KUA Bar and Bistro, Adelaide
I so love to try new places and Saturday night brought Kua Bar & Bistro in Gilbert Place, next door to Hains & Co. It’s Mexican, but don’t go with any preconceived ideas – it’s not the type of Mexican you might be used to – we were somewhat surprised to find there’s not a taco, fajita or burrito in sight! No, instead, what you get at Kua is a more sophisticated offering – a bit modern, a bit fusion.
This place is the new venture by Ivan and Sonia Pichardo of Maiz and Mezcal fame. With its heritage frontage, this building has had a reno of major proportion and it now has a spacious dining area, a rooftop bar, and a laneway that goes all the way through to Peel Street that has another bar and more seating. The fit out’s good. It’s modern with lots of black and large pink feature patterning. My one complaint with the place itself is the lighting’s a big bright – installing some dimmers would definitely improve the atmosphere – plus, the fact that our table was directly underneath a spotlight meant it was terrible for food photos!
So, once we’d recovered from the mild surprise of there being none of the fare that’s served in the majority of Austalian Mexican restaurants, we perused the menu in more detail. It’s concise with five appetisers, six mains and three sides. The only specials for the night were desserts – I would say that to get people to return, a few changing savoury specials would be a good idea or a couple of extra dishes on the menu.
We decided we wanted to share everything and from our experience, I’d say that’s the best way to dine at Kua. We started with the refreshing Ceviche with coconut cream, spring onion, lime, chilli, coriander topped with a crunchy tortilla of amaranth and chia. Nice. We also had the ‘Cochinita’ – slow cooked spiced pulled pork, pickled Spanish onion and habanero sauce. The wontons were delicious but there was only the tiniest bit of sauce – we could have done with a much bigger dollop. But, I’d order these again.
For mains, we couldn’t go past the Grilled octopus with potato terrine, chilli and dill mayonnaise and fresh dill. What came out was a generous serve of octopus which was very good indeed – smoky and tender but the piece of potato terrine was quite tiny for a main course. Our second main was the Grilled Black Angus porterhouse with pasilla chilli sauce and anchovy butter, served with a separate dish of sweet potato mash. It was a fine piece of meat and a perfect medium rare. And our sides of Pan-fried green beans and Sauteed mushrooms were done really well. We couldn’t fit dessert in!
In summary the food was very good – good quality produce, great flavours and nice presentation. Plus, the service was friendly – the staff were quite happy to explain the menu and the food. The wines are well priced. I was disappointed they didn’t have the bottle of Argentinian Malbec we asked for but the Grenache we had in its place was a good substitute.
Put Kua on your list, but don’t go if you’re feeling like a serve of nachos and a fishbowl margarita.