HARDY’S VERANDAH RESTAURANT, Adelaide
To date, we’ve only had a small selection of what you might call ‘high end’ fine dining restaurants in Adelaide – you know, those places you go for that special occasion – that make that big impression… (as well as on your wallet). Magill Estate, Orana, Hill of Grace and Chloe’s fall into that category, and now, I’m excited to say, there’s a new one.
Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant is situated at the historic Mount Lofty House. The restaurant is named after its founding creator – Arthur Hardy and so is the adjacent bar – the Arthur Waterhouse Bar and Lounge. The house itself was built in 1852 to be Hardy’s summer residence and it soon became a place for extravagant parties for Adelaide’s high society.
It was a huge renovation project for the heritage-listed property and the restaurant is situated where there used to be accommodation – lovely rooms where I’ve stayed before, that had direct access out to the verandah to read a book and sip a glass (or a bottle) of your favourite wine. But any disappointment over the disappearance of those rooms is quickly overcome by the fact that the space has been used for good, not evil. If you book early enough and ask nicely, you might be able to score a table on the actual (now enclosed) verandah where you can enjoy watching the sun setting over the Picadilly Valley.
The Head Chef is Wayne Brown whose experience includes both fine Australian establishments (including Quay, Tetsuya’s and Urbane) and internationally at a number of Michelin and hatted restaurants. His concept is ‘valley to verandah’, sourcing the finest seasonal produce from the Adelaide Hills and combining it with some international influences to result in a celebration of the best that South Australia has to offer. He works his magic in a roomy, fully redesigned state-of-the-art kitchen, complete with his own custom-built charcoal fire pit.
I’ve been lucky enough to experience Hardy’s Verandah not once but twice. The first time I was invited to the social media launch where we got to enjoy a five course menu with matched wines plus snacks and petit fours, and then again only a few days ago for an anniversary celebration where we enjoyed the full seven course menu.
The food is inventive and elegant – think Ocean trout confit with beetroot and fermented blueberry, Dry-aged duck with foie gras, apricot marmalade and kinome, or one of my favourites – Blue crab, grape, cockles and macadamia milk. With Brown also spending a couple of years as a pastry chef, the desserts are equally as good – the Soured plum, citrus candy and custard crème is finished at the table with a good dusting of citrus ‘wizz fizz’.
Combine the sophisticated food with a well-priced selection of great wines, an excellent team of service staff (I simply couldn’t fault the service), a downstairs cellar and a private dining room – Hardy’s Verandah certainly makes an impression, and a very good one at that.