Category Archives: Visual Arts

Smiffy’s Adelaide Adventure

Preamble

Holidays are a rare occurrence. Keeping animals, it is very hard for both of us to go away together; being “medically inconvenienced” makes any travel even more unlikely.  For the second year in a row, however, I have managed to enjoy a “pretend” holiday, albeit on my own, taking medical appointments in Adelaide two days in a row as an excuse for indulging in some better class food and accommodation.

It should be noted that, as I am cooking for the other 364 (or 365) days of the year, my “holiday” food is of special importance. For my day/night off, it’s got to be good.

Getting There

All too often, we take transport for granted.  With my fatigue issues, driving to Adelaide is completely out at the moment. Taking the service bus to Adelaide for a day-trip is even worse; departure of the return trip is late, not arriving until after eight in the evening. A day like that would leave me incapacitated for days after.

The solution? The Health Bus. Living on the Northern Yorke Peninsula, we are 100 miles or so away from the decent healthcare facilities that Adelaide has to offer. For those living further down the Peninsula, you can add to that distance and the corresponding travel time. To spare my creativity, I will quote from latest newsletter from Yorke Peninsula Community Transport regarding the Health Bus:

The Health Bus travels from Yorke Peninsula to Adelaide every week day, transporting clients to Health appointments. Anyone can use the Health Bus to attend appointments in Adelaide that are health related, including dental, physio, optical and visiting patients in hospital.

All this for a mere $5 each way and you can be accompanied by your carer, if you have one.

The bus drivers (Henry & Tony, a couple of very decent chaps) are accompanied by a volunteer to assist passengers with their needs including arranging taxis and generally making sure that everything works smoothly. Passengers are dropped off at and picked up from the places of their appointments. There is no fear of the bus taking off without you – it won’t; this is a very special service that focuses on the needs of the individual, not just getting a vehicle between Point A and Point B on time.

The bus itself is a noisy, uncomfortable, vehicle with a seat pitch well-suited to school children but somewhat less so to my six foot, 240 pound frame.  I try to schedule an appointment (locally) with my massage therapist as soon after a trip on the bus as I can.  Seriously, I tend to need it.

Despite the discomfort, when I board that bus I know that I can forget my worries for a while as I know that I will always (barring accidents) get to my appointment on time and be collected and returned home with a minimum of hassle.

A plea to any South Australian politicians/decision makers who might read this: please continue the funding for this vital service. And now that we are out of the pilot phase, please get us a decent vehicle.  I am not on a pension. I would be more than happy to see concession/non-concession rates introduced.  Heck, I’d be more than happy to pay the $50 that it costs on the service bus to receive this real service.

Contact Yorke Peninsula Community Transport on 1300 132 932 or +61 8 8853 3850

In Between

Well, that’s how I got to the neurologist, anyway. From there (South Terrace, between Hutt Street & St Andrews Hospital) to the Adelaide Hilton in Victoria Square was a case of hoisting my rucksack and putting one foot in front of the other.  I was quite delighted to arrive in Victoria Square at the same time that the next bus would have arrived to take me to the same destination – about 20 minutes.  OK, I may have been walking fast to prove a point.  Had it been raining or too hot, I wouldn’t have left the neurologist’s rooms until I had called a taxi and it had arrived. I don’t do walking in adverse conditions, except in emergencies.

All in all, the walk was reasonably pleasant. I took a somewhat zig-zag course as I hadn’t taken a map with me and was trying to navigate by guesswork.  I knew that I could not go too far West without crossing the tramlines, but was still concerned until I saw the top of the church just to the East of Victoria Square and knew that I was on track.

Slightly footsore (not used to shoes) and with a sweaty back from the rucksack (don’t know how people can stand doing that all day,) I arrived in Victoria Square, had to wait an age to cross the road, but finally reached the Hilton.

View of Victoria Square from hotel room
Room with a View

Adelaide Hilton

As I mentioned in my preamble, this is the second year that I have taken an Adelaide “holiday”. Some familiarity with the Hilton is required, to get the lifts to work, if nothing else.  I noted from my previous experience there is a usability issue with the lifts (elevators.) To access the guest floors, it is necessary to insert the room key into a slot in the lift.  I have no objection to this security requirement, in fact I think it is a good idea.  However, putting the notice advising of this at a child’s eye-height is really not very helpful. Ask yourself this: how may people actually read notices in lifts? You get in, push the button, expect something to happen.  After my previous stay, I suggested that guests should be advised of this when checking in. This was not done, so I will mark this as an accessibilty/usability failure. (For Twitter users: #fail.)

