Chef Sean Connolly is a genuine example of someone who wants to make the culinary world a better place.
Chef Sean Connolly is a genuine example of someone who wants to make the culinary world a better place. Despite dividing his time between cities and venues, he most certainly has his finger on the pulse in each of his kitchens.
Renovations have transformed his newest space from its former life as Adelaide Casino’s North restaurant into a dashing new venue fit for connoisseurs of good taste. Crafting better use of a similar layout, the upgrade shows extravagance yet sufficient restraint, and pays homage to the history of the adjacent train station without being passé.
The main dining area is separated by a central bank of benches that face unpretentious table settings, simple but not stark. Other tables are surrounded by French bistro-style seating that spills out onto the terrace. An upstairs mezzanine is designed for more intimate feasting, with dimmed lighting, low ceilings and plush carpet runners.
This area has more of a Danish-style and almost feels like a separate venue, without being disjointed. Well-groomed wait-staff look busy but not stressed and we are quickly seated with drinks poured in matter of minutes. Our table on the outdoor terrace is perfect for a mild night, though this could do with more of a barrier to separate our otherwise lovely dining setting from excitable Casino-goers flocking by as the night goes on.
Fortunately the outside is given as much attention as the inside and this is testament to Connolly’s focus on service as much as on food. The menu has the (now) expected range of choices generally decided on whether or not you like other people touching your things. An ‘Orgy of mushrooms’ ricotta gnocchi sounds salacious, but one needs to maintain some composure in such a tasteful setting, particularly when in public.
This double entendre invokes the desire to share, however, and we order from the ‘Small Gatherings’ menu. Ocean Trout ‘on plank’ arrives, surprisingly, in a copper serving-dish and is cooked nicely with a crisp outer layer and a slight smoky hint of flavour infused in the creamy flesh. The fillet sits atop a bed of greens that benefit from a dressing of the resultant oil that is complementary rather than greasy, though may have profited from capers or a hit of citrus, instead of a misplaced scattering of pine nuts.
South Australian lamb shoulder comes coated in luscious spiced liquorice gravy that cuts through the fat and brings a level of sweetness to this humble but impeccably cooked dish. The generous portion of meat simply falls off the bone with only the slightest of encouragement from a fork and is enough for the four of us dining. Sides include asparagus spears swimming in a wickedly good hollandaise sauce and ‘Grandma’s carrots’; if only mine had known how to cook this well. A salad of edamame beans with mint and Woodside goat’s curd is a standout, and Sean’s Mac & Cheese is as good as any and is the perfect accompaniment to forkfuls of lamb shoulder, ocean trout or both.
A 2014 Ochota Barrels Weird Berries in the Woods Gewurztraminer from the Adelaide Hills is our poison of choice for this summery night and it tastes exactly as the name suggests: like a stroll through fields of wild flowers and berries. Sean’s Kitchen’s wine list is worthy of a mention, with plenty of Adelaide Hills favourites to choose, propped against a solid list of top-end Champagnes and some equally special sparkling whites from the wonderful land of Oz.
Baked cheesecake for dessert uses Kangaroo Island sheep’s milk, and displays a pleasant acidity that contests a fruit-sweet strawberry and rhubarb syrup. This isn’t the prettiest of desserts, but another humble example of topnotch ingredients creating a wonderful meld of flavours.
Sean’s Kitchen displays some serious class, yet welcomes the masses. A lot like Sean Connolly himself.
Station Road, Adelaide 8218 4244