The Woodcroft Hotel

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Southern Fried Chicken with Ranch Dressing and Chips
Southern Fried Chicken with Ranch

date of visit: Saturday 5 November 2016

Earlier this year I attended the launch (or is that re-launch?) party for the Woodcroft Hotel. I was sufficiently impressed by the standard of food served at that party that we’ve actually been making a conscious effort to return ever since. As you can see – it’s taken a while … ahem. To be fair, we actually tried to go quite soon after that party only to discover it was booking out very quickly – and this is still very much the case. When I made our last minute 5:30pm booking we were told we would only be able to have the table until 7pm. Good thing we eat with a 5 year old and that wasn’t a problem!

At the launch party, the food had been impressive. It was a large event and the food that came out was all based on menu dishes but cut down to canapé size. I’ve been to a lot of events where smaller versions of dishes have been presented and it’s not uncommon for this change of size to cause problems either in the kitchen on or on the plate. So the fact it didn’t buoyed me with great, and perhaps excessive, confidence and hope.

Finally we made it. Seriously, I have spent MONTHS raving about the fried chicken at the Woodcroft so there was nothing for it but to commit myself and order it. It’s an entrée, so in case it wasn’t enough, I also ordered the pulled pork quesadillas. Andy ordered the chicken tacos. Because I’d ordered two entrées I wasn’t eligible for the salad bar (I could have paid an extra $4 but wasn’t sufficiently bothered) but Andy made a small selection from it. Master 5 opted for the children’s fish and chips. The children’s meals do come with some sliced apple but it is a shame the hotel doesn’t go the extra mile and offer a choice of salad.

The food came out quickly and was all well presented. My first few mouthfuls of the crispy chicken were great – crispy and chicken-y. But at some point, things started to slide downhill. The chicken pieces were relatively large – not in and of itself much of a problem – but in several places, the batter hadn’t been properly drained away and I was left with big doughy chunks of uncooked batter wedged in folds of chicken. It wasn’t great. The batter itself isn’t hugely imbued with seasoning and flavour (it is a buttermilk and spice batter apparently) so the accompanying ranch dressing got a good work out. But the more doughy bits I encountered, the more disappointed I was.

Pulled Pork Quesadillas with Salsa Fresca
Pulled Pork Quesadillas with Salsa Fresca

The pulled pork quesadillas were better and I did enjoy them, although they didn’t really step beyond the boundaries of what we relatively often cook at home. The salsa fresca was a bit ho-hum – a touch sweet for me – but it also wasn’t a necessary part of the dish.

Andy was similarly underwhelmed by his chicken tacos.

Chicken Tacos
Chicken Tacos

I think this experience amply demonstrates the problem with expectations. I’m sure over time that crispy chicken has got better and better and it was possibly always going to struggle to live up to my memory of it – but I do believe the doughy clumps of batter to be an error in cooking (and not just my imagination!).

The service was great – not just friendly and efficient but genuinely warm. The bistro area is lovely and the small garden area is gorgeous – so if you do go, get organised, book early and request a spot there! And the bistro is obviously immensely popular. On the Saturday night we were there there were at least two birthday parties booked and, after we sat down at 5:30pm, only one walk-in got a table. Everyone else was turned away.

It’s clear that the Woodcroft has hit its straps with locals and that is no doubt indicative of the fact that the southern suburbs have the capacity to host more venues offering more diverse menus. For me, though, the food just didn’t live up to expectations.

Woodcroft Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Woodcroft Hotel
Bains and Panalatinga Roads
Woodcroft SA 5162
08 8325 1555

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