Friday, March 25, 2011


This lovely historic old pub sits in the equally lovely town of Old Noarlunga, nestled in a bend of the Onkaparinga River, south of Adelaide. I had not been into that pub in many years so when we decided to head down there and explore the Bistro one lunch time, it was with a certain amount of interest and awareness that it is a historic place.
Of course its had quite a rebuild in recent years to enable it to cope with a growing population in the areas out around the sleepy old town itself. Once a small town isolated from Adelaide by distance and countryside it is now kept isolated only by the limited amount of land available in the river bend. This makes it a fortunate place for it has all the charm of the country and yet the customers a large city pub would enjoy.
The bistro was very nicely laid out in restful colours, rather long and separated from the ‘Pokies’ by a curved wall that adequately controlled the noise from those machines. We were attended to very promptly and my request for a nice quiet spot was happily granted at a window table by the northern end. This enabled us to have a pleasant view of the town and hills of the river bend.
The menu was downright tempting in all ways. I felt it was very cleverly thought out as it provided a range of meals that would appeal to just about anyone, yet was small enough that the kitchen staff would be able to guarantee every item was fresh. My wife was immediately taken by the grilled Tuna steak which left me a little jealous as I would have liked to go for that myself. But having decided that when ever possible we should try different things, I stuck to the game plan. I’ve always loved Pasta Marina and it was so nicely described that I settled on that, although it was a close run thing as some of the steak and other dishes sounded really nice. Someone obviously knew how to make the menu sound tasty and in language people understand.
Having placed our order we were invited to help ourselves at the salad bar. This was nicely laid out and while it had most of the usual things one expects, this one also had a tasty looking Thai cold noodle salad. The salad plates were quite adequate in size which was certainly an improvement over some other establishments we have been too.
Once seated with our salad plates at the ready, we got down to eating. The Thai salad was very tasty indeed and had just the right amount of ‘zing’ to it to refresh the palate and be enjoyable without overpowering all the other items available. Very notable was how fresh and crisp the salads were. I’ve had some nice ones recently and described them on this blog, but somehow the salad at this Bistro was just that little bit better than the others.
Despite quite a few people in the Bistro we did not have to wait very long to receive our main meals. When placed in front of us I could not help but admire them. Modern Chef’s like to indulge in a bit of decoration on the plate, but often forget that it is still a meal and the person eating it needs to feel they have eaten well at the end of the experience. The grilled Tuna steak sitting in front of my wife looked absolutely delectable. I don’t know if the Chef planned it that way or not, but every salad vegetable or accompanying vegetables on that plate formed a really attractive backdrop to the juicy fish in the centre. The various greens items seemed to be placed just right so that dark or light, each was visible, blended with the red of tomato and the red of capsicum to make the whole dish a great visual experience even before eating.
My Marinara was also very well laid out and my attention was immediately drawn to the juicy looking prawns and larger than expected sections of Calamari. The meal was a delight to get stuck into with a great sauce and pasta that was perfectly al’dente. Each prawn was a fresh and tasty treat, but the Calamari topped everything, being cooked to perfection as so few people seem to be able to achieve. I was surprised to find there were no shell fish as that is so traditional to Marinara, but in its place small pieces of smoked salmon had been substituted and these added a nice flavour.
Near the bottom of the pasta, with all the other items consumed, I was a little perplexed to find a flavour that I did not feel went with that sort of dish. I could not really decide what it was. It wasn’t really bad, yet it just did not match. For that reason I left the last heap of pasta uneaten. Considering the excellence of the dish in all other ways I am still a little surprised now, that there was something not quite right toward the end. It was however the only fault I could find with a generous and well laid out serve. Perhaps Chef needs to sit down and eat one almost to the end in order to work out what ingredient caused that end taste.
Meanwhile Maureen was eating away happily at her Tuna Steak. Having realised that I would have liked that myself she even let me try a fork full of what turned out to be a very pleasant and flavourful fish. I’m used to eating raw fish as I love Sushi, but my wife has never been fond of it. The Tuna steak was perhaps a fraction too raw. The outside was grilled nicely but there had not been time for heat from the grill to penetrate to the centre of what was a really thick Tuna steak. None the less it was delightfully tasty and was fully consumed along with the clever array of accompanying vegetables and green salad.
On this occasion we had sighted a menu item that drew the attention of both of us. Dutch Apple Cheesecake dessert looked like something not to be missed, so we ordered one to share. My wife is really the desserts person, the sweeter the better, but she was quite pleased with this first introduction to something a bit different. I was impressed by the quality of it and thought the taste was good, but Maureen declared it a first class dish and obviously enjoyed it. As she is the expert I will have to agree with her assessment.
Over all the visit was a very pleasant one that we will remember and have promised ourselves we will repeat. Staff were friendly and although only two were working tables they were obviously able to cope and were well in control. There were only rare glances of kitchen staff. My impression was that it was a very well run Bistro both from a management and kitchen point of view. 

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