Meet the new sister site to our Restaurant of the Year
Author: Maggie Scardifield
Photography: James Knowler
It's been 18 months since Adelaide's Street ADL, the casual ground-floor eatery beneath the 2018 Gourmet Traveller Restaurant of the Year, Orana, flipped to become Blackwood. That's two restaurants. But ask chef Jock Zonfrillo about replacing Blackwood with a third version - Bistro Blackwood - and he says this was always the end-game.
Opening today (20 September), Bistro Blackwood is the Rundle Street site's next chapter: a "project" for Zonfrillo's team to apply Orana's sustainable food philosophy to more approachable bistro classics.
"Bistros have traditionally adapted to what the public want, and the price point that the public want," says Zonfrillo. "We created the quintessential Australian restaurant (in the upper end of the market) with Orana. And now we're creating a quintessential Australian bistro."
Chef Sam Christopher is heading up the new bistro, and while they may have kept the restaurant name - they cook a lot with blackwood ash and the tables in Orana are made from blackwood - the menu, which will change regularly and feature plenty of daily specials, is brand new.
The fire-pit remains the kitchen's weapon of choice - used to char up whole organic chickens for a simple salad with baby cos, lemon and chilli, say, or the kale to go with macadamia cream and hen yolk. Other dishes include charry octopus with broad beans and chilli chutney, and smoked Goolwa pipis with crème fraîche and beach greens.
The old Blackwood had a steak board, but Zonfrillo has ditched that in favour of "the most beautiful piece of meat": a 450-gram rib-eye on the bone, served with pressed eucalyptus potatoes and a simple leaf salad. "We are cautious of not overfeeding people with protein," he says. "With the steak board, people would just order steak. It was horrible."
The steak tartare, meanwhile, is set to become a signature: it comes with mini French fries, and combines native peppers, bush tomatoes and fermented mushrooms for an extra umami hit. "What we want is clean beautiful flavours," says Zonfrillo. "We're not going to bang on about native ingredients; they're simply going to be there."
The new design is much sunnier than the previous Blackwood, and features plenty of light timber, greenery and brass. The walls have been painted navy and light pink, while diners are seated at tan leather banquettes and booths, white marble tables, or at the navy blue leather bar. The 40-bottle wine list will lean local, natural and minimal-intervention, but if that's not your style, you can order from Orana's 400-bottle list, put together by sommelier Brent Mayeaux.
Just as the bistro menu changes, so will the staff. Greta Wohlstadt, the restaurant manager at Orana, is doing time on the floor, as will Zonfrillo. "We never really had a boundary between back and front of house; we just had a boundary between the two restaurants," he says. "Not any more."
Zonfrillo says that a more collaborative approach between the two sites benefits staff as much as diners. "The team has a whole new enthusiasm around, not just the ingredients we use, but also their future in the industry."
"Orana is not a cheap restaurant and I know that," he adds. "The bistro is not the same, of course, but the flavour and the essence will be."
Bistro Blackwood, 285 Rundle St, Adelaide, SA, (08) 8227 0344, bistroblackwood.com.au