Star of Greece Cafe, Port Willunga, SA

http://www.starofgreececafe.com.au/

1 Esplanade, Port Willunga, SA

A couple of months ago, we had a lovely weekend away in Adelaide and its surrounds. The first time for me in this part of the country and it was so very pleasant. Beautiful scenery, great wine and a relaxed vibe. We were able to cram in a fair bit over 3 days with the sort of planning I get enormous satisfaction from…. 6.30am flight from Sydney on Saturday morning, seamless car hire in Adelaide,  our first vineyard by 10.30am. First good meal booked for 1pm. In the words of Jorge, “That’s how I roll….”

The Star of Greece is perched over-looking the gulf of St.Vincent, several miles from McClaren Vale. It’s a beautiful setting and I’m a sucker for any place that looks out over a vast empty expanse.

The restaurant itself has the shabby chic theme going on – rustic & refined, which means distressed tables & finessed food. It’s pretty small without about 10 tables or so – with a few more outside if you’re keen to brave the bracing wind. But there’s no shortage of customers.

We find the service is a little haphazard – not exactly on the ball or willing to please. It’s slightly frustrating. A little charm would not have gone amiss. I guess this is what happens to institutions!

Anywhere, we go for a lightish meal, knowing that we have a larger meal planned for later. The menu is nicely accommodating allowing for simple lunches (falafel) and full on gastronomic experiences (truffles & duck fat – not together of course).

I start with a dish of scallops, abalone, compressed watermelon with the obligatory foam. It’s a thought-provoking dish, which goes beyond the traditional preparation of scallops adding in some interesting textures. The scallops are soft and yielding will the slivers of abalone are ‘al-dente’. The requisite sweetness is found in the compress watermelon. Compression is very en-vogue at the moment and I’m not sure it totally works, but it’s interesting and memorable dish none-the-less.

My wife opts for a simple dish of heirloom tomatoes & haloumi. I’m not a huge fan of the cheese in general. Salty rubber doesn’t exactly do it for me, but the tomatoes and dressing are spot on. The commitment to good quality ingredients are clear to see. and you can’t beat a good tomato..

It being a lightish meal, we both opt for a bruiser of a main course – crispy skinned barramundi with twice cooked lobster souffle, asparagus & celeriac puree. It’s full-on. The fish is as fresh and flakey as you’d expect. With the puree & the lovely asparagus it’s a lovely match. The souffle then turns up and kicks the rest of the plates arse. It’s uber-rich and decadent. We’re not sure it adds to the dish as a whole, but you can’t fault the effort. Most dishes are the sum of their parts, but this doesn’t quite manage it. But we’re more than happy for the souffle to be the plus-one. We persevere to finish it.

So it was a pleasant lunch, more so for the interesting food & location. With these sort of places, expectations are always raised, when the intention is to take a shack dining a make it a more memorable experience.  So you can’t be too harsh. The effort is in the right place and I’d be happy to check it out again.

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