The Brasserie @ Adelaide Hilton Review
As you step into from the foyer of the Hilton Hotel into the entrance of The Brasserie, you move from your typical swish hotel foyer into a bustling and infomal bistro style eaterie that has no air of pretense or stuffyness. You are walking into a place that is about the food.
The head waiter is efficient and friendly, and the following waitress is knowledgeable and informal, making great suggestions without being pushy.
After drinks have been ordered the waitress suggests the Coopers Sparkling Ale bread, made from stone ground organic flour, and served swiftly in the terracotta pot it was baked in, with EVOO from Lucilla. From this first moment it was obvious that the food was driven by the local produce and the history of Adelaide, and all of this driven by the chef Simon Bryant.
The menu was as much fun to read as it was to sample. Every course features local produce, often mentioning the owners of the businesses, and always explaining the connection with Adelaide and the dish being offered. Producers like Coopers Brewery (Beer), Buzz Honey, Fleurieu Milk Co. and Haigh's Chocolate are but a few of the local, and sometimes iconic Adelaide producer's showcased in the menu. As well as these Maggie Beer gets a few mentions in the menu, as she is of course Simon's co star in the ABC show 'The Cook and the Chef"
Entree's were interesting and adventurous. The classic twist on the Adelaide icon called the Pie Floater was fantastic. A tiny pie filled with Maggie Beer's Porcini mushroom pate floating on sea of green mushie peas, topped with candied tomato and grape seed mustard. An amazing dish that continues the tradition of the pie floater, but brings it out of stodgie late night street food, into the realms of a delicate and grown up classic. The duck liver parfait, confit and seared breast was a great trio. The breast cooked perfectly, the parfait rich and creamy, and the confit rilette adding just the right zing to the dish. Just as you though the duck dish was too much and too rich, in came the watercress salad on top that gave a fresh and lively top note to the dish.
Main courses were featuring big, strong flavours, including miso coated kingfish and crispy chicken with green chilli jam and rice. The Rabbit, produced by Adelaide's first commercial rabbit farm, Bushmin, was braised and served with a Haigh's bittersweet chocolate sauce, local prosciutto and soft white polenta. The concept was good, however the rabbit was overcooked and a little dry. Had the meat been softer and retained more juices, the chocolate sauce would have been a a closer match, but as it was the chocolate sauce overpowered the rabbit flavour.
The Kangaroo dish, featuring bush foods like bush banana salad, quanding and desert lime glaze and crispy saltbush was a dish that had an amazing amount of zing, but that needed some balancing element. The pepperberry and bush tomato rub on the roo took it over the edge, with such an array of flavours that the taste buds had nowhere to hide. The zing of the desert limes, the super sweetness of the quandongs and the amazing saltyness of the saltbush were all too much for me. In addition to the balance problems that I felt were present, one or two of the bush bananas were undercooked and leathery. All this said, I like the concept of bush food on our city hotel restaurant menus, and I hope they keep appearing.
Desserts were fantastic, the creme brulee was fantastic, and the accompanying honeycomb stole the show. The Haigh's chocolate and water mousse, chocolate dirt, latte foam and caramel sauce was a plate of decadence, that despite the amount of chocolate on the plate, managed to maintain a sense of balance and interest in mouthfeel and texture.
Overall the experience at The Brasserie was fantastic. Good efficient service, great food driven by a passion for local produce. A must for anyone interested in good local Australian produce being used creatively and with mastery.