Bar 9

“Have you been to Bar 9?”

I’ve been asked this question more times than I can remember, by foodies and casual diners alike. And my answer, sadly, was always ‘no’, unless you count grabbing a quick coffee from the original Bar 9 way back in 2010. The cafe has since moved across the road to premises about five times the size; the Bar 9 I went to a couple of years ago is now a distant memory for most!

When I visited, I can recall having a very good coffee, and noted they served goodies from Let Them Eat for lunch – that’s about it. These days Bar 9 boasts a full kitchen and thus a full brunch menu, as well as being known for serving some of the best coffee in Adelaide.

I finally made it to the “new” Bar 9 this week (though it’s not really new, having opened back in 2011). In fact, I liked it so much that I returned a few days later!

As I entered the cafe, I noticed it was fit out and decorated quite nicely. It still had the same hipster, put-together-at-the-last-minute-but-works-well kind of feel, though on a much larger scale than before. To put it simply, there is plenty to look at as you eat your meal. Aside from the cafe itself, it’s a great place to people-watch.

I considered ordering from the brunch menu but on both occasions I was in a bit of a rush so I opted for one of their piadinas, which I spied being freshly made in the kitchen. The chicken, mushroom and pesto piadina was spot on – piping hot and really flavoursome. Though pesto can sometimes overpower an entire dish, it was the perfect complement to the flavours on offer here. All of the ingredients were clearly fresh and good quality, as it’s hard to get something with such simple ingredients tasting so yummy otherwise!  I also had a taste of the lamb piadina and salami piadina and thought they were equally tasty. The addition of rocket dressed in some kind of lemon infused oil provided a nice side salad as opposed to a boring garnish.The meals were huge too – I struggled to finish mine, and that’s saying something!

Lamb and pinenut piadina

Chicken, mushroom and pesto piadina

In terms of drinks, I’ve tried a latte, iced coffee, and a couple of their summer menu drinks – the magnum (shaken, sweetened espresso) and the ferrari (cafe freddo). I am in no way some kind of coffee expert, but you can tell Bar 9 know what they’re doing. That said – I found my latte perhaps a touch on the weak side. Only a touch. I suppose I do like my coffee stronger than most, so perhaps I would opt for a piccolo latte next time. The iced coffee was quite cute, as it was served in a jar (like a lot of things these days – this must be the new hip thing). It was a good size and the icecream was tasty, but it wasn’t too milky.

As for the slightly more fancy drinks, I enjoyed them but I’m not sure if I would get the same ones again. The cafe freddo was done well, but I was hoping for something slightly more refreshing. The shaken espresso, again, was a great concept but was just too sweet, in my opinion. The great taste was overshadowed by a massive sugar hit as you took a sip.

Iced coffee

Latte

So, after a couple of visits to Bar 9 – will I return again? Definitely! It’s clear this is a gem on this side of town – something a little bit different. They have something good going on, and I like it.

Bar 9: 96 Glen Osmond Rd, Parkside SA

Opening hours: Mon – Fri 7:30-4pm; Sat & Sun 8:30-2pm

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Basic Scones

Do you remember the boom of ‘4 Ingredient Cooking’ a couple of years ago? I never really understood all the hype, to be honest. Sure, there’s only four ingredients in your meal – but would it be better with five, or six? To me, an easy recipe has four steps, not four ingredients. I also figure that if you’re not putting much into your food, you’re probably not going to get a lot out of it. There are, of course, exceptions – you can definitely make a nice meal or snack with a few ingredients and some basics. But what makes these stand out is a good flavour combination and good quality ingredients, and in this respect, I don’t think a recipe book will always help you.

Perhaps the only true four ingredient recipe to which I turn regularly is one for scones. If you’re looking at a recipe for scones with more than 4 ingredients (excluding extras such as fruit), it’s probably unnecessarily complicated. Recipes for scones vary greatly but usually, their small ingredient list is common. I’ve seen recipes with milk, cream, lemonade, different flours, sugar, no sugar…the list goes on. The one that I use is probably the most basic (hence its title) but I don’t think it necessarily skimps on taste or texture. In the end, you generally don’t eat a plain scone on its own (pass the jam and cream, anyone?). Therefore you can get away with putting less in the scones themselves. Recipes that have cream, for instance, will probably be cakier, more flavoursome and buttery, but you’ll probably only notice this if you eat the scone by itself. Otherwise, in my opinion, a basic recipe is perfectly adequate.

I’ve heard lots of tips for making scones over the years, and a couple have stuck. The first one is to grate your butter instead of cubing it. This will make the rubbing process a lot quicker than if you’re dealing with cold, little cubes of butter that refuse to be rubbed into anything. While grating butter sounds a bit odd, I do find it helps. To make sure you get a fairly accurate measurement (though it doesn’t have to be exact), grate your butter directly into the bowl with the flour, and use kitchen scales to measure how much butter you’ve added. A box grater rather than a microplane works best.

The second is, as always, not to overwork the dough. You don’t really need to knead scone dough, or roll it out – a gentle pat is all that’s needed once the dough has come together. I remember being told in Year 8 Home Economics to give my scone dough 60 ‘turns’, or knead it 60 times. Of course I didn’t listen to this and ended up with the best scones in the class (and helped everyone else, too!).

Another thing to remember with scone dough is to more or less go with how it feels, rather than following the recipe to a T. The amount of milk absorbed by the flour will vary greatly, and so if you sense your dough will end up too dry as it’s coming together, act early and add some extra milk, though only a very small amount at a time. The dough will be a bit wet, but not excessively – you should be able to pat it out with floured hands.

Basic scones, adapted from taste.com.au

Ingredients

  • 450g/3 cups self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 80g butter, grated
  • Approx 1 cup full cream milk
  • Jam and cream, to serve

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Line a small baking tray or slice tin with baking paper.
  • Combine the flour and sugar, then add the grated butter. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until there are no lumps of butter remaining. Try to get the mix looking as much like flour as possible.
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, and add one cup of milk. Using a butter knife, cut into the mixture, from one side of the bowl to the other, rotating the bowl after each ‘cut’. Continue until as much of the flour is incorporated as possible. Don’t stress too much if there is some flour left in the bottom of the bowl.
  • Gently bring the dough together and place on a work surface dusted with flour or covered with a sheet of baking paper. Gently pat out until it’s around 2-3cm thick.
  • Use a cookie cutter to cut out rounds from the dough, ensuring you don’t twist the cutter as you pull it out. Once you’ve cut as many rounds as you can, gently combine the dough again to cut out more rounds. At this point you can also add a tiny bit more milk to the flour left at the bottom of the bowl, make a dough and add this to the dough scraps to pat out. Note that these scones won’t be quite as nice as the first batch as the dough has been worked more.
  • Place the rounds on a baking tray and brush lightly with some extra milk using a pastry brush.
  • Pop them in the oven for around 25 minutes, depending on your oven. The scones are ready when they’re golden brown on the bottoms and tops.
  • Serve warm with jam and whipped or double cream. Scones are best eaten on the day they are made.