TOP 100 QUEST: ORANA, Adelaide
What do ice plant, sea blight, kutjera, lemon aspen, gubinge, codium, karkalla and sea purslane have in common? Give up? OK, I’ll tell you – they’re all Australian ingredients and you’ll find them all, and many more, on Orana’s current menu. The mastermind behind bringing all of these things (that mostly grow out in the wild) to our tables is Jock Zonfrillo, formerly of Magill Estate.
Orana is an Aboriginal word that means ‘welcome’, and it’s a great name for a restaurant that is so incredibly Australian, despite chef Jock being a Scotsman. Orana is a small room situated above ‘Street-ADL’ (also Jock) in the east end of Rundle Street that sits only about 25 people. It’s a modest and intimate space with simple décor and a retro feel.
It’s a degustation-only menu at a price of $155 per person for food, and $295 per person including matched wines. The degustation starts with ‘Alkoopina’ snacks that come out quite quickly. You feel a bit bombarded but that’s all part of the fun. These snacks are far from ordinary. They included Potato damper with lamb butter (the damper comes out still cooking on glowing coals), silky smooth ribbons of pumpkin flavoured with roast beef, Emu rolled up with mulberry and mountain pepper, Squid, finger lime and aniseed myrtle, and Alexander Palm, bush honey and green ants. Your tastebuds are going wild, and your mind’s spinning trying to process these new foods.
After the flurry of snacks, then come dishes like Charred kangaroo tartare, gubinge, grass and wild garlic, and Mud crab, karkalla, sea purlsane, codium and yoghurt. And then the final dish took us back to the damper concept from the start of the menu – a Burnt damper ice cream and native currants.
The service from manager Aaron Fenwick is knowledgeable and professional and it’s nice that the chefs come out to your table to introduce some of the dishes. I like that. It’s a strong wine list too – we were happy with the choices.
This was the second time I’d been to Orana. The first time was about a year ago, and I’m happy to say, the standard is still just as high as it was back then. Dining at Orana is both interesting and challenging. The food is seemingly simple and yet so complex, and will introduce you to whole range of ‘bush tucker’ and combinations you will have never seen before. Jock Zonfrillo’s food is nothing short of genius. In my humble opinion, this is the best food experience you’ll have in South Australia, and it’s up there with Australia’s best restaurants.