The sprawl of Adelaide’s culinary scene continues west with the opening of Publishers Hotel on Franklin Street.
This bar and dining venue launched quietly but confidently six months ago and is already gaining a reputation as a gastronomic pub worthy of attention.
The former printing house of the Adelaide Stock and Station Journal has reclaimed some of its turn-of-the-century glory and mercifully discarded any trace of its short and sordid period as one of our ‘cheap-and-cheerful’ backpacker hostels – a transformation worthy of design accolades, rounds of applause, slapson the back, and a celebratory bottle of ‘93 Grand Cru at the very least.
We’re seated in a corner of the dark and intimate restaurant space with decent views of the kitchen and towards a wall of back-vintage wines, many of them selected from the owner’s private collection. Sommelier Patrick White was brought in to put together the rest of the list that seems to be a playful selection of some of his favourites rather than a particular sense of order.
He’s up with the orange wine trend and has the expected selection of locals and internationals, along with some special sparkling reds (and sparkling whites) that may have aficionados on the edge of their (Danish-designed) seats. Planning a generally carnivorous meal, we settle on a bottle of 2012 Yangarra Estate Old Vine Grenache but could have easily ordered six others.
An agreeable nod from our wellmannered waiter confirms a good choice and we are soon drinking the impeccably matched selection from some very fine glassware. Three scallops arrive perfectly caramelised and bathing in a generous pool of chimichurri; accompanying each is a sliver of fried black pudding that adds a meaty texture to this otherwise clean and simple dish.
Smoked venison carpaccio is a pleasure to behold and taste with pomegranate seeds adding some crunch and subtle sweetness, while leaves of bitter rocket work well to keep the flavours balanced. An appetising rack of lamb is prepared using a combination of smoking and grilling, and the perfectly pink meat simply falls off the bone with minimal encouragement (this must have been sourced from a flock worthy of a Stock and Station Journal article).
A deep fried parcel alongside contains some divine lamb shoulder ragu, and surrounding saltbush leaves are fried to add crunch and replace more ordinary greens. I do love the celeriac puree that tones down the saltiness of the plate and adds a shade of colour to this otherwise brown-on-brown dish.
Though the 600 gram rib eye (served with brussel sprouts, pancetta, chestnut and jus) is tempting, a more reasonably sized wild rice stuffed spatchcock arrives piled on a bed of sautéed spinach. It seems slightly overdone on the outside – perhaps the marinade stuck to the pan – but beneath the darkened skin are succulent mini wings, legs and breasts packing punchy hits of smoky flavour.
Publishers Hotel is pushing the boundaries when it comes to pub dining. And with plans to expand their operations to include a rooftop terrace and boutique hotel almost ready to go to print, I can’t wait to see the upcoming headlines.