Current Issue #488

Review: Sparrow Kitchen and Bar

Review: Sparrow Kitchen and Bar

The urge to feed the hungry is particularly dangerous. If you feel the hunger urge welling up in what passes for your soul, stifle it.

Volunteer for Meals on Wheels or, at the very least, work in a commercial kitchen until the mood passes.

People of normal intelligence are sucked into the balefully named ‘hospitality industry’ and horrifyingly, some succeed. I know an ex-maths teacher who has done incredibly well out of the caper. However, the latest flurry of places going under in Melbourne, Sydney and even Adelaide suggests that the first skill to go is arithmetic.

There are always optimists, possibly with harder noses, waiting to pick through ruins of restaurants past. This drew me back to Sparrow. Once the Cibo flagship, Sparrow is now under new ownership and is, for the time being, still Sparrow, tweeting a clearer tune.

Customers can confect a meal from a dozen or so small starters. Two Sparrow Sliders for $12 will please everyone. Especially the squalling small disgrace who wanted to go to a burger joint. Sliders are small burgers with a history that pre-dates the mechanised production of McDonald’s. If you can believe that anything pre-dates McDonald’s.

White Castle, a fast food hamburger restaurant chain that started in the early 1920s claims to have invented small hamburgers called sliders. Sparrow’s Coorong Angus beef versions are no doubt very good for you. Don’t mention this around the tots, however, they will go right off them.

Talking of tots, I had a 13-year-old sophisticated tot dining out with me. Heavily chaperoned in case you were scrambling for 000.

Worried about gilded youth leading civilisation over the cliff? Fear no more. Evangelion, for that isn’t her name, was un-ruffled by anything ordered from the extensive menu of small things. Little turbans of citrus cured ocean trout with beetroot relish and gazpacho sorbet were polished off with aplomb. These were not as simple as described. Chef Paveen Pall told me that the curing mix was augmented with lime and lemon rind, star anise, fresh coriander and coriander seeds, star anise and chilli. 

Four light chicken and cheese empanadas with mint and smoked paprika sour cream cost $14.

Duck donuts with tomato and oregano sauce and porcini salt (three for $12) were the only titbits I could remember from the last menu. Retained by popular demand I would say.

Stopping on the way for a potato pizza ($26) gussied up with parmesan, rosemary, chilli and aioli, (who would have thought that carbohydrate with carbohydrate could taste so good) we then had to march on to at least one main course.

Would it be a steak, 250g of Wagyu for $42? All steaks are accompanied with sautéed spinach and a choice of red wine glaze, aioli, salsa verde or mushroom ragout. A pleasant change not to be stung again. If you did want a further side dish, six are available for $8 each, including French fries and a rocket, pear and blue cheese salad.

No. It must be the newest, hottest cattle cut – how long can these discoveries keep going – beef short rib. Rubbed with smoked paprika and maple syrup, finished in Sparrow’s truly-ruly real wood oven then served with sweet corn, capsicum and tomato relish and pine nut butter ($32). A dauntingly magnificent dish.

A 2003 Majella Shiraz from Coonawarra for $42 will do nicely with that, thank you.

Share at least three desserts.

Crème catalana with fresh berries; something like a crème brûlée but delicate. Strawberry and frangipane flan, even if it is only to taste vanilla flavoured olive oil.

The amaretto panna cotta comes with a chewy concentrate of orange marmalade on top. No surprise to learn that the marmalade was made on the premises. The panna cotta wobble factor was close to perfect. Chef uses Kate Winslet in Titanic as his muse. A reflection of romance and tragedy and schmaltz spoilt by the two chaperones giggling and wobbling their own (covered) wobble factors. Hard to get good chaperones these days.

Chef Pall will knock you up a selection of starters, pizzas and mains for your table if you can’t be bothered ordering yourself.

If you want to get the weekend off to a fast start, or go straight back to bed after a decent breakfast, Sparrow does a good breakfast with all the things that you promise to make at home but never do, like French toast made with a proper brioche dusted with cinnamon sugar.

SPARROW KITCHEN AND BAR 10 O’Connell Street North Adelaide 8267 2444


Wednesday to Saturday lunch and dinner

Saturday and Sunday breakfast

Sunday lunch


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