If Adelaide ever had a hidden gem, the Croydon Social would be it. Located on the charming Elizabeth Street in Croydon, my fiance and I discovered it one evening while out for a walk. We could smell the delicious scent of wood-oven baked pizza and we were all but seduced in for a late night slice (or 5).
So when Lee and I were invited to review their menu, I all but jumped at the chance to eat at this delightful place once more. Okay, maybe I did literally jump. Their pizza is pretty epic!
Established in 2016 by Adelaide locals Gareth & Emma Grierson, the Croydon Social was pioneered from a simple yet nobel motivation.
“We wanted to introduce really good pizza into the Western Suburbs because, at the time, you had to go all the way into the city for that.” Said Gareth, as his talented bartender mixed us some gin & juice. “I wanted to open a neighbourhood restaurant where everyone felt welcome, while giving them incredible quality at affordable prices.”
Our bartender freshly juiced watermelon and apples for our cocktails, filling the area with a bright aroma.
And, as I sipped my gin & juice, laid back, with my mind on my pizza and my pizza on my mind (sorry, it had to be done)… I digress…
As I sipped my bevvy, I admired the simplicity of the Croydon Social’s design. Airy and with an open vibe, balanced by lovely art hanging from the wall to offer a superb focal point. I was double impressed to discover my favourite piece was painted by Emma herself! A seriously talented duo, these two.
As we occupied ourselves with our drinks, Gareth darted back into the kitchen to finished making the main star of this evening: the eats.
First thing’s first. The pizza.
Now, if you’ve read any of my blogs before, you’ll know I am obsessed with a good crust. It really makes or breaks a pizza for me. The reason why Croydon Social impressed me so much the first time I ate here has a lot to do with their incredible dough!
“We ferment it for around 72 hours. This makes it easier to digest, so you won’t get bloated after eating our pizza, but it also brings out way more flavour.” Gareth explains.
Oh. My. Pizza! There needs to be some sort of law in place which requires all pizza dough to be made the way Croydon Social makes it. There’s a perfect crisp to the outside while remaining fluffy on the inside, with so much dynamic sourdough flavour. I could eat a whole pizza of just the crust and leave a pretty happy girl. If not for how good the toppings were, as well…
Tomato, Capers, Garlic, Parsley
This pizza was the perfect vessel to feature the tangy and fresh flavours of their delish tomato sauce. With a beautiful hit from the fresh herbs and a balance from aromatic garlic, I kept going back to this pizza inbetween tasting other dishes for “one more slice”. Spoiler: I finished the whole pizza.
Dutch Cream Potato, Rosemary, Three Cheeses
When you visit, you have to (have to!) order this pizza! The potatoes are cooked through with a gentle bite to them, with a beautiful Dutch cream adding a decedent richness. A symphony of cheese helps to balance everything, with a dance between sharp, fatty, and salty notes. I also ate as much of this pizza as my stomach could physically hold.
Sopressa, Smoked Mozzarella, Anchovy, Broccolini, Chilli
I couldn’t taste this one, as I don’t eat meat. However, Lee happily “took one for the team” and described his pizza as: “Having generous toppings and with a smokiness from the sopressa which was delightful, pairing well with the saltiness from the anchovies. There was a little heat from the chilli and a perfect crunchiness from the broccolini. Great balance of flavours!”
Mushroom Ragu With Taleggio Gnocchi
This was my fave none-pizza dish. The mushrooms burst in my mouth with flavour, while the traditional gnocchi offered a delicious starch to the dish. The cheese had a mild, fruity tang which was absolutely incredible when mingled with all the other flavours.
Haloumi, Zucchini, Grains, Preserved Lemon, Herbs
You can’t really go wrong with fresh, perfectly grilled haloumi. Perfectly charred and wonderfully salty, balanced by fresh zucchini ribbons, crunchy grains as well as aromatic lemon and herbs. A perfect small plate if you’re hungry for a snack.
Oven Roasted Cauliflower, Pickled Cabbage & Almonds
I love pickled veggies, so this dish was right up my culinary ally! As well, it acted as a fresh break from the decedent cheeses and beautiful gnocchi we were devouring. The tarte pickled cabbage played off the roasted char of the cauliflower, while fresh mint and premium olive oil made sure this salad remained uncomplicated and super yum.
Cabbage, Apple, Cannellini Beans, Apple Cider, Parmesan
Okay, so I’ll admit it. I’m a “salad person”. So when Gareth served us this tower of fresh veggie amazingness, my heart skipped a wee beat! Everyone else as the table… don’t go as salad crazy as I do. So, when I say my companions kept going back for seconds of this salad, it’s really saying something! The fresh cabbage paired with that tangy bite of green apple was an absolute dream! Especially because, visually, you could never tell how much cabbage vs. apple you had on your fork. It was a joyous surprise in every bite! The cannellini beans were meaty with a lot of substance, and the parmesan cheese deliciously rich. Don’t overlook this one, it’s not your average salad!
Broken Chocolate Pavlova, Confit Orange
Holy pavlova! I’m not really a pavlova fan, but for their broken chocolate version I have been won over! Crunchy and with so many stunny cocoa characteristics, it both melted in your mouth and offered a range of texture. A gorgeous pistachio creme and confit orange simply took this dessert to a whole new level. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!
Baked Pear, Frangipani & Vanilla Custard
This dessert tasted like my mom’s homemade apple crumble, but with local pears and a fine-dining twist while still remained laid-back. The warm pear was perfectly spiced, and the custard came through with fresh vanilla to create an ultimately comforting bite. A little crunch from the almonds and you have, what could be, my fave dessert of the three.
Vanilla Panna Cotta, Caramelised Banana & Gingerbread Crumbs
This is another dish which left me feeling as comforted as I was satisfied. Caramelised banana is like nature’s candy, while the ginger bread crumbs brought me all the way back to singing holiday carols with my family. The vanilla panna cotta was the real star of this dish. My fiance, who joined us for our meal, does not really like dessert. With a slight edit to his quote, he proclaimed it as: “Now that’s one f*cking good panna cotta”.
We were offered some digestives to end our meal, a practice I am not too familiar with. However, when you visit Croydon Social, make sure you enjoy one post eating-all-the-eats. They’re not only delicious, but they really do help with digestion. That combined with the nature of their pizza dough left me feeling confident enough to walk home in a bikini, even after eating so much!
But I didn’t. Because it’s winter and that would be crazy.
Gareth has been a chef for over 25 years and his skill in this craft really shows. Using nothing but his wood-oven to cook every dish on his menu, desserts and all (save the pavlova which is baked at their other business, Red Door Bakery), he has truly mastered the art of simple yet exquisite food.
“I’m all about low-fuss, quality ingredients,” Gareth said “I want people to come in, relax, refresh themselves with a craft beer and have a pizza or a hot meal and really enjoy their time here.”
By the end of our time at Croydon Social we already felt a little bit like we were part of their family. It really has a charm you must go yourself to experience. Oh, and ridiculously good food. You must go there to experience that, as well!
Words by Jamieson Eileen
WHERE: 18 Elizabeth St, Croydon