Photos by Neely Karimi
East End Cellars’ new menu is a love song to balance and punch, prepared with fresh produce and passion by head chef, Josh Lansley.
Josh, a French-trained, British chef, is a recent and welcome addition to the East End Cellars team, having previously honed his craft as a sous chef at Osteria Oggi, and head chef at Press Food and Wine.
In London, Josh worked in restaurants such as Almeida Restaurant and Launceston Place, where he achieved a coveted Michelin star. He came to Australia eight years ago on a working holiday, and hasn’t left.
Understanding Josh’s background provides context for the salty, saucy, vinegary menu now available at East End Cellars.
“I like to be quite full on with my food,” he tells us, as we take our seats in the ever-busy restaurant.
The first dish Josh presents is from the ‘Snacks’ menu, a Whipped Blue Cheese, Honey, Lavosh number. For blue cheese fanatics like us, this dish is divine. The blue cheese oozes between two crackers, sprinkled with vinegar powder for a perfectly balanced finish. We lick your lips our finishing, feeling almost as though we’ve just munched on a gourmet salt and vinegar chip.
Palates well and truly awoken, we dive into the next dish; Raw Kingfish, Pipperade, Pine Nuts, from the ‘Small’ menu. The kingfish is cut a little thicker than expected, but the tenderness of the meat makes us grateful for the ample serving. The accompanying Pipperade is vibrant in colour and taste, an ideal addition to an excellent small plate.
Josh is enthusiastic, clearly passionate about where his produce comes from. He tells us much of the fresh fruit and veg is sourced from K&R Produce, and the Barossa Farmers Market.
The Murray Bridge Leek, Buffalo Curd, Preserved Lemon, Hazelnut is an ode to the glorious leek. According to Josh, two whole leeks are used in the dish, sourced from K&R Produce. The freshness is unapparelled, and the combination of crispy leek with the creaminess of the buffalo curd will have you returning for another bite.
Another example of the particularly fresh produce is found in the Smoked Tahini, Sweet Lettuce, Grilled Zucchini, Pepitas. Designed to be eaten with your hands, this dish is crunchy, tangy, and uber tasty.
Josh’s signature dish, a Pork Pie with Piccalilli, is next to be served. As a non-meat-eater, this one is for my eyes only, but my fellow diner says the dish is, in true Josh Lansley style, perfectly balanced. The Pork Pie is perhaps the most inspired by Josh’s British background, and is certainly something new for East End Cellars.
The mains Josh selects for us are epic in serving size, easily able to serve two per dish. The Grilled Octopus, Squid Ink Risotto, Kohlarbi, Jamon is a standout of the menu. The octopus is meaty, rich, and vinegary, highlighting the creaminess of the accompanying risotto.
The Gnocchi, Courgette Sauce, Garlic, Chilli, Pine Nuts, is a vegetarian havana, full of cheese and cream and warmth, and impossible to stop eating.
We finish with dessert, a glorious Bitter Chocolate Mousse, Salty Biscuit, Sour Date, ideal for chocolate aficionadas, and a Passionfruit Tart that has been the tart of the day for the about five weeks, because it’s Josh’s favourite tart in the world.
“It’s a recipe I picked up a while ago as an apprentice, and I’ve been using it ever since,” he says.
The Passionfruit Tart deserves its five weeks as tart of the day. The pastry is thin, allowing the tanginess of the passionfruit curd to shine.
East End Cellars’ new menu features dishes as visually striking as they are tasty. This is art on a plate at its salty, vinegary, perfectly balanced best.
East End Cellars is located at 25 Vardon Avenue, Adelaide.