Eden Dining Room and Bar

date of visit: Monday 6 February 2012

There’s been a great deal of chat on both twitter and foursquare about Eden Dining Room and Bar*, a relatively new … dining room and bar, down at Glenelg.

I’ve been wanting to try it out for a while and found an opportunity to drag my parents along for a Monday lunch. It wasn’t a very organised trip – I rang and booked about an hour before we turned up. My dad complained because the restaurant we had originally planned on going to had had sweetbreads on the menu and he was most displeased to have his lunch plans changed on him!

It’s hardly surprising that on a Monday lunch Eden was hardly packed. When dad first ducked in (to let them know we’d be a bit late for our reservation) he reported the place was empty. When our party was complete there were only a couple of other tables with diners. I understand that this is very much NOT the case on a Friday evening … reservations required!

Eden faces onto the marina at Holdfast Shores and you can sit outside and look at the big boats while you eat or drink. Or you can sit inside – where the space is divided into two. The bar area is super stylish with a gorgeous white tiled bar, limited booth seating and some sofas. The restaurant area is all marine plywood and very pale cream and brown. I think it’s best described as inoffensive.

As usual, I had the baby in tow and his high chair was all set up and ready to go, Always though of getting a hanging egg chair. The table height was perfect so we were able to tuck the high chair in – I daresay he felt like a proper grown up! The staff were lovely with him too – but I would say that if you are going to take the smaller members of your family along to Eden choose your times wisely. Monday lunch – perfect. A busy evening, or weekend lunch – probably not such a good idea. Eden’s a little bit on the noisy side and I can imagine that by the time the bar is in full swing and the restaurant busy “baby friendly” is not an apt descriptor.

Settled at our table, our waiter ran through the menu and specials. She lacked a bit of confidence but knew enough to get the message across. Mum and I chose to have two entrées while dad did entrée and main, but requested a main portion of an entrée. Yep – restaurants must really love us turning up.

I started with the woodfired octopus – this arrived as pieces of octopus, served on slices of kipfler potatoes with tapenade. The plate also had (white) anchovies and rocket. Not only did it look very pretty but it was also delicious. Octopus and tapenade isn’t a combination I’d necessarily think of but it definitely worked. The octopus was tender and my only crticism would be … more anchovies!

For my second course I had the sweetbread special (dad ordered a main size portion of this too). The sweetbreads were cooked perfectly, with an every so slightly sweet glaze on them. At the end of the meal I was chatting to one of the staff who said that the sweetbreads had only just come on the menu and that they’d already sold 6 portions. She also said that they always try to have at least one offal dish on the menu. Very good to know if you are in my family.

Mum started with the crispy fried zucchini flowers and followed that with the pressed pork, while dad started with the Woodside goats cheese.

We washed all of this down with a bottle of Dandelion Riesling but Eden also offers the novelty of a blending room, where you can make up your own wine to go with your meal. You don’t really need to go to that effort though because the wine list offers plenty of by the glass options, as well as a reasonable selection of (mostly) South Australian wines. Although you could criticise the wine list for being too SA focussed it’s commendable that it doesn’t feature the same old-same olds that you find everywhere else. Someone has put some thought into it.

Eden isn’t cheap – we spent $120 on our lunch which we thought was quite reasonable for three people, given the quality and presentation of the food. I did find aspects of the service a little uneven – our first waiter (who knocked off part way through our meal) really needs to brush up her confidence with the menu and specials.

But that is just a minor quibble. I will definitely head back.

* The website is just a holding page – there’s more information on Eden’s Facebook page but don’t even attempt to read the menu there on a mobile device!

Eden Dining Room & Bar on Urbanspoon

Promenade Restaurant, Glenelg

Stamford Grand Hotel
photo by Mike Lawton

date of visit: Sunday 15 January 2012

Our overseas guests expressed a desire to have dinner overlooking the sea before leaving and my thoughts turned, naturally, to Glenelg. Which is a bit silly, as I could have also made a couple of reasonably sound choices in plenty of other places. Still, I ummed and aahed about a couple of Glenelg venues and finally decided on the Promenade Restaurant at the Stamford Grand.

As a rule, I LOVE hotel restaurants. I’ve eaten at some very good ones and as I don’t think I’ve ever had dinner at the Promenade it was also an opportunity to try something new-ish. Only new-ish because I’ve had both lunch and afternoon tea at the Promenade. To be honest, previous experiences hadn’t been exactly great but I was prepared to give the Grand another go, at a different time of day.

What a mistake. I don’t think I got more than part way through my entrée when I really started to regret my choice of venue.

Service wise, it was all a bit Fawlty Towers and I really felt sorry for the young (French Canadian) woman who was either maître d’ or our main waiter because she was constantly chasing up the staff around her.

