The other day we were discussing some new and interesting cafes, restaurants and bars around Adelaide. This place or that, here and there, you know how things go. I was talking about some of the new places in and around the hills, others were discussing some of the new places in the CBD or inner suburbs. All good. Nothing unusual at all, particular given the focus of the blog and social media pages.
However, a couple of things struck me about this situation. Firstly, and I have thought this before, is that we have this insatiable appetite for all things new. At the last count, there were about…..a very large number of places to eat in Adelaide and surrounds. No matter how many you are thinking of, I can almost guarantee there are more. I have been to about 0.5% of them, and even those lucky people that do this kind of thing for a living would only be scratching the surface. There are many MANY new experiences to be had, and yet like some kind of junkie looking for a hit, we are all so focussed on what’s new. Which place has still got the aromas of freshly painted walls. Which place is still finalising the drinks menu, cause the supplier hasn’t delivered everything yet. Which place is the 4th ‘new’ restaurant in that space in the last 2 years. Which place is offering the latest cutting edge fusion of asian-mexican-icelandic cuisine served entirely on traditionally made papyrus plates, with cutlery you have to whittle yourself from organic free range trees that fell in a forest (when there was nobody around), while they are playing the least known songs from obscure FM in Napoli through speakers picked up from hard rubbish collection while you are sitting on camping chairs on the roof of a disused foundry and there are no menus cause they just cook what falls into the pan. Man.
When has all this changed? I don’t mean to sound like some old person here, but there was a time (and not that long ago) that somewhere with history actually meant something. Somewhere that had been plying their trade for many years, making their way through different town planners, economic downturns and resurgence, changes in trends and even spanning generations – yet still delivering the goods. This used to be a sign that things would be good. That you were in safe hands. That your enjoyment was (all but) guaranteed. New places were treated with suspicion, whereas now it seems new=better.
The other thing strange about this conversation, was the certain irony that this discussion would be taking place at The Store in North Adelaide, as we were here for their brunch menu launch (re-launch?). Given their advancing age, The Store is not exactly vying for the title of Adelaide’s newest up and coming hotspot.
The Store, for those of you who don’t know, have been around for seemingly ever. Their doors have been open on Melbourne Street in North Adelaide since 1998 to be precise, and nudging 20 years of good times is nothing to be dismissed. Sure, ownership has changed over that time, with the current people at the helm picking up the reins in 2012 (pardon my somewhat mixed metaphors there). The Store has done the all day brunch things before too – but are bringing it back due to their customers asking for it. Just dwell on that for a second – customers shaping what people serve and how they serve it – rather than being dictated too all the time. Its an amazing concept that surely wont catch on…..
So how was it? Well, this was pretty much a foregone conclusion, but it was all excellent. We were treated to three dishes from the menu, and treat is the appropriate word. The bircher museli is the original recipe from its inception, and something that will never change. A good bircher is a thing of beauty and subtlety, and this was as good as I have had. Not too sweet, plenty of fresh fruit and great texture – and some sensationally vanilla bean yoghurt – I loved it.
Poached eggs on sourdough spread with beetroot ricotta, wilted spinach and a sprinkling of dukkha provided a middle easters twist to an otherwise stable breakfast/brunch product. The eggs were perfect, the beetroot gave it some great colour and earthy flavours and the dukkah spiced things up a little. It also gave some different textures and colours to feast your eye’s and palatte on. Fairly simple, but very well thought out and executed.
Salt and peper squid salad was my pick of the three….probably….but then I have a soft spot for asian cuisine. The squid was perfectly coated and cooked, and the salad ingredients were colourful, fresh and crisp. This is all well and good, but it is the dressing on the salad you will be talking about. It was addictively good – once you started, there was no stopping!
To top this off, The Store also offer up some interesting breakfast drink options, including a bloody mary or an espresso martini. Sparkling is in the mix too, and I have to say the coffee was some of the best I have had (away from home) for a long time. Properly good.
In a city that is filling up with rookies and exciting new talent, or new start ups from existing players, its reassuring to know that there are still old hands around. Sure, some of the new crop of eateries may well still be around in 2 decades time. This is always a possibility. However right here at The Store you have that indefinable something. They have seen so many come and go, and yet here they are, reinvigorating themselves once more. While they aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, they are listening to their customers, assessing the current climate of what people want, and then looking back to move into the future. From the glimpse that we got from the menu launch, this is being done with a distinct air of confidence that only years of getting things right, time and time again, can bring.
In our incessant search for all things new to devour, don’t lose sight of reacquainting yourself with The Store. After all, everything old eventually becomes new again.
The Store is open Monday to Friday 7am to 3pm, and 8am to 3pm Saturday and Sunday.