MasterChef favourite, Survivor contestant and Luxury Escapes travel insider Khanh Ong shares his picks for sampling Adelaide’s top restaurants on your next visit.
There’s so much happening in the culinary world within Australia’s most livable city that knowing where to begin can be overwhelming. And so, we’ve enlisted the help of trusted travel advisor and chef Khanh for his favourite eater restaurants and eateries around the city.
1. Savour the fresh flavours at Adelaide Central Market
Start your gourmet adventures with a trip to Adelaide Central Market, one of the largest covered markets in the Southern Hemisphere (open Tuesday to Saturday). With more than 70 stalls to explore, you’ll quickly uncover a bounty of gourmet treasures: piles of cheese are framed by mountains of oranges, and apples are piled high beneath braids of garlic, while deli meats are expertly tucked away into fridges below.
Khanh recommends wandering through its aisles at your own pace and savouring fresh seasonal delights – the figs, when in season, are deliciously jammy – and go heavy on Australian-grown native ingredients. Try something new at Something Wild like sampfire herbs or finger lime – bursting with little caviar-like pearls of citrus that will give any dish a unique twist.
Khanh’s tip: finger lime pairs perfectly with a fresh oyster from the likes of Angelakis.
Planning a South Australia trip? Check out our handpicked escapes and experiences
2. Experience French-inspired fare with a twist at Garcon Bleu
Truly understand what it means to hero local produce at this French-inspired haven, hidden on the grand ninth floor at the five-star Sofitel Adelaide. Inspired by the love of good food and wine, with a menu overseen by Chef Gianni Delogu – formerly of Melbourne’s acclaimed Vue de monde, Garcon Bleu is reimagining classic French dishes. Think modern takes on favourites like chicken liver parfait with housemade brioche, duck breast in an apricot and carrot purée and chocolat gateux with raspberry sorbet.
Seasonal produce from the aforementioned local market touches every inch of the menu: Gianni’s chefs and the sommelier team collaborate with passionate local providores, wine producers, foragers and farmers to produce a fun and accessible menu inspired by French techniques and local South Australian ingredients. And it works terrifically, having scored this new kid on the block an Australian Good Food Guide 2022 chef hat.
Khanh’s favourite dish? The house-cured fumé with avocado and dill dressing. It’s the perfect starter for any French-inspired gourmet journey.
3. Taste South African-inspired dishes at Aurora Restaurant
If you’re looking for something a little different, Aurora has you covered. Helmed by ex-d’Arenberg Cube chef Brendan Wessels, Aurora Restaurant is a star within Adelaide’s Light Square. Hidden within this multi-level arts venue, the cuisine shines a light on Wessels’ heritage with a South African-inspired menu, and that’s exactly what Khanh loves about it.
Throughout every dish, you can taste the food that Wessels grew up enjoying: black onyx beef chargrilled on a custom-built braii served with wattle seed mustard, and Khan’s standout dish: shark bay prawns garnished with fresh cucumber on a bed of grape and tequila mayonnaise, "You get the prawn, the freshness of the cucumber and the mayo, but what really surprises you is the hint of roasted prawn oil. It reminds me of cooking on a barbecue growing up, and it’s so nostalgic”.
4. Experience ex-MasterChef contestant Callum Hann’s Eleven Restaurant
Any restaurant on Khanh’s list of must-eats (and Adelaide's top restaurants) will likely include his fellow MasterChef alumni, so it’s no surprise that one of Adelaide’s top restaurants, the French-inspired Eleven Restaurant by ex-contestant Callum Hann and Themis Chryssidis made the cut. This elegant fine-dining restaurant, with degustation experiences (ranging from 13 to 17 plates) is inspired by French techniques. The cuisine instantly sets the scene for an incredible degustation with something many would simply enjoy and forget: the bread and butter.
“The first bite dictates where a gourmet journey is going”, says Khanh. “I judge a lot of restaurants by the butter that comes out with the bread, because, if it’s super amazing, it sets the tone for the rest of your meal”. And the bread and butter at Eleven is deliciously airy, soft and creamy, so you know it’s going to be a next-level dining experience.
Khanh’s favourite dish? The calamari with black radish and hemp seed créme with kaffir lime oil really captures the vibe of Eleven. “The difference in textures with the ultra-smooth sauces underneath is divine,” gushes Khanh.
5. Pop 20 minutes outside the city to Penfold’s iconic Magill Estate
There are wine experiences and then there’s Penfolds. “No trip to Adelaide is complete without a visit here”, says Khanh. Nestled into the foothills of the Mount Lofty Ranges, just 8km from Adelaide’s CBD, the iconic restaurant looks over Penfolds’ very first vineyard and sits alongside the Magill Estate Cellar Door and Winery. It’s well worth the 15-minute drive to experience a menu prepared by an award-winning chef, paired perfectly with the extensive collection of Penfolds wines, or to simply take in the 1844 heritage with a glass of esteemed Grange.
Stay nearby at Mount Lofty House, just a scenic 20-minute drive away.
6. Round out the day with sunset drinks at Sol rooftop bar
There’s no better way to conclude your gourmet adventures through Adelaide's top restaurants than atop Skycity’s glitzy riverside skyscraper with cocktails and 270-degree vistas at Sol Rooftop Bar. The sunset views are breathtaking and best enjoyed with a ‘Flossing Around’ cocktail, and a side of kingfish and charred radish. This deliciously appropriate cocktail – perfectly capturing the pink hue in the sky at sunset – combines rose fairy floss with Aperol, coconut rum and lychee liqueur.
Be sure to book in advance to secure a table with sunset sessions every Friday from 5pm until late.