Orana is one of Adelaide's most celebrated restaurants, and frequently touted as a must-visit when in South Australia.
At modern Australian restaurant Orana, it's all about pushing the boundaries of the concept of food. So while we didn't find comforting or hearty grub in Orana, we experienced a transformative and enlightening meal. One that was imaginative, and intriguing at every turn. We found ourselves eating foods that we'd never think of putting on a plate. Like succulents. Yes, those succulents you grow in little terrariums. How astounding is that!! And when the chefs were describing the dishes, only 10% of the ingredients rattled off sounded familiar to me.
There's no menu at all, so dinner's a complete surprise. The chef of each dish will personally serve and explain his creation to you, for more intimacy. And I like that such policy lends a personal approach to the cerebral rationalization of the cuisine. The dinner degustation, was aptly named 'Journey' (A$175) and we each opted for a half-pour wine pairing 'Journey with Wine' (A$325), so we could walk ourselves back to the hotel.
The restaurant is incredibly cosy, with just 10 small tables, and it's run like a family restaurant. Service was gracious, and so warm it's like eating at a close friend's home who just so happens to be a world-class fine-dining chef.
The Goolwa Pipis & Beach Succulents, meaty sweet clams swimming in a frothy creamy cockle stock.
The Potato Damper, aka potato bread, raked over white-hot coals (interactively by diners themselves at the table with miniature tongs) for a smoky aroma. Like toasted marshmallows in a campfire.
The Macadamia & Native Thyme, a velvety emulsion of pure deliciousness, was nutty, milky and fragrant.
The Moreton Bay Fig Shoot and Pandanus Puree was like a crunchy and chewy pickled little bark.
The Pancetta, Potato & Pepper Pie was robust, the salty pungency of the cured meat complemented by the spice of the pepper.
The fat briny Angasi Oysters were brightened with kaffir apple for a citrusy lift.
The Kangaroo Tendon Tart, cooked and dehydrated before being fried to a puff, was spiked with Tasmanian mountain pepper. It looked like a plain rice cracker but was heady with a slick of sweet-savoury pepper berry.
The Prawn & Davidson Plum was brimming with sweetness and mellowed tartness.
The Kangaroo Island Scallops was blanketed with minty eucalyptus granita for a refreshing counter.
The Cuttlefish, White Aspen & Warrigal Greens was balanced, the lemony accents of the aspen rounding off the umami body of the cuttlefish.
The Blue Eye Trevalla, was paired with just-foraged wild pea salad, citrus, kelp, and pandanus for a clean and clear taste.
The Kohlrabi, dorrigo, quandong, and lemon myrtle was crunchy and a little tart and worked very well as a palate cleanser of sorts.
I loved the Marron, which intense sweetness was a lovely counterpoint to the Geraldton wax, watercress, and vinegar.
The South Devon Beef, aged 40 days, and sided by wild mulberry, wild garlic, smoked potato mash and burnt leek from the Adelaide Hills, was perfectly and beautifully pink.
The Paperbark, Macadamia & Zig-Zag Wattle was aromatic and compelling with the bite of the wattle.
The Native Currant Fool, swaddled in 2 slabs of black ash tuille was sour-sweet with Atherton raspberry; and the blowtorched Marshmallow, was topped with green ants and a drizzle of native honey.
The Jillungin Tea, bottle brush & tree nut was an excellent way to round off the fantastic meal. Crisp floral elements and refreshing.
The Set Buttermilk, Strawberry & Eucalyptus was a trio of unlikely companions but perfectly matched.
Baked in-house, the crusty Sourdough Bread was the perfect setup to the Hindmarsh Valley Dairy butter churned with extra buttermilk. So decadent, so indulgent.
The restaurant is a little hidden, so look out for Blackwood, its sister restaurant along Rundle Street; Orana is located just above it.
You enter through side staircase.
The Living Room
285 Rundle Street
Adelaide South Australia SA 5000
Tel: 08 8232 3444
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 6.30pm to 10.30pm;
Fridays from 12noon to 3pm for lunch;
Closed on Sundays and Mondays