How’s life treating you in your world? Fancy and exciting? I hope so as I have just experienced a week of fun time in Bali. I will have several posts coming soon to capture all-you-need-to-know information for this popular Indonesian tourist destination.
Anyway, some of my earlier followers may remember that I was a big fan of Dennis Leslie’s cooking when he was back in Hilton. Back in the old days when I was still a wine scientist, Tina and I used to visit the Brasserie quite often to try em’ out.
Then with Hill of Grace opening in Adelaide Oval , Dennis moved to the restaurant to head the kitchen. I still remember one news article called this ‘two stars joining together’. This is absolutely correct. Adelaide Oval itself is an icon of our pictureous city, full of history, dating back to 1871, and is a great showcase of our sport spirit. Hill of Grace Restaurant is suited, to me, at one of the best locations so that diners can observe the quiet yet colourful oval at night. If you have never experienced the oval at night, this is the place to be to see a different side of the oval and to experience the Australian sport enthusiasm with your heart, beautiful food and no other disturbance.
Since Dennis has moved to the Oval, I have heard mixed reviews from colleagues. Are people too harsh on a high end restaurant? This is the first impression I had. And the fact is that many of us are way too strict to fine dining restaurants in general, especially considering one spending some hundred dollars in a pub environment. For the fine dining restaurants I experienced in different cities, Hill of Grace is among the best ones. I will show you the reason below.
The restaurant is located on level 3 of the oval, entering from the East Gate and if you come afterours, there is a sliding door which will lead you directly to the lift lobby. The restaurant is with classic decor, making the entire environment calm and elegant. Dressing code here is a high standard of smart, casual attire. There are onsite carpark and various off-street parking in the close vicinity.
The interior is truly a 5-star setting, not to mention that the restaurant has an extensive wine list and a great collection of Henschke wines. It was magnificent! For those of you who are not familiar with Henschke, it is a premium wine brand from Barossa Valley, South Australia. It was first established in the 19th century and is now in its 16th generation. Their Hill of Grace is one of the top wines in Australia, with the current vintage being 2012.
With our dinner for the night, we are treated a 5 course degustation menu, which features a lot of the restaurant’s dishes and we had wine flight with the dishes. Some of you may recall I used to be a wine chemist. Pairing food and wine is especially interesting to me. I always found the joy out of tasting the combination of food and wine 🙂
This is the complementary bread and butter. Isn’t this beautiful?! The taste is event better. The bread is house made and is quite different to other complementary bread I had in other restaurants. It’s soft and develops lots of flavours on palate, especially with the butter that melts with a hint of saltiness. What a great start of a dinner!
Coffin Bay oysters, fingerlime, lemon foam
When the amuse-bouche arrived, I looked at the dish and thought why the white in the oyster was sitting on the stones? The minute when I was explained the dish, a magic liquid (I think it is liquid nitrogen) was poured to create this cloudy and fascinating display. What an excitement to start the dinner!
The dish is an oyster dish using fresh Coffin Bay oysters with a lemon foam. The oyster was so fresh and delicious while the foam and fingerlime provided the right level of sourness and fresh citrus flavour to balance the oyster, leaving a pleasant fragrance on the palate. This is such an amazing creation!
What’s more amazing was the pairing wine, Henschke Johanne Ida Selma Blanc de Noir MD. This Adelaide Hills sparkling is perfect as an aperitif. On palate, layers of textures developped gradually with flavours of citrus and apple but balanced acidity. It pushed the oyster and lemon foam smoothly down and fully promoted the fresh seafood saltiness flavour of the oysters. Our appetites were immediately activated after the amuse-bouche and the aperitif. Great choice 🙂
At the start of the dinner, we have already been amazed but more surprises were on their way – the entrees.
Raw Clean Seas kingfish, Hindmarsh Valley Dairy coconut yoghurt, fermented kefir coconut granita
This is a dish which Tina has kept talking about to other people since the dinner night. The kingfish was diced into small pieces and when we had the dish, Tina started to spoon feed herself. The flavour from the coconut yoghurt was diffused into the raw kingfish, giving a overall creamy texture. At this point, we took a bite of the coconut granita kefir. Oh man, I tell ya, you will never forget this – the kefir released its coconut flavour onto the palate and the kingfish sucked it in while travelled down the throat! It was like a flower which gradually ripe and we see the beautiful process, through our tastes rather than eyes.
