17 January 2018
Magill Estate is The Varnished Culture’s favourite eating joint in Adelaide. It is not cheap; it is not overly casual (although dress code is fairly relaxed these days). Hence we tend to get there on special occasions. But if you can afford it, or have the wherewithal to save up a few hundred bucks, do yourself a favour and go – any day or night there will be a special occasion.
The day had been warm and the sunset was red, giving us a lovely view over the historic Penfolds vines, down the hill towards the city and the sea. They have discreet shutters that muffle the sun, which are lifted, again discreetly, on its setting. The dining room is deceptively simple, but comfortable, with just the right light, ambience, and (importantly) space between tables. L got a little handbag table, the first time we have had that nice touch since The Hassler in Rome. And we started with a piquant champagne in the lounge, a tucked-away parlour where you can sip, savour and get in the mood for a gastronomic marathon.
Which was dinner in the form of a tasting menu, a stomach-bursting pile of food that was so nice, and so petite in its diverse portions, that its quantity snuck up on you. The quality, as ever, was top notch:
Snacks came in the form of a honey-glazed cream puff with liver pate; a crumpet with delicious smoked trout; a veal and tuna creation; a chicken and wasabi bon-bon (our word – it was actually savoury) and cleansing cups of tomato tea. There was also an interesting piece of flummery that seemed a cross between a papadam and fairy floss (but then not everything must work).
L next had tuna ponzu and relish; P had an interesting serve of duck with eggplant, oats, apple and ginger beer (which sounds horrendous on the palate, but it was very pleasant).
Then came pork belly with cauliflower, roasted nuts and Daikon (not an air conditioner, more like a radish); lobster warmed in Konbu with the theatrical addition of fermented ice to add ‘bite’, and a mouthwatering piece of rare venison with beetroot and fresh watercress, so finely prepared that it dissolved in the mouth. The lobster was the highlight for L; for P, the cream puff, tomato tea and the venison.
There was still more: chocolate ganache and berry sorbet and petit fours. We chose to finish off with a dry champagne, P having (wisely) trusted sommelier’s choice for wines to accompany the various course.
We would recommend Magill Estate to anyone. For those with more prosaic tastes and shallower pockets, try the adjoining Magill Estate Kitchen for good but less elaborate fare at a cheaper price.