Jock Zonfrillo opens Orana in Adelaide

Author: David Sly

Orana means welcome - and ushers in a new appreciation of Australian ingredients, and of Adelaide eating.

Has Jock Zonfrillo put Adelaide back on the map for destination diners? With the food he's presenting at Orana - an evocation of Australia that weaves together the native and the introduced, the everyday and the unfamiliar, in dishes that are both grounded and innovative - the answer looks a lot like a yes. And it's only early days.

The 25-seat fine-diner, upstairs on Rundle Street on the site once occupied by the Universal Wine Bar, takes diners on an immersive journey into the tastes of Australia across about 20 different dishes - 10 bite-sized snacks, six main courses, three desserts and bread.

His sourcing of prime ingredients is complemented by foraged indigenous plants: Kangaroo Island scallops with sharp, salty iceplant, say, or a smoked beef intercostal topped by bitter grass mousse. Coorong mulloway is paired with native cherries and sea celery oil, while rich kangaroo backstrap is piqued by mountain pepper and the spearmint tinge of oxeye daisy. These sometimes unlikely-sounding combinations achieve impressive harmony, with lots of natural saltiness and astringency from indigenous ingredients that pop and dazzle in the mouth, balanced by licks of sweetness to ensure that flavours linger long on the palate.

There are tricks to several dishes - fine ribbons of taro in rendered beef fat that taste intensely meaty, Dorrigo pepper adding explosive pops of heat to a spoonful of pearl meat, fried saltbush taking the role of salt and vinegar crisps - but presentation isn't pretentious.

This concept, originally conceived by Zonfrillo when he worked as executive chef at Penfolds' Magill Estate restaurant, comes together in a new package at Orana that immediately places it at the forefront of South Australian dining, with crisp service by polished former Magill floor staff in an elegant room decorated with understated 1960s Australian timber furniture and striking murals by Italian street artist 2501.

The only dining option is the kitchen-driven d├ęgustation that costs $155, or $295 with a smart flight of matched wines from SA, interstate and overseas (there's also a juice pairing option for $225). The price is high, especially for Adelaide, but the value is sound. This is intrinsic Australian food in a new guise - confident, assured and original - and will be very influential. Zonfrillo has delivered the sort of restaurant Penfolds had said it wanted for Magill Estate - bold and original - and he's done it on his own terms. Expect his efforts and dedication to be repaid with plenty of attention from locals and travellers alike.
Orana, 285 Rundle St, Adelaide, SA, (08) 8232 3444.







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