There are some places that just get it. You know, really understand what it is to be in hospitality. Just as some people seem to be born entertainers, and make the simple act of walking into a room an event – certain establishments seem to naturally get things right.
The Playford, for me, is one of these places.
A little known fact first though – in the dawn of time, before blogging was even a thing, before smart phones and even before Facebook had its first birthday, I was so impressed by our first visit to the Playford that I felt sufficiently moved to write a review of it. Nobody would ever read it of course, but I had time to kill and felt the urge to do it. Yep, I was a food nerd from way back.
Incidentally, now I actually write that down, it seems far more embarrassing than it did just in my head.
Anyhow, moving back to the present and here we are, more years later than I care to think about, and I feel equally enamoured by the same place.
This time I had been invited to come and have a look at their menu for the 2018 Festival of Food, and suffice to say it was absolutely superb, and the experience was every bit as good as I remembered it.
For those that don’t know about the Festival of Food, you really need to sort that out, so you can read about it here. In a nutshell though, there are 8 restaurants around Adelaide participating, and each has a 4 course menu on offer for an essentially set price. This represents an excellent way of getting to try out many various things from some fantastic kitchens around Adelaide -and for a very reasonable price.
Putting food to one side for a minute, one thing I am a sucker for is good service. This is precisely what you get at The Playford. Their fantastic staff are people who seem to really want to be there, who enjoy interacting with customers and genuinely try to add to their dining experience. Smiles don’t cost you anything in the same way that a please and thank you is painless to deliver, but it all just makes things that bit more special. They could have pretty much served me a deconstructed vegemite sandwich and I would have been happy enough.
However, this was far from the case. The food we were served was sublime.
The bread was a beautiful seeded sourdough that had been gently warmed, and the cultured butter demonstrated just how good this simple condiment can be.
The entree tasting plate was very cleverly constructed, showcasing 3 distinctly different dishes. I could make a compelling argument that all three of them were my favourite (not that I have to choose mind you). The sheer amount of flavour in the mushroom parfait was mind blowing; the kingfish and kombu broth was complex in flavour and creative in its execution (and somehow I restrained myself from drinking the broth from the jar); while the Mayura Station wagyu was an absolute delight with the thin sliced beef, smoked mayo, house made pickles and gherkins all very much singing from the same songbook.
Before the mains came out we were also treated to a couple of dishes from the Chefs Choice 7 course experience. This is a somewhat flexible menu that will vary slightly based on what is seasonal, and is a further $17 premium should you choose to do this. Based on the two dishes we had, this would be money very well spent.
Firstly, we got a black wooden box. Yep, a box. In black. In beautifully theatrical fashion, you open this up and release the light smoke and aromas that has been gently infusing the delicate seared kangaroo cubes and Davidson plum puree. Stunning.
The second dish was less showy, but equally enjoyable. Perfectly cooked pork belly with a sliver of crackling attached and a small crust of fennel seeds, served with smoked crème fraiche, baby carrot, Davidson plum sauce and a little jus neatly held in the cup of a small onion. Just amazing. And there would still be five more to go…. Oh yes please! There are also vegetarian options available for this should this be a requirement.
For mains you have many choices within your budget for the evening ($36.50 is your effective credit), however if it costs more you need only pay the difference. For the record, we went with the 48 hour slow cooked beef short rib with pearl barley and mushroom ragu; and a five spice duck pie with orange and sorrel salad. The rib was dark and glossy and tender, with its rich flavour complimented beautifully by the ragu. Pretty much what you may expect – just even better! The duck pie had amazing flaky, buttery pastry and was brimming with shredded duck meat, while a background of five spice added a gentle hum that in no way overwhelmed the other flavours. The orange salad gently cut through this, and lifted the dish to another level.
Desserts followed – there is always room for dessert, right? – including the delectable little petit fours that were part of the original Festival of Food menu. We also indulged in a honey parfait served with a matcha sponge, which was delicate and delightful. The other dessert was from a very different end of the spectrum – coffee and Kahlua ice cream sandwich with vanilla cream, dark chocolate mousse and white chocolate powder. I don’t think further words are needed.
All told this was a beautiful and thoroughly enjoyable introduction to the 2018 iteration of the Festival of Food. The quality of the dining experience at The Playford is exemplary. All the food was of the highest quality, with so many little touches throughout lifting things very much to the next level. Throw in professional and personable service from Kim, Megan and the rest of their team, a beautiful environment with an excellent wine list, and you have all the ingredients for a truly memorable evening. Do yourself a favour and get involved in the Festival of Food, and absolutely do not under any circumstances miss The Playford.
The Playford is located at 120 North Terrace, Adelaide.
They are open for breakfast and dinner 7 days a week.
Executive chef – Kevin Martel