It’s been under 3 months since Jock Zonfrillo changed the face of his Rundle Street location from the STREET ADL moniker to Blackwood, a name accompanied by an image that seems to ooze sophistication. But that word seems to have a strange connotation when it comes to dining here in Adelaide…
You see, we’re becoming quite well versed in the idea of marrying outstanding quality of food in an atmosphere that is more casual, more open and free-spirited, like sharing a good red wine bottle among friends so quickly, you’re back in for a second and before the meal arrives and a third while your eating. Adelaide appreciates beautiful food, but we’re not twats about it. The wankery, if you’ll forgive the term, that still creeps into the language around our food culture is a conversation shared by the majority. We’re just our for a good time, a good wine and a full belly.
Which is where the idea that Blackwood somehow shares the fine dining sophistication (there’s that word again) of Orana is an incorrect assumption. It certainly shares the culinary nous, the attention to detail, presents the depth of flavours and the outstanding service. But this is a restaurant that speaks directly to the colours and life of Rundle Street, visible through its floor to ceiling street front views. And it should be treated the same. Now, we’re not saying it’s not sophisticated. We’re just saying it’s sophisticated in a very Adelaide way.
This is a place where you should be free spirited, loud and celebratory. Really, there’s nowhere else along the East End quite like it and perhaps that’s why Blackwood has taken some time to emerge from the shadow of STREET ADL and the reputation of Orana in it’s own right. The majority though, are still yet to catch on, which is why heading to Blackwood right now is exactly what you should be planning to do.
Their winter menu is the perfect list to get acquainted. Succulent smoked pork hock pieces and pesto add a hearty twist to a traditional minestrone soup, making is more like a little meal than a starter. And unless you are allergic to shellfish, you absolutely cannot go past the Prawn Schnitzel, which delivers exactly what it promises with an incredible filling, crispy exterior and lime mayo. There is nothing else quite like it, and if it was not so time consuming to make, Prawn would probably overtake Chicken as the preferred filling of all Schnitzels in Adelaide.
The mains expand on these intelligent starters, with Nonna’s Baked Potato Gnocchi channelling Zonfrillo’s Italian heritage and a nod to his new food truck on Peel Street, Nonna Mallozzi. The dumplings are tied together by a taleggio cheese and napolitana sauce topping that revels in its simplicity. Perfect juicy cuts of steak from the charcoal, braised English Longhorn Beef and Ling Fish with geraldton wax (which is a flower from WA, not what you were thinking of) all showcase the incredible palate of the Blackwood kitchen, offset by smaller plates such as Smoked Pumpkin and Day Old Goats Cheese (smoked with eucalyptus we might add) and Crunchy Cauliflower that aren’t just there to help break up the meal but to elevate them even further.
Hold up though. We need to talk about the Goolwa Cockles. So please take a seat.
This kilogram bowl, with the little morsels swimming in a broth of their own juices and Australian bush herbs with a very delicately smoked undertone as about as close to flawless a dish as you can find in Adelaide for $35. We know a lot of people throw out there, “oh, I could just eat this every day,” but we’re not grandstanding here; that saying was made for this dish. Just please don’t try and eat this with your knife and fork. Imagine you’re on a beach overlooking the Coorong and you’ve just boiled a pot of freshly caught cockles in a hole in the sand with some coals. Get your hands, nay your face, right in there! The last thing you should do is be shy.
Beyond that, they also have a Whole Roast Chicken share plate. There’s something about sharing a whole bird with friends that is transformative; you can really get to know someone when you’re in there together and hands on for a meal! Hell, it would be the perfect team bonding experience if you really wanted to get to know your colleagues… or maybe not. But something you should definitely share is the desserts, especially the Peanut And Macadamia Parfait; it’s just like dipping your spoon right into the jar of peanut butter, if it was full of a chef prepared mixture of parfait and an overwhelming emotion of happiness. That’s probably the only descriptor of the flavour we can come up with to be honest.
The food is just one aspect of Blackwood, but the drink is another and that almost needs another article. Let’s just say that they know their way around a spirit cabinet and you should definitely default to the staff for your wine choice. They have sourced the best flavours from SA and all across the wine regions of Australia in compiling their list. With the time that took, we can guarantee you can trust them to serve you a perfect glass.
Perception really is everything in Adelaide and while there was never any doubt that Blackwood would be another feather in the already full cap of Jock Zonfrillo, it’s time to get clear about what the restaurant is moving forward – it’s a menu, a wine list, a team and a Rundle Street destination for the whole of Adelaide. And you really shouldn’t wait for the bookings to pack out. Of course, you could always join them for all day brunch over the weekend…
Restaurant Blackwood can be found at 285 Rundle Street. For a glance across their menu, visit their website.