Eat & Drink

5 Dining Experiences In Regional South Australia That Are 100% Worth Leaving The City For

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Adelaide’s dining scene has exploded in the last decade, with Sydney and Melbourne diners watching in envy as South Australians take advantage of incredible (and incredibly affordable) restaurants, that just happen to also be setting national trends.

Access to sublime produce from the regions surrounding Adelaide is a huge part of the success, and you don’t need to venture far from town to find it at the source. Within an hour of the city, you can be enjoying fresh seafood surrounded by sand dunes, or pairing natural wines and hyperlocal produce in the Adelaide Hills.

Here are five reasons to hit the road next time you visit South Australia.

#1 The Enchanted Fig Tree

 

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Beside a quiet beach on Kangaroo Island’s north coast, this incredible venue in the middle of a 120-year-old fig tree lives up to its name. Every summer, a flush of new greenery turns the centre of the tree into a series of hidden rooms that feel like something out of a fairytale.

From a pantry of local produce, the chef has created a five-course menu inspired by the island’s history and characters as well as a sprinkling of mythology. Just don’t expect to know all the details before you go; part of the magic is that guests are encouraged not to post on social media, so everyone can have the same immersive, captivating experience.

#2 Summertown Aristologist

 

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Though it’s only a half hour drive from the city centre, Summertown feels like an escape from the city and this small Adelaide Hills restaurant capitalises on that feeling.

There’s a good reason it’s only open on weekends; the floor staff spend the rest of the week tending a property that supplies most of the produce. That means the menu is simple, seasonal and reflects what’s available in the nearby hills.

The food’s not the only reason to visit. Two of the three owners are natural wine makers from the nearby Basket Range. It’s resulted in the Aristologist having one of the best minimal intervention wine cellars around. If you’re not up for lunch, the recently opened cellar door is a great place to spend a lazy Sunday.

#3 Salopian Inn

 

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There’s an old school charm to this 1850s cottage, surrounded by vineyards, in the middle of McLaren Vale. Look behind the bar and you’ll find hundreds of gins from around Australia and the world.

There are plenty of botanicals to be found in the kitchen as well. The first clue to all the fresh produce in your meals, is the hand drawn map on the menu that outlines the bountiful kitchen garden of owner and chef, Karen Armstrong.

Classic and contemporary touches sit side by side in the kitchen, which turns out Asian-influenced dishes like fluffy pork buns packed with ginger and greens and the legendary braised roo tail. Accompany them with something from the excellent wine list, including adventurous options from well beyond the vale, or go exploring in the cellar to find the perfect bottle of red.

#4 Kuti Shack

 

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Tucked between giant sand dunes near the mouth of the Murray River, this laidback diner is just metres from the ocean. It’s the perfect place to watch the waves roll in over a relaxed lunch, especially in summer when the southern Fleurieu Peninsula is a few degrees cooler than Adelaide.

It may look like a weatherboard shack from the outside, but step through the doors and you’ll find a more modern interior with plenty of windows to let the fresh sea breeze in. Despite the casual vibe, there’s some serious attention paid to the local seafood here. For years, pipis were collected as bait but they’ve been elevated to the main event, alongside smoky buttermilk fried mulloway wings (take the menu’s advice and eat them with your hands) and local mullet.

#5 Appellation (and Three75)

 

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The Barossa is much more than just a wine region, as anyone who’s seen the array of goods on display at the local farmers’ market will know.

Fine dining restaurant, Appellation takes full advantage of that bounty to get 85 percent of its produce from within a 30km radius. They don’t just grow their own food, either; the chefs bake the bread, butcher and cure meats and even carbonate the rainwater. As a result, it’s a the type of venue you hit up for a special night out.

The set menu is memorable without being gimmicky and the paired drinks make you wonder why nobody has thought of that before. But if you want something simpler, you can still pop in next door to Three75, where the same thought and care goes into the incredibly tasty burgers and bar snacks on offer every night of the week.

(Lead Image: Instagram / @goolwapipico)