date of visit: Thursday 26 April 2012

Udaberri Pintxos y Vinos is the new cool kid on Adelaide’s bar scene. It’s at the northern end of Leigh Street, and if you don’t know it’s there and you’re not looking you won’t spot it.

Wait. I knew it was there and I was looking and I didn’t spot it. Cue frantic text to Andy to double check the address …

So – if you’re wandering up and down Leigh Street you need to look out for the logo above. When we dropped in for a drink there was no big sign and the bar has an unfinished (in an intentional way) look about it. Something I very much like and something Adelaide could do with more of. If you’re bored with the homogeneity of many of Adelaide’s refurbished pubs (and I most certainly am) then Udaberri is for you.

The “pintxos” part of its name is (basically) Basque for “bar snacks” – the Udaberri menu is brief and light. You won’t be heading there for a full blown dinner*, but if you can get by on things like anchovies, peppers and cheese you will be catered for.

Drinks wise there are three beers on tap – they’re written up on the wall which suggests they might rotate. When we were there a pint of Lobethal Brewery’s Pilsner cost $9 (which seems expensive to me, but I haven’t seen the beer on tap anywhere else). The wine list has a fair range of Spanish wines (nothing too crazy) so I had a glass of Albariño which was $8.50.

At present, Udaberri has a very new vibe about it but it’s definitely a bar with great potential. Adelaide needs more bars like this, so head in for a post work drink. That way you can claim to have been drinking there from (almost) day one.

UPDATE: Following on from Celeste’s question, I emailed Udaberri and Rob, the proprietor, emailed me back. Pinxtos are $2 at present. He also sent me a copy of the current menu. Example dishes are oysters, shucked to order with Champagne vinegar – $3 each, croquetas de bacalao (salt cod croquettes) – $8, and they offer a selection of cheeses – 1 piece $9, 2 pieces $13 and 3 pieces $16.

* If you need a proper meal in the area, try Rigoni’s.

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Rigoni’s Bistro



date of visit:  Friday 11 November 2011

Our last visit to Rigoni’s Bistro was over a year ago.  We returned on Friday night for a very quick pre-Christmas party dinner, just the two of us.  The restaurant doesn’t start dinner service until 6pm so that’s when we arrived. There were quite a few people outside the restaurant having drinks and, indoors, a handful of tables had couples (mostly) seated at them.

This was a rather business like meal, and I’d been fantasising about the linguini di tartufo bianco con aragosta ever since I’d read the online menu. Yes, that’s white truffle linguini with marron. That was all I was going to order – and god help them if they’d run out of it! Andy had to read the menu (well, that gave me time to drink my glass of Prosecco) and decided on the lavender salted chicken with prosciutto, sage and provolone on white polenta. While we waited for our food, there was plenty of opportunity to check out what people around us were eating, finish our drinks and eat the bread, served with olive oil and a type of pesto. This alone gives Rigoni’s a massive tick from me, because I have a bit of a horror of the ubiquitous olive oil with a puddle of balsamic vinegar floating in it.

Our food arrived and the portions were really generous. The pasta dish, in particular, was large and smelly – smelly in a good, truffly way.

Finger bowl to hand, I munched my way through my marrons and the pasta and turned down the opportunity to try some of Andy’s chicken (I’m informed it was good, I just wasn’t interested in stopping motoring through my plate of food!). The dish was lovely – truffly, buttery, crunchy white asparagus, with fresh dill through it adding an aniseedy kick to the seafood. The pasta looked like it was made in house – in places it had rather clumped together (disappointing, but I was enjoying the overall dish so much it was forgivable). I thought it was cooked perfectly but I realise for some people my “perfect” is “underdone”.

