Iberia Adelaide, the highly anticipated East End establishment, opens next month and Camellia Aebischer travels to their kitchen garden in the Hills to get a taste of the upcoming venue.
There’s a new kid on the Rundle Street block. Well, nearly. Still in its incubation stages, Iberia, a project by Tom Roden (owner of Exchange), brother James Roden and chef Andrew Douglas, is nearing its mid-February launch.
The Spanish themed restaurant and bar draws its influences from the Iberian Peninsula that runs along the coast of Portugal and Spain. The vibe is Spanish, but there won’t be an overpriced chorizo dish in sight.
Up the hill in Balhannah, is a crucial ingredient of the forthcoming restaurant: the kitchen garden. Produce for the menu will be collected from the garden and nearby producers .
“We really want to have as much control over every ingredient we source [as possible], if we aren’t growing it ourselves,” Tom says.
“Where else, in a capital city in Australia, could you open a restaurant in the city and have a farm 20 minutes away to grow food?”
So, of course, that’s what they’re doing. Andrew has ties to the property in Balhannah and will be tending the garden alongside other staffed chefs.
“We currently have around 12 different crops growing and will plant more as things take off,” Andrew says. “We’re doing a lot of companion planting to help keep things as organic as possible. We’re not going after accreditation but so far we haven’t used any pesticides. At first, it’ll be me and the chefs, then as things pick up we’ll look to hire a full-time gardener.”
“It’ll be an incentive for chefs to get out of the kitchen,” adds Tom.
“For things we can’t grow, we’ll be meeting with the producers and closely monitoring how their products are made,” Tom says.
Saskia Beer is set to supply poultry and pork, and a connection in the sustainable fishing industry will mean top quality seafood.
“Our food is going to be fresh, less meat-heavy, with a focus on seafood and vegetables,” Tom says.
“There will be a feel of Iberia but we’re not going to let it limit the use of local ingredients or different techniques,” Andrew says. “It’s not traditional.”
The home for Iberia is the former Bimbo store on Rundle Street east.
“The restaurant will be upstairs (ground level) and the bar (with casual dining) downstairs in the basement,” Tom says. “Downstairs still has the original stonework. It used to be a cellar and the floor was all dirt, so it’s come a long way,” he laughs.
Expect a restrained and clean interior, which is designed by Williams Burton Leopardi. Filling the white space will be a list of imported wines and sherry from Spain.
“We’ll include Spanish and Portuguese grape varieties that are grown in Australia, but also showcase minimal intervention wines. We want the Australian side to be more adventurous and playful, so there’s a balance of old world and new world,” James says.
Local wines that will feature on their list include Jauma, BK Wines, Yeti and the Coconut, Shobbrook and Ochota Barrels.
“For the Spanish wine we just did a lot of sampling and chose from what we liked,” James says. There will be a Juve y Camps cava on pour for sparkling enthusiasts.
Balancing the 50/50 import to local drinks list is a selection of sherry from Spain. “Sherry is now starting to turn away from something that people know as a drink at their grandma’s,” James says.
The trio is intent on showcasing the complexities of Spanish sherries, which will be available by the glass, in a cocktail or in a pairing alongside whiskey. It may seem like an odd marriage but whiskey and sherry are more closely linked than you’d expect.
“Whiskey makers often import a lot of barrels from Portugal and Spain for ageing, and the flavour similarities are quite apparent when you compare them,” James says.
Iberia will open its doors in mid-February.
Photos: Camellia Aebischer