Alere, Flinders University

Slow cooked lamb shoulder
Slow cooked lamb shoulder, with freekeh, mint, tahini and pickled cucumber

date of visit: Friday 26 August 2016

Alere is the new restaurant at Flinders Uni which is being run by Blanco, the same company that looks after the well-regarded Botanic Gardens Restaurant. It’s also participating in this year’s Festival of Food but for many people it will be a tricky venue to try out, as it’s only open Monday to Friday until 5pm.

Lucky for me that I control my work hours (I would say ‘I am my own boss’ but when you work to others’ deadlines, that’s not the case!) and I have a handful of friends who work varying flavours of part time. So for one day, my friend and I were able to play at being ‘ladies who lunch’.

Booking ended up being something of an up-and-down process. Alere does offer on-line bookings through its website, but because I was booking Festival of Food I decided I would rather speak to a person. So I rang and left a message and never heard back. And then I started to think that maybe I should have booked online but … if I book online now, will I end up with two bookings. So I rang again, left a message, missed the return phone call and eventually managed to confirm the table. Phew!

If you’re not familiar with the sprawling campus that is Flinders Uni then Alere might be a bit tricky to find. Basically you drive, drive, drive for MUCH longer than you expect (I was expecting to be spat back out on to Shepherd’s Hill Road at any moment!) but finally you reach The Hub. The parking which is available is 2 hour ticket parking which is OK but not ideal if you are after a particularly leisurely lunch.

Alere is set up on the second level of The Hub with floor to ceiling windows that flood the restaurant with the most beautiful light and afford diners with great views across the university and hills. If you’re so inclined, you can spend lunch people-watching the students below!

Sourdough with cultured butter

Seated, the most important part of the meal – reading the wine list – commenced. And finally – HOORAY! An interesting and well-curated wine list that is not flooded with NZ Sauvignon Blanc! There might be two SavvyBs on the wine list but they are both local and they sit alongside gems such as the Lino Ramble Ludo Fiano, the CRFT Grüner Veltliner and the Unico Zelo Dolcetto. I was also impressed to see that a hefty portion of the wine list is available by the glass in either 100mL or 150mL pours. This all makes me soooo happy. Really really happy.

My dining companion prefers whites with a touch of sweetness to them and I knew that the only Riesling available by the glass was dry – so we asked our waiter for a suggestion. Sadly, she had none (I’m not suggesting Alere stick a moscato on the wine list but perhaps ensure the staff can point a customer in the right direction) BUT when I said I was having the Lino Ramble Fiano she enthusiastically said she had tried it and it was very nice. This was enough to sway my friend into trying it and it was a success all round!

With Festival of Food we only had to pick our main courses. I’d decided to go for the spaghetti with poached prawns while my friend chose the slow cooked shoulder of lamb, with cracked freekeh, mint, tahini and pickled cucumber.

Entree tasting plate
Entree tasting plate – vitello tonnato hidden at the bottom

We started with the delicious sourdough and followed this with our entrée tasting plates. From the top, a soup, grilled haloumi and finally Alere’s take on vitello tonnato. All delicious – which really says something because vitello tonnato is normally something I go out of my way to avoid! If I wanted to be picky, I’d suggest the confit tomato atop the haloumi was a bit large, but really – just eat the veal!

Main courses arrived and it was depressingly obvious that my friend had ‘won’ in the menu selection stakes. While my prawns and spaghetti were delicious (perfectly cooked pasta, a good balance of heat from the chilli, plenty of prawns), the lamb took the biscuit. It was so good! The meat was so soft, tender and falling apart it was like eating deliciously spiced lamb puree (but in a good way – still with texture). My friend generously offered me a taste of the gorgeous looking flatbread, but because I’m such a nice person I declined. (It’s possible I declined because I’m such a pig I would have hoovered loads of it up … who knows). She loved it!

Spaghetti with prawns
Big fat bowl of pasta!

So there we were – perfectly full and happy little campers and in no need whatsoever of dessert (we may have also had one eye on the clock). So out came our petit four (no picture, sorry) – a fried ricotta doughnut, saffron poached pear and … a truffled honey cream. So the tiny plate smelt of truffle. I love truffles. But guess what? It turns out I totally do not love truffles when they’re in my dessert. The smell was, frankly, awful. And while the little doughnut was lovely, the truffled cream was one of the most really quite unpleasant things I’ve eaten (the worst still remains the ‘seven textures of milk’ dessert I ate as part of a degustation once …).

