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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Food(ie) Shopping in Adelaide

Chances are that if you’re reading this blog, you are a foodie in some shape or form. Perhaps you like checking out what’s happening on the cafe scene, or  love buying the freshest local produce and cooking up a storm at home. Or, if you’re like me, you love both!

However, it took me quite a while to discover both the best places to eat and the best places to buy produce. Some might say it’s not difficult to find a good place to eat – there are entire blogs and websites dedicated to rating and reviewing restaurants and cafes. But buying the best stuff to make and cook at home? I think that’s more difficult. It often requires a bit of extra effort to find fresh food, but you’ll be thanking yourself when you taste the difference between real produce and what you buy at your local Colesworths.

So here is my list of places to shop in Adelaide for the average foodie. This list is by no means extensive; it’s just where I generally go to stock up. Let me know in the comments section if there’s anywhere else I should be visiting!

Queen Street Grocer

Queen Street Grocer is located conveniently next door to Red Door Bakery, perhaps my favourite place in the world. After eating my fill of sausage rolls and croissants, I’ll often sneak next door and top up on pantry essentials. My weekly purchases always include muesli – QSG stock the Goodies and Grains toasted varieties, some untoasted/bircher mixes, as well as my absolute favourite, the maple nut crunch. This crunchy muesli isn’t always in stock, so when it’s available I tend to hoard it and buy half the batch (sorry, guys!). It’s a tad more expensive but in my opinion completely worth it. On a weekend I like to poach pears in honey syrup, cinnamon and star anise, and serve these with muesli, natural yoghurt and some fresh fruit. This is an amazing gourmet breakfast at home, and a lot cheaper than eating it out, too.

This brings me to my other purchases. QSG sell little glass jars of herbs and spices for $3, and will refill your jar for $2. This is pretty much the best value ever, not to mention you’re getting much better quality than your standard packet from the supermarket. They also have a great variety of nuts, dried fruits and grains, as well as showcasing SA produce.

Adelaide Showground Farmers Market

Who doesn’t go to the farmers market these days? I started making the trek regularly a couple of years ago and since then it has really boomed. There’s people everywhere and the lines are ridiculously long at the more popular stalls. If you dislike crowds you can go in the afternoon, but the best picks are always gone by 11am. Don’t let this stop you though! The atmosphere at the market is great, with such a variety of patrons, buskers, and of course the stallholders. I can’t really explain in words the joy I get out of the market; it’s more than just buying really good quality produce. It might just have something to do with the friendliness of the stallholders and the feeling you get from knowing you’re supporting our state’s deserving farmers rather than the profit margins of the supermarket duopoly.

I like to buy huge bags of red capsicums to roast from the Tsmikilis family at their corner stall – for about $5 you can get 1.5kg of slightly blemished capsicums which are much better than your average supermarket fare. I usually purchase my apples from Otherwood Orchards – I have never bought a floury apple from them, and that’s saying something. Head to the Honey Lady inside if you want the best honey you have ever tasted – she has a huge variety of raw and spiced honeys. My personal favourite is the cinnamon honey, which is great with black tea before bed. For a special treat, buy a box of toffee from Dickens Delights. I don’t know how it’s made but it tastes amazing. My family has been known to buy a box and finish it off that night. I also have a bit of a soft spot for Paolo’s fruit buns; they were originally sold as hot cross buns, and since they were so popular he continued baking them! I wish other bakeries did this sometimes, but I know I’d (eventually) get sick of them. If you need another special treat, head to From Scratch Patisserie. You may have seen their popup stall near Coffee Branch on Friday mornings – it is pretty much just a stall of yum. The pastries and macarons are to die for, and you can tell that a lot of thought has been put into what they create.

I could probably write an entire blog post on the Farmers Market, but I’ll just end on this: there is a perception that the market is more expensive, or for the hardcore foodies, but I’d have to say this is completely incorrect, in my opinion. If you want to search out the heirloom vegies, the tastiest fruit, and buy the best from primary producers, there is nowhere better to do it than here. You’re supporting the farmer directly and providing a direct source of income. Because there is no middleman, the prices are often similar to that at your local greengrocer or supermarket, though may sometimes be cheaper or more expensive depending on the seasons and availability. You won’t find strawberries or bananas in the middle of winter at the farmers market, and this is for a good reason. I think cooking good food comes from buying seasonally, and this is easiest to do at the farmers market.