I was allocated to room 1015.  This was better than my 18th floor location of my previous trip in a few ways.  Firstly, convenience. The door was right beside the lifts, no wandering down featureless corridors (even worse trying to find your way back again,) the room was just there. No criticism of the hotel for room placings, that was just luck.  On my previous visit, renovations were taking place in the hotel. I may be wrong, but I think that on the previous visit I encountered a pre-renovation room and on this visit, one that was post-renovation.

What’s better? Whole room looked, well, neater. Bathroom worked – at least the plumbing did; no weirdness of the shower this time. Don’t know whether lack of steam extraction when showering was a feature or a fault.  The television (something I never use in a hotel) looked new, like an over-sized LCD monitor, further lending to my suspicion that the room had enjoyed a recent makeover.

Generally, I still like this hotel. Whilst upmarket and full of quality, staff are polite, but not obsequious. Don’t know if it’s the Aussie influence (or what the managers think the Aussie “thing” should be like) or just that the management at this hotel have realised that the majority of guests like, above all, to have a home-from-home and to be treated like human beings.

The Adelaide Hilton is online here (site can take forever to load,) tel: +61 8 8217 2000

Lunch

My lunch plans for the day were either IPs Noodle Bar in Grote Street or the Indian Brasserie in Gouger Street.  As I was craving curry not long into the walk from my appointment, the Indian Brasserie was my target. (I was actually going to write a review, “A Tale of Two Brasseries”.) For some reason, I simply could not find the place. Whether my brain was acting up, whether it had moved or closed, I don’t know. My inability to find a familiar place allowed me to find one unfamiliar:

The Village Indian Restaurant

Coming from England, where there are a lot more Indian restaurants than there are in Australia, I have certain expectations from an Indian restaurant. Serving Kingfisher beer is an expected, but not important for me. A high quality of service is both expected and important. I was not disappointed on either of these counts, although I eschewed the old Kingfisher in favour of a very fine India Pale Ale haling from the Lobethal Bierhaus, in the Adelaide Hills.

This is where writing this article gets hard – trying to refrain from salivating on the keyboard whilst reading back through the menus!

I chose, for my starter, lamb seek kebab.  Whilst this was being prepared, I was served with, what I consider to be almost the traditional, poppadoms and things in which to dip them.  The kebabs lived up to expectations – very tasty.

There’s a four-letter word that I always look for on menus but seldom find – that is GOAT. I consider goat to be an under-rated meat and superior to its closest comparable, lamb.  The Village Indian Restaurant not only serves goat, but it serves goat vindaloo – a match made in Heaven as far as I am concerned.

I took my goat vindaloo “as it comes” – I don’t go for mega-hot at lunchtime.  What arrived was very pleasant. As there was a fair amount of sauce, I have to confess to spooning it up like soup when nobody was looking.  The vindaloo was eaten with garlic naan and immense enjoyment.

I was able to chat to the manager, Manoj Kundrapu, and was impressed with his attitude towards the business. Not only did I really enjoy my meal, but I got very good vibes from this place and would recommend it most wholeheartedly to anyone who enjoys Indian food.  And yes, gluten-free options are available.

The Village Indian Restaurant is at 125 Gouger Street, Adelaide, 5000. Tel: +61 8 8212 2536

A Brief Rest

After a very enjoyable lunch, I returned to my hotel room for a siesta.  It should be noted that whilst Victoria Square is a very noisy place, soundproofing in the room reduced it to a very dull rumble, so I was able to sleep with minimal disturbance. My CPAP machine created more noise than anything else.

Dinner – The Brasserie Revisited

Not only had the Indian Brasserie disappeared (at least, I couldn’t find it,) but so had the Brasserie at the Hilton. This disappearance, however, was far more explicable as a kitchen re-fit had moved it into temporary accommodation in the Victoria Room.  The surroundings were not as appealing as the regular ones, where the kitchen is open plan and “involved” with the restaurant floor. However, I was not there for sight-seeing; this was a return-trip to see if the dining experience of food and service really was as good as I remembered.  I was not to be disappointed.

