In some ways, The Summertown Aristologist was built for an audience of one. Winemaker Anton van Klopper, of Lucy Margaux fame, had been pining for the sort of places he frequented when he was in France – bars that poured his kind of wine and served his kind of food. The choice, in the end, he says, was to either move to Paris or make something of his own back home in the Adelaide Hills. Luckily for us, he went with the second option.
The Summertown Aristologist was the result. Opened in spring 2016 by van Klopper, fellow Basket Range winemaker Jasper Button, of Commune of Buttons, and former Orana manager Aaron Fenwick, it quickly gained a reputation for service and food under original chef Tom Edwards that exceeded the expectations set by its relaxed, friendly, converted-shop setting.
Under chefs Oliver Edwards and Brianna Smith, who took over the kitchen in 2017, the Aristologist has gone from strength to strength. Not that their work is confined to the kitchen. The restaurant opens Friday through Sunday, and the rest of the week Edwards and Smith are in the garden. "It's about growing as much as we can, and buying the rest from farmers with similar philosophies," says Edwards. Around 90 per cent of the fresh produce they use comes from their garden patch, just 10 minutes' drive away. They buy meat a single beast at a time, turning the bulk into charcuterie products. "We make two types of saucisson, prosciutto, lardo, guanciale."
That DIY ethos runs through everything they do. Grains are milled daily for Khorasan sourdough, and kefir cultures butter and cream. Jars of pickles line the bench, standing to lacto-ferment. Any leftover ferments are turned into powders, like some kind of brilliant zero-waste alchemy. A local glassblower makes the wine glasses, and the ceramics are made in nearby Stirling.
Here we've asked Edwards and Smith to share the dishes that they like to serve friends. "The seasonal kraut is a must to start, with charcuterie and bread," says Edwards. From there it's a vegetable-forward affair in the likes of charred broccoli with furikake. Edwards is an advocate for sustainable fish, and that informs his choice of species here – char-grilled whiting, served simply with seaweed butter and a squeeze of lemon. And to finish? A spelt and frangipane tart, tangy with rhubarb. Wholesome food need not feel like privation, says Edwards. Take your time and focus on creating a meal that's about "feeling nourished, not full."
The Summertown Aristologist, 1097 Greenhill Rd, Summertown, SA, 0477 410 105, thesummertownaristologist.com
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