Adelaide Central Market

The Adelaide Central Market is slightly more accessible than the farmers market, and also has a wider range, as it’s not limited to local production (see here for the differences). It is open most days and with such good competition in the market, prices are often quite good. There is everything from average to the best quality in the central market – the trick is to take the time to search out what’s best. Every stall is going to have something to offer.

Apart from your basic fruit and veg, you can pretty much purchase anything else you desire from the market. A recent new stall is San Jose smallgoods, who also pop up at the farmers market on the weekend. Their amazing chorizo is the perfect touch to spice up a risotto.

The other bonus about the central market is that with the surrounding restaurants and cafes, not to mention Rundle Mall down the road, you can easily make a day of your shopping trip.

Bottega Rotolo

I don’t come here often, but when I do it’s for something quite specific. Bottego Rotolo are located in Norwood, quite close to the city. I like to think of them as Adelaide’s Essential Ingredient. If you want something that’s quite hard to find, chances are you’ll find it here. Think vanilla pods, fancy imported cheeses and very expensive balsamic vinegar.

Tony & Marks

Tony & Marks, on the other hand, is at least a weekly stop-off for my family. It’s more than just your average greengrocer – we buy Tweedvale milk, cheese, olives, yoghurt and Careme pastry here, as well as fruit and veg and the occasional bunch of flowers. The prices are also excellent too – for example, cheddar cheese is $10 per kilo, as opposed to the $20 per kilo imported varieties at the supermarket.

Standoms

Around the corner from Tony & Marks is Standoms Butchers, though they are of course located all over Adelaide. After purchasing meat and smallgoods from Standoms for so long, it’s difficult to eat meat from the supermarket, I actually can’t stomach it. You can just tell their meat is always fresh, and when you buy  ham from Standoms, it actually tastes like ham rather than plastic (I like the schwartzwelder personally).

Red Door

I may have dedicated a whole blog post to Red Door, but it’s worth mentioning again that in terms of weekly supplies, they have the best bread, ever.

Goodies and Grains

Located in one of the arcades off the Central Market, Goodies and Grains is a bit like your supersize Queen Street Grocer. They sell everything loose, from tea to nuts and dried fruits, dried beans and pasta, a huge range of herbs and spices, ten different types of flour and five varieties of rolled oats (that may be an exaggeration but you get the idea). The best thing about being able to buy in this way is that you can purchase only exactly how much you need, which means that you get everything super fresh and it’s also cost effective. There’s no need to buy a huge jar of sumac if you only need a teaspoon. They also give you a discount if you bring your own jars or containers to put your purchases in, so this might be worth considering if you plan to buy a lot. Goodies and Grains is definitely worth checking out if you’re health-conscious or have food intolerances as they have a wide range of ingredients to cater for this.

So that brings me to the end of the list. I’m sure I’ve missed out places, and I have definitely not done each store or market justice in a few paragraphs or less. That said, there’s only so much I can say without rambling – the best thing to do would be to visit yourself 🙂

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Red Door Bakery

Every time I try to begin writing this review, I stop and start again, because I cannot simply introduce Red Door with a sentence or two. It really deserves some kind of outrageous song and dance routine, complete with costumes made out of puff pastry. It’s that good.

So by now you may think I am crazy, and have closed the page to this review, dismissing it as the work of a sausage roll-crazed lunatic. And you would probably be correct in that assumption. Alternatively, you are desperately curious as to what on earth I’m going on about, especially if you have never heard of Red Door before (you poor thing).

