Situated below street level at Adelaide’s stylish independently owned Mayfair Hotel, The Mayflower Restaurant and Bar reflects the culinary vision of executive chef, Bethany Finn – a take on modern fine dining combining cheeky and contemporary flavour combinations with refined French technique.
Chef Bethany's journey first began when the owners of the Mayfair Hotel approached her with an open offer to create a restaurant like no other in Adelaide. “The moment I saw the space, I knew what we'd do”, says Bethany, “the rough stone of the Colonial Mutual Life Building’s original foundations (now a wall in the hotel’s extensive wine cellar) and the height of the ceilings, it called for something intimate and refined, I was mesmerised.”
Designed as a modern take on the fine hotel dining venues of yesteryear, the room exudes plenty of classic fine-dining charm, without giving me an 'awks' feeling – which I define as the personal feeling of never being good enough to order anything but tap water and a green salad.
Comfortable modern seating in blues, browns and chic greys, gold-rimmed mirrors, low drop lighting, a figurative wall motif and crisp white linen napery combine to produce an opulent yet relaxed setting.
The proof, if I needed it, is seated around a large table to my left - a troupe of Adelaide locals at lunch, celebrating the simple act of eating delicious food. “They ordered one of everything”, says my waiter, looking ever-so-slightly flustered at the prospect of remembering what dish would go where.
My ordering is somewhat more restrained, though I can't resist the occasional peek across the floor to see what I'm missing out on. For entree, a garnish of edible flowers and the delicate use of a ponzu-style reduction enlivens a locally caught kingfish ceviche. The occasional hint of ginger, combined with radish and the buttery flavour of the kingfish leaves me wanting more.
I can't go past the restaurant's signature duck and tangerine pie as a main. According to Bethany, her pastry chef quit his job in Western Australia and journeyed back to Adelaide when he heard about her vision for Mayflower, and I for one applaud the decision - the pastry is phenomenal. The well-portioned pie sits in a light duck sauce, surrounded by a trio of gorgeously roasted whole eschallots and topped with a generous dollop of dark cherry glaze. Inside, a gamey combination of roasted duck and tangerine form a heady, rich and flavourful filling. I'm a bit concerned I won't be able to fit in dessert.
Yet we do as needs must – and besides dessert looks too fun to miss. The waiter swings by with the Mayflower's own roaring 20s style dessert trolley.
Again the pastry chef's talent is on display – they're practicing some serious French culinary kung-fu judging by the creations on offer. Channelling David Walliams of Little Britain fame, (we're ladies you know, we do lady things), I choose the dainty and delicious pastry Swan filled with fresh cream and strawberries.
It’s a meal to remember and one which further cements Adelaide’s reputation as a not-to-be-missed culinary destination. The city’s charms may be understated but with chefs such as Jordan Theodoros at Peel Street as well as Orana’s Jock Zonfrillo, Magill Estate’s duo of Scott Huggins and Emma McCaskill and not forgetting Africola’s Duncan Welgemoed, it has some of the most diverse and satisfying dining experiences in the nation. As for the Mayflower, it’s well worth the diversion off King William Street and down the stairs at the Mayfair Hotel. Afterwards, head up to the rooftop Hennessy Bar for a stylish end to any meal.
45 King William Street
Adelaide SA 5000