Adelaide is becoming quite the dining mecca with its great local produce, and is attracting both emerging and established culinary talents to set up fresh, innovative eateries.
BL and I wanted somewhere casual-ish but modern, and Andre’s Cucina & Polenta Bar (by Masterchef finalist Andre Ursini for those who watch the show) fit the bill perfectly. The eatery focuses on Northern Italian cuisine. Another winning feature was its menu fisso ($59 per person), a feast of 5 selected dishes to share.
The restaurant feels like a cross between a deli and an eatery with Italian provisions lining the wall, seating at the bar and friendly, knowledgeable, hip, young staff helping you through the menu.
On Fridays and Saturdays, the restaurant does a 6pm or an 8pm sitting. On the night we visited, the 8pm was definitely the more popular slot, and even the bar seats were spoken for. There is a changing Consigli (recommendations) blackboard menu, but we were sold by the menu fisso (set menu) and decided to let the Cucina decide for us.
The first course was the salmon carpaccio served with finely diced capsicum, capers and olive oil. The simple dressing highlighted the delicate taste of the salmon. For the second course, we had a delicious melted mozzarella with roasted capsicum and perfectly baked garlic (I want to know how they did this). The servings are very generous, and by this time, we were getting full. There was more, way more to come.
The three mains were served together. Fluffy pillows of gnocchi served with ragu. Pork and fennel sausage on mushroom rice with asparagus ribbons. And my favourite dish, the polenta with mushroom and pesto. The polenta lives up to the eatery’s moniker as a polenta bar. It was smooth, utterly creamy and savoury. Our server claimed it as her favourite dish from the menu. The side salad of heirloom tomato with rocket was bland in comparison.
We struggled to finish two thirds of each of the dishes; the richness of the dishes proved our undoing. Luckily, dessert was small. To my delight, we were presented with zeppole (Italian doughnuts) with vanilla custard, salted caramel sauce and almond slices. We had been introduced to zeppoles just the day before at a local café, and these light eggy fritters are simply moreish.
It was two hours of deliciousness, and we staggered out of Andre’s Cucina in a food haze. This place certainly lives up to its accolades, and definitely worth a repeat visit. Everything was done right, the food (especially the food), the attentive staff, the atmosphere, even down to the rustic plating. Bring your appetite!
Andre’s Cucina and Polenta Bar
94 Frome St, Adelaide
Ph: 08-8224 0004
Lunch: Tues – Sat 11:30am – 3pm
Dinner: Fri & Sat sittings at 6pm and 8:00pm, other days from 5:30pm.