How many French restaurants are in Adelaide? Not that many I think. How many of them are fine dinning French restaurants? I can probably count with my fingers. d’Artagnan is one of them. A few weeks back, I was contacted to attend a food blogger event at d’Artagnan. Yesterday was the day and with so many familiar faces and the welcoming restaurant management, my wife and I enjoyed the night a lot.
Located on Adelaide’s iconic O’connell street, d’artagnan was opened 2011 and since then has placed itself in the list of fine dining restaurants in Adelaide. I dined there when they first opened and enjoyed back then. The inside decor is pretty romantic with dark but warm lights and stylish black tables. After welcomed by the restaurant manager, Damian, many familiar faces just popped up. I am glad to meet these fellow bloggers including Dee from dbites, Sam from The Smiling Foodie, Emma from More than Churches and Dougal from McFuzzlebutt’s Manchen. This is the first time I met Sam, who is a really humble and interesting guy!
A big vote for the manager at d’Artagnan, Damian, a successful and famous businessman in the the food and wine industry, who really cares about the industry as well as his customers and also a big thumb up for the team in the kitchen who created such wonderful dishes to all of us. The night was like an open forum of bloggers and the restaurant and we talked all things food and all things about the restaurant. Although the inside of d’Artagnan shows clearly the characteristics of a fine dinning venue, the prices on the menu are more than affordable. The restaurant is now open for lunch on Fridays and Saturdays with a fantastic and interesting “just for lunch” menu. Stay tuned! The head chef Scott Bircumshaw has now worked at the venue for a short while after working several years for InterContinential Hotel groups.
Before starting on the food, we were introduced to four wines for the night and all of them have distinctive characters. You may want to order them to pair up with your dishes.
The white wines for the night were Tomich Hill Family Reserve Chardonnay 2010 (left) and Sepp Moser von den Terrassen Gruner Veltliner 2011 (Right).
Sepp Moser von den Terrassen Gruner Veltliner 2011
If you are not so familiar with Gruner Veltliner (GV), you can think it as Riesling. However, the variety and the wine provided many layers of complexity both on nose and on palate. On nose, spicy Veltliner aroma was the dominant descriptor along with spicy pear, dried herbs and spring floral fragrance whereas on palate, spicy fruits and a strong lemon/lemonade finish at the back of the tongue. This green-yellow colored wine showed fine texture and balanced astringency. Pairing suggestion: Cold, cured fish/seafood dish.
Tomich Hill Family Reserve Chardonnay 2010
Tomich Hill is an iconic family owned business in Adelaide Hills. The grape of this wine was sourced in a single vineyard in the Adelaide Hills, a typical cool climate chardonnay. In fact, I like fruity chardonnay more than the oaked ones. This wine is a classic fruity chardonnay and after having the first sip, I was totally amazed by its quality. The “Family Reserve” Range is the highest quality range in the winery and this wine paired exactly well with my seafood dish for the night. On nose, the wine exhibited ripen stonefruits and hazelnut aroma. On palate, the pale straw colored wine showed well balanced acidity with no woody flavour detected. Being full bodied, the wine expressed gradual increase in the complexity of flavour in the mouth from cold to warm. Layers of ripen stonefruits and butterscoth appeared at different time and once the wine was warm the creamy texture dominated the whole mouth and left with crisp finish after being flushed down the throat. Pairing suggestion: seafood dishes especially fish with a good selection of garden salads.
Tar & Roses Tempranillo 2012
This is a Tempranillo produced from 20 years old vines in Australia. On the nose, spicy cloves, dark stone fruit such as plum as well as mulberry was experience along with a hint of blackcurrant and leather. On palate, however, the wine exhibit impressive long lasting sensation and length. Well balanced and fine structure and mouth feel. A good tempranillo from Australia! Pairing suggestion: Cured meat.
Rusden Ripper Creek Shiraz Cabernet 2011
This blend was created with 60% Shiraz and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. On nose, the wine was very distinctive with blackberry and plum fragrance. On palate, the wine gave a silky texture and strong notifiable fruit flavours with chewy tannin. This medium bodied wine had a long finish and creamy after taste. A good treat with red meats especially char-grilled meats.
For the entree, we ordered their famous antipasto platter. As the dinner progress, the Manager, Damian, suggested different choices for entree and it was such a pleasure to listen to a professional person describing his menu. We decided to give the platter a go to sample an array of their food specialties.
Chef’s choice platter with cured meats and hors d’oeuvre of the day, served with grilled ciabatta, $39
The chef’s platter consisted of grilled ciabatta, duck liver parfait, a terrine, salt ‘n’ pepper young squid, croquettes, anchovies cured, seasonal vege salad, olives and gherkins and capers.
The ciabatta was grilled very crispy and gave lots of crunchiness in the mouth. I tried it with the salt ‘n’ pepper young squid. It was beautiful! The squid was so tender and unlike many other ones I had before, this dish was well balanced in salt and pepper. The soft, tender and moist texture provided my palate with plenty of enjoyments.
