PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
This was an ageing, inner-city boozer until Paul Saturno got his experienced hospitality hands on it. Then – shazam – last Christmas a star was born. The Saturno name is tantamount to the Adelaide pub scene. Now you can meet generations of them in the lounge bar, looking proud in photos that trail the walls. Paul describes his 1880's hotel (formerly the Flagstaff) as a place where "Alice in Wonderland's "down the rabbit hole" meets grandma's living room". The main dining area charms with stained glass windows, antique lamps and a cabinet brimming with trinkets. It is delightfully old-school, down to the gramophone near the fireplace. Across the hall is where fairytale land kicks in. Sit down and look up; 1500 pieces of crystal-ware are individually suspended from the ceiling. They fall together to form two incandescent crystal waves. Reel your eyes back down to study the menu. The food is as captivating as the decor.
Chef Kahn Cowan has manned the pans at nosheries such as The Manse and The Sauce. A handsome and humble guy, he makes your decision deliciously agonising with a style that mixes modern Australian with French and Asian cuisine. Tastes divide into the likes of French onion soup with Woodside chevre mousse, steak tartar with brioche and pan-fried veal sweetbreads with pork crackling, green pea volute, pomme fondant and beurre noisette. Then come Japanese dishes like fried chicken, sake-steamed cockles and confit pork belly with spiced miso. Also hard to beat is green-tea-smoked duck with shaoxing braised red cabbage and ginger foam. Sophisticated vegetarian dishes include buffalo mozzarella tortellini with mushroom consomme and brussels sprouts with nutmeg and parsley butter. You'll want to finish every one of the latter. If you do not – and Paul says you have to polish the suspended crystal-ware – run.