My life changed last Friday in a way that cannot be reversed. I discovered Coffin Bay oysters. Well, to be perfectly honest my brother-in-law introduced me to them a couple of years ago, but clearly the years had somehow inexplicably eroded the magical memory because I should have been dreaming about these babies every night since I first ate one.
The terrible, tragic consequence of having experienced the joy of eating these oysters is that I am now forever ruined to all other oysters. I am an oyster snob.
Friday was our last day in Adelaide, as our flight back to Perth was first thing Saturday morning. We remembered that we hadn’t yet used our vouchers for free canapés in the Playford Lounge Bar at the hotel. Never ones to knock back free food, we made sure to get down to the lounge during the cocktail hour to exchange our vouchers for the canapés of the day – Coffin Bay oysters, either natural or kilpatrick. Our vouchers scored us three oysters each, and we both went the natural route, with a little squeeze of lemon and a dash of tabasco in a couple of them as well. My god, they were good. Beautiful, succulent, fresh, meaty, salty, pure, delicious. We were both a little dazed after polishing off our three each, but no sooner had we come to our senses than we were back at the bar ordering more. A plate of three pieces of heaven for $3.50. Bargain. We couldn’t get too heady in oyster appreciation however, as the waitstaff were a little too conscientious and one particularly eager guy attempted to clear away one of our “empty” plates that still had a tasty morsel left sitting in its shell waiting to be enjoyed.
After recovering from the magic we decided to head off and have dinner at the nearby Apothecary 1878. The front bar is quite cool, decked out with antique pharmacy cabinets, and I assumed the theme was carried through to the restaurant which I believe is upstairs. Whether or not this is actually the case however remains unknown to me as there were no free tables in the restaurant. Dang. We briefly considered hanging around and ordering off the tapas menu at the bar, but decided to instead head back to the hotel and try the restaurant there. Upon arriving back at the hotel we were told that the earliest we could have a table would be 8:30 (this would never happen at the Hilton! hehe) so we retired back to our rooms where I watched the MasterChef master class until sauntering back downstairs to enjoy dinner.
Ordering was actually incredibly easy for me, as my strange sudden illness of the morning had completely turned me off goat cheese, smoked fish and salmon (luckily this has since proved to be a temporary turn off). I was actually really feeling like some soup and a nice piece of chicken (perfect sicky food, it’s amazing I didn’t twig that I was turning into a swine infected sicky lala), and thus chose the “tempura tofu hot broth – Japanese style broth, green tea soba noodles, Asian greens, chilli and pickled ginger” ($15.50) to start with and the “porcini infused free range chicken breast with sauteed wild mushrooms, hand pounded carrot and parsnip, porcini foam and roast chicken glaze” ($28.90) for my main course. Still enjoying an untarnished love of salmon, my friend chose to have a starter of “Atlantic salmon tartare, wasabi roe, candied orange zest” ($6), an entrée of “polenta crusted zucchini flowers – Woodcroft mushroom duxelle, Woodside goat’s cheese, petite garden greens and tarragon oil” ($15.90) and for his main chose “the grill tasting plate – Murraylands beef fillet, Onkaparinga Valley venison, Clare Valley rabbit, confit garlic, thyme and pancetta sausages, San Jose bacon, potato croquette and eggplant relish” ($32.90). In honour of our vegetable deprived friend from The Brasserie we could not help but complement our dishes with some “steamed seasonal vegetables with lemon myrtle olive oil” ($9.50).
These looked fantastic, and apparently they tasted pretty fantastic as well, but I just couldn’t accept the offer of trying one. Isn’t it amazing how quickly your body can turn from loving something to finding it quite repugnant? Thank god I have since re-embraced my love affair with salmon. Phew.
These looked beautiful and once again I was reminded that I would like to try cooking with zucchini flowers at home. Sadly my new apartment is poorly equipped with garden space and I won’t be able to grow my own zucchini flowers, but I am determined to cook with them in the not-too-distant future. I should probably suss out what time of year they are readily available before I get too gung ho with this plan.
