In need of a venue for a boys lunch with long term friends Paul and Michael, I was on the lookout for somewhere new and funky in the city. I tapped out some research on the web and came across a restaurant in Wakefield St which had opened in December called La Bonne Table.
Booking in advance I asked if BYO wine was accepted. I was advised that there would be a corkage charge of $15 which I felt was reasonable compared to many other restaurants. Knowing I would like to take some premium wines (2008 Rockford’s Basket Press Shiraz and a Langmiel Bella Rouge Rosé) I also requested if decanters were available and if I could reserve one for the table. The staff member was more than happy to oblige.
On the day the weather was sweltering outside and I was very hot and parched. I was greeted at the door and immediately taken to the table where the waiter, Tony, noticed my discomfort and wasted no time in serving ice water and offering an ice cold refreshing ale to quench my thirst. As the first mouthful evaporated on my tongue Tony asked if I would like the Rosé refrigerated and the Basket Press chilled just to take the edge off. Although this caught me by surprise I was impressed and more than delighted with first impressions of the service on offer.
As Paul and Michael arrived we ordered a couple more beers so they too could recover from the heat, relax, cool down and examine the menu. The first thing I noticed was that the menu seemed slightly basic, not in its ingenuity, but the number of dishes available. I could have easily chosen from the available lunch menu, but I had spied something which sparked my interest and decided to see if I could stretch the kitchen. I called Tony over and asked if there was any chance I could order from the dinner menu instead and he kindly replied that he would check with the kitchen. Soon after he returned and confirmed our request, so we ordered the following:
Entree share plates:
Charcuterie plate (mixed cured meats and caper berries).
12 natural oysters, sauce mignonette, ½ bloody Mary.
King fish sashimi, lardo ‘au gratin’, chilli vinaigrette, water cress.
Michael: Confit salmon, potato colcannon, semi dried tomato, citrus beuree blanc, truffle oil.
Paul: Crumbled pork rib eye, calvados glazed apple, roasted new potato.
Myself: 1/2kg Tomahawk steak (rib eye), whole grain mustard, pickles.
As the entrees were brought to the table, we made way for the large wooden charcuterie board and two plates of seafood. Everything looked extremely fresh and appetising. The oysters were a tad small but it was consistent for the time of the year. I started with an oyster and a dash of bloody Mary sauce and instantly the temperature outside suddenly burst into my mouth with blistering force. The powerful flavour combination of Tabasco and pepper was just too intense and overthrew the oceanic taste of the mollusc - even for a spicy food lover like myself. Wanting to appreciate the true essence of the oyster, I made way for the lime and black pepper (sauce mignonette) option before having another crack at the liquid inferno.
Moving onto the king fish sashimi I was excited to be eating one of my favourite fish - the steak of the sea. Unfortunately the flavour didn’t live up to expectation. The dish had a bland texture and there was no feeling of the ‘deep blue sea dancing on my tongue’. I asked the waiter, Tony, over and we shared our feedback on the dish. In no time at all Tony whizzed it away and returned to offer his sincere apologies and notify us that the dish would be at no charge. Following closely behind Tony was head chef and owner, Kim to offer his apologies and feedback on the dish. Not only is this rare but it is almost unheard of and I must say I was overwhelmed that he was willing to discuss the dish and provide an explanation without making excuses or pointing blame.
Our attention shifted to the charcuterie plate whilst conversation dwelled on the outstanding service and sheer compassion of the staff. Nearing the end of the cured meaty goodness, we were once again delivered a surprise from the kitchen with a second plate of king fish sashimi. It was explained that the usual ‘lardo au gratin’ technique of ‘flaming the fat’ may have in this case somewhat diminished the subtle fish flavour. To our absolute delight they were completely correct, the expectations we had of the first dish were now alive in the second.
As the empty plates were cleared, the decanted Basket Press was brought over to the table in readiness for the main dishes. After a perfect breather between courses, the mains made their entry. My anticipation for the arrival of my ½ kg Tomahawk rib eye steak was instantly dashed when it landed on the table in front of me. What should have been an awe inspiring dish that makes neighbouring tables envious due to its monstrous dinosaur-like bone, instead brought on a tearful sigh. Where was the ginormous rib bone that should be overhanging the plate and poking my neighbour in the arm? Unfortunately it had been chopped off with a cleaver. Nevertheless, I made my first incision and thankfully the knife glided through the seared bovine flesh like butter and it melted in my mouth – the taste and quality of the Tomahawk rib eye freed my mind of earlier concerns.
Both Michael and Paul offered tastings of their dishes and as hard as it was to draw myself away from the steak I could see from their expressions that they too were more than satisfied with their selections. Being a great lover of both salmon and swine I gracefully parted with a portion of my rib eye in exchange. I was not disappointed with the trade either as both of their dishes were cooked to perfection. The salmon was medium with a perfect pinkish hue layered through the centre and the succulent pork was well accompanied by glazed apple pieces.
I was absolutely floored by the lengths the staff and chef had gone to. I am the first to admit that I can be overly critical, but I also provide recognition where it is due. On this occasion sending a glass of the Basket Press to the kitchen for the chef and one to Tony for his service along with a healthy tip at the settlement of the bill seemed hardly enough. We made sure that our exit wasn’t too swift and made our way to the counter to thank all the staff for the food, service and understanding of our constructive criticism.
It is due to restaurants, staff and chefs like we encountered at La Bonne Table that I have such a passion for the industry and writing my findings. I commend the whole team on providing an outstanding dining experience. I will most definitely be revisiting this urbanised warehouse very soon with more guests to share the experience. I recommend you do too.
Average Menu Pricing
Salad $14.00 - $17.00
Entree $15.00 - $24.00
Main $25.00 - $27.00
Dessert $13.00 - $15.00
Cheese 2 choices - $17.00, 3 choices - $24.00, 4 choices - $32.00
(Brunch and Dinner menus also available)
Where: 128 Wakefield St, Adelaide, 5000
Trading: Tuesday to Saturday 11:30am – 3pm, Wednesday - Saturday 6pm – 12pm
Contact: (08) 8223 2487