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Lunch review: Pickle in the Middle

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Adelaide’s daytime café scene is abuzz at the moment but one particular breakfast and lunch destination bringing a progressive edge is Pickle in the Middle.

Launched in mid-January this year, Pickle in the Middle is situated at 134 Unley Road and, although its frontage is small, it has a real street presence thanks to a bright yellow façade, quirky signage and cute outdoor seating.

Karah Hogarth

Pickle in the Middle owner Karah Hogarth. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

Karah Hogarth is at the helm of the five-month-old café, which was originally a Renew Adelaide-supported pop-up stall in the Adelaide Central Market. Even as the café fills with customers, she greets everyone with a smile and moves about the space with assertion.

The name Pickle in the Middle came from the business’s initial concept as sandwich bar, featuring a variety of sandwiches including pickles. But it developed into a café with a menu celebrating all things pickled after Hogarth increasingly used pickled and fermented ingredients in her cooking at home, not only for their health benefits, but for the great flavours and textures they add.

pickle toastie

Cheese ‘n’ pickle toastie. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

The café feels much bigger inside than it looks, and the uncluttered space and open kitchen, paired with the constant stream of week-day customers, gives it an airy and buoyant atmosphere.

The menu is healthy, with a gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian focus. Hogarth describes it as “plant-centric”.

“It’s ‘stealth health’ – healthy eating without compromising on flavour and texture. It’s food that can be eaten every day and makes people feel good.”

Lentil and seed crispbread

Gluten-free lentil and seed crispbread. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

The menu attempts to take eggs on toast to another level with the unexpected inclusion of roast pumpkin, almond dukkah and Newbury & Watson kangaroo mettwurst – the more subtle reinforcement of “clean eating” is refreshing.

The concept of the “pickle” is ever-present, from the jars of house-made pickled and fermented products lining the walls, to the incorporation of pickled and fermented ingredients in each dish. The menu includes fermented whole and rolled-oat porridge; pickled chilli lime vinaigrette; pickled eggplant relish; sauerkraut; beet-cured salmon; deli beets; Iranian spiced pickled onion; mustard zucchini pickles; malted mustard; pickled fennel; pickled carrot ribbons; harissa, green olives and preserved lemon. Even the drinks menu features preserves, with the use of house-made tonics.

Warm tumeric tonic

Warm turmeric tonic. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

Taking the concept one step further, Pickle in the Middle wants to share its pickling and preserving methods, and has just announced a new round of pickling workshops. Those attending will make their own vinegar-based mixed vegetable pickles to take home, as well as fresh sauerkraut. The workshops are $90 per person, which covers all materials as well as drinks and nibbles.

House pickles and preserves

The walls are lined with house made pickles. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

The fresh and inviting interior of the cafe is the creation of Adelaide-based design firm Enoki. Hogarth says that the large abstract shapes painted on the walls and the small graphics printed on the menu are Enoki’s interpretations of pickled ingredients that were created as a reflection of the menu.

Hand-crafted ceramic dishes were commissioned from artists working at the Adelaide Potters Club, and add to Pickle in the Middle’s artistic, artisan feel.

Breakfast greens

Breakfast greens. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

Favourite dish: Breakfast Greens ($15). Shredded kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, snow peas, brown rice and red quinoa form the salad component of the dish, which is coated in a light, mildly spicy, pickled chilli lime vinaigrette. A soft-poached egg sits neatly on top and, when broken, adds creaminess to the greens.

Beetroot cured salmon

Beet-cured salmon. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

Other dishes: Beet-cured salmon ($17) with lentil and seed crispbread, herbed labne, soft-boiled egg, house-made deli beets and Iranian spiced pickled onion. Cheese ‘n’ pickle toastie ($12). Mustard zucchini pickles and smoked mozzarella on house-made parmesan-crusted focaccia. Moorish bowl – chickpeas, cous cous, black lentils, roasted eggplant, pickled carrot ribbons, harissa hommus, green olives, preserved lemon and za’atar.

Moorish bowl

Moorish bowl. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

Something sweet: Buckwheat pancakes (pictured at top; $16). Two light and fluffy buckwheat pancakes are topped with fresh seasonal fruit, cardamon honey, whipped yoghurt and macadamia buckwheat granola. An agave date syrup drizzled around the pancakes adds sweetness and stickiness. (V).

Something to drink: Pickle in the Middle offers an extensive healthy drinks menu. We tried the apple and ginger shrub – a tart-sweet preserved fruit soda ($6) – and the cascara cola ($6), made from dried coffee, cherry, citrus, spices and vanilla. The turmeric tonic ($6.50), made from fresh turmeric, lemon, ginger and agave, was recommended served warm. The coffee is from local roasters D’Angelo and, as well as espresso coffee, it is offered as single-origin batch brew as well as cold brew.

Cola and shrub

Cascara cola and Apple and ginger shrub. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

Pickle in the Middle is licensed, but at this stage there is nothing alcoholic on the menu. The plan is to incorporate craft beers, boutique wines, bloody Marys with pickles and other fermented drinks as part of a brunch offering in the future.

Pickle in the Middle sponsors a beehive through the Adelaide Bee Sanctuary which supplies the cafe with local, raw honey for use in the kitchen.

Pickle in the Middle
Open seven days, 8am to 4pm
134 Unley Road, Unley, 8172 1083

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