Described recently in ‘Adelaide Now’ as the ‘most anticipated restaurant opening of the year’, Celsius Restaurant and Bar has opened and ‘The Foodologist’ was invited by chef Ayhan Erkoc, formerly of The Manse to sample his food. With a team of culinary superstars from establishments such as Magill Estate, Auge and Sparrow, the already famous culinary strip that is Gouger Street has even more attraction for those who wish to dine well.
The restaurant serves both an a la carte menu with entrees priced between $18-24 and mains from $28-38 with various side orders at $8. The restaurant also offers as an 8 course degustation menu set at a reasonable $120 per head. Additionally to further tempt the taste buds are ‘Dry Snacks’ such as ‘Salt and Vinegar Chips’ and ‘Bubbled Pork Crackling with Yoghurt and Fennel Pollen’ as well as a range of Tapas to whet your appetite. An impressive wine list also accompanies the food both available by the bottle or by the glass.
The chef’s message is clear. Use the best local produce, treat it with respect and use complimentary techniques, both modern and classic to provide a fine dining experience which truly highlights both Adelaide’s culinary talent and high quality ingredients. They have gone so far as to create their own ‘kitchen garden’ to provide a wealth of vegetables for the kitchen and Ayhan will also be devoting time to ‘foraging expeditions – making the most of seasonal, sometimes-overlooked ingredients growing wild around Adelaide’.
To start, we ordered both of the ‘Dry Snacks’ before the arrival of our degustation.
Salt and Vinegar Chips
The chips were handsomely browned but not unlike regular crisps but were accompanied by an interesting vinegar foam to use for dipping. The foam was light and fluffy and held together well until is was finished. The foam provided a nice acid hit to counter the savoury and toasty tones of the potato crisp. A nice twist on a regular snack that is sure to get chins wagging in anticipation for the main event.
Bubbled Pork Crackling, Yoghurt, Fennel Pollen
These were interesting. A bit like a Spanish Chicharrón, but covered with a yoghurt and fennel pollen dust which was a little sweet and a little tart, providing a nice anchor for the crispy, crunchy cheeky pork morsels which we were munching our way through.
The kitchen produces its own sourdough bread which was served with a choice of plain or parsley butter.
As we were having lunch, we drank water with our initial snacks but when the first course arrived, I was greeted with a glass of Mesh Riesling (2009) from Eden Valley and my wife, a sparkling glass of Cloudy Bay Pelorus (2008), both $11.
Ceviche of King Fish, Wasabi Snow, Pickled Cucumber
Hiramasa Kingfish is a local hero adorning the plates of many Australian restaurants at this time and this is no exception at Celcius. Served with a strip of lightly pickled cucumber, salmon eggs and ‘Wasabi snow’, it is well thought out, innovative and rather delicious. The Wasabi snow provided a bracing introduction to the meal, not just because of its temperature but also due to the much loved sinus and roof of mouth explosivity that is caused by a group of chemicals called isothicyanates, present in Wasabi and also Horseradish. What is nice about Wasabi is thats its effects are fleeting and brief and rather than burn your mouth for the rest of the meal like chilli does, this serves to refresh and awaken the palate.
‘Vegetable patch’ – Snails, Herbs, Soil, Flowers, Raw and Pickled Vegetables
Initially, I wasn’t all that excited by the idea of a plate of raw vegetables. I mean, what’s the big deal? Served in a spectacular manner, this dish provides you with the sort of vegetables ALL children should try first. Why?… I hear you ask. Well this selection of raw and pickled vegetables are what all good vegetables should taste like. Tiny little tomatoes that explode upon eating, sending their intense and sweet flavours all over your mouth. The freshest carrots with a lovely texture and none of the woody tones that one gets from your run of the mill knock off special and beetroot and radishes with earthy tones that complement the other vegetables wonderfully. The dish also comes with ‘soil’, which had slight hints of coffee and the dish was finished with three little battered and fried snails. The batter was light without any lingering oiliness and the snails were tender and tasty. This dish was whimsical and fun but testament to their commitment to using the freshest local produce. I certainly hope they can keep this dish up to the same standard all year whilst providing for seasonal changes in ingredient availability.
