Located on the beachfront just off Henley Square, Acacia provides an unforgettable dining experience. The dining space has a very comfortable and simple yet modern interior with the most impressive tap-ware I’ve seen (this may seem odd to point out, but go there and you’ll know exactly what I mean!). Every 2 months Acacia’s dining menu changes completely and is based on a different theme. We went for their Japanese-inspired tasting menu and it was one of the most impressive examples of food creativity and innovation I’ve experienced.
Each dish from the tasting menu is paired with a wine or cocktail, and some dishes even get paired with both! The opportunity to try different wines and spirits from around Australia is always a huge highlight for me, and the creativity flows through with the drinks menu too (I’m talking cocktails served in teapots, and lemon infused vodka being sprayed over your drink like perfume!).
Our starter snacks were Sourdough with Chicken Butter and Nori, Pickled Mussels, and
Octopus Donuts with Smoked Mayonaise. The sourdough had amazingly been turned into a flatbread and chargrilled on a skewer, not something I’d ever seen or tried before! The flavours were absolutely beautiful, especially the salty finish of the nori. The Octopus Donuts were soft and creamy, not at all like chewy and tough octopus. The pickled mussels were a winner too, with an enjoyable subtle seafood taste rather than an overbearing one.
Our next course was a Stuffed Chicken Wing. It was filled with chicken and pork mince and bacon on a bed of purée Jerusalem Artichoke. This dish was absolutely flavour central – the tarragon seasoning and all of the flavours inside the wing were strong, but they all worked to enhance each other without any of the individual flavours overpowering the others. The dish was so delicately put together and the effort and thought by the chefs is very clear.
The next dish was quite theatrical, which I absolutely love about fine dining. A bowl was served to us with ingredients resting on the bottom, then a stunning red broth was carefully poured into the bowls at our table. This dish was Ramen with Squid Noodles and Quail Egg, with a Chicken, Kelp and Red Pepper Broth. This was my first time trying squid noodles, but now I wish they were more common. I loved the slightly chewy texture that softened with the broth, and the quail egg with the flavours of the broth was absolutely delicious. Definitely one of those dishes your brains keeps trying to work out even after you’ve finished!
The following dish was Salmon Sashimi with Ponzu, and each delicate piece was served with a different citrus topping including black lime, grapefruit, and lemonade fruit among others. Eating each one individually really allows you to appreciate the individual citrus notes. This dish is also served with lemon drop chilli, however it was a bit too much for me and I went quite red in the cheeks – not for the faint hearted!
Next was the most interestingly flavoured meat dish I’ve ever come across – Duck Breast with Pepperberry and Pickled Strawberries served with a Fermented Cherry Sauce. I love dishes that challenge your senses! This dish smelt like a dessert with its aromatic fruit scent, but looking at the piece of duck was such a contradiction. The result was a beautifully flavoured piece of protein that was absolutely delicious. That sauce is truly something special.
We were then on to our first of two sweet dishes – Koji sorbet with Persimmons and Sweet Potato Wine. I wasn’t sure what koji was, and if you’re not either I’ll keep it a surprise! Let’s just say it’s not particularly sweet, but surprisingly refreshing. The persimmons and wine again add a layer of freshness, and it’s the perfect palette cleanser.
Lastly was a dish I’d been looking forward to since I laid my eyes on the menu. Yuzu soufflé with Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream was the final dish and wow, what a way to end the night! The soufflé texture was absolutely perfect, and fully embodied the tartness of the yuzu. When eaten together with the charred taste of the ice cream, it was a match made in heaven. I don’t know how the flavour combination of yuzu and marshmallow was born, but it’s the most perfectly balanced dessert I’ve had in a long time.
From the moment you step into Acacia, you’re made to feel special. Owner Elisa Mercurio and her fabulous team treat their guests with such a professional and sophisticated attitude. I’d urge everyone to go and try one of Acacia’s Dinner Series, not only because the food and drink is quality, but because it’s a true gastronomical experience.
The Japanese inspired tasting menu is available from Acacia on Friday and Saturday from 6pm – late.
Words by Heidi Ioannou from The Hungry Heidi
WHERE: 3/269 Seaview Rd, Henley Beach