Dude... where's my carb?
It is always great to catchup with the SA food blogging pioneer, he calls himself Doc-G, Foodologist for dinner whenever I am in Adelaide. Since Adelaide is his turf, I'll let him to decide where we should go, but I did hinting him that I could do with some cheap eats, and in capital letters, "D-E-E-P F-R-I-E-D". He instantly knows what I am talking about, and off we go to Grace The Establishment for some "dude" food as they called it.
Grace was opened early last year and is one of the sister restaurants to Sparrows and well acclaimed The Manse in North Adelaide, it offers a more casual dining experience with a menu designed to share. The restaurant is designed to entertain, you can chill out with a few beers and bar snacks at the dimly lit front bar, or make a booking and have a proper sitting down dinner at the establishment further back, plus a courtyard alfresco.
The restaurant has a very simple decor of white finish with pot plants dotted here and there. It is Saturday night and the restaurant is bustling, busy and loud. Once we are seated, a waitstaff immediately arrives at our table with a plate of toasty warm bread rolls for us to choose.
There are three of us, we decide the best way to share is by ordering a number of smaller dishes and then decide on mains if we are still hungry. We start with the light dish of tuna sashimi, a cascade of baby pink raw tuna slices are delicate with a subtle flavour, serves with ginger and shallot dressing that comes in a pipette so we can season our fish as much or as little as we wish. A smear of sesame mayonnaise adds richness to the fish, whilst the wakame salad is a nice palate cleanser.
We order a mini fish tacos each, these one-bite delights are stacked with spicy grilled white fish, guacamole and a generous shaving of parmesan over the top. I can easily slam a dozen of these babies with a few bottles of Corona me reckon.
Then the "dude food" is getting serious, we move onto the Korean pork bun, Momofuku inspired no doubt. Instead of steamed bun, chunks of slow cooked pork is sandwiched in a soft bun roll, with a spicy Kimchi salad and a squirt of Kewpie mayo. They are pretty darn good I must say, but sadly this item is no longer on the new menu.
Doc-G insists the fried chicken is a must-order. A bowl of golden chicken nuggets are deep-fried to an inviting golden brown, serves with a tangy buttermilk dipping sauce on the side. Each nugget is succulent and tender with a spicy heat lingers in the mouth after each bite, but I do find them a tad greasy and the batter is as crispy as I'd hoped for. Nevertheless, eating it with fingers and down a few beers, what more could you want?
The small dishes were a great introduction to get us into the mood for something more substantial, more meaty, and more carb. The meat menu has a great selection of protein from roast chook, slow cooked pork belly, to grilled steaks. We decide to go for the hanger steak, a new favourite cut of meat of mine. The lean hanger steak is perfectly cooked to a tender and juicy medium rare, served with two dressings of chipotle and pepper jam and a salsa verde that sets off the strong liver flavour of the steak beautifully.
Purely our own fault and decide to place a very last minute order of the braised beef short ribs which arrives a lot later. But I am so glad we did, the hunk of slow braised beef is clinging to a short rib, it is literally falls of the bone tender. It is served with an Southern American take of collard greens by using rainbow chards.
Sometimes the simplest is the most delicious, this side dish of creamed corn is served in a mini cast iron pot that is still piping hot. A sprinkle of cumin and chilli powder elevates its sweetness, for some reason it is so comforting.
All we need new to go with the protein is some crunchy french fries! These shoe string fries never fail to please, comes with a small glass jar of aerated ketchup. I don't really get the concept behind the aeration as it doesn't really add any value to the dish. Are you a one fry nibbler or a few fries at once hogger? I am definitely the latter one for instant gratification, ketchup not needed.
Deep fries, carbs and the only missing ingredient that we need to complete our meal is of course sugar. The dessert menu has a small selection but each of them sounds interesting enough that I am willing to give everything a try. But we stick with the two, an individual pecan tart with with a scoop of earl grey tea ice cream. The pecan tart is lacking the caramelised toffee filling that what an authentic Southern American pecan pie should have, but the earl grey ice cream soothes my disappointment, it is creamy and rich with strong earl grey flavour yet utterly refreshing.
But this is what we have been waiting for, a house made Snicker bar dessert!
Inside the Snicker bar is three layers of pure indulgence, a firm base of chewy nougat is topped with a thick layer of salted caramel studded with crunchy roasted peanuts, the saltiness of the caramel will have Nigella Lawson swooning in ecstasy, it then capped off with a luscious layer of chocolate ganache. Once you finished this dessert, you might not able to help yourself and reach for your front pocket...
...because all you need now is a cigarette.
[Note - We visited the Grace in November 2011, many of the dishes mentioned in this post is not on the new menu anymore]
The Grace Establishment 127 THE PARADE, NORWOOD SA 5067
P: +61 8 8333 1007
Tue - Sun, Midday until 2am