The Duck Inn, Coromandel Valley

Orecchiette with chorizo, asparagus, spinach and red onion
Orecchiette with chorizo, asparagus, spinach and red onion

date of visit: Sunday 22 January 2017

Our last (and only prior) visit to the Duck Inn was about eight years ago. Yep. Eight years ago. We didn’t have a great experience – although a big part of that was some rather disruptive children (I’m still pretty grumpy about children’s behaviour, even though I now have one of my own). And it’s taken us eight long years to recover and return.

And our return wasn’t even premeditated! We’d had a day out in the Hills and our plan had been for a late lunch or early dinner somewhere in our wanderings. It turned out that our activities wrapped up around 4pm – too early for most places to be serving and too early for dinner. So we headed home, paused at Apex Park, and hit The Duck Inn’s dining room for pretty much bang on 5:30 (opening time).

Since our last visit, The Duck Inn has installed a deck area so you can sit outside and eat or drink. Even though the pub is slap bang on Main Road, it’s still a semi-rural setting so sitting outside is not to be sneezed at. We sat inside though – we hadn’t booked and I was actually quite surprised we got a table at all!

The dining room is separate from the front bar and, in a very pleasant change (at least as far as this grumpy old lady is concerned!), it’s actually pretty quiet. On a Sunday afternoon there is live music in the front bar but everything is set up so you can just hear the music but your conversation is not drowned out. Please, please – keep things this way!

Luckily, the menu had changed since our last visit (!) and it’s a bit more interesting than a pub standard – and there is also a short list of specials. In a slightly controversial (at least as far as our six year old is concerned) move, there is currently no salt and pepper squid on the menu, but you can choose a spicy squid salad, a burger or a schnitzel or you can go for something less pub-like by choosing a slow-braised duck ragout or twice-cooked pork belly.

I opted for the pasta special – orecchiette with Barossa chorizo, asparagus, spinach and red onion in a white wine and cream sauce (this is the type of pasta that Andy LOATHES so I have to go for it while I’m out – though I was sorely tempted by the gnocchi with Adelaide Hills forest mushrooms …). Andy and Master 6 both ordered fish and chips. Master 6 ordered from the very short children’s menu – which includes a drink and an icecream sundae. Rather than activity packs for children, the children’s menu is printed on an activity sheet (just the right number of activities too!) and the staff will give you a pencil case full of pencils & a sharpener. I think this is a great approach. Another big plus is that all the children’s meals come with salad (hoo-bloody-ray!).

The food all got a big tick – the difference between ‘normal’ fish and chips and the children’s was that adults get two pieces of fish, children one (although as an adult, you can order a half portion) and children get tomato sauce rather than tartare sauce. The salad is actually an Asian slaw which obviously has a soy sauce based dressing. This is a little disconcerting – as it arrives looking a touch brown – but it was fresh and crisp!

The pasta wasn’t too bad – there was tons of the sauce which isn’t a problem because you can just leave what you don’t eat. I really enjoyed the combination of flavours and it wasn’t overly salty (which often happens, especially when cured meats like chorizo are introduced …). The portion was generous without being overwhelming (I was starving so I might feel differently about this on another visit).

The staff were all friendly and service was casual but efficient. Even at 5:30 on a Sunday there were quite a few tables eating and if you want to dine at a busier time, I would recommend booking.

As I realised while we were there, The Duck is part of the group which also boasts The Mile End (I wrote about this pub a couple of years ago for SA Life), The Colonist and The Unley. I’ve been lucky enough to be a guest at events at these pubs previously and the aim is clearly to lift the standard of the menus. I’m really pleased that the same approach has been applied to The Duck. We’re also pleased it’s close to home – we’ll be return visitors!

The Duck Inn
393 Main Road
Coromandel Valley 5051
phone: 08 8278 7100

The Duck Inn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

2KW’s Summer Cocktail Launch

Montenegro Sour
Montenegro Sour

date: Sunday 11 December 2016

disclaimer: I was a guest at the launch.

I am not a big cocktail drinker (unless, by ‘cocktail’ you mean ‘gin and tonic’) so I was really pleased that my invitation to 2KW’s cocktail launch included a plus one. This means you get a slightly more balanced view of the cocktails that will be on offer over summer.