If you think the experience would have stopped here, you made an mistake as the pairing wine, 2016 Henschke Joseph Hill Gewurtztraminer, was such a treat to enhance the experience of this dish. This white had a strong lychee flavour on the nose which was my tick 1. Then it had a strong combination of sweet lychee and tropical fruit on palate. The fruitiness of whites are key when complementing a seafood dish, especially a raw one as the flavours of the dish combined with the wine was so delish. We felt the sophistication once the wine and the kingfish entered into the mouth, leaving a long long fresh raw fish and coconut flavour and a pleasant dry finish with sufficient moisture retained in our mouth. Simply fantastic and highly recommended!
On my side, I had a different cold entree, the seared Paroo kangaroo.
Seared Paroo kangaroo, mirin, sake and toasted seaweed dressing, confit strawberries, almonds
From the name and the photo of the dish, one could easily guess that this would be influenced by Japanese cuisine. However, the first taste of the dish astonished me! It does not taste anything like kangaroo! It was like biting a good grade wagyu. The toughness of kangaroo did not link with this dish at all. It was tender, moist and easy to bite. More importantly, the kangaroo melts in the mouth! The mirin, sake and totasted seaweed dressing provided sweetness with a hint of fermented rice flavour. This dressing, together with the confit strawberries, lifted the slightly seared kangaroo to a totally different level and injected necessary saltiness into the meat, not to mention the almond added complementing nutty flavour and crunchiness to the meat. I was only hope I had more of the kangaroo! 😀
This dish was paired with 2015 Johann’s Garden, which made me still raving about it 4 days after the dinner. It is special. Special because of its complex layers of flavours; special because of its dark plum flavour on palate and promising after-taste; special because it is the wine to pair with the dish! The wine had a very smooth and silky texture with minimal astringency on the palate while a fully ripe raspberry flavour, followed by dark plum and hints of spiciness aromatics. These flavours were not shown all at once – they developed eventually when the wine travelled along my palate. It balanced the dish and provided essential flavours to make the kangaroo felt like a high grade wagyu. Once fully past all regions on the tongue, the meat disappeared. All I felt was beautiful tannins, clean and long lasting! Highly recommended dish and wine pair!
At this point, we already realised how artistic the dishes were and I should admit, Dennis was such a master of flavours and presentation! Following the cold entrees, the hot entrees arrived just in time 🙂
There was actually several interesting things happened on the night as a side track. Our waiter, Tim, who served us throughout the night and introduced each course and the wine, had a really good knowledge of the restaurant’s dishes and their Henschke wines. He looked familar, I thought. Later on, I reconfirmed he was one of my students several years ago. More interestingly, our very knowledgeable sommelier, Sid, worked in the same building when I was a wine chemist. What a small world?! Through our interactions throughout the night, I could see these two were extremely enthusiastic about the food industry as well as the wine industry. The whole concept of food and wine pairing is aimed to make our experience excellent so why not learn more about the concept from the great staff at the restaurant while you are there!
SA baby squid, lettuce and Dirty.Inc wakame, tinapa, dried coffin bay oyster broth.
This warm entree is a delicious option to have on the table. When the dish first arrived, I thought these were noodles and baby squid was hidden somewhere. However, since I had the first ‘sip’, I could not stop eating this – please be minded this was actually Tina’s entree! 😀 These were squid pieces and they were so sweet! Not a sugar sweet but a seafood umami flavour. The broth was even more exquisite. It was made by using wakame, a sea vegetable, and tinapa, a Filipino term for smoked fish as well as dried oysters. The broth was slow cooked and I could definitely taste the love the chef had put into it. The combination of a baby squid piece and the broth was such a romantic feeling! The wine paired with the dish was 2016 Hensche Julius Riesling. It was a citrus focused riesling on palate with slight astringency and clear acidity, which helped to refine the squid and its broth 🙂
The entree I had was another fancy dish, a chicken wing. Wonder what’s so special about a chicken wing? Here you go.
Chicken wing, preserved lemon and prawn, rosemary, fermented chili beurre blanc.
Isn’t this dish so beautiful?! I told Dennis – he was not only cooking dishes but instead making art! What’s more exciting about this dish was the South Australia’s very own local Spencer Gulf King Prawns. What a creation! Through out this course, I kept wonder how the prawn was inserted into the wing 🙂 The fermented chili beurre blanc was quite similar to a kimichi butter flavour and helped to combine the chicken and the prawn. The mouthfeel of the prawn was fantastic. Every bite gave me the freshness and meaty feeling in the mouth as well as the tenderness of the prawn! The skin of the chicken wing was slightly crispy while the meat was so moist that I could not hold my smile when taking this dish! This is one of those experience a person will always remember. The pairing wine was 2016 Henschke Joseph Hill Gewurtztraminer. Although the wine was the same for the kingfish, it gave a different experience. According to Dennis, the wine was aimed to promote the flavour of the king prawn and I was able to feel myself how this enhancement occurred. Good job!
