Things have come a long way for food at universities. There was once a time when the only food you could get was from the university cafeteria. Ever since private business was allowed to setup shop on university grounds, students, staff and visitors have a had lot more choice when it comes to purchasing meals. At Flinders University, you’ll find a lot of outlets selling street food, but for a more refined dining experience, one should visit Alere Restaurant. Alere is located on the second level of the Flinders University Plaza and Student Hub and with it’s glass walls, boasts 180 degree views of the lake and gardens. Running the kitchen is Kyle Wood, the former head chef at Windy Point. He brings contemporary cuisine with a middle eastern twist to the table, and is committed to the “farm to table” philisophy; the produce is ethically farmed and harvested daily. Like many other fine restaurants, Alere is participating in the Festival of Food, and we were at the restaurant to see what they had to offer.
Festival of Food diners will each get an Entree Tasting Plate. At the top is the Creamy Mushroom Soup. The soup was thick and earthy, and certainly warmed the stomach on a cold day. In the middle is the Salted Barramundi Brandade with toast and pickle. The delicious fish spread had a subtle saltiness which was balanced by the sourness of the pickles. At the bottom was the Pepper Crusted Veal Carpaccio with beetroot gel, pickled fennel and shaved parmesan. It was the contrast in flavours that actually makes it work; the saltiness from the veal, the sweetness from the gel, the sourness of the fennel and the sharpness from the parmesan.
The first of the mains was the Cone Bay Barramundi with pearl cous cous, roasted zucchini, pumpkin, tomato and rocket mousse. This generously sized fillet of fish was cooked to perfection; crispy skin on one side and soft, delicate flesh on the other. Sitting under the fish was pearl cous cous, and it was coated in a flavourful green pesto. The other notable item was the soft, delicate pumpkin which added a lovely natural sweetness to the dish.
We’re big fans of pork belly and it’s usually the preferred option when it comes to ordering off the menu. At Alere, they offer the Sticky Pineapple Glazed Pork Belly with daikon, papaya slaw and liquorice. With this particular dish, the skin is separated from the meat and cooked separately until you get this crispy, chewy crackling. Pork goes amazingly well with fruit, and in this case, it’s a sweet, sticky pineapple glaze. The meat itself was nice and tender, and simply fell apart. On the side is daikon and papaya slaw; it’s light, refreshing and adds a crunchy texture to the dish.
The beef dish on offer is the Coorong Angus Beef Skirt with parsley verde, lentils, parsnip and smoked heirloom carrots. The beef was cooked perfectly; nicely charred on the outside and pink in the centre. The meat simply melted in your mouth and you could taste the distinct smokey flavours. Naturally, it went perfectly well with the tangy parsley verde. The parnsip puree was silky smooth and the carrots added a lovely smokey, sweet flavour to the dish.
For those that love lamb, you’ll enjoy the Pressed Lamb with smoked white bean, baby fennel, gremolata and dukkah. The lamb was compressed into a rectangular cuboid, and was topped with spicy dukkah. The meat was soft and delicate, and simply fell apart. The lamb sat on top of a white bean puree which had subtle smokey flavours, while the drops of gremolata also added good depth to the dish.
Often the best pasta dishes are those that are simple and bring out the true flavours of the ingredients. The Spaghetti with Poached Prawns is a perfect example. The prawns were juicy and succulent, and cooked to perfection. The combination of fennel, chilli and lemon worked together in harmony, and the made the dish so light and refreshing.
Our favourite dish was the Paroo Kangaroo Loin with herbed hummus, beetroot chips, Persian feta and eggplant relish. The kangaroo was perfectly cooked; nicely charred on the outside and a reddish-pink in the centre. The meat was so juicy and succulent, it was melt in your mouth stuff. Underneath the meat was a smooth and creamy hummus that was full of flavour. The eggplant relish added sweetness which was balanced by the saltiness of the crumbly feta. The beetroot chips not only added to the presentation but brought a crunchy component to the dish. We pretty much liked everything on this plate.
Festival of Food 2017 is available at Alere Restaurant from Monday to Friday lunch for $32.50, and Friday dinner for $39.50.
Look out for the Festival of Food pamphlet in your letterbox or simply download the app to take advantage of this and other offers.
WHERE: Flinders University, Registry Rd, The Hub, Level 2, Bedford Park