Food Drink

Cliffside Samphire Restaurant brings premium seafood degustation experience to KI

Samphire Restaurant is offering a 7-course style dining degustation perched atop the picturesque American River hills on Kangaroo Island.

With 509 km of pristine coastline and its main industries being agriculture and fishing, it’s no wonder Kangaroo Island offers up a bounty of nature’s best produce and seafood. It’s these world-class ingredients that new cliffside Samphire Restaurant want to focus on and showcase to both locals and tourists alike.

Perched atop the picturesque American River hills, the restaurant that opened last last year offers not only a feast for the senses but also breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

You’ll spot vistas stretching across seas with Dudley Peninsula island views, framed by the silhouette of ancient eucalyptus trees and oyster-laden coves, creating a feel of tranquility – and that’s all before you dig into your meal.

Offering a 7-course style dining degustation menu focussed on local Kangaroo Island ingredients provided by both land and sea, Samphire Restaurant is doing something unique that’s not really been seen on the island.

“It would be a disservice to the island to not work with seafood, there’s not really any high-end seafood restaurants on the island, so not only do we want to fill that gap but be known as the best place for it,” co-owner Nico says.

Culinary maestro Nico and hospitality aficionado Dhea are the new operators of the restaurant, promising to showcase the finest seafood delicacies and locally sourced produce.

Formerly known as Wonderers Rest, a longstanding accommodation venue steeped in familial history, the property has seen a transformative transition under the new dynamic stewardship of Nico and Dhea.

With an ambitious vision to revitalise the space, the duo are channeling their expertise to elevate the restaurant’s ambiance and offerings.

“The quality of the food is second to none, it’s definitely something that the island’s been needing,” tourism operator for Exceptional Kangaroo Island, Blair Wickham, shares.

The character of Samphire Restaurant’s dishes follow the ancestral technique of using firewood, fire, charcoal and the scented trace of the smoke. It’s a method close to Nico’s heart, refined when he worked for La Boca Bar & Grill in Adelaide which specialises in Argentinian cuisine (also known for its steak and seafood).

It’s no wonder then that every course at Samphire Restaurant is seafood – except one which is unsurprisingly steak.

Imagine tantalising Wagyu butter served with freshly baked sourdough, American River oysters served with Champagne sorbet and pickled shallot, Otoro tatar, abalone, marron, Wagyu Porterhouse or Kingfish Wing, and a dessert to top it off.

While Nico couldn’t possibly pick a favourite dish, he always looks forward to Crayfish season where the team use the nets to catch Octopus which he describes as a joy to cook with. As the seasons change, so too does the menu, reflecting the island’s abundant harvests and the availability of fresh produce.

Head Chef Nico’s philosophy also embraces constant evolution, so the menu changes as he explores new ideas. “If I find a better way to prepare a dish, I’ll always take it,” Nico says.

To complement the 7-course degustation, Samphire Restaurant offers an extensive wine list featuring a selection of locally sourced wines, carefully curated to enhance the flavours of each dish. Guests can also opt for a wine pairing experience, to allow the experts to choose which wine will work best with each course.

“Our dishes are very simple, we don’t want to complicate things,” Nico says. Due to the nature of the restaurant, they do not cater for vegetarian and/or seafood allergy. “To limit complexity, people appreciate us being up front,” he says.

There’s still upcoming plans to revamp the restaurant space, with the idea once renovations are complete that there will be an open kitchen, so guests can watch Nico cook and see how their dishes are being prepared.

It makes sense when Samphire Restaurant prides itself on providing an intimate and personalised dining experience. With only one sitting per evening and a maximum of 12 guests per night, each diner receives individual attention.

There’s also plans to revamp the entire property, including the 8 accomodation suites which currently need some work on the property.

Collaborating closely with renowned architects and interior designers, Nico and Dhea aim to transform the existing accommodation. The envisioned renovations will encompass elegant suites with modern amenities, offering guests a serene retreat. Scheduled to commence in May and targeted for completion in time for the warmer months, these renovations are set to bridge a gap in the market.

“We have some luxe and super premium properties on Kangaroo Island, but then there’s a big gap down to 4.5 and 3 star hotels, but this will be the in-between and good value for a luxury property,” Blair says.

“Nico and Dhea are very hospitable and love the island. They’re going to be good ambassadors for the island, and they’re restaurant experience and soon be to luxury accomodation will represent the community in the best light.”

Samphire Restaurant
Where: 65 Bayview Road, American River SA 5221
Open: 18 Feb 2024 – 31 May 2024
Monday to Sunday: 18:30 – 22:30
01 Jun 2024 – 31 Oct 2024
Monday to Sunday: 17:30 – 21:30
Book: Click here

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