Jolleys Boathouse1 Jolleys Lane, Corner of Victoria Drive & King William Road, Adelaide SA 5000, Australia • + 61 (08) 8223 2891 • Map • Website
Jolleys Boathouse has a long and honourable history as a place for long business lunches where good food combined with airy decor and a view of passing Popeye boats chugging along the Torrens river helps to create an overwhelming sensation of relaxation and bonhomie.
One of the joys of our time rich existence is that we don't have to succumb to the mass mediocrity of set dinners on days such as Valentine's Day. With the freedom to do so we chose to lunch and were treated to a sublime afternoon of food picked from a full á la carte menu and untroubled by a roomful of cooing couples.
I had come to Jolleys for one dish only. On my last visit I had eaten some excellent fish whilst suffering almost terminal food envy as my friend tucked into the caramelised pork belly with a green mango and peanut salad. My husband, whilst a great fan of pork in all its incarnations, doesn't much like Asian influenced meat dishes. He was therefore overjoyed to discover that on this particular day the chef Tony Carroll had added suckling pig to the specials menu.
Given that we had alreday decided on a piggy theme we shared some tasty serrano ham and manchego croquettes to start.These were simply served with some large and succulent green olives and were beautifully crispy on the outside whilst their interior was meltingly warm and cheesy with an intense back note of the serrano ham. Delicious.
The croquettes arrived at the same time as some beautifully warm white bread rolls lightly dusted with semolina. I have always maintained you can tell a huge amount about a restaurant by the quality of its bread and these rolls along with the crispy, melting, hammy perfection of the croquettes made us both very excited about the meal to come.
We weren't disappointed. As followers of this website may have noticed I have eaten a lot of tasty pork in various restaurants all over the world, but I have never enjoyed such a moist and juicy pork belly. Due to the slow braising in a master stock there was a distinct lack of crackling. Far from missing this though I revelled in the chewy, caramel infused tender belly while enjoying mouthfuls of a delightfully astringent green mango salad to cut through the fat rich belly. This dish has left me with a quandary much like my problem with Urban Bistro and their ricotta pancakes in that I know that I will never be able to go past this dish while it is on the menu here.
My husband's experience was on a similarly sublime level. He declared his roast suckling pig belly to be not just on a par, but possibly even better than the suckling pig at Melbourne's award winning Cutler and Co. The crisp crackling virtually shattered on contact with the knife and the braised meat below was tender, moist and delicious. His suckling pig was served with a tiny smear of a delicious pumpkin puree which was a little on the stingy side but tasty and some beautifully caramelized whole roast shallots. There was also a peach, rocket and blue cheese salad. The peach had a smooth skin so was more likely a peacharine, but it went well with the cheese and peppery rocket and showed a dedication to seasonal produce.
We chose a side dish of roast spiced cauliflower with goats curd, lemon and mint. The cauliflower was excellent and was spiced liberally with cumin, pepper and some other unidentifiable spices to give it a smoky flavour that contrasted beautifully with the goats curd, lemon and mint. It went very well with our plates of pork.
For dessert my husband selected Jolleys Ménage à Trois which consisted of a lemon curd parfait, a pear crème brulée and a hot chocolate fondant. His parfait was superb with a delicious creamy texture. It was accompanied by a tasty pistachio biscotti. The crème brulée wasn't as crisp as it could have been and the pears had been layered at the bottom of the custard which made the dessert a little blocky and layered. We both had the hot chocolate fondant and I was disappointed by its almond consistency which gave it a coarse and heavy texture. It was obligingly liquid in the middle but just not as tasty as the lighter versions of this classic that we have enjoyed elsewhere. My fondant also came accompanied with a smoked chocolate icecream which reminded me of Laphroaig whisky with its peaty intensity (not a good thing in my opinion.) On the website the fondant is listed as coming with a salted pecan icecream which would have been a better choice.
Overall we enjoyed a lovely lunch at Jolleys with much of the food being exceptional. The service was somewhat slow and sporadic, but as the food was so good, the day so warm and the view of the river (from my side of the table at least) so lovely we didn't much mind.
Visited: 14th February, 2011
The Red Book rates:
The Red Book also recommends these other fine dining restaurants in Adelaide:
- Blanc Bistro & Grill (31-81 O'Connell St, North Adelaide). Amazing SA fish. Specials like seared bluefin tuna with tempura prawns and a seaweed salad. Seafood platter and tiny cupid oysters plus great salt and pepper chips. (Source: Qantas inflight magazine)
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