The Brasserie – Happy Circumstance


Appointments two days in a row saw me making an overnight stay in Adelaide (South Australia). The choice of the Hilton as a place to stay was almost entirely influenced by this hotels proximity to the Central Market and the innumerable eateries of Gouger Street.  I have reviewed the hotel here.

My original plan had been to dine at Auge on Grote Street but after a quick look at the menu I discovered that there was absolutely nothing there that appealed to me. After having scrutinised the wall-to-wall eateries of Gouger Street, I singled out a Szechuan restauraunt and returned to the hotel to refresh myself before returning for dinner.

When the time came to move food-wards, a long day plus the demon Chronic Fatigue had left me in no fit state to do so, so I writing off my research, I decided to eat in-house at The Grange. Which was closed for Winter holidays. This set of circumstances left me with a Hobson’s choice of The Brasserie – a restaurant the very existence of which I was unaware. (Which made the surprise all the more pleasant.)

It seems that a kindly Fate had put me in the very place where I should have been in the first place.

Local? Yes, We’re Local

(For non-South Australians, this is a former catchphrase of an Adelaide TV station.) The Brasserie brands itself as ‘Seriously South Australian’ and makes a fine job of showcasing the produce of this state – even to the extent of having the provenance of various items printed on the menu. The proximity to the wonderful Central Market makes a restaurant thus themed all the more practical.

(To those who think that Australia is just a country of beer, I would like to point out that South Australia is a producer of many world-class wines, and that’s fussy me saying this.)

On the Table

I was first presented with some hot bread, a small bowl of olive oil and a small bowl of coarse salt – a perfect follow-up to the (definitely not South Australian) Ricard that I had taken for my aperitif. Not entirely sure how I was supposed to handle this dish and having just that day received blood test results that showed my sodium level to be low, I dumped the entire bowl of salt in the oil and dipped the bread. Very pleasant.

My first course was ocean trout from Springs of Mount Barker (a name synonymous with quality fish products) cured and served with an avocado mousse. Unlike the softness of many cured fish, this had a firm texture and was very pleasant washed down with a glass of Alta Pinot Grigio (Pinot Gris if you are French).

The main course was the Haute Cuisine version of ‘bush tucker’ – Pepper berry & bush tomato rubbed Macro Meats roo saddle, bush banana salad, quandong & desert lime glaze, crispy saltbush (I quote from the menu.) This was accompanied by a bottle of Dominic Versace Sangiovese (quite excellent.)

My final course consisted of a cow/goat cheese from Woodside Cheese Wrights – producers of Ediths Cheese, one of my all-time favourite goat cheeses. This was served with sour dough bread, butter and quince paste.

A Question of Wine

The Sangiovese that I enjoyed through my main course and cheese was not actually my original choice. My waitress (Meg) took the role of sommelier to the extreme, not just matching wine to food but matching wine to person. A single-blind tasting of two wines gave me what I really wanted rather than what I thought that I might like.

I find this wine service noteworthy because, whilst I have been directed in my wine choices before, this was the first time that it had been done by someone who did not actually know me and my tastes.

Meet the Chef

When I indicated that I wanted contact information and a menu so that I could write up my experience in this humble publication, I was asked if I wished to speak to the chef and was thus introduced to Simon Bryant, the man behind it all. I sincerely appreciate Simon taking the time to talk to yours truly and to be able to deliver my appraisal face-to-face. Excellent food, wines and service and a chef willing to listen make The Brasserie a restaurant to be reckoned with.

I have to say that this rates as one of the best dining experiences that I have had in Australia.

Bits and Bobs

Apart from the bread (of which there was not that much), the food was all but devoid of Stodgy Starch making for a healthy high protein, low carbohydrate meal. The menu does actually mark ‘Healthy Options’, although I tend to ignore such things unless I know the given value of ‘Healthy’. Looking back over the menu, I think that the value here may actually be HPLC.

Yes, The Brasserie is able to serve gluten-free food. In a real kitchen with a real chef, I have far more confidence in this claim than in other places that I can think of where the food starts off gluten-free but ends up otherwise due to poor hygiene and handling. The Brasserie, therefore, is being filed under Life Without Gluten.

The Brasserie is on the ground floor of the Adelaide Hilton in Victoria Square (between Gouger Street and Grote Street). There appears to be an entrance from Grote Street to save traipsing across the whole hotel lobby. As far as I can recall, wheelchair access would be from the ramp at the main hotel entrance.

Telephone (08) 8237 0697

Opening hours are here to save hunting.