date of visit: Thursday 21 July 2016
disclaimer: I was a guest at the ‘eat and tweet’ to celebrate the menu launch
So – apologies to both venue and reader for just two photos from this event. I’d spent the day at a wine tasting and exhausted my phone’s battery’s capabilities snapping away at wine bottles.
You may remember that The Stag has had a time of it of late. A few years ago it touted itself as “the worst vegetarian restaurant” (yep – it was a steak house). After a bit of financial excitement, new owners came in, and operating from a clean slate rejigged its dining offering as a fine dining restaurant.
A bit of tweaking and we see that The Stag has shifted to a more moderate position when it comes to dining. Venue Manager Robby Lippett describes the new menu as ‘gastropub’.
This means that the pub classics (yes, you can still have a schnitzel, burger or S&P squid) sit alongside a ‘tapas plates’ menu and a list of ‘big dishes’. Our tasting menu took in some of both (I think they figured we’d know what a schnitzel was like!). We were served tasting portions and the full size dishes were available to photograph but sadly technology failed me – just trust me, these two images aren’t representative of portion size!
We started with the chargrilled octopus – a $15 tapas plate. It’s served with black bean, cucumber and chilli jam. As we were having five courses, you can see that this was just a taster – or just a teaser because those two mouthfuls of octopus were really good. Definitely a dish I’d order again.
Next, the softshell crab slider. For $14 you get two of these and yet another dish I’d order. It was delicious – the crab was crispy and both that and the crunch of the pickled carrot worked well with the bun and mayo. It was lovely to taste a slider that was something a bit different too.
The duck pie floater ($26) was a dish that sounded really interesting but I’m not sure how well it worked in its scaled down form. I think it’s really hard to miniaturise anything involving pastry – quite often, as here, you just can’t scale down the pastry enough and our tasting portion was dominated by it. I’m sure this isn’t a problem in a normal portion but unfortunately I’m not a big enough fan of pea and ham soup to ever revisit it!
The vegetarian option at this course sounded great – handmade gnocchi with cauliflower, blue cheese, porcini, kale and a parmesan crumb. Unfortunately I wasn’t sitting near to anyone eating vegetarian so I didn’t get a taste!
Our final savoury course was the scotch fillet mac & cheese. Now Andy loathes mac and cheese (seriously – what is wrong with him?!) so it’s not something I get to eat. In fact, it’s something you rarely see on restaurant menus – but here it is, with some beef, onion rings and truffle sauce. At $34 it is almost the most expensive dish on the menu (the porterhouse surf & turf at $38 takes honours) but from the taste I had it’s worth deviating from a schnitzel with gravy …
We wrapped up with the peanut butter parfait ($12). My love of legumes sadly does not extend to peanuts but this was a nicely put together dessert, complete with peanut brittle and salted caramel.
The dining room is set apart from the pub’s front bar and is actually quite a plush, relaxing space. Even though the Stag is returning to its pub roots, you do feel like you’re in a proper restaurant dining room and there are even soft furnishings. That’s right – you can have a conversation!
For those seeking pre or post dinner drinks, the Stag’s front bar is complemented by the upstairs Champagne Lounge.
From what I saw, the new menu hits its mark. By staying true to the pub staples, while allowing the kitchen a little foray into more interesting dishes, it should mean that the Stag has broad appeal.
The Stag Hotel
299 Rundle Street
Adelaide SA 5000
phone: 8311 0392