian Inn is not the Salopian Inn of old. It’s more relaxed and it’s modern and fresh, while still maintaining that olde-worlde 1800s feel. Importantly, it’s serving the kind of food that I like. Chef and part owner Karena Armstrong has quite the resume, having worked at some of the greats including Billy Kwong, Lake House and Icebergs, resulting in food that is Asian and Mediterranean influenced and big on flavour.
After being seated, we review the wine list. The list outlines the white wines and other drinks on offer, while the reds are down in the cellar for the choosing. Who doesn’t love a good trip down into a wine cellar? I know I do. We excitedly traipsed down to view what was on offer and emerged triumphantly with a bottle of Geddes ‘Experimental’ 2010 Old Vine Grenache. Nice, very nice!
Now onto the food. We started with a few ‘Small Delights’ to share – You can’t go past the Steamed Berkshire Pork Buns with Home Style Chilli Sauce. Nice buns! I’ve had a few buns in my time, and these are up there with the best of them – the dough, light and fluffy and the filling tasty. Absolutely LOVED that chilli sauce – good and hot, hot, hot! (we were warned prior that the batch of chillis were hotter than usual). The Steamed Prawn Dumplings, Ginger and Shallot Dressing were also good – lots of flavour. Then we followed these with the “Baccala” – Fried Fish Croquettes, Zucchini and Fennel Salad and Baked Ricotta, and the Vietnamese Pancake, Spiced Tofu, Green Beans, Almonds and Coconut – beautiful fresh ingredients – speaking of which, a lot of the produce used in the cooking is grown on the premises.
Then, onto the ‘Substantial Delights’. We chose the Local Dry Aged Grass Fed 600g T-Bone with Indian Style Smoked Eggplant, Tomato and Curry Leaf. I simply cannot turn down a good T-Bone and this one had plenty of meat to go around and was cooked perfect medium rare. Our second choice was the Chinese Five Spiced Free Range Duck, Blood Plums, Steamed Bok Choy and Steamed Buns which consisted of half a duck – perfect for sharing. The duck was surprisingly meaty and the sauce was beautifully delicious – we soaked it all up with our buns (so to speak!). What a great dish, seemingly influenced by Kylie Kwong’s Crispy-Skin Duck with Blood Plum Sauce that I’ve cooked myself a few times. To go with this, a couple of sides – the Steamed Mixed Greens and the Grilled Zucchini, Spiced Flattened Rice and Yoghurt and Salad Greens. We weren’t too sure about the flattened rice, but everything else was good.
I will definitely be dining here again. With generous servings, big bold flavours and friendly service, what’s not to like?!