We find ourselves invited back to Windy Point Restaurant again, this time for a rather secretive new degustation menu Chef Justin Miles is hoping to surprise us with. After our last experience at the Summer Menu we were keen to see what it would be this time. At arrival we made our way down to the pavilion to find a beautiful setting overlooking the city of Adelaide. Unlike the usual floral bouquets that decorate a table, heirloom vegetables took centre stage instead arousing our curiosity even more so. The menus were hidden under napkins and we weren’t allowed to take a peek!
Like all good evenings, it starts with a cocktail. A sweet cocktail this was with fresh figs, how lovely. To whet our appetite for this menu we still haven’t a clue about, they brought out a board of deep fried goodness. Forget about KFC, this is KFB – Korean Fried Broccoli. Battered and deep fried, deceivingly soft-shell crab like, it was super crunchy on the outside met with soft broccoli so hot and steamy inside. To top it off the sprinkling of sesame seeds and the sauce made it irresistible we may have had more than one.
We carried on mingling and subtly tailing the broccoli board as the sun went down, painting the sky orange. It was an incredible view from up here, the famous Windy Point lookout. Romantic you could say, but we weren’t there for romance that night. With food perhaps.
Seated and excited, the napkins went on our laps and the menu was revealed. It was a full Vegetable Degustation Menu! Vegetable, full, completely vegetable only. The mother of all surprises hit us carnivores as a vegetarian foodie squealed with excitement nearby. Suddenly the beautifully worded invitation made sense. It touched on sustainability, heritage, provenance and elevating the humble. What could be more humble that the vegetable that people so often think boring. Alas we are foodies, and we must keep our minds open. But first, their ridiculously good olive bread.
House made Olive Bread with Hindmarsh Valley Butter
The presentation was gorgeous and looked like something you only see on TV, not expecting it to be in front of you and actually edible. Where’s the mushroom you may ask, well it’s the crumbly soil. Pickled baby vegetables, gribiche sauce and beetroot gel filled the rest of the plate. Such an elegant dish. Crunchy tang from pickled vegetables, a very creamy feel from the gribiche and sweetness from the beetroot gel all accompanied the rich porcini and Swiss brown mushroom nicely. I would have loved even more mushroom. It was like an adventure in the forest on a plate.
Some may not be fans of watermelon but lucky for me I am. I am a fan of watermelon salads too with feta and basil and all that. The carrot chips were crispy and sweet while the shredded and sliced beetroots together with creamy Persian feta were a great match. There were three types of watermelon with different tastes, a yellow, a red and a compressed beetroot juice soaked red watermelon. The compressed watermelon was something new to me, a different texture with more concentrated flavours. Do try. Caper leaves were also a new taste for me, like soft young leaves with subtle caper flavours.
Course Three: Potato
Wine Pairing: 2014 Hill Smith Chardonnay
This turned out to be one of my highlights of the night, perhaps because I liked quail egg. Perhaps it was the Indian inspired curried flavours I enjoyed. A fennel salad on the side with crispy cavalo nero and crunchy papadum strips made it very enjoyable.
Course Four: Zucchini
Wine Pairing: 2013 Geoff Hardy Gruner Veltliner
The courses keep getting better, more so when we were presented this dish of zucchini roasted in garlic rosemary olive oil and zucchini flowers on buffalo mozzarella, mint, pea and za’atar. Creamy and delicious. While we weren’t exactly missing the meats tonight we did remark it would be lovely as a side to a nice piece of grilled white fish.
Oh so pretty
Course Five: Carrot
Wine Pairing: 2010 Barrat Pinot Noir
Carrots carrots carrots. How many ways can you cook carrots. We start with a thick smudge of cumin carrot puree, then place some lovely roasted baby heirloom carrots on top, sprinkle peanuts over it for some crunch and on the side, an Asian style shredded carrot salad. Finish that off with some vincotto for sweetness and voila!
Course Six: Cauliflower
Wine Pairing: 2013 John Duval Plexus GSM
This next dish takes us to Morocco. The most boring vegetable in Mr Foodie’s books – the cauliflower. Here we have roasted Moroccan spice cauliflower with compressed cucumber, puffed brown rice and pomegranate. A very brown dish to look at, the lilypad leaf made it pop more. The brown rice wasn’t as crispy as expected but the cauliflower was quite delicious with those spices. It reminds me of the turmeric cumin cauliflower I make at home.
Course Seven: Sweetcorn
Wine Pairing: 2013 Fox Gordon Nero d’Avola
I was legitimately getting full on vegetables. I was full by potato so don’t worry about that. Sweetcorn came in a form of a delicately cute pie! Golden crispy pastry with filled with sweetcorn kernels in a white sauce. It was sat atop spinach puree with house made tomato sauce. This was one of the highlights for us as well, who doesn’t love a good pastry. To make things just that bit more indulgent, there’s bearnaise sauce.
Our wines so far
Course Eight: Fig
Wine Pairing: Mr Pickwick Port
It was time for dessert where lovely caramelized figs featured. I rather liked the chickpea and date puree which was rich and sweet, who knew chickpeas worked for desserts too. These cute little wild strawberries were sweet and delicate I loved them. For a bit of crunch there’s also roasted chickpeas coated in sweet spice.
That night we were also joined by Margy Abbot from AJM Produce and some farmers who have worked hard to cultivate some species here in South Australia. It’s good to see such restaurants supporting them.
I must say I was pleasantly surprised by this full vegetarian degustation. Chef Justin Miles and his team have shown such creativity and innovation, to me it takes a bit of work and imagination to make vegetables delicious and appealing and I think they have done that very well. The degustation is available for $115 or $185 with matching wine.
Disclaimer: Foodie Ling was invited to Windy Point Restaurant as guests