We apologise that there are no credits for this wonderful image of the Osteria Oggi interior … we would like to give the photographer credit email Ann Oliver if this is your beautiful image!
Chef owner Andrew Davies and I have history, in fact, a long time ago, he almost got me fired from a long-term writing gig. To be fair, it took a few of us longer to grow up than most, but we all eventually got there. One exception perhaps for chef Gordon Parks, formerly chef at Universal Wine Bar and Jolleys Boathouse who now resides in Western Australia. Gordo now only occasionally reminds us of how much fun being badly behaved can be.
The fact is, although we were at odds for a long time, I never lost my love of Davies’ cooking and dedication to his craft. He’s also a great story teller and adventurer. Get him taking about catering for the incredible movie 10 Canoes and his friendship with David Gulpilil you’ll be buying their best wine just to keep him yarning.
It was the South Australian Government’s Federation Feast in 2001, where, had it not been for Davies and David Hay from Thorn Park and their ability to go for the long haul that our friendship was repaired. The extra hours the three of us gave, saved this event from being a complete disaster. Many event managers and celebrity chefs take the money and astonishingly rarely appear in the kitchen, or have a clue how to pull off such a large dinners. This is history and mentioned only to give readers the understanding of our very long history.
I love Davies’ cooking and it has been fabulous to watch the joy he has found at Osteria Oggi. This is a cool restaurant interior designed by the multi-award winning James Brown team at MASH design …clever use of an awkward space Osteria Oggi is beautiful. Beautiful to look at and clever and the restaurant design has won many awards. However, this is not where the actual success of this restaurant lies. The success lies in the ability of Davies and his team to deliver a really good complete dining experience, that, although it is by all appearances, relaxed, only manages to appear so by being a tight well-oiled machine.
Many of us have followed Davies for years because of his love of offal equates with our own. Offal is always well represented in his menus. However, I think one of the secrets of this restaurant is their menu is not written by a chef with their head up their arse. Their kitchen does not attempt, ‘praise be’ to fuck up spaghetti carbonara, for instance, by screwing what is, when well made, a pasta dish of true Italian simplicity…maybe five ingredients, perfectly seasoned, absolutely delicious.
I cannot remember a time when Davies did not serve house-made bread a slow prove ciabatta which is always really good and comes without request as part of the meal. I have consulted to enough restaurants to know that give-away bread is always factored across the menu as a subliminal charge, but, for some ridiculous reason I really detest being made to blatantly pay for it. It is especially annoying when it is crap bread from a commercial bakery of no reputation and EVO that has been adulterated with vegetable oil…yes you know who you are!
At Oggi, there is always excellent local EVO to go with…we also love the ‘new metal’ serving plates…god only knows, if we are going to continue to enjoy our loved restaurants metal plates, even with the uncertain charm of being chipped [unlike china] are fine by me if it helps them cuts costs without diminishing what we get on the plate and they stay in business.
Another ‘praise be’ the vile grey plates currently used by most of Adelaide’s restaurants, that nothing looks good on have been sidelined for some pretty pale turquoise plates that enlivens the food.
We had a marvellous lunch; a celebration of unexpectedly being in the same city at the same time and of a long working relationship and friendship. Chef David Swaine (Fino Seppeltsfield) and his partner Sarah Munn (Fino Seppeltsfield) and chef Dennis Mifsud.. all worked at Mistress Augustine’s some 35 years ago and Louise Marsh, Dennis’ gorgeous wife; met Den at Mistress.
A scrummy individual small crostini with some snapper, caper, spring onion, green sauce and a smidge of green chilli, a gift from the kitchen, was just the start of an excellent lunch. Oysters, gnocchi special with duck ragu and kale, tripe, tongue, carpaccio, carbonara, crudo…all followed by three good desserts, another gift from the kitchen. The lemon tart was not tarty enough for my taste, but, the tira misu was really good. Adding a dusting of that wonderful Valrohna cocoa powder would give it a dignified bitterness that would diminish the richness, and, well, everyone would want one of their own…..and happily put more bucks on the bill. Desserts have definitely evolved since my last visit a few months ago. Davie’s tripe is the best in Adelaide, in fact outside of my favourite Pho shop Pho Minh I can’t think of anywhere in Adelaide, apart from ‘chez moi’ that boasts a decent tripe dish.
Service was knowledgeable, if ever so slightly lecturing, but rather that than the reverse, and it should be added that the enthusiasm and knowledge about the food at Oggi was genuine and respectful.
We enjoyed two bottles of Kate Laurie’s excellent 2016 Deviation Road Loftia Vintage Brut and a surprisingly good 2017 Spiderbills Arranmore Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir a recommendation from our waiter who took great pleasure in introducing us to something new; in fact blind we might have suspected it to be Mornington Peninsula…one to watch! This wine would have enjoyed a decant as there were tartrate crystals that in no way diminished the enjoyment until trying to squeeze the dregs from the bottle.
pictured left Deviation Road sparkling winemaker Kate Laurie… a serious educator, has done multiple vintages in Champagne, this is a woman who would never need a quota. We are big fans of sabering Champagne just for the fun of it. Kate also does excellent events at their winery and is never afraid to stand her very good Australian sparklings against Champagne….try this!
If you’re the type of diner who whinges about noise go early and for lunch. For me it is the type of hustle and bustle of a busy restaurant without too many damned rules that I love. They do have some booth dining, but If you are a boring twat and hates communal seating go somewhere else…your loss, because you won’t find better modern and traditional Italian cooking anywhere else in Adelaide.
And while I’m at it, since I am now free of any restaurant connection and free to be frank….I’d like to get this out of the way….don’t you dare criticise that we get gifts from the kitchen or that our experience is better than a regular diner’s…at least 40 years history in the better part of the Adelaide and South Australian food and wine scene and extensive overseas work does add some cred and knowledge over multiple cuisines that very few other Australian reviewers can claim! One thing I know for absolute certain from running kitchens, it is our mate’s tables that are the first to go last when the day or night may be going wrong!