Restaurant Reviews

Review: planning a visit to Adelaide? Put Magill Estate on your must-visit list

Located 15 minutes from the Adelaide CBD, the restaurant lives up to the hype with impressive dishes to match its wine and views.

By Tory Shepherd
The dining room and view at Adelaide's Magill Estate.
Very rarely does anything deserve the word "iconic". But Penfolds Grange is one of those rarities – it's even heritage-listed. So Magill Estate Restaurant, looking out over the shiraz vineyard, has to be spectacular to avoid being a disappointment. Phew. From the view down those geometric rows to the city – just 15 minutes away – to the final petits fours, it is.
There are two ever-changing menus: seven courses for $220 or three for $150. Optional wine matching might be a good idea if you're intimidated by the wine list, which runs to 30 pages.
The restaurant has a solid, masculine feel that is offset by the remarkable lighting – festive globes dangling everywhere. The fascinating architectural quirks, though, are just a backdrop to that magnificent view. Full-length windows and the blissful quiet of the place give it a contemplative air.

There's a line at the top of the tasting menu that simply says "snacks". What a marvellous understatement. A Smoky Bay oyster with tiny, edible, purple flowers and a burst of lime has the added bonus of tiny enoki mushroom heads, lightly pickled pearls scattered on the plate. A miniature crumpet is brushed with honey and loaded up with trout roe and smoked trout butter. A crackling chicken wing is followed by an amuse-bouche of chicken broth so bursting with flavour it evokes the clouds of steam in a phở restaurant. A King George whiting ceviche comes with fresh and roasted coconut and a quasi-Asian lime flavour. There's a little green pop of peas, about the size of a pinhead – because, of course, why would you have regular garden peas when you could have the added sweetness of peas from a snowpea?
Aged Great Ocean duck with ouster and rockmelon.
The menu flows by, thanks to seamless service from delightful staff. There's abalone, duck and venison. A moment of theatre as a dry ice concoction – the ice made from fermented tomato – is spooned over lobster, the mist drifting briefly. Throughout, the sommelier makes smart suggestions and he obviously has a vast knowledge about the wines – but doesn't overshare.
You get the impression that, faced with serious wine aficionados, he could tell them every detail they needed to know, and many they didn't. After one of the delightful staff, Jade, has cleared the last of the delicate desserts, she gives this chilli-head a take-home present. A guide to the state's best chilli products and a newfound interest in chillies grown in space. This is a place of legends, from start to finish.