THE CURRANT SHED, McLaren Vale, SA
The Currant Shed used to be just that – a shed used to prepare and dry currants for exporting to the UK. When I booked into The Currant Shed for lunch recently, from my past experience I was expecting a good meal, but what I didn’t realise was just how good it was going to be. Unbeknownst to me, since my last visit a new chef has come on board – Dioni Flanagan. Dioni spent quite a few years in central Adelaide – The Wine Underground, Cibo, Panacea and Mantra on King William – and in McLaren Vale she’s also worked at Penny’s Hill’s The Kitchen Door restaurant.
Now at The Currant Shed, Dioni’s producing beautiful, sophisticated food using the best produce from the region (including the Currant Shed’s own garden), from land animals to seafood, nuts, fruits and vegetables. The menu options are 2 courses for $55 or 3 courses for $70. Because I’m not such a dessert fan, I asked if I could opt for 3 savoury courses. Our waitress said yes without even hesitating. That’s the kind of service I like.
Another bonus, and something I wasn’t really expecting at this place was snacks. Yes, the type of snacks you get at most of the more up-market establishments these days – and these were an excellent start to the meal. Good snacks, and quite substantial too! Coffin Bay Oysters with marmalade sago jelly nicely presented on a bed of rocks, light and fluffy Brie mousse with impressive looking corn chips, and Brussel sprouts cooked in chicken fat, cauliflower puree and chicken skin. Oh yes. By this time, I was a little worried that I still had my 3 courses to come. We’d already had a pretty big B&B breakfast that morning – but if the snacks were indicative of the food about to come, I made a promise to myself that I was going to finish every bit of whatever was put in front of me.
The first round of entrees came. The Beetroot, malt, curd, pumpernickel looked incredible – great plating coupled with bold flavours from the curd and the pickled beets. My Ocean trout with mushrooms and seaweed also looked beautiful. The trout was silky smooth sitting in a delicate broth, contrasted with the crunch of some lightly battered wood ear fungus and enokis. Entrees round two: Kangaroo, native pepper, blackberries, hazelnut. Yet another visually enticing dish – a generous serve of tender, rare kangaroo meat. The jus had a sweetness to it and there was the surprise of candied nuts. I had the Pork with scallops and cauliflower, and if that combo couldn’t get better it also came with a piece of black pudding! I love surprises!
For mains, the Aged sirloin with Jerusalem artichoke and horseradish came out simply presented but a piece of meat like that doesn’t need much else, simply packed with flavour. My Garfish with squid, salted plum, and baby leeks was a winner. This was a textural delight – the fish was so fresh and the squid was done in two ways. I just loved the deep fried Sichuan peppered tentacles and the fried leek. It was one of those dishes you don’t want to end.
And if this Top 100-worthy delicious food isn’t enough, there’s also a new restaurant manager and sommelier – Josh Picken, who’s worked in Adelaide’s best restaurants including Magill Estate and Orana, and I’m happy to say, we couldn’t fault the wine list or the service. I liked the fact that even though we were only ordering wines by the glass, the bottle was left on our table for a few minutes so we could have a read of the label. I haven’t experienced that before.
To sum it up, I was absolutely wowed. The Currant Shed has now made my favourite wine region even better.