PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
The warm aromas of star anise and cinnamon meld with the sound of the crackling fire and blood-red hue of the walls. In the dining room of this inner-city haunt, a plate of ox cheek arrives dusted with the aforementioned spices, intoxicating diners with a spicy blend of flavours. Another guest suited to this heady atmosphere – invite her if you dare – is the green fairy. Select an absinthe from the glass-walled liquor cabinet and let her emerald droplets dance into your glass. Do not get too beguiled by her charms, otherwise you will think the eyes of the "Mona Lisa" in the bar, really are following you around. One needs the constitution of an ox not to be tippled by the "fairy". Speaking of oxen, chef Grant Schooling presents the beast here (after a 3-hour braising) with pontiac mash and buttered leeks. Other winter fare includes a wild venison, green olive pie and Clare Valley parma ham rolled pork fillet. "Paddock to plate" ranks well with Grant so you can also look forward to Sussex pork belly (with fennel rigatoni) and a char-grilled Murray Grey scotch fillet. The chef dry-ages his meat in-house thankyou very much, and passes this technique on to his young charges in the kitchen. Schooling is pretty handy with mushrooms too. In 2007, the grand poo-bahs of the mushroom biz crowned him "World Mushroom Culinary Competition Champion". You will find some of Grant's ‘shrooms on the tapas menu including the mischievous offer of mushroom ice cream.
Owned by Luke Saturno (of Adelaide's renowned hospitality family group), this pub is in good hands. With Luke's worldly-wisdom in wine, the beverage list is spot on. He has made vino recommendations for each dish – and no, has not suggested the Tommy Ruff Shiraz with the fish of the day.