date visited: Friday 10 Sept 2010
The sole criterion for Friday night’s dinner was that it was on King William Street, as that happened to be on our way to the car. We made it past the smells and bright lights of Gouger Street and were tempted very briefly by La Trattoria (until we saw how packed it was!) before deciding a peek at the King’s Head menu was in order.
The King’s USP is that it’s strictly South Australian. That’s right – all South Australian produce (they bend their own rules a bit for cocktails, so spirits drinkers can relax). Of course, this caused a bit of a problem when one of our first requests was for a James Boags … but things were righted by the arrival of a Coopers Lager. We grabbed a table in The Den, which is the à la carte restaurant, but you can also eat in the bar. We had no reservation and there were seats free, but the restaurant was sufficiently busy to warrant booking for future visits.
The service was incredibly friendly and it was certainly efficient. Perhaps a little too efficient, if you were after a leisurely meal … our main courses arrived as the plate from our entrée was being cleared! However, the efficiency did translate to speedy drinks service – I find nothing more irksome than being seated in a restaurant and waiting an age for a waiter to decide to take your drink order!
We started by sharing the arancini. Four generous balls of roast pumpkin and sage that were just the right temperature for picking up and eating, but hot enough for them not to be stodgy and the cheese to still be melty.
For main course I chose one of the blackboard specials – spaghetti puttanesca. The pasta was perfectly cooked (in that it was still toothsome) and the saltiness of the olives and anchovies offset the potentially sweet tomato sauce perfectly. I did think that the dish itself lacked some essential chilli (I’m confident a puttanesca pasta sauce is meant to have some heat to it!) and also found the mound of dressed rocket on top of it utterly superfluous. Still, it did mean I ate some greens, so it’s not all bad.
Andy ordered the fish and chips, which he was a little underwhelmed by. He passed comment that the batter was excellent but that the chips were under par, apparently being the standard oven type.
It’s interesting to note that The King’s chef is Sam Worrall-Thompson, son of UK celebrity chef Anthony Worrall-Thompson which is reflected in the British gastro-pub style menu. The menu covers pub basics (yes, there’s schnitzel and even pie floaters) as well as more interesting dishes, so most people should be able to find something to eat. And the execution of the dishes, based on our sample size of two, seems more than competent but perhaps a little uneven.
I know I’m not raving here, but the experience was definitely good enough for us to say we’d return. The Den is a comfortable dining space that is definitely a cut above most pub restaurants, the service is sharp and the food represents good value for money. Most main courses hover around the $20. We left having spent around $65 – not bad for the food as well as three drinks.
Interesting, good value pub food