When our waiter picked up our plates she asked us how we’d enjoyed it. As my face is an open book, there is no point in me sugar-coating these kinds of opinions. So I said I didn’t like it and asked what the general feedback was on it. Our waiter did say that it does rather tend to divide people’s opinion.

And I think in many ways that’s what good, interesting cooking should do. No one is going to like everything, all the time and as a cook or chef you might as well see if you can push some buttons. You can stick a chocolate cake with chocolate sauce and vanilla icecream on a menu and as long as it’s good, no one is ever going to complain. But what are you proving? People like chocolate … well, we kind of knew that! So absolutely hats off to the kitchen team at Alere for taking a risk. I didn’t like it – but so what? I tried it in a massively low-risk environment and now know that perhaps desserts with truffles are not for me. Others may love it and I appreciate trying something new.

So Alere gets a massive thumbs up from me (both for food, service, and the chic styling that includes mustard!). Finding it is a bit of an adventure, and there are a few service niggles but it is also fantastic to have somewhere so good in the southern suburbs and I’m very jealous of the university students and staff.

I’m looking forward to my next visit.

Alere Restaurant
Flinders University
Registry Road
The Hub, Level 2
Bedford Park 5042
phone: 08 8277 7186

Alere Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lucky Lupitas Extravaganza

ll extravaganza

date of extravaganza: Saturday 16 Feb 2013

I’ve written about Lucky Lupitas before. It’s the tiny Mexican restaurant which sits next to Flinders Medical Centre. It takes no reservations and, on a Saturday, you can expect to start queuing for a table at 5pm (doors open at 5:30pm).

With one toddler, queuing doesn’t really work and while we’ve eaten in just the once, we’ve had take away a few times. That’s because we’re lucky and live nearby. However, we have friends, many of whom also have toddlers, who don’t live so close … so about a year ago (I kid you not!) we hatched the plan for a Lucky Lupitas extravaganza.

The guys at Lucky Lupitas were happy to help out: we could place our order a week in advance and collect before queuing started. This worked perfectly for us, because toddlers eat their dinner early!

As always, the tricky part was not ordering the food but corralling the troops. As soon as you get numbers, work out an order and a per head price, someone always has a change of heart. So there was a bit of last minute stuffing around with the order and I’d really like to thank Lucky Lupitas for bearing with me on that one.

And then the day arrived!

It was a (very) hot day so the lads had to use their muscles to shift the outdoor furniture under the tree (our patio has an old Alsynite roof and, while it’s great for keeping the rain off, my goodness it can’t half get hot and sticky under there in summer!). To maximise the amount of protein in our order (read – beef ribs) everyone brought along something to share, so we had plenty of salads, extra rice, corn chips, salsa and guacamole. One friend, who is Argentinian, brought along Brazilian pão de queijo (cheese bread) to share too. A couple of us headed off to collect the order while those left at home rustled up cutlery and paper plates. When we came back everything was spread over the table and everyone dived in. Our order was mostly Lucky Lupitas famous slow cooked smoked beef ribs (they are amazing – the meat just falls off the bone and they are huge), along with quesadillas, tacos and empanadas. Lucky Lupitas threw in a pile of their own corn chips (apparently excellent but I missed out on those somehow!). Quite a few sides came along with our order so there was extra rice, coleslaw, guacamole and salsa! Everyone raved about the ribs and given the hot day and the extras everyone brought along we probably could have just eaten ribs alone. However, I really like Lucky Lupitas quesadillas and the beef tacos were excellent, with a good spicy hit.

Naturally, we had way too much food but it did mean that everyone who wanted to got leftovers to take home and we still had some very generous leftovers in our fridge!

While the food at Lucky Lupitas is fantastic, this experience is also a lesson in customer service. There is no way that twelve adults and five children could have rocked up to Lucky Lupitas expecting to be fed. If you’ve been there, you’ll be able to imagine what kind of chaos would ensue! But thanks to the team’s flexibility (and hard work) we were able to have a fantastic, and very kid friendly, early dinner.