It is very rare for me to make choices from a specials board, but feeling extremely tired and with more than just a little touch of the lurgy, I wanted wholesome and hearty.  The specials board offered me just that so my mind was fairly well made up before I even sat down.

cameraphone picture of entrée
Entrée

Entrée

O’Connells Meat beef ragout, rigatoni, Say Cheese Parmigiano Reggiano.

Delighted that the Brasserie does not stint on the meat so my carnivorous cravings were amply satisfied. This and the main course were accompanied by Turkey Flat Shiraz and a large bottle of sparkling San Pellegrino, the only “foreigner” to be seen during the meal.

Main

Standoms parsley bratwurst, AMJ celeriac purée, confit shallot, jus.

To use less sophisticated language, sausage, mash, and gravy, with the mash being celeriac rather than the far more pedestrian potato. With all the food coming from Central Market (next door,) it was with certain regret that I was not in a position to transport perishables, otherwise I would have picked up a few more of these wonderful sausages to take home.

Bread

Living in a gluten-free household, bread is a rare luxury for me so I allowed myself to be tempted by an artisan bread containing Coopers beer and baked in a flower pot.  This was probably the only mistake I made with the meal. The bread was very nice – but it was also very filling and left me with insufficient room for the special Woodside cheese made specially for the Brasserie.  It also threw my high protein, low carbohydrate diet right off the rails.

Service

I enjoyed my food enormously (even if I was unable to enjoy my way to a cheese course,) and could truly find nothing to fault. No matter how good the food, what can make or break a dining experience is the service.  What struck me on both visits to the Brasserie was the quality of the staff. OK, this is a restaurant in a major international hotel in a state capital – the staff have to be good; but the Brasserie staff seem to have a little more polish than I might expect.  In fact, I would say that this is just about the best restaurant service that I have ever encountered.

The little drama that is “explaining the specials” that has become popular in many restaurants is often a performance that I enjoy – for the wrong reasons. I tend to experience a certain Schadenfreude as I watch the staff member’s eyes glaze over or see that little grimace as they recite their lines like a child at school. My imagination fills in what they are thinking: “hmm; I wonder if the Crows will win” or “oh, joy; I’ve only got to say this another 50 times tonight.”  The Brasserie experience seems different. It might be just me, but I got the impression that the spiel wasn’t just “I have to tell you this stuff, I am so bored,” but was actually a sincere attempt to convey information to the diner. It also made me feel like a person in conversation with another person, rather than someone sitting around making the place look untidy.

I would like to point out that this quality of service was being delivered in sup-optimal circumstances, only a week into the move into temporary accommodation.  As you may have gathered, dear reader, I was extremely impressed.

Brasserie – Conclusion

Once again, I have to take my hat off to Simon Bryant and his team for delivering a truly memorable dining experience and generally Getting it Right.

The Brasserie is on the ground floor of the Adelaide Hilton in Victoria Square. Telephone +61 8 8237 0697

The Next Day

I awoke the next day to find that the lurgy had moved in to stay, and was thankful that I had enjoyed a couple of excellent meals before it could catch up with me and spoil things.

When in the proximity of Central Market, only one option presents itself to me when it comes to breakfast: Charlie’s Place. Opening early, with friendly service and being able to deliver the type of high protein/high caffeine breakfast that I crave, Charlie’s Place never disappoints.

After breakfast, I did a little shopping in Kim Wang’s supermarket, then killed time by waiting in the hotel lobby, watching some extremely wild weather pass through.

As there is a limit to how long I can be bored in a hotel lobby, I caught a taxi to my next appointment. I was delighted to see that the taxi was fitted with satellite navigation so the address, to which I had never been before, presented no problems.

The original plan had been to meet my wife at Central Market, go to the appointment and return home with her. Unfortunately, she also had the lurgy and at a more advanced stage than me.  Moving to Plan B, I had called Yorke Peninsula Community Transport first thing in the morning and was thus picked up from my appointment by the Health Bus, once again proving the value of this excellent service.

Conclusion

Country boy that I am, and never truly comfortable in the City, I was nevertheless able to enjoy my little excursion thanks to a bus service, a hotel, two excellent restaurants and one café, a satellite-guided taxi – and also two very pleasant doctors, who were the real reason for me being there in the first place.