Red Door began its life as a little bakery on Croydon’s slightly hipster Queen/Elizabeth St precinct with – you guessed it – a red front door. It is very much out of the way, so if you were unaware of this little community hub, chances are you would never discover it. What was probably once a series of local shops (think butcher, baker, grocer – though I’m guessing here) has evolved into another little series of shops, with a couple of cafes thrown in. There are boutiques, the cafes (Let Them Eat is a particular favourite of mine), a hairdresser,  a grocer (Queen Street Grocer, another favourite), a deli and of course, the constantly buzzing Red Door Bakery. The whole area has always seemed idyllic to me, with its painted stobie poles, laughing children running around, consistent sunny days and the general lovely vibe of the place.

Anyway, I think I may have originally found Red Door (and Queen St) through a review – perhaps from The Thousands – about a year and a half ago. And ever since that first visit I have been hooked, returning weekly for my fix. If you had to describe Red Door in one word, it would simply be real. Everything that is produced has a homemade look and taste to it, which is probably attributable to the seasonal, local and high quality produce used in the goods. It is many miles off what most bakeries produce and call food these days.

Every week I get the same thing for lunch – the Moroccan lamb and eggplant sausage roll. Each time I bite into one, the flavour is so unique that I am overcome with some kind of food bliss and it is hard to keep the “ahhhhh” sound from escaping my lips. Every mouthful reminds me of returning home.

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Moroccan lamb and eggplant sausage roll

My other companions tend to rotate their choices a bit – maybe a pork and sage sausage roll (I swear the lamb is better, my brother prefers the pork, but they are both lovely!), a shiraz and pancetta chunky angus beef pie or perhaps a chorizo, chicken and white bean pie, depending on the specials of the week. I, however, struggle to buy anything but my usual, and just sneak in a bite of everyone else’s meals to try new things. I’ve enjoyed all of them, but I keep going back to the Moroccan sausage roll!

For dessert I try to vary it up a bit. A favourite is the hazelnut swirl pastry, or a pear danish, or perhaps a plain croissant to toast with jam at home. The seasonal muffin is always a treat too. I loved last winter’s apple almond crumble muffin, and the quince and pistachio muffin (if Red Door is reading this, can these please make a comeback? 🙂 ). Strawberry and white  chocolate was a summer favourite, and the current variety is a banana muffin smothered with gooey caramel – it’s good. The almond croissants are also to die for (unless you’re allergic to nuts, in which case it just might not be worth actually dying for one), with a lovely, sweet, almond filling. I could go on forever about my love for Red Door, and all of the amazing things they sell, but I’ll try and keep the rest short.

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Pear danish

Red Door sell a couple of types of bread. They have the sourdough loaf, which is what I usually buy each week. It’s perfect for toasties, with scrambled eggs and bacon or perhaps sneaking a slice with butter before dinner. There is also the olive oil loaf, which is much softer though keeps and toasts well, and I find is good for burgers (or sneaking a slice before dinner). They also have mini bread sticks which are a yummy snack or quick lunch (think toppings of olives and rosemary or chorizo and caramelised onion) and little bread rolls. More recently they have begun making a sourdough spiced fruit loaf. I bought one the very day they began selling them and enjoyed the entire loaf (mostly to myself) immensely. The spices were just right, and I loved the denseness of the bread, though perhaps would have preferred a little more dried fruit.

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The coffee is also lovely, and I can particularly vouch for the iced coffee made with Red Door’s own espresso icecream. The icecream is the best bit. Don’t try to share it, or tears will be shed over the last spoonful.

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And I couldn’t review Red Door without congratulating the lovely owners and staff. They are always so friendly and helpful, not to mention they make the best baked goods ever, which puts them pretty high in my books!

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Goodwood store

If you’re like me and live nowhere near Croydon (though willing to travel for Red Door goodness), you will be pleased to hear that the lovely owners have recently opened up a second store in Goodwood, on King William Rd. I was hesitant at first about Red Door 2, but upon visiting today I found it just as warm and welcoming as the Croydon store, if not more so. It was buzzing at 11am – I’m glad the locals on this side of town appreciate Red Door as much as those in the west!

So by now you are probably salivating all over your keyboard, unless bad descriptions and photos have no effect on you. Want your Red Door fix? Here are the details:

Red Door 1: 22 Elizabeth St, Croydon.

Red Door 2: 54 King William Rd, Goodwood.

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