There are a handful of iconic Adelaide restaurants that have stood the test of time.
Not only for their ability to stay relevant, or perhaps classically traditional, but for also carrying with them a lasting and renowned heritage.
And, in some cases, when the embers are burning low, this lore is what keeps the fire going until fresh oxygen is breathed, and the flames are fanned once again…
Whether you’ve dined there personally or just heard stories along the wire, if you’re a self-respecting Adelaide food lover, you should know the name Maximilian’s quite well.
The tales of midnight lock-ins, eating oysters over the pass with the vivacious and somewhat riotous former owner Max, are legendary.
My mother told me about the time Max greeted her entire table with a handstand.
He loved a laugh, and he loved a Red.
Ever the consummate host, he kept the dream alive long after he’d personally left the kitchen. And, because of the mystical tales in the minds and hearts of decades of diners, Maximilian’s fire never fully burnt out even after Elvis had well and truly left the building, and the new owners Emily and Andrew Friebe took over the helm of a tired and desperate ship.
As Cory and I made our way up the vineyard clad driveway last Thursday night, on what was to be our first Maximilian’s experience, and having heard numerous reports over the years from trusted foodie friends, we were expecting great things. We wanted the fantasy.
My first thoughts upon entering the brightly lit dining room, was that although there was an aroma of old worldliness still lingering with their open fires burning, the vibe was young and seriously unpretentious.
With Jack Johnson crooning over the stereo while we were ushered to our comfortable seats, I wondered to myself… Is this fine dining?
Yes, actually it is.
And, it’s casual dining. And, it’s destination dining. And, it’s event function Pavillion dining.
And, it’s a clever and cohesive Cellar Door collaboration with the equally energetic and ambitious Sidewood Estate – Who might I add, have just been awarded the Decanter award for their Mappinga Shiraz for Best. In. The. World.
Howwww sweet it is, that out of all the World’s cold climate wine regions, our gorgeous Adelaide Hills brought home the Gold. And finally, this just proves what all of us South Australians have been saying for years… We do have the Worlds Best wine! (Insert Nelson Muntz laugh HERE)
Yes dear friends, it’s all of these things, and more…
Maximilian’s is the type of place where you immediately feel at home.
Emily and Andrew along with their incredibly talented head chef Jamie Laing, have created a place where you feel just as comfortable in a quiet corner, whispering sweet nothings over a bottle of Sidewood Chloe Cuvée with your lusty partner…
As you do laughing with a bus load of besties over a crisp bottle of White and a tasting board, while the kids play chasey in the vineyard, and the other kids – see: Husbands – try their luck shooting hole-in-ones out on the estates very own lake.
They’ve managed to do, what so many can’t.
They’ve effortlessly blurred all of the lines. It’s romantic, fine and adult, but also cool, hip and fun, intimate yet large, while still remaining family friendly.
And, the food. The locally sourced and seasonal food.
It started with an oh-so gentle, House made Spelt Sourdough with dehydrated Kalamata and Salt butter kiss, and ended with a spiced up and voracious bang.
For entrée we had the Seared SA Tuna Nicoise and the Murray Valley Honey Glazed Pork Cheek.
A perfectly seared Tuna steak with a flavoursome butter and incredible 62° egg… Scrum-diddly-yum-YUM.
And, I’ve got to say, I do love a bit of cheek.
Oozy, melty and unctuous, this little piggy is the exact reason why the word ‘Pork’ is used to describe sex.
Then as a mid-show, taste bud teaser, we had what Emily referred to as the ‘Intercourse’.
Cory and I were presented with a plate of the truly mouth-watering Paroo Kangaroo Tail Osso Bucco to share (and a glass of delectable Mappinga Shiraz on the side…).
The inclusion of a crispy Saltbush Gremolata and fresh chilli garnish, gives this already stellar dish just a little extra somethin’ somethin’. It’s just so good.
Next up, Main.
Cory chose the Coonawarra Sirloin with Onion Soubise and Tabasco butter, I was bestowed with the Confit Duck Leg served with charred Radicchio and my good friend, Rhubarb.
The Sirloin was cooked perfectly Rare, exactly how he likes it and as far as steaks go, a very tasty and well put together plate of food. The tabasco butter had bite and the Red Wine Jus was full of flavour.
But, when pitted up against the Duck Leg, it was always going to come second place in my eyes.
The meltingly tender duck flaked cleanly away from the bone. And, I also really, really love Radicchio. Like, I really love it A LOT.
So, when the plate arrived and I saw that the chef had fearlessly given it a starring role, I was truly elated. This dish was gorgeous. An absolute triumph.
Then came time for dessert.
By this stage, after a few award winning Sidewood wines, all sense and decency was out the window. So, Cory and I had a threesome…
And, ate every dessert on the menu.
Chocolate Bar with Popcorn Ice Cream, Honeycomb and sugared Mint (our personal favourite).
Eton Mess with Passionfruit curd, Sablée and Raspberries (although, this fruit combination will change throughout the seasons).
And, finishing off with a Sidewood Shiraz Poached Pear with caramelized White Chocolate and Ginger cake, we were left feeling utterly fulfilled, but still wanting more.
I cannot wait to return to Maximilian’s again on my Land of the Long Lunch trail.
And truly, what I adore about Max’s most of all, is that although Cory and I enjoyed what I would describe as The Perfect Dinner Date, spending over 3 hours immersed in gorgeous food and wine and relishing in each other’s intimate company… Our last words to one another as we walked out the door was “Let’s come back again soon with a bunch of our good mates and the kids, for an awesome, all-day adventure.”
Yes, the Maximilian’s fantasy may have Unicorns, an Emu called Romeo and a floating golf course, but they certainly don’t need a Luck Dragon, because this sequel already has a happily ever after, no luck needed.
Until we dine again… xxx
For more information about Maximilians or to make a reservation, please go to the following link; http://maximilians.com.au/
For more information about Max’s Land of the Long Lunch special offers (trust me, you want to see these…), please go to the following link; http://maximilians.com.au/land-of-the-long-lunch