Caramelised Lamb Sweet Breads, Kohlrabi, Parsley, Kipfler Potato
Obligatory for all degustation menu’s of note, the offal dish is lovely and would provide those a little wary of such things a great introduction to the wonders of what are known in America as ‘variety meats’. Treated carefully, the sweet breads were tender and delicate in flavour with a light caramelisation which was well matched with the Kohlrabi and small starch accompaniment. Small crispy potato skins on top provided a nice little crunch as a textural contrast to the rest of the dish.
Roast Quail, Foie Gras, Prosciutto, Parsley Root, Liquorice
If there was one reason to come to this restaurant, this ladies and gentlmen is it. The quail, wrapped in prosciutto was divine. The Fois Gras mousse was rich and smooth and the liquorice foam whilst present was not overpowering, providing a balanced dish with both classical and modern twists that should please all but the most jaded of palates. Without doubt one of the better things I have ever eaten.
Market Fresh Fish, Radish, Capers, Lemon, Vongole, Brown Butter
The fish today was skate, something which I have enjoyed on numerous occasion in the UK but not seen too often here in Australia. Accompanied by a few of my favourite fruits of the sea, Vongole, its treatment with brown butter, lemon and capers was to some extent an obvious choice, coming from classical origins but still presented in an interesting way.
Black Angus Sirloin, Charred Eggplant, Baby Onion, Rosemary Flowers
By this time, it was time to order another glass of wine, this time opting for the Samuels Gorge Shiraz (2008) for $16 to accompany the Coorong Angus beef, an obvious but appropriate pairing. This dish was outstanding. It is usually around this time of a degustation that I start to go into palate fatigue having tried so many things. What is also disappointing is that many chefs treat the red meat dish merely as a filler to ensure that the diner does not walk out and straight down to the nearest fast food joint. This dish however, maintained the momentum of the meal. The black swipe, you see on the plate is the charred eggplant which was smoky but not acrid and accompanied with an onion flavoured powder, baby onion and rosemary flowers. The beef was cooked to perfection, tender with a nice sear on the outside which did local beef producer Richard Gunner’s Coorong Angus beef brand proud.
Apple Sorbet, Cinnamon, Botrytis Jelly
Another favourite for both myself and my wife. This apple sorbet was just wonderful. The cinnamon crisp was delicate and dissolved in the mouth to provide a familiar flavour pairing that was made more sophisticated by the botrytis jelly. Again, the apple cubes gave textural contrast to this palate cleanser which could easily stand alone as a solid summer dessert.
Strawberries, Yoghurt, Rhubarb, Pistachio
Like the ‘veggie patch’ served earlier on a clean piece of slate, this wonderfully presented dish provided a modern take on the traditional pairing of strawberries and cream. A thin cigar of mousse surrounded by a thin and chewy fruit coating was presented with pistachio ‘dust’, sorbet and granita that again provided both a variety of modern techniques with well matched, high quality ingredients. A lovely way to finish the meal.
Overall, I ‘doff’ my cap to Chef Ayhan Erkoc and his team at Celsius Restaurant. The food presented in this meal was well thought out, produced with a high level of technical proficiency and with a level of commitment to local produce that is highly admirable. The floor staff led by Jason Cane were friendly, efficient and knowledgeable and nothing was too much trouble for them. There are many dining establishments in Adelaide that to their credit support local produce in a major way and this place is no exception. In a city as parochial as Adelaide, this will be in my opinion crucial to winning over the people of this great city. It’s presentation and use of modern techniques with well established ingredient pairings makes the food approachable too unlike other establishments elsewhere which go so far over the top that you dont know what you’re eating.
Ultimately, like all good dining experiences, you can never really know it without experiencing it for yourself. This is an experience worth having and I hope that this review will help you choose to taste some great South Australian produce from a team of talented and enthusiastic culinary artists.
Celsius Restaurant and Bar
95 Gouger Street,
Ph: 08 8231 6023
Open for lunch: Wed-Fri and dinner: Tues-Sat