While the squid made my palate and mouth feel great, the duck liver parfait and the terrine took the experience to a completely newer level. The duck liver parfait was a nice spread on the ciabatta and the creaminess actually brought my ciabatta down the throat easily whereas the terrine contributed some good complex meaty flavour when enjoyed together with the parfait and the bread. The meat was tender and the structure of the terrine was absolutely fine with fully compressed meats. I made terrine at home before and I know about the difficulty and time consuming process. Indeed, the team at d’Artagnan did a wonderful job, both in making and assembling the terrine and in cooking the tasty meat.
Curiosity then took my journey to the cured meats, including prosciutto, salami and pancetta. The prosciutto was of good quality with a silky texture and softness on the tongue. The meat had plenty of flavours and the smell was very nice with identified smokiness and fragrances. The pancetta was provided only with the lean part of the pork and it had good mouth feel. The lean meat required more chew during the eating process, which fully extracted the meat and other complex yet pleasant flavours out into the mouth. The salami was well balanced for the sourness and even my wife could enjoy some of them.
Another standout item from the charcuterie board was the anchovies. They tasted very much like being cured in vinegar for a long time. The flavour was sour and delicate while all raw fishy smells were removed. This left the mouth requiring more of the anchovies to complete an entree experience! 😀 The meat color turned int white and this is a good indication of the vinegar curing process. The fish went extremely well with the salads on the breads. What a sensational treat! I created a similar dish with Port Lincoln sardine and lavender farm vinegar at home and I’ll put a recipe up soon.
The entree items, especially the cured meats, combined well with the Tar & Roses Tempranillo 2012. All flavours of the meats were penetrated out with the consumption of the wines and hence the whole tasting experience was enhanced!
After the entree platter, my stomach alerted that it started to get full. I didn’t listen to its advice and decided to move on to the main course. The the mains, I ordered a seafood dish to pair up with the Tomich Hill Family Reserve Chardonnay 2010, while Tina ordered Coorong Angus Beef.
300gm Coorong Angus dry age scotch fillet, $42
The meat was served with cavolo nero, dauphinoise potato and heirloom carrots and wine jus. The beef was dry aged and hence all flavours of the meat were fully developed during this process. Coorong Angus has got its reputation and I don’t think I need much of an introduction of this brand. Anyway, the meat was cooked medium rare with the good char marks. The center of the steak was still pink and this pinkness did not only enhance the visualisation of the dish, but also, I think, is the source for all the flavours. The scotch fillet was well balanced with fat and marbles, which made the meat so flavoursome and perfectly tender. The wine jus exactly provided what it should do with all the complexity and helped to promote the sensation of the steak. The restaurant waitress was very caring too. Tina got this reflux problem recently and she can’t drink alcohol. What happened was the waitress placed the jus separately with the steak so the wife can easily control the amount of jus to be added. Thanks! And a beautifully creation!
Grilled Tasmania Salmon with Moreton Bay Bug tail, $38
The dish was served with similar veges as the previous one but I chose the hollandaise sauce. In fact, I like the presentation of the dish. The white meat of moreton bay bug tail tasted brilliantly as I was able to feel the strong binding structure of the seafood as well as the fabulous flavours. The salmon was cooked just the way I wanted. It was not overcooked and the fillet was still very juicy and tender and if being careful, one could peel the fillet into small pieces without breaking any pieces. On the flavour part, it was fantastic! The combination of bug tail and salmon really worked! Since salmon fillet got so many oil and the bug tail had simple but delicate flavours, these two complemented each other and created a fishy and strong seafood sensation. In the matching wine, I chose to have Tomich Hill Family Reserve Chardonnay 2010. The dish also went perfectly well with one of the side dish, the sprouts.
Brussels sprouts with spec and chestnuts, $9.
This was the side I had a go with the seafood dish. We all know Brussels sprouts are bitter but this side added extra flavours. The spec’s meaty flavour and smokiness as well as the nutty fragrance from chestnuts were all extracted and diffused into the sprouts. I should admit that they were still bitter but this bitterness was soon taken away as it was neutralized with the salmon fishy flavour while the bitterness also reduced the oiliness of the salmon. It was like a win-win situation, wasn’t it? I like this side!
Two other sides were provided on the night.
Radicchio and rocket salad with shaved parmesan and balsamic, $9
Mashed Dutch cream potato, $9
Both of the dishes were paired with the meat dish. The mashed dutch cream potato contributed the extra creaminess and flavour to the meat and made the mouth feeling creamy for a while. The radicchio and rocket salad was refreshing and reduced oiliness of the meat.
During the dinner, we discussed all things food and food industry. It was very glad to meet with these fantastic fellow bloggers as well as the restaurant Manager, Damian, who I learnt a lot from on the night. Look for him while you are there next time my readers! After the dinner, the group headed to The Curious Squire for desserts and this experience will be detailed in the next post.
Value: N/A – as the food was provided
26 O’Connell Street
North ADELAIDE, SA 5006
P 08 8267 6688