Adelaide's well-known Africola will reopen this month with a new flavour behind it.
Just when you thought you had a handle on Africola - South Africa meets South Australia meets fire-pit cooking meets indie winemaking - chef Duncan Welgemoed and designer James Brown go and flip the script. When the celebrated Adelaide restaurant reopens on 19 July, it'll have a new look, a retooled kitchen, a new menu and a new flavour driving the whole enterprise: North Africa.
Or whatever Welgemoed's version of "North Africa" entails. Thus far the influences he has cited include Madagascar alongside the more geographically apt likes of Morocco and Ethiopia. ("Esoteric influences play a big part in my cooking," he shrugs.)
Hand-pulled lamb shawarmas will feature alongside injera, the staple Ethiopian flatbread, served with seven condiments. Bread is going to be a focus, and there'll be lots of smoking. There's also going to be a move away from "heavy proteins" towards vegetable-based dishes: house-grown oyster mushrooms sauced with brown butter and za'atar, say, and pumpkin roasted whole with green harissa and caramelised dates.
Changes are afoot with the wine, too. "I want this place to be a showcase and a clubhouse for Basket Range winemakers," Welgemoed says, adding that the restaurant will soon sport a "demijohn forest". Brown's design, he says, will shift the décor "from shebeen-style to something more uncluttered".
"We're proud of what we've been doing but we want to keep it fresh". That said, Welgemoed's signature peri peri chicken will remain on the menu, and he says there's exactly zero chance that his secret-recipe hot sauce, the mythical Mpumalanga Fire, is going anywhere. "That'll never f**ken leave. Ever."
Africola reopens 19 July; 4 East Tce, Adelaide, SA, (08) 8223 3885, africola.com.au