Star of Greece, Port Willunga
There are few restaurants in Australia that can beat Star of Greece’s astonishing location.
The Port Willunga fine-diner – named after a three-masted iron cargo ship that came to grief on the beach below in 1888 - is perched atop high cliffs, offering diners a 180-degree view of the Gulf St Vincent.
From the street outside, the restaurant’s looks are deceiving.
The modest roofline and wall of corrugated iron suggest nothing more than a humble 1950s beach shack.
Step inside, though, and you’ll find a thoroughly modern minimalist interior that puts the view front and centre.
There’s also an outdoor dining deck where you can enjoy meals with a side of salty sea air.
Owner Doug Govan is a noted wine connoisseur so expect some unusual offerings on the wine list, which leans towards Australian, New Zealand and French drops.
The menu showcases South Australian produce: Willunga almonds dusted with smoked paprika salt, King George whiting and squid from Kangaroo Island, and Port Lincoln kingfish, which might be served as a ceviche with pickled ginger, fennel, apple and green tea.
There’s even a local cheese – Alexandrina black wax cheddar from the Fleurieu Peninsula – that competes against a French brie and an English stilton for those who prefer a savoury rather than sweet finish to a meal.
D’arry’s Verandah, McLaren Vale
The McLaren Vale vineyard d’Arenberg makes an art out of being different.
Its quirkily named wines (The Hermit Crab, The Dry Dam, The Feral Fox), which all bear a diagonal red stripe on the label, are recognisable from across a room.
Chief winemaker Chester Osborn also cuts a striking figure with his blond curls and colorful vintage shirts.
It’s to be expected, then, that his winery would host a restaurant that also stands out.
Those who slide into a seat at d’Arry’s Verandah, perched on a hilltop, enjoy an all-the-way-to-the-horizon vista that takes in neat rows of vines, towering gum trees and rolling hills.
The enclosed dining room was once the verandah of an 1880 homestead; massive shade sails protect the outdoor dining area.
Chef Peter Reschke designs his menu of generous dishes to complement the d’Arenberg portfolio of wines.
Start with the signature appetizer - a lobster medallion with blue swimmer crab and prawn ravioli and lobster bisque – and perhaps move on to chocolate and chilli braised kangaroo tail and seared roo saddle with mint labne, date, preserved lemon and parsley pearl couscous.
If there’s any room left, pair a signature dessert such as passionfruit soufflé with pouring cream with a glass of The Noble Wrinkled Riesling.
It’s the rooftop restaurant and bar - with extraordinary views - that Adelaide’s been crying out for.
2KW, perched on Level 8 of an historic former bank building on the city center’s northern edge, offers a panorama that stretches from the ocean to the Adelaide Hills.
Refocus on what’s closer to hand and you’ll spot landmarks such as Government House Grounds, Adelaide Oval, the River Torrens and the spires of St Peter’s Cathedral that are illuminated at night.
The spacious outdoor deck includes comfy cushioned benches.
Others prefer to sit inside in the restaurant where they can tussle over small, medium and large share plates cradling the likes of Streaky Bay oysters, roasted heirloom carrot salad, crispy spiced duck and kangaroo shank tagine with fig, prunes, pumpkin, honey, onions and couscous.
The bar pours four South Australian wines made exclusively for the venue; there’s also an intriguing selection of craft beers, including locals such as Prancing Pony Double Red Ale and Brew Boys Hoppapotamus IPA.
Even the bar food menu is a cut above the norm, with pizza toppings that include smoked rainbow trout and raw broccoli pesto.
Hill of Grace Restaurant, North Adelaide
As far as views go, Hill of Grace Restaurant boasts one of the state’s most unusual outlooks – right over the hallowed turf of Adelaide Oval, which has hosted cricket and football matches since the 1870s.
The glass-lined restaurant, which opened within the Audi Stadium Club on level three of the Eastern Stand in 2014, is believed to be the world’s only fine-diner located within a stadium.
Wine connoisseurs might be more interested in looking at something other than the grounds: the restaurant also houses the only complete set of the Hill of Grace single-vineyard shiraz dating back to 1958 (the famed Henschke vineyard is in the Eden Valley).
The restaurant serves dinner from Tuesday to Saturday, along with Friday lunch.
On major event days, it’s open only to Audi Stadium members and their guests.
Chef Dennis Leslie’s Filipino heritage is on show in some dishes such as sinigang – a Filipino stew – stuffed with Spencer Gulf prawns, lemongrass, radish, rainforest cherry and native tamarind.
Dessert aficionados should leave room for tres leche cake with kumquat marmalade, calamansi curd and sorbet, and crunchy mandarin or the toasted stout sourdough with stout and sourdough ice-cream, pecans, guava custard and marshmallow.
Flying Fish Café, Port Elliot
Drive just under 90 minutes south from Adelaide down through the McLaren Vale and you hit the seaside playground of Port Elliot on the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula. It’s a laidback town redolent with the memories of lazy summer family vacations. Set on the gorgeous Horseshoe Bay and its beautiful white sands, it’s a haven for relaxation. Like many little seaside villages there’s a smattering of local eateries catering for every taste including one of South Australia’s favorite bakeries serving the best vanilla slices on the planet. Then again, I like a vanilla slice. When it comes to slightly finer dining and one of those quintessential coastal views, you just can’t go past Flying Fish Café.
