Friday’s beautiful balmy Autumn evening was a treat in itself, but what better way to compliment it than another progressive dinner as a guest of Girl About Town. On the table this time were the wonderful new Winter menus coming in to play at the Colonist Norwood, The Mile End and The Unley.
Just like the progressive dinners of old, where you grabbed your friends and had entrees at one mate’s house, mains at the next and dinner at your girlfriend’s pad where the wine was bountiful, this night out was packed full of delicious morsels and travelling.
The format of the night delivered our group bite sized tastings of three menu items at each location, starting at the beautifully rustic digs of the Colonist Norwood on the Parade.
It quickly became apparent that the days of the Colonist being a standard suburban pub are long LONG gone. We were suddenly seeing it in a whole new light, with its provincial charm and grungy artwork against paint stripped walls. There was even a gorgeous chandelier… That had been FROZEN. Why? We can’t tell you. But it was awesome.
The food then took all this to the next level. We enjoyed Caramelised Scallops that were pan fried with a mint pea puree, sprouts and a jamon crumb. The scallops were sweet and cooked to perfection, without too much overbearing sauce or accompaniments that can often drown out the beauty of an ingredient as simple as scallops. The light and fresh La Prova Prosecco was a perfect wine pairing.
The Pulled Pork and Asian Slaw was served in an open crisp wonton shell with a chilli soy and sesame dressing (served in a syringe) and topped with crispy shallot and peanuts. The fact the there was both pulled pork and pork belly in the dish added a texture different to the norm. If you plan on wearing white to try this dish then be warned, you may be left covered in a splash or two of the delicious dressing. Thankfully we got all of it on our dish and in our mouths! The spicy asian flavours in this worked well with the Four Pines Extra Special Bitter English Ale (phew, what a mouthful!).
Last was the Wild Rabbit Ragu, a dish title that could potentially deter certain diners, but we urge you to give this one a go. The wild caught rabbit was slow braised with smoky Hahndorf bacon in a white wine, cream sauce and stirred through ribbons of pappardelle pasta. Firstly the rabbit was cooked perfectly and not dry as you can so often find with this type of meat. The cream sauce wasn’t heavy and worked so well with the silky pasta ribbons. We have to say, matched with the Dexter Pinot Noir, this was a favourite of the night. We could just imagine cool Winter nights sipping this fine drop and indulging in a giant bowl of this.
Next we travelled to the recently revamped Mile End Hotel. Carrying on the quirky chandelier theme of the evening, we were greeted by a mounted moose wearing a chandelier. Again, why? We can’t say, but we appreciated the moose’s style. As we did the rest of the Mile End decor which is now a brilliant mish mash of colour pops and animal print against historic walls.
Perched perfectly next to the the roaring fire we were presented with an excellent Winter medley of mains. The light Atlantic Salmon Nicoise was a great start, incorporating new twists on an eternal classic like goji berry and macadamia puree, dehydrated olives and finger potatoes. Maybe one can reinvent the wheel? The Mile End seem to have achieved it here.
The real Wintery hearty meaty dishes were up next – SA Lamb Backstrap with a delightful oven baked ratatouille, raisins and quinoa (buzz word!), dutch carrots and sauce verde, lots of flavours here but all combined well on the fork; and Carbonnade of Beef which was braised cheek with jus, fava beans and dutch carrots atop of some good old creamy mash. This dish was basic but full of rich flavour, a clear seasonal classic.
We knocked all this back with their cocktail the ‘Slow Down’ which was amaretto and sloe gin with orange segments. Went down a little too well, especially as we were then off to the cocktails and dessert course at The Unley.
Three cocktails more were placed in front of us upon arrival. All three packed a punch. We can’t remember the desserts. The end.
Just kidding! Even after a Pomegranate and Vanilla Mojito, The Unley G & T and Fig Old Fashioneds we still couldn’t forget the delightful dishes served up next. The hero for us was the Sticky Fig Pudding with a white chocolate caramel sauce *drools uncontrollably*. Like a sticky date, but MORE fabulous.
Having said the the Flourless Chocolate Torte with whipped chocolate fudge and drunken strawberry coulis was also drool worthy. And then, of course, the Winter Nelis Pear Tarte Tan and vanilla bean ice cream had great spice but was really for those who prefer a light dish at the end of their meal and none exploding pant-buttons. That, is clearly not team Glam.
All in all each venue brought excellent choices to the table, but of course these were just tasters. We have no doubt they all have plenty more to offer. If you’re looking for a great location to grab that dish that matches the season, any of these three great Gastropubs would serve you more than well.