An Insider's Guide to Adelaide

Posted by Stephanie Mikkelsen on Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Say what you will about Adelaide being the City of Churches and the butt of jokes from Sydneysiders and Melburnians; the South Australian capital is heaving with a top food and wine scene, gardens perfect for picnics and a jammed-packed events calendar. And how do you start discovering a city on the up? By taking the advice from a local, of course. Jock Zonfrillo is the chef and owner of one of the city's most prolific diners, Restaurant Orana, and is our Adelaide insider.

Meet the Insider

Jock hasn’t always called Adelaide home. The Scottish-born chef lived in Sydney for 10 years before making the move to South Australia. “Adelaide offers a more Australian lifestyle without the horrific traffic,” Jock explains. “And [Adelaide has] the luxury of being much closer to not only some of Australia’s freshest and best produce, but arguably some of the country’s best wine.”

Where to Sip and Savour

Adelaide is a city that knows good food. “I think we have a food scene here [Adelaide] that is more mature than other states,” Jock describes. “The boys and girls doing interesting restaurants and bars are not only extremely talented, but they are doing it because they believe in what they are doing rather than following a trend. The minimal distance between chefs, winemakers and distillers has also allowed for some really amazing collaborations.”

Use Hey Jupiter as your launchpad for discovering Adelaide’s gourmet credentials. It is a go-to for indulging any French fancy, and has a look and feel that wouldn’t be out of place in Paris. The café doubles as a full-service brasserie, and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Take a seat at the alfresco wicker tables to tuck into a croque monsieur, steak frites or escargot. Another city diner in Jock’s list of recommendations is Etica for wood-fired pizza made using ethically sourced products. Those hungry for more can also seek out Africola, Osteria Oggi and Sukhumvit Soi 38 for other centrally-located eats. Be sure to make a reservation at Orana too. The restaurant boasts a Rundle Street address, meaning it is easily accessible for visitors that have spent their day discovering nearby museums, attractions and sights. The philosophy at Restaurant Orana is strongly influenced by traditional Indigenous ingredients, so expect native flavours such as gubinge, finger lime, quandong and kangaroo to appear on your tasting menu. Located downstairs is Bistro Blackwood, the younger, more casual sibling to Orana. The fare here still nods to Indigenous produce, matched with takes on classic bistro offerings. Think Goolwa pippies with crème fraîche, organic lamb and myrtle chipolte, and lamington ice-cream.

Don’t let your gourmet scope be limited to Adelaide’s CBD during your visit, however. This is a city that has world-famous food and wine regions within easy striking distance. Reach the verdant Adelaide Hills in less than 30 minutes, or explore the Barossa Valley or McLaren Vale with less than a one-hour drive. Jock’s dining picks in the Adelaide Hills are The Summertown Aristologist and Lost in a Forest. Bound for the Barossa Valley? Jock recommends Fino and Hentley Farm. Or if you are keen to team your discovery of fine wines with sea air, look to McLaren Vale and book a table at The Salopian Inn.

When in doubt of where to start, you could simply follow in Jock’s footsteps: “Hey Jupiter for breakfast, The Summertown Aristologist for lunch, a double dinner at Africola and Bistro Blackwood, and followed by Maybe Mae for late night drinks and shenanigans.”

What to See and Do

Autumn is a beautiful time to see Adelaide. For Jock, it is also the best season to visit. From admiring the colours of the Adelaide Hills and tasting winemakers’ fresh vintages, to mushroom picking and sampling Kris Lloyd's wares at Woodside Cheese Wrights; autumn holds a bounty of delights.

Adelaide also hosts Tasting Australia during autumn. The 2018 event is scheduled from 13 to 22 April, and the line up has Jock excited. “We have nine international chefs who span across The World’s 50 Best and Michelin-starred restaurants; 16 of the best interstate Australian chefs, and more than 20 local chefs who combined will roll out arguably one of the best food festivals in the country,” Jock explains. “I think it’s fair to say that as the oldest running food festival in the country, it’s [Tasting Australia] has never looked better.” The incredible event program spans hands-on workshops and five-course feasts, to tasting masterclasses.

Committed oenophiles can catch Jock's handiwork in action too, at the Yalumba - The Signature Gala on Saturday 5 May. The gala celebrates the release of the 2014 vintage of The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, and Jock has masterminded a four-course degustation - all paired with Yalumba's top drops, of course. Tickets are on sale now.

Planning an Adelaide getaway out of autumn? Hit the Adelaide Central Market to wander the stalls and pick up produce and goods. Who knows? You might just spot Jock and the other chefs from Orana doing the same thing. 

Hero image: Ben Goode Earth Art Photography, South Australian Tourism Commission.