By Dave Brookes
South Australia is spoiled for choice when it comes to superb local produce and fine dining experiences, both in Adelaide itself and surrounding regional areas.
One restaurant that has built an enviable reputation for both its delicious and beautifully crafted food and its innovative use of indigenous ingredients is Orana in the Adelaide CBD.
The menu at Orana is a confluence of indigenous produce and classical technique and is the brainchild of Scottish expat Jock Zonfrillo, who after arriving in Australia in the mid–90s has made it his mission to prove that native ingredients have a place in Australian gastronomy and a role in defining a national cuisine.
Sit down at a table at Orana and you embark on an immersive dining experience featuring many unfamiliar native ingredients. The result of Zonfrillo spending extended time with indigenous communities throughout Australia, hearing the stories and learning of a peoples respect and connection to everything in the bountiful landscape that surrounds them.
Jock explains: “Our food is based around two things really; the seasons, and we stick to the Aboriginal six-season calendar rather than the traditional four, and also my experience being out in communities.”
“Whether it is a traditional type of food that I’ve come across that ties in with a dreaming story or cooking techniques that have been passed on. Then we meld this knowledge with classical French technical techniques. I’m a bit of a mongrel really.”
“People can expect a very high-class restaurant experience at Orana that allows people to taste Australia. Ultimately, after 14 years in the industry and spending time in remote communities, it is my interpretation of Australian cuisine.”
The seasonally driven degustation menu comes in at $155 or $295 with matched wines from South Australia and further afield and offers great value for money considering the detail and balanced, intricately crafted dishes that are placed on the table.
When quizzed on what native ingredient is exciting him at the moment Jock replies, “I’m trying to wrap my head around sugar lerps at the moment, and have been trying for the past 12 months. Sugar lerps are a by-product of an insect that feeds on gumleaves, it is basically a little cocoon that is deposited on the leaf that is a natural crystallised sugar.”
“The texture and flavour is amazing. It seems quite sporadic, we are trying the crack its cycle; there’s not enough information for me there yet but I’m fascinated by the ingredient.”
Orana is on the upper level of 285 Rundle Street, Adelaide and is open for dinner from Tuesday to Saturday and lunch on Fridays.