Of course, 2KW doesn’t need the drawcard of slick cocktails. I’m not sucking up to anyone here, but it has to be one of Adelaide’s go-to bars. If nothing else, the view is spectacular. Of course, the outdoor bar (as well as the indoor bar), the misters and its food (be warned though – the restaurant can be a bit noisy) make it an all-in-one package. You do have to be a bit mindful of the dress code though, and for some of us that makes it a bit more of a destination rather than somewhere you’d just randomly visit. I unwaveringly recommend it as somewhere to checkout to visitors. Those views …

trays of canapes

The summer cocktail launch was held on a warm afternoon – very conducive to a few cool beverages with friends. Four new cocktails were featured, along with some very tasty canapés and a summer special, the Vermouth Spritzer.

First up – the Montenegro Sour. Although I’m usually not fan of the herbal liqueurs (and indeed, orange) this was quite refreshing and I think would definitely appeal to anyone with a slight sweet tooth (or with a love of chocolate and orange). This was rated even more highly by my friend.

Pickled Pineapple Whisky Smash
Pickled Pineapple Whisky Smash

Next, the Pickled Pineapple Whisky Smash. When the two mixologists responsible for the new cocktails told us it was made with a smoked whisky this meant very little to me … until I tried the drink. Woah … this one was really smoky. Too smoky for both my friend and me – the pineapple was lost.

KI Buzz
KI Buzz

At this point, we split our tasting and I opted for the KI Buzz – gin, lemon and honey (Kangaroo Island produce, of course!). Easily my favourite cocktail of the four, you could definitely smell and taste the honey alongside the gin. It was quite sweet – and I personally would only manage one, but I can see this being a very popular cocktail.

My friend was on the Two Lifts – an homage to 2KW’s complicated access route – based around Aperol, Chartreuse and Vermouth. I’ll be honest – I thought this was … um … unpalatable but she really liked it.

A special mention goes to 2KW’s Vermouth Spritzer – the perfect antidote to a hot afternoon. It’s a simple mix of dark Spanish vermouth (Casa Mariol Vermut Negre) with soda water (and a slice of lime and some mint). This was absolutely delicious – very refreshing, balanced and eminently drinkable. I suspect (although you should confirm this) that it’s pretty low in alcohol, as the Vermouth comes in at just 15% abv. I liked this so much I tried to recreate it at home (with some dark Italian Vermouth) and failed miserably … I guess I’ll just have to keep trying!

Finally – if you are a bar lover, then you should be all over 2KW’s Sunday Sol sessions which launched the Sunday just gone. Pintxos, charcuterie, drinks, live music, DJs … and a focus on Vermouth (oh wait – that means it’s an opportunity to do Vermouth Spritzer research!). This coming Sunday is forecast to be 34 so there’s probably going to be no better place to hang out than 2KW’s bar …

2 King William Street
Adelaide SA 5000
8212 5511

GIVEAWAY: A Family Pass to Curious Beasts

Curious Beasts

While not food related per se, the school holidays are almost upon us and the chances are that parents will be thinking about what to do to entertain a raft of small people for something like six weeks.

Our now six year old (no more Master 5!) is an enthusiastic eater and so any outing has to involve lunch. He loves going in to town and picking somewhere to eat (often determined by whatever is closest!).

The other thing he loves in town is the Museum and in particular the giant squid that you can find by the stairs. You can run up and down the stairs looking at that squid for quite a long time …

At the moment, South Australians are very lucky because the SA Museum is hosting Curious Beasts: Animal Prints from Dürer to Goya. This showcases the British Museum’s collection of animal prints from the fifteenth century onwards. This was a time when Europeans were exploring the world and combining this adventure with scientific curiosity. Needless to say, many of the images are somewhat remarkable!

I’ve got a family pass to giveaway – so this is some free school holiday entertainment! Technically, the competition is open Australia-wide but the exhibition is in Adelaide (until 5 Feb 2017) and there’s no travel included, so not a lot of point unless you’ll be holidaying here before then!

The competition closes on Thursday 15 December – the last day of school term!

Curious Beasts Giveaway