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Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Daniel O'Connell Pub and Dining, North Adelaide

Roast bone marrow salad at the Daniel o'Connell Hotel, Adelaide

Pig head torchon. Roast bone marrow salad. Lamb sweetbreads. Pickled ox tongue. If you're sick of cookie cutter menus, the menu at The Daniel O'Connell in North Adelaide reads like a fun park for your tastebuds.

Head chef Aaron Gillespie and sous chef Phil Whitmarsh aren't just fans of nose-to-tail eating; they're relentless full-time advocates.They bring in whole animals into the kitchen at the Daniel O'Connell - sourced from local butcher Richard Gunner of Feast! Fine Foods - and break them down, utilising every part however they can. They're not unabashed about where these parts might pop up on the menu either. Last time I checked they were attempting chocolate and pigs blood nougat. Really.

Lobo pear cider
Lobo pear cider made in the Adelaide Hills

After our recent trip to Kangaroo Island, Billy and I stayed on in Adelaide for a couple of extra nights. It gave us the perfect chance to meet up with some Adelaide food bloggers although even with seven people, we only managed to cover about half the menu.

We'd heard that the Daniel O'Connell used to be a bit of a dive, famous more for its cheap chicken schnitzels than any kind of refined dining. Its recent refurbishment and menu change to more of a gastro pub focus has been a protracted process but it's slowly getting there, report Aaron and Phil when they briefly stop by our table later on in the evening.

Oyster and Guinness shot with syringe
Oyster and Guinness $3

Oysters and Guinness turn out to be "oyster and Guinness" - but we're glad we checked with staff first anyway. It's a fun concept, a freshly shucked oyster ready to be flooded with Guinness, transferred from a shot glass using a plastic ampule.

Whitebait with tartare
Whitebait with tartare $8

The whitebait turn out to be generously plentiful for $8, a pile of lightly floured fish deep-fried to a golden crisp, served with a lemon half and a deep saucer of tangy tartare.

Gin-cured salmon with cucumber and lavosh
Gin-cured salmon with cucumber and lavosh $14

The gin-cured salmon almost looks too pretty to eat, silky soft and buttery fillets that have an alcoholic kick of gin. The lavosh crackers provide a contrasting crunch to the salmon. Ribbons of cucumber - curled up tightly into scrolls - and edible flowers enhance the feeling of delicacy with this dish.

Snapper, bourride, shellfish and sea greens
Snapper, bourride, shellfish and sea greens $32

The snapper is the most expensive seafood item on the menu. The skin-seared fish perches jauntily above a lake of bourride, traditionally a garlicky fish stew but a little under-seasoned this evening.

Goats cheese with quince, cucumber and beetroot
Goats cheese, quince, cucumber and beetroot $12

The goats cheese is another dish worth admiring for a moment or two before plundering, quivering mounds of goats cheese brightened with slices of poached quince, beetroot and (more) cucumber scrolls.

Ham hock croquettes with apple
Ham hock croquettes with apple $7.50

Ham hock croquettes are quickly pronounced as one of the surprise hits of the evening. George says it reminds him of his grandma's ham hock soup, but intensified into one deep-fried umami mouthful.

Pig head torchon with gribiche, apple and kohlrabi
 Pig head torchon with gribiche, apple and kohlrabi $16

The pig head torchon is a picture of refinement, the richness of the meat and fat from a pig's head countered by a layer of gribiche (pickled cucumbers, capers and egg whites mixed in a sauce made from boiled egg yolks, mustard and oil) and gossamer thin slices of cool kohlrabi and sweet apple curls.

Black pudding, radish and saltbush
Black pudding, apple, radish and saltbush $14

The black pudding isn't immediately visible when this dish arrives, hidden beneath a blanket of apple and radish slices.

Black pudding, radish and saltbush
Black pudding beneath the apple

We forage beneath and find a doorstep of black pudding, remarkably soft but springy in texture with a deft hand in seasoning that masterfully hovers between earthy and elegant.

Coorong Angus skirt steak with onion rings
200g Coorong Angus skirt steak with onion rings $26

How cute are these onion rings? These puffed up hoops cascade across the plate of Coorong Angus skirt steak slices, all cooked to a deep blushing pink.

Dead romance ox heart with oyster, caper and cornichons
'Dead Romance' ox heart with oyster, caper and cornichons $14

Dead Romance was what I had my heart set on - pun intended. It's an impressive sight, with ox heart tartare filled into a hollowed out shin bone. The finely chopped ox heart is unbelievably tender, and the mix of caper and cornichons give a welcome tang, punctuated every now and then with the briny burst of raw oysters. Amazing.

Roast bone marrow salad with parsley, shallots and capers
Roast bone marrow salad with parsley, shallots and capers $14

And then there was the roast bone marrow salad. It looks just like a forest: pale marrow-filled trunks rising up among the undergrowth of parsley, shallots and capers. The bone marrow has been cooked a little too long, so much of it has liquefied, but I zealously pour it onto our thick slices of charred toast anyway, and revel in its decadence.

