It seems every time a high-profile chef departs one restaurant for another, stories of strained relationships and poorly-plated politics are rife. Just months after opening to local applaud, the Golden Boy-loving public was ‘rocked’ at the news that Chef Nu Suandokmai had quit.
The headlines were dramatic and the industry unsettled, according to local reports, but who knows what really goes on below deck? As betrayed as they might have felt, kitchen crews behind these restaurant rifts stand united, keep on cooking and maintain the same standards. Even if the Captain had jumped ship (or was forced to walk the plank), there’s almost always a First Mate to step in and steer the new vessel.
Enter new Captain Miles Davies – formerly of Jolleys Boathouse, as incidental pirate-puns would have it. Recently based in Sydney developing a dedicated taste for South East Asian food under the eye of revered chef Christine Mansfield at former fine dining restaurant Universal, Davies has returned home to take the mantle as the new (and perhaps improved?) Golden Boy of Adelaide’s Asian-fusion cuisine.
I had eaten at Golden Boy a few times before and it was always a great experience, but let’s not dwell on the past; instead let’s concentrate on the delicious and the charming. Golden Boy’s interior is delightful. I think back to the days when this was the Botanic Bar’s dark and dated Chesterfield-clad cigar lounge and thank the designers for this resurrection. Clean, bright and comical, with etchings and prints traversing white walls and a white marble bench running right down the centre of the compact but well-utilised space. The bright and white extends through to the kitchen with a row of golden light fittings suspended from black metal poles – a striking feature against the rest of the clean interior.
The food is delicious. Betel leaves are stuffed full of seafood flavours that change regularly. I’m a fan of the salmon but the crab is even better, as the silky, creamy paste filling and chilli hit excites and leaves you wanting more – drizzle it with supplied lime wedges if you love a bit of tang, it’s worth it for balance and takes the chilli edge off, too.
In the salmon vs kingfish sashimi battle, the salmon proves almighty – a dainty little fish dish with perfect lime-y acidity supported by galangal, soy and palm sugar to balance the mix. Keeping with the seafood tradition, a beady-eyed barramundi is battered, herbed, fried and placed decadently atop a pile of leaves, spices and herbs.
Out of the ocean and onto the land, a flavour-infused Jungle Curry dish features stir-fried sirloin, kangkung, holy basil and banana chilli that almost pushes you over the spicy edge. The TBBC is a simple combo of edamame beans, chilli and bean curd and is a play on the locally-adopted Gouger Street favourite with a touch of Thai.
Spice-rubbed pork spare ribs are slow roasted for hours and served with a roast garlic dipping sauce. These are lip-smackingly delicious and a good break from the chilli heat of the rest of the menu. The Massaman curry is the only slight let-down. Although tasty, the Wagyu beef was not as tender as expected and while I do enjoy the flavour of star anise, mistaking a pod for a curry-soaked morsel of meat left a fairly strong taste between my teeth. Fortunately the duck curry made up for it.
Roasted legs swam in a lovely fragrant yellow curry, sweetened with pineapple and Thai basil. It’s one of those dishes you can never go past on a menu, and in this case you certainly shouldn’t. For those of you with ambition (or those on the hunt for that perfectly Instagram-able bird’s eye shot) make sure you order the plate of chilli accompaniments. The staff is charming.
Whether it was the time seated at the chef’s bench overlooking the kitchen or the main dining space, the service makes the experience. Attentive, professional and just a little bit cheeky, these guys and girls know their business, their food and their customers.
Golden Boy hasn’t changed too much since opening its doors, but where it has, it’s for the better. It is testament to the idea that there’s more to navigating a ship than who is at the helm.
Boatswains and deck hands all have their place to ensure smooth sailing, especially through turbulent waters.