Earthy. To me, that is what Orana encompasses.
After 6-7 weeks of hard work during my final placement, I wanted to treat myself to something. Naturally, it would be food-based. Enter Restaurant Orana. I had heard of this place way before I came to Adelaide, and after doing a bit more research it was quickly locked in as my celebratory degustation dinner. The use of native Australian ingredients really spoke out to me as I love this movement in food culture, and I knew I would be regretting it if I didn’t go!
One thing I love most about degustations is the element of surprise as each dish is presented. So although the menu might change when you, my dear readers, visit I shall save the surprises for you to experience in the dining room and only focus on a few dishes that were part of my favourites.
Apologies in advance for the photo quality. I didn’t bring my camera so was relying on my phone =)
This was part of the first round of snacks to arrive. The pippies were lightly smoked and came in a creme fraiche broth. I love smoked things, and as the first thing I ate this cold evening, it was perfectly warm. The pippies were incredibly fresh and had that hint of smokiness. I’m not usually a fan of creamy sauces and soups, but the creme fraiche broth was light yet creamy but not cloying. Does that make sense? I had no reservations in picking up the bowl and drinking it, but it was also wonderful with the slightly charred potato damper that was cooked a la minute over hot coals in front of me.
I have to say the pippies were one of my favourite snacks.
Doesn’t this just look absolutely adorable? I love all things pickled so I really enjoyed this dish, and it was actually a good palate cleanser. It smelt amazing as well. There was this underlying nuttiness to it and I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I hazarded a guess if it was browned butter rather than normal butter and turns out I was right! The sourness of the pickle, sweetness of the lilly pilly, spiciness of the dorrigo and wild greens (I think this was oxalis?), plus the nuttiness of the browned butter. You can already get a sense of the flavours.
Ok, so I know this is the bread accompaniment but it was SO good! It’s all made fresh inhouse using local flour. The crust was so crunchy, but the inside was fluffy yet dense with a bit of chew. It was so fragrant too. If bread didn’t fill me up so easily, I would have eaten the whole thing. It also came out warm. I always think this is a small but important factor which is unfortunately overlooked in many places. Who wants cold bread? Not me.
The potato was ash-baked, and covered with crispy potato skins and saltbush. The yolk was nestled inside the potato along with some kutjera (bush tomato).
I was incredibly surprised by the smoked pumpkin, which was in fact a clear broth (reminded me of a consomme). Though clear and light, it really packed a punch. I loved the smokiness and fragrance. The creamy potato and yolk was a great match for the lightness of the broth. I think a bit more kutjera would have been good. For someone who doesn’t gravitate towards potato in any shape or form, this was very tasty indeed.
This was my favourite main course. All the mains were great, but this got top spot because of the complex and surprising interplay between the flavours.
The mullet was incredibly fresh and tender, and simply grilled over hot coals. On the underside was the Geraldton wax with salt which lended a citrus flavour, though there was probably a bit too much salt for my personal taste. The watercress emulsion was creamy and subtley savoury. The fresh watercress a bit spicy and grassy. There was also a carob emulsion which was AMAZING. It was creamy, sweet, and nutty, almost like a caramel but with a savoury hit. It was just amazing with all the other components and brought out the pure flavour of the fish even more! I loved this, and couldn’t help but ask how the carob emulsion was made! Incredible stuff.
If you follow me on instagram (@cscc28), you would’ve seen my post that night. This continues to haunt my mind, and I can’t not include it in this post. Not only does it showcase seasonal ingredients (i.e., mushroom season in Adelaide), a cooking ethos that I love, but it’s just this amazing complex combination of flavours and texture that hits you with surprise after surprise after surprise.
Wattleseed icecream. Porcini mushroom crumble (with bunya nut, if I remember correctly). Chestnut wafer. Dehydrated porcini mushroom. Dehydrated pine foam dust. Does that sound unique and amazing? Well, it was. I also tasted something a bit tart and jammy underneath the ice-cream and managed to ask the pastry chef, Emily, about it. It was an amazing pairing with everything else in the dish. I ate half of this, then finished the rest of the dessert snacks before returning to this. Obviously, I wanted it to last as long as it could! No doubt the best dessert of the night, and in fact, one of the best I’ve had to date.
There are many more dishes that feature in the degustation menu, but I’ll let you open that box of surprises for yourself.
What I got at Orana was beyond my expectations. Every dish was refined and controlled. The flavours didn’t overpower each other. They were well-balanced, as were the textures.
The service was top-notch. The waitstaff were professional and refined, yet you don’t get a sense of snobbish dining here. They’re all very well-versed in the components and tastes of the dishes (they get to taste each new dish!). I didn’t have the wine-pairing or juice-pairing but from my eavesdropping powers, I gathered the sommelier was helpful and knowledgeable in what wines would pair well with the mains. They also have awesome decanters and wine glasses.
Orana is fine-dining, but not pretentious at all. You’re encouraged to eat snacks with your hands and drink from the bowl. You’re encouraged to have fun, and even the food textures are fun. The chefs come out every so often to present the dishes. It really adds a sense of connection between the diner and kitchen staff, and you can then have a chance to gush about dishes to the chefs (which I did to Emily! I had to let her get back to work though).
It’s much too difficult to pick a favourite dish, as I told the waitress, so I had to split it into favourite snack, main & dessert instead!
Highly recommend this place. Spoil yourself. Spoil a date. For whatever reason, or if none at all, do as nike says, “Just do it”.
Best celebratory gift for myself to mark the end of my last placement. Thanks, team Orana!
I’m now going to forage for lilly pilly and geraldton wax back home, and scour the beach for succulents haha. Also need to get my hands on some wattle seed…anyone know where I can get some?
Thanks for reading! ^^ Would love to hear your thoughts if you’ve dined here!