The only problem with our meal on Friday night was … the price. Of course, a huge plate of anything involving truffles and marron isn’t going to be cheap and my dish was $40. Andy’s chicken was $34. Add in a couple of drinks each and the bread and the bill hit over $100 which is a lot of money to spend on a quick meal before a night out. Thanks to the Entertainment Book, we actually paid $85, which, for just one course each, is still pretty expensive. In terms of the quality of the food, it’s definitely worth it. The service is also good – I booked at the last minute (and I’d recommend booking) and I was told while on the phone that they did have a table for us but it was rebooked for 7:30pm. Much better to know that type of thing up front than be surprised on the night. And all the staff who served us on Friday night were pleasant, competent and unintrusive.

So save up your trip to Rigoni’s – go when you are feeling a little flush, and take the time to have a proper meal there (that’s at least two courses). Delicious!

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Rigoni’s Bistro



date of visit:  20 April 2010

A friend is heading to Hong Kong for a 3 month stint and, as a final farewell dinner, requested something ‘not Asian’.  Having walked through Leigh Street that same morning, I suggested Rigoni’s Bistro, which I last visited in November last year for a wine dinner with Nicolas Belfrage MW, hosted by East End Cellars.

We had an early booking (6:30pm) but even at this stage of a Tuesday night the restaurant was reasonably busy.  We were tucked in the back corner, at a well sized round table, and immediately started with drinks and plenty of water.

The menu at Rigoni’s is seasonal (so you’re not faced with the same food, year in year out) and falls in to a category that I call ‘interesting Italian’.  Many Italian restaurants feature a menu packed with spaghetti (or variation) carbonara, amatriciana, pesto … and a few token meat dishes and pizzas thrown in with little thought.  It is always refreshing to come across an Italian menu offering variety.  If you’re in Melbourne and after a similar experience I can recommend Balzari, in Carlton.

The great disappointment of the evening was that the prawn ravioli, my first choice for main course, had sold out at lunch.  Our waitress informed us that the ravioli are made in house and there had been no time to prepare more.  I turned to my (very close) second preference – the porcini tagliatelle with swiss brown mushrooms, taleggio, chestnuts and thyme.  For an entree, I opted for the tomato bruschetta (in fact, it was bruschettas all round).

Being brutally honest, I felt that $5.90 for the tomato bruschetta was a little too much.  I really enjoyed it (Andy thought it only so-so) but I suspect many would consider the portion too small.  A single slice of (good) bread, laden with a fresh, garlicky tomato topping.

However, my main course was wonderful.  The tagliatelle (also clearly made in-house) was itself flavoured with the porcini and so was a deep chocolate colour.  The taleggio was cubed and melted gently against the heat of the pasta, the mushrooms were buttery and soft, the chestnuts provided a contrast in texture and the thyme added even more richness of flavour.  The waitress had warned me it was a rich dish, but I think I would have had no problems demolishing a portion twice its size!

Andy’s choice was the venison with rosemary and juniper, served with pickled red cabbage.  The meat appeared to be perfectly cooked and he said it was very tender.  He commented that, on its own, it could be considered a little salty, but the sweetness of the red cabbage offset that perfectly.

Heading in to dessert territory, Andy chose the chocolate tasting plate (a very popular choice at our table of 7) and I went for the lemon tart.  The lemon tart was lovely – served with a small salad of grapefruits and mint and, rather than cream, a yoghurt lebne.  I’m not a fan of grapefruit but in this instance the salad worked very well: the extreme tartness of the grapefruit was balanced by the pink grapefruit and mint.  The tart itself had super short pastry and was deliciously creamy, with a caramelised topping.  In some respects, the yoghurt could be considered superfluous, but it was very light and acted as a counterpoint to the already rich tart.

I hope it’s apparent that the food at Rigoni’s exceeded expectations and I am keen to head back, if only to get my hands on the prawn ravioli.  The service was excellent – attentive but not intrusive and I found the meal well paced.  The only annoyances are that the restaurant is a little noisy and that it is only open Monday to Friday!

Rigoni’s is also open for both breakfast and lunch throughout the week.

Excellent Italian in the City Centre

Excellent service, excellent (and interesting) Italian food. What more could you ask for?

Rating:4.5 stars

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