Eton Mess dessert
Eton Mess $13

Dessert brings more surprises. The Eton Mess is far from its usual haphazard construction, here it's an elaborate composition with varying textures of meringue, fruit leathers, aerated sponge cake and strawberries.

Chocolate, beetroot, buttermilk, salt and nuts
Chocolate, beetroot, buttermilk, salt and nuts $13.50

Chocolate and beetroot is deeply satisfying too, intense chocolatey flavours partnered ingeniously with beetroot, nut smithereens and salt. It's sweet and salty and crazily it works.

They make their own chocolates here too, and although my photo was way too blurry to publish here I can assure you that the lamb fat caramel chocolates were worth bleating about. Heh.

Truly a memorable meal with innovative dishes I wish I could revisit over and over again. Adelaide - I've just found another reason to return again soon.

The Daniel O'Connell Pub and Dining, Adelaide

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The Daniel O'Connell Pub and Dining on Urbanspoon

The Daniel O'Connell
165 Tynte Street, North Adelaide, South Australia
Tel: +61 (08) 8267 4032

Open 7 days 11am til late
Kitchen usually closes about 9pm

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22 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 12/19/2013 02:02:00 am


  • At 12/19/2013 4:56 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    I want ALL of this. Gin salmon and black pudding!

  • At 12/19/2013 7:40 am, Anonymous john | heneedsfood said…

    You sure do know how to order food, Helen. What a delicious spread.

  • At 12/19/2013 7:53 am, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    Love nose to tail restaurants! Nothing goes waste and they have awesome marrow dishes like that!

  • At 12/19/2013 11:25 am, Blogger Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    trust you to visit a place like this in adelaide :P

  • At 12/19/2013 12:05 pm, Anonymous Joanne T Ferguson said…

    G'day! Seems to be THE in place in Adelaide at the moment, true!
    GREAT menu, GREAT food selections Helen and am sure heaps of people will now want to experience in the New Year too!
    Cheers! Joanne

  • At 12/19/2013 12:32 pm, Blogger gaby @ lateraleating said…

    What a great dining experience! What would be the best place to get this kind of nose-to-tail eating in Sydney in your opinion?

  • At 12/19/2013 2:27 pm, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…


  • At 12/19/2013 2:49 pm, Anonymous Eha said…

    Hate to print conventional, but OMG!! Fantastic offerings which I may just have to repost tomorrow to 'skite' to all my o'seas blogfriends!! What imagination, what fun!!!

  • At 12/19/2013 6:13 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    All these dishes look divine! I am keen to try the whitebait, looks very crisp and perfect golden colour

  • At 12/19/2013 9:16 pm, Blogger ista said…

    Oh wow, they have changed a little ... will have to try them again when I'm back in ADL in August.

  • At 12/19/2013 11:04 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    That's a pretty amazing spread right there! Without a doubt, my heart would be stolen by my favourite, the bone marrow, probably followed by the lamb fat caramels? It's one of this great concepts you just know you must try! Big big yum!

  • At 12/20/2013 10:11 am, Anonymous squishies said…

    I love how you can make offal sound so delicious Helen! ^_^ Makes me half wanting to try them.

    Love how pretty that gin-cured salmon dish is - I think it's the curled cucumbers...

  • At 12/20/2013 4:59 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi John - It's a tough gig but I try :)

    Hi Joanne - I wish we had something similar in Sydney!

    Hi Gaby - Unfortunately I don't think anyone is doing a similarly expansive menu in Sydney, although there are some interesting offal dishes at Colin Fassnidge's 4Fourteen.

    Hi Squishies - Offal is divine and delicious :)

  • At 12/20/2013 11:30 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    For such intricacy and style, everything seems so well priced. You won me at bone marrow Helen.

  • At 12/21/2013 6:19 pm, Anonymous Chris @ MAB vs Food said…

    All the food looks great! A nice find in Adelaide that's for sure. I love in house cured or smoked salmons

  • At 12/21/2013 9:51 pm, Blogger gaby @ lateraleating said…

    Thanks for your reply, Helen, I'll give it a crack and will try to book a trip to Adelaide asap.

  • At 12/22/2013 2:27 pm, Anonymous Cara @ Gourmet Chick said…

    Planning a trip to Adelaide next year so this is going on my wish list for sure.

  • At 12/22/2013 11:23 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Really beautiful photos here! The eton mess looks amaze.

  • At 12/26/2013 7:37 pm, Anonymous sara | Belly Rumbles said…

    I have been itching to get to the Daniel O'Connell since Phil moved in to the kitchen. I have heard nothing but wonderful things from those that have dined there, and from Phil too of course ;)

  • At 12/27/2013 12:00 am, Anonymous Christine @ Cooking Crusade said…

    Stunning looking meal. it looks so arty and creative!

  • At 12/27/2013 11:12 am, Anonymous Olivia @ mademoiselle in Sydney said…

    Oh wow!!! I absolutely need to go to Adelaide, this looks bloody fantastic!!! :) Merry Christmas Helen!

  • At 1/02/2014 12:35 pm, Anonymous Amanda @ Gourmanda said…

    I love the look of the marrow salad - like you said, it looks like a piece of art, a scene out of a forest!


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