Before we begin the review proper, lets look at some definitions for the term “Beach Bum”.
The Collins Dictionary has defined this as “a person that spends his or her time loafing about on beaches”. Fairly self-explanatory really, but I thought that to make sure we were all on the same wavelength, this needed further clarity.
As such, I moved to the every trustworthy companion, Urban Dictionary, to see what it had to say. It provided a number of options, of which this was the top:
“An unemployed bum on welfare with no real education who makes extra cash by selling margaritas while naked at the beach.”
The reason I have begun thus is that you can sometimes get an idea on what a place is going to be like by the name. Sure, this isn’t always a precise science – you would struggle to really nail down something like “Fish Head” or “The Taxpayer” by the name alone, but you know what I mean. Even something as seemingly vague as the sadly departed “The Henry Austin” does still hint at something akin to what you received.
Beach Bum though….its not meant as a flattering term. It doesn’t imply good attention to detail or work ethic, and while nakedness may be a good thing in some circumstances, you really need to be careful what you wish for. That can backfire very quickly…..well, so I have heard.
What we do get with this particular Beach Bum is a Hawaiian themed, beach shack inspired restaurant on the popular O’Connell Street in North Adelaide. Immediately upon entry you see a pair of kombi’s – one for the bar, and one for the register/ordering/pickup point. There is plenty of light timber, bright airy spaces and pastel colours – perfect for what they are going for.
Food wise, there is an intriguing blend of influences, as elements of Japanese, Thai, Chinese and Mexican rub shoulders with simple ‘fish and chips’. I guess it reflects the conglomerate of cultural styles and flavours present in most places these days. Whether this is particularly true for Hawaii I cannot say, but it does make for a very interesting and varied menu.
One further diversion off the path if I may so indulge – if you have young children, especially a boy around 4 years old – going somewhere that has the word ‘bum’ in the title will be met with instant approval. No further reassurance or negotiating is required. Plus, they have chips, so they are guaranteed to be happy.
Thanks to the generosity of the owners, we had been provided with an $80 voucher to spend on our dining. As always, this doesn’t impact on or influence the review in any way.
For all the reasons detailed already, the act of selecting what to order was quite difficult. You can peruse the menu for yourself here, and I am sure you will see what I mean. So many great sounding dishes – it’s an enjoyable but stressful situation to have. What if I choose the wrong thing? What if I see someone ordering the other option I was considering and it looks better?! Oh the first world problems!
There really was no need to be concerned though. Everything we had was excellent – great presentation, quality ingredients and amazing flavours and textures. We tried a number of things, with the avocado taco being the least inspiring. We really don’t like the revered ‘avo’ that much, so it’s not the fault of the kitchen at all. And yes, feel free to send me messages of indignation about our lack of orgasmic affection for the weird brown skinned pear shaped essentially flavourless green mush containing fruit. The taco looked amazing though, and the other ingredients worked, so don’t take this as a particularly negative comment.
Moving on though, everything was absolutely on the money. The pork belly entrée was head shakingly delicious. Just consider this – crispy pork belly with passionfruit glaze on banana leaf, with green chilli, watermelon, apple soy sauce, coriander, coconut chips and mint…. Just all manner of yes. Textures. Flavours. Aromas. Colours. It really had it all. Every bit as exciting as it sounds.
From the mains list, the Japanese Eggplant Bowl featured crispy eggplant & miso dressing with brown rice, smokey spinach, daikon, pickled carrot, brocolini & sesame. What you can tell is that there is real thought going into this – and the end result is nothing less than just plain tasty. Really tasty. Delicious even. So much going on, but all working together.
The other main was the crispy ginger duck leg, served on a bed of shredded cucumber, apple, mint, chilli, sesame & crispy fried shallots, with charred pineapple hiding underneath for good measure. Duck isn’t something I regularly order, but I felt compelled simply for the make up of its friends on the plate. Make no mistake though, the protein component shone all on its own, being perfectly cooked, with hints of pink through the flesh and that delicious skin wrapped over the top. For all that enjoyment, the salad and pineapple were like the support act that steals the show – but together it made for a thoroughly enjoyable dish.
The kiddies didn’t miss out either, with tempura battered chicken with enoki, baby corn and kewpie (Japanese Cowboy) being something our 6 year old greatly enjoyed, especially the kewpie which also served as the sauce for the shared fish and chips. Speaking of which, she was so moved as to say “this fish is easily the best I have ever had”. True story. And I must say, she is right on the money. For ‘simple’ battered fish, this was beautiful. Fresh, flakey, white and sweet, it was everything your dodgy corner takeaway isn’t.
One thing of theirs we didn’t try – but will do this very soon – is their Poke Bowls. This is a bit of a specialty of Beach Bum, so I have seen and heard, and while there are ‘only’ 4 options, again they are intricately layered with ingredients. On the personal to-do list.
The drinks list is also worthy of note, as they had a range of Hawaiian beers from Kona Brewing Company. I had the Hanalei Island IPA, which was brewed with passionfruit, orange and guava. This was pretty much the perfect sitting-by-the-beach beer. Sure, I was in a restaurant in the middle of North Adelaide with no water in sight, but that’s not the point. Their other beers and wines were quite good too (most notably the wine list), but also there are cocktails, mocktails, sake and a good range of spirits. Something to suit everyone, as clichéd as that may sound.
It comes as no surprise at this point that Beach Bum comes highly recommended. It’s fun, it’s relaxed and it’s friendly, everything you might expect from the name. However, they are not mucking around when it comes to food. There has been some serious thought put into this menu, and each dish feels like it’s been crafted to be just so. I love this attention to detail – and I have no doubt that you will too.
You may be disappointed by the lack of nudity as mentioned in the definition – but perhaps have an extra cocktail instead.
Beach Bum are open for lunch 11:30 till 2:30 Tuesday to Friday. Dinner is served from 5:30 till late Tuesday to Saturday.