At this point, both Tina and I thought the entrees finished but it didn’t – another extraordinary arrived soon after the previous two courses.
Sisig, grilled pork, spring onion, soft egg
Sisig? You may want to ask what this is. Sisig is a Filipino street food using grilled pork including pig head. Wow fancy! Deep fried spring onion and soft egg including the yolk was placed on top of the grilled pork. The flavour was even more phenomenal! To enjoy the dish, we were asked to mix the egg yolk and the pork together. Holy …! The pork was grilled to perfection with a mixture of fat and slim meat. Each bite was so fragrant and the deep fried spring onion added extra crunchiness to the already very delicious pork dices. The egg yolk pushed the dish to a much higher level, something I would go across the road for, despite those traffics. Most of us had steak tartar before and you know that feeling of the egg yolk? Exact the same feeling but specifically for this dish, because the pork was so crunchy, the egg yolk somehow helped to tenderise the meat a bit and left a long lasting fragrance on the palate! To me, this is a must-try specialty!
This dish was paired with 2014 Henschke Giles Pinot Noir. My first impression for this wine was that it was a strawberry red juice! The strawberry flavour was quite obviously on palate for this one. It complemented the sisig really well, not only added the fruitiness into the dish but also facilitated the texture of the dish. The wine itself had a complex texture with balanced acidity and these textures were experienced via gradual development. The wine, when drank at the same time as the dish was in the mouth, exhibited silky tannins, leaving a long long finish on the palate. It was a culinary magic! Highly recommended pairing to try!
Now, it came to the mains. For the first main course, Tina and I had two different dishes.
Snapper, spinach and mussel puree, pickled Kinkawooka mussels, succulents, labanos
The snapper was panfried to just right. The flesh was tender and semi-oily and was quite moist in the mouth. The spinach and mussel puree provided a combination of a distinctive leafy vegetable flavour and the seafood umami, making it a perfect complement to the fish. The pickled Kinkawooka mussel was a highlight of the dish. Itself and the succulent together provided a slight acidity and balanced the flavour of the fish well. The only problem was I would eat more :D!
The pairing wine for this dish was 2015 Henschke Croft Chardonnay, a slightly oaky chardonnay with hints of grapefruit and toasted cashew nut flavour.
The main I had was a pork belly dish. You know I love pork belly, right?! >_< Here it comes!
Charred pork belly, fermented apple, desert limes, salmon roe, pickled onions.
When the dish arrived, I thought, how come salmon roe and pork was served together? This was soon answered when I put the two together. Talking about the pork, it was fantastic! The pork was done (charred) to the most perfect state. The outside was charred but the inside was tender, moist and melt-in-the-mouth! The meat was very flavoursome. Now, let me answer my initial question, the salmon roe. It added extra saltiness to the pork while the pickled onion added slight sweetness. Both of these flavours were great stimuli to my tastebuds so I kept eating the pork on and on. ~_~ The dessert limes were surprises. If possible, I want to get some of this for my own dishes. These limes were very sour so great acidity to take away the oiliness from the pork. These are from Australian desserts, illustrating that there are yet a lot more ingredients to be discovered in our red land!
The wine paired for this dish was 2015 Henschke Johann’s Garden Grenache Mataro Shiraz, the same as the wine for the kangaroo. Again a different experience on the palate as the charred flavour of the meat was spiced by the anise and pepper flavour, leaving a extremely long finish on the palate and a nice moist mouthfeel. Great choice!
The second main dish was a duck. Again, one of my favorite meat dishes.
Seared duck breast, Ngeringa Plum Mostarda, Outback Pride pepper berry, Turkey Flat Pedro Ximenez jus
As I said, duck is one of my favorite meat dishes. The meat was cooked med-well and was very tender & flavourful. The duck flavour was obvious on its own and once combined with other ingredients, it gave a spectacular experience. The Outback Pride pepper berry used in this dish are mountain peppers which is different to our normal peppers. It added extra dimensions to the taste especially to the very last part of the palate and this helped to enhance the dish’s flavour while increase the level of complexity on the palate. The Turkey Flat Pedro Ximenez jus was a surprise. It gave a slight hint of nuttiness and yet quite fresh. This flavour pushed the flavour of the dish further.
