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Roasted tomato, sheep’s milk fetta, raisin, basil and al­mond salad ($15) Soft sour­dough, pan-fried fish, tomato ($17) Mar­i­nated garfish, light bat­ter with real chips ($19.50)

Corned beef, po­tato salad, cor­ni­chon, mus­tard and ice­berg baguette ($13) egg, home­made chut­ney and a large bowl of proper chips. We rely on a bot­tle of Langhorne Creek 2007 Zontes Foot­step pinot gri­gio ($30) to in­ject some sum­mer zing into this grey day.

The wa­ter­melon salad ($15) proves more a meal than a side: wa­ter­melon, ly­chees, a tum­ble of leaves and sliv­ered al­monds topped with fried hal­loumi and crispy pita bread oven-dried with sumac and lemon.

Dessert con­sists of a tempt­ing col­lec­tion of tarts and cakes baked by Theodoros’s part­ner and pas­try chef Stephanie Vasileff, ar­rayed on the counter in the main din­ing room, where an old wooden row­ing boat hangs from the wall.

Af­ter much um­ming and ah­hing we set­tle for a lemon meringue cake (in­fin­itely prefer­able to a pie) and a gor­geous rasp­berry and nec­tarine tart ($6 each).

Theodoros’s sea change, af­ter a stint as ex­ec­u­tive chef at the up-mar­ket Aman­bagh in In­dia, is prov­ing fast and fu­ri­ous, he says, but he’s rel­ish­ing the lo­cal seafood: linecaught mul­loway hooked that morn­ing, Fleurieu squid and Coroong mul­let.

Sit­ting so near the dwin­dling tail end of the Mur­ray, I’m re­minded of Rick Stein’s com­pelling pas­sion for Mediter­ranean fish­ing towns and their un­pre­ten­tious seafood restau­rants. There, an­glers risk run­ning out of fish; here it’s wa­ter. And seafood has been a main­stay in this part of the world for mil­len­nia, as the shell mid­dens and stone fish traps of the Ngar­rind­jeri peo­ple at­test.

Sit­ting be­neath an um­brella at the charm­ing Aqua­caf, will­ing those black clouds to open, it’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine Aus­tralia might sac­ri­fice this mag­i­cal cor­ner of the world.

Check­list

Aqua­caf, Bar­rage Road, Goolwa. (08) 8555 1235. www.aqua­caf.com.au. Open: Break­fast and lunch daily dur­ing school hol­i­days. Din­ner, Fri­day and Satur­day (and Thurs­days in sea­son). At other times closed Tues­days and Wed­nes­days, and for win­ter, late July to end of Au­gust. Din­ner menu changes weekly out­side the hol­i­day pe­riod. Cost: Mains $10-$23.50; desserts $5-$6. Drink: Lo­cal (Langhorne or Cur­rency Creeks) from the small, mainly South Aus­tralian, wine list. Rea­son to re­turn: Spank­ing fresh seafood cooked sim­ply but in­no­va­tively.

Sea change: Jor­dan Theodoros’s new beach shack-style Aqua­caf is lur­ing the chef’s long-time fans

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