Saturday, 2 March 2013

Adelaide Trip - Celsius Restaurant Three Hat Perfection

It's not very often I get to Adelaide so when I do go down, anywhere for that matter, I am always looking for a great restaurant to visit.  You can find out a little more about my reason for an Adelaide visit here! When travelling, I normally try to arrange a visit to the best restaurant at my chosen destination - sometimes I can get in and sometimes not.  After doing some research online and looking at the various guides in Adelaide, as well as linking in with some Food Bloggers who know Adelaide pretty well, I settled on Celsius Restaurant and Bar as my first port of call.

What better way to start off a food odyssey than with Adelaide's most awarded and celebrated restaurant of the last few years.  Celsius is Adelaide's only three hatted restaurant with a AGFG score of 17 out of 20, which is an outstanding achievement and one of only a handful of restaurants in the country to have such a score.  It's also ranked 54th best restaurant in the country by Gourmet Traveller and has been awarded a Gourmet Traveller Star.  As I said, some serious credentials here, so my expectations were high.

The head chef and owner of Celsius is Ayhan Erkoc who has previously worked as some of the countries best restaurants including Marque, and has done a stint at the world's best restaurant Noma in Copenhagen.  Ayhan has also picked up the honors as Adelaide's top chef a number of times.  Phew, talk about over achieving!  Celsius, like many top restaurants has a degustation menu and being a big fan of this style of dining, it was the only option I considered for my visit.

The degustation on offer tonight was 8 courses for $130 and normally with a degustation there are amuse bouche on offer to get the meal started, not so at Celsius.  To start was some homemade bread with smoked butter.  The butter came out in a sealed jar filled with smoke that infused the butter with a lightly smokey taste that was subtle but added wonderful flavour to the butter.

When looking at the menu you get just a hint of the amazing food that is to follow.  Like many menus only the key ingredients are listed with no idea of how they will be prepared or what will be included.  They often sound simple but are far from it.

First course was described as blue swimmer crab, green gazpacho and pomegranate.  The waitress brought the bowl to the table and added the gazpacho in front of me with a little theatre.  The gazpacho was a combination of green tomato, green peppers, cucumber and herbs and was pure and refreshing.  The healthy serving of swimmer crab was sweet and delicate and worked wonderfully with the fresh gazpacho.  The pomegranate was served as a granita and the cold texture really added depth to the dish.     This dish was an amazing start and left me waiting for more.

Next up was venison tartare, beetroot, curried egg and a herb emulsion.  This dish was artfully presented and stunning to look at, with beetroot presented a number of ways, both pickled and as a puree.  The herb emulsion was spectacular, creamy and slightly bitter and worked in perfect harmony with the venison and curried egg mix.  Each of the components tasted nice individually, but when all mixed together elevated the dish to amazing heights.  By the time I finished the tartare, I was feeling great and wondering what the next surprising dish would look like.

I didn't have to wait long as the charred sweet corn ravioli, tomato, basil and woodside ash came out shortly after.  This was an interesting looking dish, much more rustic than the previous refined looking courses.  There were three large ravioli covered in a basil sauce and smothered with charred sweet corn.  My initial reaction to this dish was that it was too sweet.  I had cut up a one of the ravioli, which was filled with a sweet corn puree and eaten it without any other components, which in hindsight was a mistake.  This dish was designed for all components to be eaten together.  The acidity in the tomato and the bitterness of the basil sauce perfectly balanced out the sweetness of the corn puree.  Once I had worked this out, the rest of the plate was cleared off in quick time.

One of the things that a loved about Celsius was the pace at which the courses came out.  The timing was perfect, you never had to wait too long for a course, but they were not so close together that you felt rushed.  The next course was another very generous serving of market fish, squid ink, potato, fennel and calamari.  The market fish of the day was pan fried mulloway, which was cooked to absolute perfection and had a lovely fresh taste of the sea.  Again the combinations on the plate worked wonderfully together, and as a big fan of squid ink, was very happy to see a generous amount of squid ink sauce on the plate.  The mini potato fondants looked like well cooked scallops, which added a visual double take to the plate, brilliant.  The calamari was ever so slightly over cooked, but was full of flavour.  Yum!

