By Mark Eggleton
Sit at the bar listening to a mix of old school Motown, Janet Jackson and Bon Jovi in Adelaide’s Peel Street restaurant and you’re transported into your own Brat Pack film.
The stripped-back warehouse interior design features a long bar of timber and concrete and old-school air-conditioning ducts crisscrossing the ceiling.
Add a small picture of Al Pacino as Scarface stuck to the wall next to the cash register and casual but attentive bar staff and you’re back in the 1980s.
Outside and across Peel Street itself, a hair salon sits in a blonde brick building finished in Pebblecrete. I half expect Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez or John Cusack to wander in wearing a long surplus store overcoat.
It’s packed to the gunnels on a Thursday night and as I scan the happy, diverse crowd seated in bistro-style timber chairs, I wonder where Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger’s co-produced HBO series Vinyl went wrong?
Sure it offers a lovingly designed vision of the 1970s and all of its excesses but it’s all surface.
If they truly wanted to get an understanding of how to imbue a room with the understated cool of another era they should have visited Peel Street.
It’s a noisy room and every plate is piled high with comfort food augmented with lashings of roughly chopped eye-catching greens such as coriander, basil and mint and the red of pomegranate seeds.
Yet as casual as this all sounds, Peel Street is one serious diner.
The food might be pared back but chefs Jordan Theodoros and Martin Corcoran embrace south-east Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines to create a thoroughly modern-Australian menu.
Operating out of a constantly buzzing open kitchen behind the bar, Theodoros and Corcoran’s blackboard menu showcases local, fresh and seasonal produce.
Chickpea battered garfish with quinoa, chickpeas, pomegranate, tahini and mamaharah (chilli, peas and coriander blended beautifully) offers a mash-up of pure, lip-schmacking natural flavours on the plate. Matched with a Ministry of Clouds grenache from the McLaren Vale it works a treat.
For sweets, a lime coconut meringue accompanied by roasted plum, coconut sorbet and ginger cream is a play on Eton Mess but lighter, obviously more tangy, refreshing and straight-up moreish.
There are other sweet delights, cheeses and plenty of other savoury dishes to taste and share on the long blackboard menu covering one wall.
The wine list is pretty broad and while local wines are well represented, small winemakers from other states get a guernsey as do Spain, Italy, France and Germany. Importantly, it’s a pretty food friendly list and not too far off the wall when it comes to embracing smaller lesser-known winemakers.
And after an espresso to finish the night I am in my happy place and vow to try breakfast first thing the next morning. Yep – it’s that sort of place, you just want to return.
Virgin Australia operates frequent flights between Sydney and Melbourne to Adelaide.
Adelaide Airport is home to most hire car companies; if you want to do it in style (BMW Z3, Audi TT, Alfa V6 Spyder, etc) try Adelaide Hills Touring.