I first met Phil Whitmarsh, Head Chef at The Daniel O’Connell, what seems like eons ago. We met through the twitterverse, as you do. He started following me, and I reciprocated. I was quite flattered that a UK chef would bother following a humble Sydney blogger. Then one morning I received a tweet asking me where’s the best place to have breakfast in Kings Cross, he was visiting Sydney.
Mind you, this was either a Saturday or Sunday morning, and by the time I saw Phil’s tweet (I sleep in on the weekends), he had surely finished up with breakfast and most probably lunch as well. To add to that, I probably hadn’t eaten breakfast in the Cross for at least a decade. The last time would have been at the end of a very good night out, and along the lines of a kebab. In any case I tweeted off some suggestions, which I had on good advice were excellent choices, and Phil seemed happy.
Since then Phil has well and truly moved to Australia, has worked in Adelaide, moved up to NSW, worked in Sydney and with Wayne and Jessica at Lochiel House in Kurrajong. It is Adelaide that he now calls home.
I was in Adelaide for Tasting Australia and the Words to Go Conference, a visit to The Daniel O’Connell was top of my list. I was in Adelaide with Amanda and we ended up visiting for a Wednesday lunch on the day of our departure from Adelaide back to Sydney.
The food at The Daniel O’Connell is hearty and has balls. In fact, as they are true nose to tail advocates, you may very well find hearts and balls on your plate. The nose to tail philosophy is something I am a strong believer in. Chefs creatively use as much as possible from an animal in their dishes. This means you will not only get those prime cuts of an animal, but also secondary cuts and offal are used.
Staff are knowledgeable regarding the menu and complete and detailed descriptions are given when enquiring about a dish. This is both a good and a bad thing. Just when you think you have settled on what you would like to order the description of another dish brings your brilliant plan crashing to the ground. I find it hard to make a decision at the best of times, and trying to decide on what to order is driving my dining companion insane, every dish has an element of interest that draws me to it.
Amanda orders the duck breast with liver parfait ($20), which is served on a slice of pain d’epice with prune puree and rhubarb. Pain d’epice is a light rye bread flavoured with honey and spices, which goes perfectly with parfait. The duck was perfectly cooked and the flavours of the pain d’epic and parfait married very well.
I did mention that I had a hard decision on ordering. I was torn between a few dishes, did I want the dry aged saltbush mutton tartare ($18), trotters on toast ($16) or the crisp pig head terrine ($16). In the end I decided on the St John Salad.
The ‘St John Salad’ ($21) pays homage to the signature dish of roast bone marrow and parsley at St John in London. Phil sadly informs me that I was missing out on meeting the man himself, Fergus Henderson, by the skin of my teeth. He was popping to visit the boys the following day.
“I was missing out on meeting the man himself, Fergus Henderson, by the skin of my teeth”
The salad is served on a wooden board with a large knife stabbed into one end. Quite theatrical and it appeals to my taste. It is a very generous entrée size, I would suggest sharing it between two. Thick grilled slices of sourdough and roasted halved bones filled with rich bone marrow are liberally scattered with parsley, shallot and capers. It’s rich and delicious. You generously spread the bone marrow on your grilled bread then top with the salad. I share some with Amanda but I still can’t finish it all off.
We receive a surprise dish from the kitchen (complimentary), a generous serve of brioche and parfait. The brioche is made with blood, the blood adds extra richness to the brioche and you do get a hint of the metallic taste from the blood. On top of the brioche is a generous serving of chicken liver parfait (as with the duck entrée) and smashed pork crackling.
“Apparently you can replace eggs with blood, they have a very similar binding capability”
Trying the blood brioche is quite interesting, I could of probably done with a less generous serve as it is rather filling and mains were yet to come. Chatting to Phil after lunch I get a little insight on working with blood. Apparently you can replace eggs with blood, they have a very similar binding capability. They have been playing around in the kitchen a bit, and incorporating blood into desserts, meringue was one of the ones he mentioned.
Again I struggle to settle on one dish for my main. I am again torn between three dishes, pork chop with a trotter Boulanger ($33), beef shin and the mulloway brandade. In the end I go for the mulloway and Amanda has the beef shin, crisis averted.
Brandade is normally made with salted cod, but in this case mulloway is used. The mulloway brandade ($28) is made with potatoes, is rich and slightly salty. A well is formed in the brandade to hold the slow braised trotter meat and grains. The meat from the trotter is meltingly tender, full of flavour from the slow cooking and slightly sweet. The two go so well together. To perfectly top off the dish is a crumbed fried hens egg, which when broken offers up a golden river of yolk.
The beef shin ($34) is the other dish that had caught my eye and luckily it caught Amanda’s too. The beef shin shines, tender shreds and bone marrow are formed into a square, crumbed and fried. It sits on top of mushrooms with herb dumplings alongside. It is all crowned with watercress.
Not expecting Phil’s surprise treat we had ordered some black cabbage with guanciale and onion ($9) as a side. Sadly it was hardly touched as we were both struggling to get through our mains.
We had such a relaxing and enjoyable meal away from the hustle and bustle of Adelaide centre. We were full to the gills and couldn’t even contemplate looking at dessert nor find room for a coffee, hopefully next time.
As I mentioned I am a big supporter of the nose to tail dining philosophy, what are your thoughts?
Belly Rumbles and company dined as paying guests of The Daniel O’Connell.
The Daniel O’Connell
165 Tynte Street, North Adelaide, South Australia
Tel: +61 8 8267 4032