Set right across from the beach, the café serves the freshest tasting fish and chips in a paper cone by day for takeaway on the beach or you can kickback with a refreshing ale on the deck. At night though, it’s transformed. Sure it remains a relaxed, casual diner but while you watch the moon rise and count the stars switch on in the night sky, you can feast on the best of South Australian seafood produce. The local Fleurieu Peninsula features prominently but diners can sample everything from Coffin Bay oysters, Streaky Bay whiting, Goolwa cockles and Spencer Gulf prawns. It’s a delicious tastebud-tingling tour of the state matched with a solid list of cracking local wines.
It’s a rare thing where you go for the view and actually want to stay for the food.
The Lane Vineyard, Adelaide Hills
This is quintessential Adelaide Hills. A gorgeous glass-encased pavilion attached to the cellar door affording views across verdant hills and vineyards rimmed by giant gum trees.
On a cold, crisp grey day when there’s a wispy mist lying on the vineyard, it’s a magically warm cocoon while on a clear day, sit out on the verandah and bask in the Hills sunshine.
Chef James Brinklow has built a menu that reflects a sense of place. The cool climate wines provide a starting point and ground the menu but his creations reflect a dash of whimsy. Seared scallops with madras, fennel and apple snap on the tastebuds and with desserts like pumpkin and rum ice cream, ricotta and grilled mandarin are a fanciful treat.
Well worth trying is The Lane’s tasting experience with a group of friends or extended family. For eight or more people the experience matches a selection of The Lane’s wines with some tantalizing treats.
Woolshed Restaurant at Rawnsley Park, Flinders Ranges
Drive for around 450 km north of Adelaide and up into the Flinders Ranges on the southern side of Wilpena Pound, and a meal in the Woolshed Restaurant at Rawnsley Park provides diners with a meal of incongruity. Outside is some of the nation’s harshest wilderness while the Woolshed is just a classic Australian icon of hard yakka (aka work) and sweat.
Rawnsley Park owners Julie and Tony Smith have created a dining experience that reflects the ruggedness of the Flinders as well as its underlying fragility. From the rustic, classic Aussie woolshed diners gaze across to Rawnsley Bluff. At sunset, it’s a dazzling array of oranges, pinks and green-hued browns.
Yet while the restaurant setting reflects the harsh beauty of its environs, the menu lies in stark contrast to the surrounds. It features finer flavoured food highlighting local produce offering something well-beyond more traditional pub fare. Visit for the local Rawnsley Park lamb or to savour housemade pastries and ice cream.
Magill Estate Restaurant, Adelaide
No name is more eminent to South Australian wine than Penfolds and the Magill Estate Restaurant, developed for South Australia’s most celebrated winery, honours that heritage, providing a sensory encounter inspired by the wines and the blessed terroir that produces them.
And it starts as soon as you arrive. Even the décor and architecture immerses guests in the “spiritual home of Penfolds”, with lighting accents of Penfolds red warming the space fronted by huge windows with sweeping views of the Adelaide Hills vineyards.
To others, wine might be the afterthought but co-head chefs Scott Huggins and Emma McCaskill have created a menu that cleverly showcases Penfolds’ stellar vintages and other, carefully selected wines.
The modern Australian menu constructed from rich regional and seasonal produce, is a degustation to be savoured with two levels of matched wines.
Dishes comprised of the finest seafood and produce of the South Australian land glorify their accompanying drop while an expert sommelier explains how everything works together – though, if on offer (the menu changes daily), the beautifully marbled Mayura wagyu matched with a snifter of Grange needs no explanation at all.
Windy Point Restaurant, Adelaide
Every great city has its big occasion restaurant. The institution that is Windy Point Restaurant continues to win hearts and palates over many years. Adelaide is well endowed with fine diners but Windy Point has been delivering its mix of fine cuisine, deft silver service and an extraordinary view for over 30 years. While diners have been enjoying the vista of a South Australian sunset and twinkling city lights below for over three decades, chef Justin Miles ensures the food remains fresh and contemporary. Sure there are nods to retro dining with a duck confit, beef tartare and oysters done five ways but Miles’s menu inserts a glint of the contemporary into every dish.
Highlights include a quail roulade and scotch egg with a cumin yoghurt, pickled vine leaves and golden beetroot. Harking back to the trailblazing genius of the now retired legendary Australian chef Phillip Searle - a Flinders Ranges Orroroo kangaroo saddle with carrot salad, baba ghanoush, shaved baby beetroot and Persian feta, melds Searle’s oh-so natural partnership of kangaroo and beetroot with a Middle Eastern twist. It’s stylish food designed to showcase South Australia’s wondrous produce and wine so first-timers should probably undertake the full journey and enjoy the book ahead seven-course degustation menu.