Back in late April I was thrilled to discover a special and quite indulgent birthday invitation in my letter box. Adelaide’s Crowne Plaza Hotel was turning two years old and to celebrate the event were giving me a gift. The exactly right kind of birthday invitation for a greedy girl! I’m all for birthday celebrations, especially mine (although somewhat less enthusiastic about the actual running out of time – especially mine), and was thrilled to find that the invitation included a night’s accommodation in the hotel and a very generous dinner voucher for the hotel restaurant, Redsalt. Life was pretty hectic back at that time of the year so I decided to save up this treat and reserved myself and The Husband a bed and a table to celebrate my birthday later in the year, then promptly forgot about it.
Well, as is the nature of such things, my birthday came screeching up behind me, catching me unawares last week. I’ve been head down, tail up, deeply immersed in the organising of Eat Drink Blog 2012 and apparently my life was whooshing past me while I was busy. In the light of that, my foresight in planning this treat for my birthday was well timed and it was with a light step that we headed out of our front door on Friday afternoon, shrugging off domestic and work responsibilities and dismissing anguished teenage whines of hunger, pressing the phone and a takeaway menu into their outstretched hands.
The Crowne Plaza hotel is nestled in the north-east corner of Hindmarsh Square in the centre of the city, adjacent to the funky east end of Rundle Street and the surrounding bars, shops and pubs. We pulled up out the front of the hotel wondering what to do with the car. Almost immediately the valet was at our window informing us that we could choose to park our car around the corner or, for $2 more than the cost of the carpark, we could opt for their valet parking service – a complete no brainer that had us instantly alighting and heading in their front door.
After a very friendly, polite and speedy check-in we headed up to our room. It was dark by this time and not the best time to try to take photo’s but our room was pleasantly sizable, subtly appointed in muted, dark colours and had the deepest, most splendid bath I’ve seen in ages. One distinction theCrowne Plaza boasts which gives them a vast amount of brownie points with me is a pillow menu. So often I find that hotel pillows look full and supportive, only to immediately squash down flat leaving me with a stiff neck next morning. The pillows which had been supplied were perfect, but if they hadn’t been we had the option to choose – a little thing, but one that can make the difference between a refreshing or a restless night.
After dropping our overnight bag we were keen to get downstairs and check out dinner. I’ve written about Crowne Plaza Adelaide’s Redsalt Restaurant and it’s chef, Brad Johns, in glowing terms in the past and it was great to see that nothing has changed there. The menu still proudly boasts some of the best of South Australian produce and is versatile enough to accommodate varied dietary requirements. Although Brad was not on duty on the night we were there, we were not to be disappointed in any way as the sous chef is clearly singing from the same song-sheet as Brad, with a similar level of skill and conscientiousness.
A couple of beautifully presented amuse-bouches made their way to our table, while we were wandering through the wine list. And what a wine list! You’d be challenged to find a more representative selection of South Australian wines anywhere, with all areas, varieties and prices included – from the modestly priced but great value, to the somewhat pricier but highly esteemed – including the renowned Penfolds Grange and Bin 707. We selected a fine aged Riesling from the Clare Valley and settled in for an indulgent evening.
Our entree selection was a difficult choice, but a happy one. The fresh, sweet scallops with crab fritters and intriguing, vibrant green, tiny cubes of lettuce jelly was perfect – both in execution and eating – and the chicken liver parfait reminded me that there is nothing so pleasantly rich and delicious as freshly made pate.
The Husband is a confirmed carnivore so the selection of Richard Gunner steaks had him from the beginning and, served with a choice of sauces, kept him quietly happy for a time. With a greedy eye on the dessert end of the meal, I opted for the grilled salmon fillet which arrived perfectly cooked. I usually opt for a calorie laden, butter-based sauce, but fell utterly and completely in love with Redsalt‘s salsa verde – the most divine version of this versatile sauce I have ever tried. Honestly, I’d go back there in a heartbeat for that alone.
The side dishes were beautifully presented and both the broccolini and the heirloom carrots were perfectly cooked. Of course, I had once again overestimated my capacity for food, but just had to try the dessert. I was thrilled to find one of my favourites, creme brulee, presented in a trio of flavours – blood orange, vanilla and rhubarb – and in just the right amount to savour.
We waddled out of the restaurant, thankful for the short elevator trip to our bed instead of the usual 1/2 hour drive, and once again mindful of how very spoiled we are for great food and wine at reasonable prices here in Adelaide. Many people make the mistake of overlooking the restaurants in large hotels, but I’d urge you to look again – especially here in Adelaide. As our experience in Redsaltshows, the chefs in many of these establishments are just as dedicated to their craft and the promotion of fabulous local produce, served with respect and flair, as any small restaurant chef.
Lambs’ Ears and her bloke were guests of Crowne Plaza Adelaide.