Escaping the chill of another damp winters night in Adelaide, I am grateful to be welcomed under the sheltering awning and into the appetisingly scented East Bar Grill Pizzeria by the beaming grin of part owner Joe. Together with his partner Tania, the creators of Mothers Milk have established their new project along the edge of eastern Rundle Street.
I have plenty of opportunity to take in their cosy industrial décor as my eye moves between the two halves of the restaurant’s split menu. Half is a permanent selection set to paper, while the rest of the menu’s options are displayed upon ‘The Wall’. The Wall is a space for the East Bar Grill Pizzeria chefs, some tempered under the fires of Ramsey’s creative fury, to use seasonal produce in a selection of new and interesting dishes which will be updated on a regular basis. The fairy lights glowing in the trees outside unwind into The Wall’s hand lettered text, which list the latest inspirations from the kitchen, grill and pizza oven. As we deliberate over the impressive selection, my natural sweet tooth also draws my attention towards the drool worthy dessert descriptions. Tania helpfully provides us with some expert guidance, and skilfully memorises a selection of dishes which should still leave me room for ice cream covered goodness.
We excitedly inhale the aromas wafting from the delicate orange broth of our first dish, the Seafood Stew. Sipping the silky white wine and fish broth, we find that the radiant colour blooms from the spiced warmth of smoked paprika and Cajun spices. Diving deeper into the hearty mix of mussels, squid, fish, prawns and crab we also find a textural garlic potato mash which, along with the grilled ciabatta, is perfect for soaking up the bouillabaisse.
As the Kebabs approach I wonder if the chef could also list structural engineering as a resume skill. Two charcoal grilled tzatziki drizzled kebabs rise out of the plate from a base of honey roasted sweet potato medallions. A crisp forest of kale, eggplant and sage chips edges the base of this construction amid swirls of baba ganoush. As we deconstruct the masterpiece and slide the tender chicken from the metal skewers, the flavours merge into a wonderful middle eastern inspired blend of smoke, salt and sweetness. I relish the healthy twist of classic ‘comfort food’ elements, the delicate crisps and grilled chicken flavours satisfying my winter cheat meal cravings, without any sense of heaviness.
Magik Mushroom Pizza
As our pizzas slide onto the table with a heady scent of freshly baked dough and roasted garlic, we choose to start with the Magik Mushroom. A mix of enoki and button mushrooms are scattered over a classic passata sauce, with cubes of bright roasted pumpkin and fresh parsley adding a visual and edible vibrancy. This is all topped with melted mozzarella and clusters of honey roasted clusters of pepitas which add a delightful crunch to every other mouthful.
I cheekily explain the literally translation of the Italian name as we make a start on our next pizza, the Putanesca. Amid a pinwheel of anchovies, each one lining the centre of a slice, the classic pungent flavours of garlic, basil, chili, capers and onion create a saucy tang on the tongue.
Rack of Lamb
The star of our selected plates for presentation. Three thick smears of verdant minted pea puree whirl the eye inward to the delicate pink tenderness of the medium rare frenched lamb rack. The artful, delicate presentation of the dish belies a heartiness, with a thick bed of smoky char-grilled carrot discs, potato wedges and zucchini resting underneath the rack itself.
East Chicken Salad
Delicate shells of lettuce cup a mix of grilled radicchio, mixed greens, warm chicken tenders, and charred orange discs in a refreshing blend of smoky and sweet flavours. Always a fan of extra crunch, I love the addition of honey roasted pecans, which add a textural complexity.
No Meat Thanks Bowl
Constructed from simple elements, the No Meat Thanks bowl is a pleasant healthy ending to our savoury adventures. Kale, thick wedges of Kent pumpkin and pepitas are covered in an enlivening zesty orange dressing and sticky balsamic glaze.
My eyes widen, and I hope my stomach is big enough to match, as Joe brings out the dessert pizzas. The Rocky Road reminds me of childhood campfires, with toasted gooey pink marshmallows melting into the fresh baked pizza base. It is topped with a sprinkle of glaze cherries, huge scoop of simple vanilla ice cream and copious drizzle of thick chocolate sauce. The chef has cut the pizza into 12 square pieces, rather than the standard triangles, which makes sneaking a second delectable slice feel a lot more justifiable.
The Bumble Bee has the same ice cream and chocolate sauce as the Rocky Road, but with a deliberately crisper edge to the pizza base. Joe explains the chef makes the honeycomb in house, and each bite is a crunchy joy of toffee flavours blending with sprinkles of almond flakes and coconut and trickles of the melting ice cream.
Joe’s wife impressively makes the shot glasses for the Dessert Shots herself, and Joe explains the contents of the shots will follow the rest of The Wall’s features, with regular changes to available options. Thick dark Cadbury chocolate forms an edible vessel for our first shot, the BJ. Baileys and Kalua are finished off with a small swirl of whipped cream which cuts nicely through the richness.
Our last shot, the M&M, is filled with chocolate vodka and amaretto. A sprinkle of actual M&Ms and a little extra whipped cream give a candy store touch to the plate.
East Bar Grill Pizzeria is a socially flexible space, with a long bench available for coffee, cake and your own company, right through to long wooden topped tables for sharing their delicious food with family and friends. With wonderful attentive service, and a creative and dietary friendly menu, I highly recommend stepping in and having a taste for yourself.
Words by Danielle Clarke
WHERE: 264 Rundle St, Adelaide