The matching wine for the duck was 2013 Henschke Keyneton Euphonium. This wine on itself was quite rich on the palate with plum and blackberry flavour at the start. Then with the texture developed, some spiciness came out and I could taste some fine mocha taste. To be honest, I am not a fan for spicy wines but when I took this wine with the dish, magic occurred again! The spiciness was sucked into the duck and the berry fruitiness and mocha flavour became more obvious, leaving my mouth watering and craving to each more and more of the duck! Such a great selection. Highly recommended!
There’s yet more to come – the desserts, the so tempting desserts!
Adel Blue cheese ice-cream, black olive, chocolate and candied salted walnuts.
This ice-cream utilised Adel Blue cheese from Udder Delights and was very creamy and full of flavours. The chocolate sauce inside was tremendously tasty to improve the flavours overall and to balance some of the creaminess. The black olive sand added both the muddy mouthfeel and a little bit extra of saltiness which made the dessert overall very interesting. Having a bite of the candied salted walnuts! They are great for crunchiness and enhance the experience overall. However, this was not complete yet. Taking a sip of the matching wine, 2013 Henschke Noble Rot Semillon, I was amazed by its richness in citrus fruit and apricot flavour and its silky texture with balanced acidity and sweetness, leaving a long and delicate finish on the palate. Very good dessert and wine match!
Chocolate dome, chocolate feuilletine mousse, passionfruit gel, shortbread disc.
I am not big chocolate fan but this dish really grabbed my attention. It is very complex in taste inside of the dome. Tina cracked it open and the first scope already made her smile. The mousse inside was so fine in texture and flavour while the passionfruit gel melt in her mouth! The sweet and fruitiness took away the slight bitterness from the chocolate and made the dessert very enjoyable.
The matching wine for the dom was 2015 Henschke Noble Rot Gewürztraminer. This is a sweet wine perfect for dessert. It was rich in stone fruit and berry flavour which dominated the palate as well as balanced acidity. Combining with the dessert, the sweetness and stone fruit flavour neutralised the bitterness from the chocolate very well to leave a very clean finish. Sweet!
All tables also got a complementary set of petite fours, presented in a Henschke box – again, these were pure arts in both visual and culinary world!
At the same time of the petite four, I also chose to have tea for both of us. We were served the Dilmah White Litchee No. 1 Hand rolled tea. You may know that I am a big fan of Dilmah and their idea of tea and food pairing. This tea is made from tea buds which are an inch or so long and then tied into a large pearl which unfurls when infused. This white tea was a great end to the dinner but brought another excitement, the unfurling process was just magnificent! When hot water was poured over the tea pearl, it went gradually unfurl. It was so spectacular! The flavour was fantastic too and it helped to digest the food while taking any fat away! Incredible to finish the night!
Throughout the night, we really enjoyed the dinner as well as the service that the Hill of Grace team has provided us. From the windows of the restaurant was a stunning view of the historic Adelaide Oval. That elegance is enriched further with a dark night and several shining stars. The service was top notch, not only to our table but also to all the guests. We observed our waiters and sommelier went around to different tables explaining the dishes and wines. Thank these guys for their fantastic and attention-to-detail services. They genuinely cared how their customers felt about the dishes and were very knowledgeable on what they were serving. Thanks!
Below is a shot of the staff with Head Chef, Dennis Leslie.
The restaurant’s degustation menu is famous among locals using South Australian produce, especially with many Australian native plants and berries. The 5 course menu is priced at $115 pp, wine flight $95 pp and their 8 course menu is priced at $175 pp, wine matching $120pp.
If you are after a contemporary restaurant with fantastic food with Filipino influence, reasonable price, great wine selection, top notch service and a sommelier onsite, Hill of Grace Restaurant is an ideal place. Give them a go, I am sure it would please you a lot!
The last two photos are to our beautiful City of Adelaide! Cheers!
Disclaimer: Adelaidefoodes.com dined at the restaurant as a guest of Adelaide Oval but all reviews are our own and genuine as always.
Hill of Grace Restaurant
Audi Stadium Club, Level 3 Eastern Stand
P 08 8205 4777
3 thoughts on “Hill of Grace Restaurant, Adelaide Oval – What an experience!”
What an experience mate! Can’t wait to get back to Adelaide. This is on my list!
I heard Dennis is leaving 😦 Sad to see him go!