This entrée was just what I was hoping for when I read it on the menu. Hot, quite mild in flavour, a nice bite to the soba noodles and softness to the tofu. It was also served in quite an interesting manner, with the waiter bringing out the plate as you can see in the photo, but sans-liquid. The broth was in a glass teapot, which the waiter then poured into the bowl as it sat before me. A nice touch that I was disinclined to halt mid-process in order to capture on film, so you’ll just have to imagine it. Go on, make yourself a nice pot of tea and pretend it is broth. Better still, make yourself a nice pot of broth and dress up like a waiter.
The only part of this dish I actually sampled was the eggplant relish, which was packed with flavour and had a lovely silky texture to it. By all accounts the rest of the dish was more than enjoyable.
The vegetables were nice and fresh and still had a little crunch to them, while the lemon myrtle olive oil added just a hint of flavour.
This dish was really very impressive and something I’d love to eat again. The chicken was so incredibly moist and juicy, and really a reminder that meat cooked on the bone is invariably superior to the the more convenient skinless/boneless variety. The mushrooms had such a beautiful earthy flavour that was carried through the entire dish. I was intrigued by the claim of the carrots being “hand pounded”. What does this mean, exactly? Mashed very firmly by hand? Do they really need to be pounded? They seemed like such nice carrots, and pounding sounds a tad excessive. In any case, they didn’t seem to hold a grudge and I enjoyed every last bit of them. I enjoyed every last bit of everything in this dish, in fact, and it’s a wonder I didn’t lick the plate.
Those who know me, and I guess these days also those who read my blog must be well aware by now of my ability to eat vast quantities of food. This ability is rarely hampered by illness, and is also shared by the friend I was in Adelaide with, and so when the offer of dessert was made it didn’t take long for us to agree that the menu should certainly be brought over. There were five dishes in the sweet section of the dessert menu, and one is worth mentioning although neither of us decided to try it. It is called “Quintessence – Pure and concentrated essence of chocolate (for two)”. $32 nets you chocolate orange brulee, chocolate almond fudge cake, hazelnut and chocolate ice cream roulade, white chocolate fondant with espresso centre, and finally a caramelised banana and dark coverture mousse. Forgoing the death by chocolate, my friend chose the “steamed treacle pudding with warm caramel sauce, caramelised fig and pomegranate ice cream” ($13.50) and I settled on the “brandied apple crepes with spiced carrot syrup, vanilla bean anglaise and cinnamon ice cream” ($13.50).
An attractive, and apparently delicious dessert. The sauce was in the little jug in the background which reminded me of the little jugs they like to use in Masterchef. I would like to get some little jugs. They are cute. I have however exhausted my kitchen purchasing budget for a little while, and thus will not allow myself to buy little jugs that may or may not get used.
A funny dish, no? I can’t quite put my finger on what this structure reminds me of… perhaps you can help me out? This was quite an interesting dish to eat in terms of flavour as well as structure. The spiced carrot syrup was spiced almost to the point of being too overpowering, but was so thin that it didn’t have the ability to really get onto your spoon in sufficient quantity to take over. The crepes were nice and thin, and the cinnamon ice cream paired very nicely with their lovely soft apple parcels waiting inside. The umm, tall curvy hard crepe pieces (legs?) had a nice sharp crunch to them and the spun sugar was a nice treat but I didn’t finish it as it was just too sticky in my teeth!
A great meal to end our time in Adelaide. Oh, and the service was really good too! Very professional and attentive. Strangely, after talking to our waiter we discovered he had only just started working in the restaurant earlier that week. I say strangely because our overly eager would-be oyster-thieving waiter from earlier in the evening had only just started working in the lounge recently, and our waiter from a previous night who served us coffees in the lounge had also just started there. Coincidence? Perhaps, though it does get the imagination working a little. Not enough to dress up like a waiter with a pot of broth though.
The Playford Restaurant
Sebel Playford Adelaide
120 North Terrace, Adelaide
Phone: 08 8213 8844
Hours: Breakfast Monday to Friday 6:30am-10:30am; Breakfast Saturday and Sunday 6:30am-9:00am or 9:30am-11:00am; Dinner nightly 6:00pm-10:00pm