The next course for me was quail, boudin noir, apple and bacon and was the weakest course of the night.  There was nothing inherently wrong with the dish, the individual flavours were really quite nice but the dish was out of balance with too much of the apple puree, which in the end over powered the rest of the dish.  A special highlight on the plate was the boudin nior, or black pudding, which I seriously loved.  It was also really hard to eat the quail, which detracted somewhat from the dish.

The last of the main courses before desserts started was also the most substantial dish on the menu and would easily have stood alone as a main course on many menus.  The Coorong Angus sirloin, baby root vegetables and black cabbage was simply stunning, visually it was beautiful, it smelt amazing and tasted just as good.  The sirloin was cooked a perfect medium rare and had a rich meaty flavour that I really enjoy.  The root vegetables were expertly cooked with the highlight being the oven roasted onion and the accompanying sauce to the dish.  By the time I finished off this plate I was seriously starting to burst at the seams.

Dessert time and first of the desserts was without doubt one of the most visually stunning and breathtakingly delicious deserts I have ever had.  The simple title of lemon curd, blackberries, passionfruit and white chocolate completely unprepared me for what was presented.  The lemon curd was encased in a dome of tempered white chocolate, which was technically brilliant and amazing in concept.  The blackberries came in various forms, from a sorbet and jelly to plump and fresh on the plate.  There was a passionfruit sauce and a meringue that had a hit of passionfruit flavour to it.  This was all offset by a very artful display and purple flowers and I didn't now if I should eat this or hang it up on a wall in an art gallery.  To say I enjoyed this dessert is an understatement, it was fresh and sweet at the same time and the flavour combinations just worked.  Double Yum!

By the time the last dessert came out I was not sure I could fit in another mouthful of food!  The final dish of lokma, honey, almond raspberry and camomile was an homage to the head chef's Turkish heritage.  The lokma are a Turkish fried sweet dough covered in syrup, much like a donut without the cinnamon.  The camomile was presented as an ice cream and had very subtle flavours but did remind you of tea.  This dish was challenging for me, I was really full and the lokma were very heavy.  I think I would have preferred a very light last dessert, which would have been easier to swallow!

Most of the time when I walk out of a degustation, even ones that are 12+ courses, I walk away slightly hungry still.  This was the first time that I really did not feel like eating for the rest of the night.  Normally degustation courses are quite small and are even known as 'little bites' but the 8 courses at Celsius were more like six entrees and two main courses, so it almost felt like I had two 3 course meals in one sitting.  

The wait staff I had on the night were extremely friendly and helpful, I was on my own for the meal (SC had not travelled with me this time) and they seriously looked after me, stopping to chat and ensure I was having a good time.  Celsius is quite a big restaurant but has lots of 'nooks and crannies' so you really feel as if you have your own restaurant to yourself.

Simply put, this was one of the finest dining experiences I have ever had.  The food was incredible and to be honest I think a little too generous.  When I asked about the serving sizes my waitress indicated that Ayhan had a farm at Murray Bridge and this really helped with ensuring fresh and plentiful produce.  Head chef Ayhan Erkoc surely has a passion for what he does as he travels 90 minutes each way every day from his farm to the restaurant.  This passion is clear for all to see in the restaurant and on the plate.  My only thought now is how do I get back again!

The blue swimmer crab before the gazpacho is added
amazing attention to detail
best. dessert. ever.
my own private dining room

Celsius is in Adelaide premier dining street - Gouger Street
quite a big restaurant
Celsius Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon Celsius Restaurant


  1. I love this restaurant! Simply amazing!

    Zion National Park Restaurant

  2. Yeah, its one of the best I have been to!

  3. Thanks for sharing this useful post. I’m always interested in hearing other opinions on this subject. I’ll be back for more!

  4. I am disappointed. The adage is that "a good waiter has to be seen but not heard". The waiters there were constantly talking describing in detail what they brought, and looking for verbal encouragement from me, the patron. A lost $220 for me. The food was curious, and was better than it looked. However, it contained lots of butter, and seemingly chemicals for taste.

    1. Right, when did you visit the restaurant? I must admit that I am happy to engage with a waiter and find that it enhances my dining experience! I also found my meal to be very fresh..... I wonder what happened

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