Going against the sage advice of my husband, I’ve excitedly agreed to be a contributing blogger for the uber cool, new website Adelady – a fun site for Adelaide ladies, or just ladies in general (or even men, hell, I’m not sexist), who enjoy good lifestyle, fashion and inspo-related reads – sharing some of the things I miss most about Adelaide. He thinks it will incite the dreaded ‘missing home’ illness, but I see it more as a celebration (or kind of therapy) showcasing Adelaide as Cinderella, rather than the ugly step sister it’s so commonly, unfairly portrayed as. Enjoy…
Cool little bars are sprouting up so fast in Adelaide and it makes me a little sad that I no longer have a front row seat to enjoy such a wonderful transformation to the cityscape and its laneways. So on a recent birthday celebration visit, one of my fellow wine-loving, in-the-know girlfriends, Alison, offered (all too quickly) to show me some of the newbie wine bars about Adelaide. Here’s what happened:
The Tasting Room
Very fittingly, we started our wine bar crawl with a glass of sparkling at The Tasting Room, also known as a wine aficionado’s candy store.
In Adelaide’s East End, The Tasting Room is the brainchild of wine retailer East End Cellars, which has moved across the road from its long-time home in Vardon Avenue to accommodate a bigger retail outlet, and in the process tasting area. Bottle-o meets bar – bloody genius!
I could easily picture myself coming here after work (if I still lived in Adelaide, not commuting from Melbourne, that would be quite the trek) for a quick catch up with my fellow wine-loving friends. Then obligingly picking up a few favourites to take home, before the venue shuts at 10pm – so no late-night dancing on the tables here ladies!
With exposed brick and wine box-derived wallpaper, it’s a very warm, inviting space. I wouldn’t have hesitated in staying on for another glass of bubbles and some antipasto nibbles if Alison hadn’t reminded me that we were on a bar crawl. A bar crawl that was my idea. It was time to move on.
The Tasting Room | 23 Vardon Avenue, Adelaide, South Australia
Phone: (08) 8232 5300
Next stop was 20 metres across the laneway at Mother Vine, housed in the old East End Cellars building.
This self-proclaimed wine bar is all about tasting and learning more about wine, without the snobbery. Mother Vine would be a great option if you’re after a serious wine fix and don’t have time to make the drive out to the Barossa or Adelaide Hills.
In many ways, Mother Vine is very similar to The Tasting Room (minus the shop front), which seems odd given they’re across the road from one another. But do not get me wrong, I am NOT complaining! Where The Tasting Room is all warmth and wood panelling, Mother Vine is much more contemporary, adorned by concrete, black tiles and bar stools.
As you’d expect, we had a hard-to-choose-from wine list put in front of us, from which we enjoyed a glass of the pinot grigio, while we also enjoyed the views of the Ken doll-lookalike waiter.
The snacks, small plates, large plates and cheese all on show were making me hungry. Time for some food, and I wanted to check out the new face on Gouger Street… Little NNQ.
Mother Vine | 22–26 Vardon Lane, Adelaide, South Australia
Phone: (08) 8227 2273
Dinner at Little NNQ
Little NNQ seems a little out-of-place on Gouger Street. With its wood paneling, more exposed brick and Thomas Edison light bulb pendants, its décor is very modern, very typically now. The Vietnamese restaurant would seemingly be more at home on uber cool Peel Street than amongst the stalwarts of Gouger Street.
However, the food is right at home on the Asian eat street, and being the offspring of Ferryden Park’s popular Vietnamese restaurant, Nghi Ngan Quan, I would expect so. In fact, our spring rolls, salt and pepper oyster mushrooms, and stuffed squid with tomato sugo were so good that Alison nearly ate it all while I was telling a big long, overinflated story. Stop talking! More eating!
For me, Little NNQ (which is not so little, with a front courtyard, back courtyard, upstairs and downstairs) is a very welcome, new face alongside my Gouger Street favourites. You just might need to remind the waiter that water is a handy commodity, as is an ice bucket for our Fiano left sitting to warm on the table.
Little NNQ | 125 Gouger Street, Adelaide, South Australia
Phone: (08) 8211 8558
La Rambla Tapas Bar
After dinner, we walked to Adelaide’s current small bar heartland: Peel Street. A three-storey tapas bar was always going to pique my interest, hence I’ve been wanting to pay a visit to La Rambla ever since it opened late last year. A towering building from the outside, it’s surprisingly warm and cosy on the inside, with a dark, industrial-type interior, and plenty of warm bodies happily partaking in the Spanish fiesta.
After waiting 20 minutes at the bar, caught behind an influx of cocktail making, we sat outside on the small balcony. However, given it was also the smoker’s corner we weren’t inclined to linger longer than one drink, or attempt another stint at the bar, and left a little bit underwhelmed.
But next time I’m back in Adelaide I’m willing to let La Rambla have a second date, and this time won’t come with a belly full of Vietnamese food. It seemed a shame not to try the menu that includes everyone’s favourite faces of cured meats, croquettes and Spanish meatballs, or a jug of Sangria. I do hear the food is wonderful.
La Rambla Tapas Bar | 28 Peel Street, Adelaide, South Australia
Phone: (08) 8410 0020
There’s something inextricably exciting about a hidden bar (mind you, the line up probably gives it away). The speakeasy factor, combined with much hype, had me bounding down the stairs into the bowels of Peel Street to discover Maybe Mae.
The small bar is accessed via a carefully disguised, wood-panelled door, which makes you feel like you’re a character out of a Bond movie. And once you’re inside, you very well could be, with Maybe Mae oozing opulence of a bygone Art Deco era.
Creating that theme of luxury are wall-to-wall gold panelled mirrors, plush green leather booths and green glass pendant lights (custom-made by the JamFactory).
It was very easy to grab a seat at the bar, peruse the impressive wine, beer and cocktail list, and forget where we were for an hour, immersed in the dark bar and relaxed vibe. We could have easily gotten confused and thought we’d entered a basement bar in New York.
Despite the hype and line up, Maybe Mae doesn’t disappoint and we could have simply stayed on if we didn’t have one more venue left on our wine bar crawl.
Maybe Mae | 15 Peel Street, Adelaide, South Australia
La Buvette Drinkery
Firstly, anywhere with the word ‘drinkery’ in the title has my tick of approval.
Stepping through the doors into this Parisian-themed wine bar, La Buvette Drinkery does give off a haughty French vibe. With its luxurious fit-out of Parisian street lamps, exposed beams, navy blue tiles, white panelling and leather booths, whilst serving up the likes of escargots and French aperitifs, it’s unlike anything else in the area – a feat given that laneway bars are the new black.
And although it’s only been open a couple of months, clearly quite a few people have caught on as the place was packed. But not in a shoulder-to-shoulder, over-share kind-of-way, but rather a cosy, bustling vibe kind-of-way.
I did have a moment where I genuinely thought I might be in France, when a French-looking and sounding moustached man hip and shouldered me out of the way so he could order his drink first and then preceded to have a hearty chuckle at his rudeness. I clearly missed the hilarity. If the patrons were rude, service made up for it, with staff very knowledgeable and friendly.
After several kilometres and several glasses of wine consumed under the guise of research, the onset of hiccups tells me that it’s time for a taxi to take us home.
A turbo-charged wine bar crawl and I feel reconnected with Adelaide again. At least I can almost be guaranteed that there’ll be a new host of bars ready for my next visit.
La Buvette Drinkery | 27 Gresham Street, Adelaide, South Australia