Lucky Lupitas



date of visit: takeaway Saturday 10 March 2012, dine in Saturday 24 March 2012

Up front, I would like to say I have no idea about Mexican food. I have not been to Mexico and I have not been to the parts of the US that are famous for their Mexican food. I don’t think I’ve ever even read a Mexican cookbook.

Lucky Lupitas seemed to take ages to open. It’s in the small group of shops on South Road by Flinders Medical Centre. It’s been a pretty dull group of shops but things are changing – Maru, a Japanese and Korean restaurant opened last year, and it looks like a Greek restaurant is on its way too. This is something of a bonus for us, because it’s all nice and close to home. We spent ages watching Lucky Lupitas turn into a restaurant and we stalked its facebook page, willing it to hurry up and open.

And open it did. I think it’s only been open now a month or two and we were down there ordering takeaway before its menu appeared on its website (thankfully, that’s been rectified). Andy popped out a Saturday night to source the food. It was probably around 7pm and apparently the restaurant was packed, with people queuing out the door, so he ordered quickly and rushed home with the food.

Unfortunately, ordering quickly was something of a mistake, as we ended up with two entrées as the total sum of our meal! For takeaway food it was beautifully presented: my chicken and mushroom quesadilla was decorated with coriander garnish and wedge of lime and Andy’s smoked chicken empanadas came with all the requisite salsas. It also tasted very good – so much so that it was inhaled before there were any photo opportunities. And then we sat around looking a bit sad and feeling a bit hungry.

Of course, we now had a menu so we could look over it and imagine what might have been.

A baby free evening gave us a window to pop in to Lucky Lupitas and try a bit more food. Unfortunately, LL doesn’t take bookings – you just have to chance it. This is not something I’m a fan of but I can see how a booking system just wouldn’t work at Lucky Lupitas.

This is not a restaurant you go to for a long, relaxing meal. It’s noisy, it’s busy, it’s packed full of people, the kitchen is open. The idea is that you head in, eat your food, drink your beer and then you head out.

We arrived just after 6pm (which is when I thought Lucky Lupitas opened – but it actually opens at 5:30pm), and walked straight into a table for two. Which is lucky, because I don’t queue. Now, I was there to try the beef ribs (Adelaide’s first and only slow cooked smoked beef ribs, apparently) so imagine my disappointment when the beef ribs (supplied by Feast Fine Foods) were already sold out! I decided to try the chicken empanadas and revisit the quesadilla. Andy, not being difficult, started with a taco and followed that with a hamburger and chips.

Order placed, beer in hand, I was pleased when our waiter came back and said that the next batch of ribs would be ready for me to have them as a main course. Hooray! Ribs with chimmichurri sauce for me!

Again, the entrées were beautifully presented and still tasted just as good. Our main courses arrived – and let me tell you, beef ribs are quite large. I never really think about how big a cow is but actually, they are quite big and their ribs are quite big. As in, pretty close to the size of my forearm*. Two monster ribs sat in front of me, smothered in chimmichurri sauce, nestled on a bed of rice with a bit of fresh, crunchy slaw on the side.

Before I even started I knew I was defeated. So I ate my way through the larger of the two ribs and then made Andy eat the other. Smoky, tender, tons of flavour.

Andy’s burger and chips looked pretty good (I was so full there was no way I was going to even ask for a bite) – in my opinion the burgers are really sensibly sized. They’re not your typical massive pub burger, laden with 100 toppings, one of which is a suspect meat patty. You will need to order the chips to go with it. But don’t worry as you won’t leave hungry.

So – the food at Lucky Lupitas is awesome. It is, however, a restaurant you need to go to with the right mind set (for example, I would never take my dad there – no matter how much he’d love those ribs he’d never queue and the noise and hustle and bustle would drive him insane). I’d also not recommend taking any really little people there – there’s no room for high chairs and there’s certainly no room for children to run amok. But as Lucky Lupitas offers take away (and there is even talk of a delivery service) you can just ring up and eat your ribs/tacos/quesadillas in the comfort of your own home.

And if you are eating in – GET THERE EARLY.

* I am not a very big person, admittedly.

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