Restaurant Reviews

Temperance Restaurant

Three hours from Adelaide's CBD awaits an exemplary showcase of the Riverland food bowl, writes KATIE SPAIN.
Temperance restaurant exteriorSamuel Mahoney
SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Address
Murray Ave, Renmark, SA

The return of an established chef to their rural hometown can be a fortifying infusion, a culinary vitamin B shot for a region. That’s what happened when Hugh Hazelwood moved back from Europe to Renmark in 2020 to seek inspiration in the Riverland food bowl in which he was raised. There’s plenty to be inspired by. The Murray River winds its way through the rugged landscape, churning with life and feeding the surrounding citrus, fruit and wine industries. It all appears on the plate at Temperance Restaurant, a high-end nook in the historic Hotel Renmark.

Hazelwood and head chef Anthony Cresp (formerly Topiary) started here as dishwashers during their teens and their connection to the community and its producers hasn’t waned. Local pride meanders through the menu with the determination of a house boat making its way along the river.

House-made haloumi with charred apricots, honey and saltbush at Temperance Restaurant South Australia
House-made haloumi with charred apricots, Half Barrel Honey and saltbush

The new restaurant’s name is a throwback to the Prohibition era but there’s nothing dry about the drinks menu. Riverland wine producers are championed, each one joined by a story delivered by exuberant restaurant manager Mel Hamilton who links the likes of Delinquente Wine Co, Mallee Estate, Sixty Eight Roses, and 919 Wines with the full Prosperity Experience or slightly smaller five-course Austerity Experience.

There’s love at every turn. The wooden box in which sourdough arrives was made by Hazelwood’s dad, using apricot drying racks. Cresp’s foraged finds appear atop snacks, including house-made haloumi drizzled with local Half Barrel Honey and crisp saltbush. After years in Europe, Hazelwood is fastidious about broths, sauces and all things meticulously made and liquid. This is evident in his take on tea or a “cuddle from the kitchen”. A single piece of ravioli in a small bowl of flawless chicken consommé.

Blue swimmer crab tortellini in bowl at Temperance Restaurant.
Blue swimmer crab tortellini

Nomad beef appears carpaccio-style topped with a tumble of pickled and roast beetroot, pops of fresh foraged purslane, fried pickled onion, and the hero: large Black Sheep caper berries. Local fig and yoghurt sorbet is crowned with dried figs in quince syrup produced by nearby Singing Magpie Produce, while a fillet of Loxton lamb screams ’80s nostalgia; a quenelle of late-season tomato, rich lamb faggot, buttery fondant potato, puréed fennel, and a drizzle of basil oil. Even classic crème brûlée comes with an unmistakable local twist; slices of quince poached in sugar, vanilla ice-cream, and fresh nutmeg grated tableside.

For all the precision, this dynamic trio believes in inclusivity. Everyone is welcome. Hamilton is the glue that makes it all stick and the resulting microcosm is a reflection of the people who call the Riverland home; be it permanently or just for a short stay.

Temperance Restaurant
Murray Ave, Renmark, SA
Chef(s)
Hugh Hazelwood, Anthony Cresp
Price Guide
$$$
Bookings
Essential
Opening Hours
Dinner Fri-Sat

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