Hot Plates: Africola reopens in Adelaide
Author: David Sly
Photography: Jonathan VDK
2:12PM, Nov 2, 2016
It takes courage to transform an already wildly popular restaurant, but a serious rethink about the direction at Africola has taken it up a notch. Chef Duncan Welgemoed has shifted his attention away from big meat servings from the fire pit to embrace northern African culinary influences, and offer vegetables their time in the spotlight.
Slices of eggplant in a delicate film of crisp batter topped with cumin, sweet chilli and fermented goat's cheese give the argument potency, as do more rugged flavour marriages, such as cabbage heart with salted plums, roasted cauliflower dressed with tahini and pomegranate, and smoky barbecued carrots doused in burnt butter and kombu.
Equally robust dips - smoky baba ghanoush with the salty bite of trout roe and seaweed, and Africola's Boom Boom hummus, fired up with crisp chickpeas and sumac - sit comfortably in the company of lamb kofta with fried green tomatoes.
Despite so much change to the menu, a few simple, fun dishes have carried over from Africola's original incarnation and remain seductive favourites. The signature peri peri chicken, a hit since Africola opened in November 2014, still stands tall, but it's now complemented by the irresistible chicken tea sandwich - crisp chicken skin served on white bread with parsley and peri peri chicken drippings.
Desserts, too, are a pleasant surprise, not least the torched chickpea marshmallow beside fresh mango, coconut-water mousse, sorrel granita and a sprinkling of dehydrated river mint.
While the room's previous layers of eye-watering colour have been replaced by the gentler tone of white plaster, and the party-hearty atmosphere has been dialled back to something slightly more civilised, the food still carries the personality of the chef: unmistakably bold and rambunctious. Let's hear it for Africola 2.0.
Africola, 4 East Tce, Adelaide, SA, (08) 8223 3885, africola.com.au