RESTAURANT BLACKWOOD, Adelaide
Let’s get straight to the point – I’m a fan of Jock Zonfrillo’s food. Orana is up there in my top 4 restaurant experiences, so I was extremely keen to check out Restaurant Blackwood which is kind of the ‘little sister’ of Orana and resides directly underneath it in Rundle Street, replacing Street ADL and before that, Universal Wine Bar. I was told the name comes from the blackwood coals that are often used in the cooking process, plus blackwood features in the tables upstairs at Orana.
The food at Blackwood relies on the same principles as Orana but is designed to be a more affordable option. Food is fresh, seasonal and sustainable, and features many native Australian ingredients – berries, bushes, seaweeds, most gathered through the foraging process. It’s a nice simple menu – 4 entrees, 4 mains, 4 desserts and 3 sides, prices ranging from $18 to $38, or there’s the tasting menu option which is $90 for food or $140 with matched wines.
Tonight, we decided to make up our own shared meal. To start, out comes some Potato damper with bbq chicken butter. I have to say, you’d be hard-pressed to find a tastier butter than this one. So savoury! They should sell it by the jar – it’s almost worth going just for this! The only butter that I’ve found this impressive before is the squid ink, nori and plum sake butter at Kazuki’s in Daylesford.
The Raw kingfish with karkalla, charred kelp and seaweeds was a dish that really highlighted each of the elements. The freshness of the fish, the sea lettuce, the saltiness of the pig face, the crunch of the crispy-fried Neptune’s pearls (sea grapes) all worked so well together. The Seared prawns with farmers friend and pandanus was a cracker of a dish. The prawns were just barely cooked, retaining that natural sweetness and raw texture that I love – served with pandanus vinegar, sago pearls and sea purslane, all sitting in a rich prawn stock with a bit of sexy foam action happening on top. We wanted to lick that dish clean.
For our first main, the Hay cooked pork, KI lentils, saltbush and pickled pine mushroom was an excellent start. The pork is cooked in hay-infused cream for an hour and the pine mushroom is pickled for 9 months. The dish was topped with a generous portion of yummy saltbush and vinegar powder. Our second main was the Spaetzle (very small dumplings), braised English Longhorn beef with walnut and kutjera miso. A hearty dish made up of shin meat, rib meat and brisket combined with warrigal greens and a type of spinach. We loved this rich, full of flavour dish. Oh, and I HAVE to mention the Green beans with native XO. These beans were flash-fried and amazing texturally, mixed with an XO sauce featuring native berries that gave it a pleasant sweetness. You must have those beans when you go!
Now many of you know that desserts aren’t really my thing but we decided to share a couple – the Apple tart with muntries and apple cloud, which my partner enjoyed, and the Strawberries, toasted macadamia cake and elderflower cream, which was nice, but I thought there was too much cream on the plate – but perhaps it’s partly due to the fact I’m lactose intolerant.
I was really impressed with the service too. Professional yet friendly, and every staff member was very knowledgeable, knowing the ingredients and cooking methods involved for each dish. They answered every question I threw at them, and I asked a fair few. And it was a nice touch that David the chef appeared at our table a couple of times to explain the dishes to us.
Having said that Blackwood is designed to be more affordable, the two of us managed to ring up a bill of just over $350 for the experience, but that was our own gluttonous fault, with a negroni, three courses each, a nice bottle of Mataro, and then being upsold (happily) from one glass of dessert wine to a whole bottle of moscato d’asti for $53 (we only found out the price of it when we got the bill…oops…)
It’s probably not a place for the non-adventurous, but I will certainly be heading back to Restaurant Blackwood.