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Published 10 July 2012 04:36, Updated 11 July 2012 04:48
Hearty traditional fare: Slow-roasted pork rack at Chesser Cellar David Mariuz
It’s a poorly kept secret that the city of churches would be equally well named the city of chefs. With a population of 1.1 million, Adelaide punches well above its weight when it comes to fine dining, thanks to the quality of the produce, its proximity to wine regions of the Barossa and Clare Valley, and a small but vibrant community of chefs.
In fact, legendary Adelaide-based chef Cheong Liew is widely recognised for launching east-west fusion cuisine at his restaurant, The Grange, throughout the 1990s. The current generation of chefs have continued in this tradition of experimentation and often are seen sharing ideas at produce markets.
As a result there are any number of excellent restaurants within walking distance in Adelaide’s compact CBD, including Celsius Restaurant, Auge Ristorante and Chianti Classico. When it comes to business entertaining, however, the grand old man of Adelaide dining, the Chesser Cellar, remains unsurpassed.
Founded in 1964 by Jim Bowen and Bryce Kinnear, the Chesser Cellar was created as a showcase for the region’s wines and in 1991 was bought by wine merchant and restaurateur Primo Caon.
“It doesn’t matter how busy they are, there’s never a sense of clutter or hurry at the Chesser,” says the managing director of communications company Impress Media, John Harris. “It has a wonderful leathery feel and when you walk in you’re greeted by name, which makes it feel like you’re coming home.”
The newly appointed head chef, Daniel Serafin, caters to both the long business lunch, offering hearty traditional fare.
“You go into Chesser for those old dishes which have lots of flavour and preparation,” Harris says. “And I tend to like the market fish of the day because it’s so fresh.”
But you’ll have to get in quick as Caon has announced that he will close this historic establishment at the end of the month.
A close second, especially when entertaining international visitors, is the Red Ochre Grill, where executive chef and owner Ray Mauger continues a longstanding and successful experiment combining bush food and indigenous ingredients with European and Asian cooking styles.
When it comes to discreet dining, however, a five-minute cab ride out of the city to Chloe’s Place in Kent Town is how you’ll impress your guest, without anyone knowing. Having previously run a French-inspired restaurant in the CBD, restaurateur Nick Papazaharikis moved to federation house on a quiet corner in a suburb just beyond the city’s green fringe.
“It’s important to protect the privacy of our patrons, so that we always welcome but never recognise anyone,” explains Papazaharikis, who is renowned for providing not only excellent cuisine and wine but for the circumspect attention he gives to his dinners.
“At times we go to extremes to protect our guests. We have a function room which holds 200 people if they want to have a party, but we always have a place where business people can have a very unobtrusive lunch.”
It takes a special mixture of creative planning and a very high level of service to provide patrons with a place where they feel their privacy is being protected, as floor staff need to be highly attentive without hovering.
This service, combined with an internationally-recognised menu, has made Chloe’s Place a fixture among the South Australian business community.
Next week: The best place for a business lunch in Brisbane.