Modern Australian Restaurant in McLaren Vale, Australia: Salopian Inn Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

Salopian Inn
Restaurants and bars
Open: Lunch Thur - Tue; dinner Fri - Sat
Price: Moderate

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Phone Number: +61 8 8323 8769
Address: Corner McMurtrie and Willunga Roads
McLaren Vale, South Australia, 5157
Country: Australia
Food Style: Modern Australian

Salopian Inn is a fine restaurant that is continuing to serve soulful food in the McLaren Vale. To find this foodie destination you simply head south from the township of McLaren Vale towards charming Willunga. You will soon see the sign. Park around the back and then enter the restaurant via the back veranda.
You will immediately see that this place is serious about their food and wine. Busy preparations can be spied in the partly open kitchen. Fantastic aromas waft though the restaurant.
Once you are seated on your high backed wooden chair admiring the art work and the vineyards you will be offered the menus that pay homage to the local region. You will also be invited to descend the stairs to the large cellar where you can peruse the largely local selection of red and white wines. We were lucky enough to spy a bottle of the extremely rare Coriole Fiano made from an Italian variety they are experimenting with. As the winery is just up the road from the Salopian Inn we thought it would be a fitting wine to try. It went perfectly with the food. Clear, clean and crisp with bracing acidity, it reminded us of some of the Fiano di Avellino wines we have tried in Campania in southern Italy.
Our most recent visit followed a couple of disappointing meals including one at one of Adelaide's iconic restaurants. We were delighted therefore with the relaxed and assured cooking we found here. Our meal confirmed to us that Salopian Inn is a restaurant for food and wine lovers who enjoy real flavours, good produce and soulful dishes.
A ceviche of scallops was a central mound of slices of the bivalves with little dots of trembling cucumber and vodka jelly set to just the right degree accompanied by some shards of pancetta and dots of salmon roe. The dish had lots of flavour and some variety of texture and colour. It also went very nicely with the Fiano.
Also matching the Fiano was Kunsei Salmon with potato wafers and a celeriac and cornichon remoulade. This was served as a stack and decorated with leaves of watercress. The potato wafers added a foil to the softness of the salmon and the remoulade added a little acid.
But the dish of the day was a Spanish-style special of roasted snapper fillet sitting on a light stew of local cockles, tomato, rice and chorizo sausage. The stew was light touched with saffron and deeply-flavoured with the sausage. The fish had been cooked perfectly still being moist and just off translucent.
The chorizo theme was picked up in our other dish which saw an eye fillet of beef sitting on top of a cassoulet of borlotti beans and chorizo. This stew had been cooked for a long time and had a deep tomato and sausage flavour that had been soaked up eagerly by the beans. The beef also took advantage of the flavours. We accompanied this dish with another Coriole specialty, their Sangiovese which has the feel of velvet and the taste of Italy while exhibiting fine tannins accompanied by a long, slow finish.
We finished with a bitter hazelnut chocolate tart with a citrus salad on the side which was accompanied by a drizzle of ginger syrup and a mound of thick double cream.
Some restaurants invest heavily in architecture, others rely on the 'look and feel' of the wait staff still others rely on heavy marketing. We cannot help but think that Salopian Inn has decided to let their food do the work for them - a direction we applaud!
This review: January 2007
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