I don’t think I’ll catalogue everything that went wrong – the service was cringeworthy – so I’ll just dish up a few highlights. The wine list, for a restaurant which has quite a few tickets on itself, in such a wine rich and savvy state, is depressingly pedestrian (and if the management of the restaurant seriously think people will order a $355 bottle of Dom Pérignon without a vintage, I bet they find themselves sorely mistaken). We ordered a bottle of Mr Riggs Riesling, but a bottle of the Mr Riggs Outpost (Cabernet Sauvignon) was brought to the table. The French Canadian lady noticed, but not before we’d noticed but thankfully before the bottle was opened and the waiter was sent away to bring the right wine.

The service highlight was, without a doubt, that our main courses arrived before our entrée plates had been cleared. Yes, the main courses didn’t hit our table (again, thanks to the French Canadian woman) but there they all were, lined up, ready to go before there was a frantic clearing of dishes to create space for them. That gives you an idea of the kind of pace at which the meal was run.

OK – service was woeful. Let’s talk about the food.

I started with the goat’s cheese soufflé, served with caramelised onions. I think I can live with the fact that my food was served on wildly geometric plates, but what I cannot deal with is the fact that the plate was drizzled (artistically, of course) with a reduced balsamic glaze and that was ALL I could taste. In terms of texture and weight, the soufflé seemed fine, but in terms of taste – I have no idea. It tasted of reduced balsamic glaze.

I ordered the Parmesan crusted scallops for my main course. These were offered as both an entré and a main. For $32 I received 6 scallops that were all on the small side. There were all served in the shell, on a cauliflower and roasted garlic puree. I don’t know what I was envisaging at the time, but now I’ve thought about it – quite a lot – I imagine this dish should have been big, fat scallops, perfectly cooked and caramelised, topped with crisp Parmesan wafers. The wafers could be held in place by tiny dollops of the puree. But no, the way the dish was executed was more like scallops crumbed in a breadcrumb and Parmesan mix and then deep fried. The puree was OK (after the disappointment of the scallops I suspect most things would have been good) but nothing to write home about. In keeping with the over the top presentation, the scallop shells were served on a long rectangular plate filled with sea salt.

By the time I finished my main course, I really wanted to escape. I was hating myself for not going with what had been my second choice. I was hating my food, I was hating the service, I was hating the fact that we were sitting in the atrium area and I was hot. And I was really hating how much everything was costing.

By the time we left, we spent about $100 a head. Far, far too much. The Promenade restaurant has fancy restaurant prices but doesn’t deliver. It’s really much more of a casual dining venue. I’m pretty scruffy normally but I love dressing up for a good meal out – but the Promenade isn’t the place to do that. Casual to smart casual and you’ll be fine.

This is just so disappointing – the Grand is a flashy hotel, on the waterfront, that must have a lot of interstate and international guests. The restaurant should be showcasing South Australian wine, with an interesting selection of Australian and imported wines. It should be showcasing South Australian produce (very few dishes on the menu detailed provenance) and it should really, really get its service act together.

My recommendation – go somewhere else. Glenelg has loads of places to choose from of varying price and quality. Personally – I suggest you head to Tasca Viva.

Promenade Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sammys on the Marina

Marina Restaurants. Glenelg. SAPhoto by Amanda Slater.

Another guest review today, this time from contributor Fabio.

Date of Visit: 7 December 2011

Although I like seafood, I have never really sought to visit specialty seafood restaurants. So when visiting friends from Hong Kong asked for some recommendations, I had to ask friends and work colleagues for some suggestions. It’s a bit strange that Adelaide, which has such great range of quality seafood, does not appear to have a specialty seafood restaurant of great repute like Doyles in Sydney. Sammy’s on the Marina was suggested by a work colleague and ended up being chosen by my friends.

We arranged to visit after work on a hot Wednesday afternoon. Getting to Sammy’s can be a bit tricky and I suggest ignoring the Maps app on the iPhone, which directed us to somewhere south of Colley Reserve! Sammy’s is tucked in around the corner of the most northerly part of the marina complex and overlooks the marina’s breakwater – don’t get confused like we did and go into the neighbouring restaurant!

Being a warm day, we chose to sit inside and we sat towards the front of the restaurant with pleasant views overlooking the marina and sea.

For entree I decided we should have something which wasn’t seafood and we had to share the Three House Dips. There were 3 dips: beetroot, avocado and cream cheese.

After some indecision as to what to order for mains, we decided to go with the waitress’s recommendation of 2 platters: Deluxe and Sammys. All platters are served with chips and a Greek salad. For 5 hungry people this turned out to be a mountain of food and we should have probably skipped the entree or invited another person! Both platters were superb, but the Deluxe had the highlights for me – the lemon herb scallops and garlic cream scampi.

For drinks, we limited ourselves to just a single bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from Shaw & Smith, which again was the waitress’s recommendation and proved to be a sound choice.

Despite being a bit pricey ($240 for the Deluxe platter and $150 for the Sammys platter), my friends and I thoroughly enjoyed our meal. Sammy’s proved to be a good choice and whenever someone visiting Adelaide asks me again to recommend a quality seafood restaurant, I’ll readily suggest Sammy’s on the Marina.

Sammy's on the Marina on Urbanspoon