Hospitality veteran Ben Barnett opened Patch Kitchen & Garden in late 2013 in historic premises that originally housed the Stirling post office and found the café quickly became a hit with families, thanks to its garden setting with designated play areas, warm and slightly quirky décor, and wholesome, seasonal dishes.
In last year’s Restaurant & Catering Awards for Excellence, it won a Premier’s commendation in the Healthy Choices for Kids category.
Now, Barnett says, they want to take the cafe at 143 Mount Barker Road to another level, with the launch this weekend of “dinners after dark” on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and the introduction of more restaurant-style dishes.
“It was always planned to open for dinners – [but] when we first opened we got very busy doing our breakfast and lunch service and it was a combination of not having the time or the team at the time to take it to the next step, but now the time is right.
“The idea is to take it to that next level for a more sophisticated style of dining offering.
“We very quickly got known as a great place to come with your family, whereas it was always meant to be adults first but to also have great places that kids can be entertained in the garden.”
The word Patch in the café’s name was inspired not by the Pumpkin Patch children’s chain, but by the fact that it has its own vegetable and herb patches – as well as chickens – which provide ingredients for the kitchen.
Barnett says the evening menu will continue to reflect a philosophy based around “fresh, healthy, local, seasonal and delicious” food, with “creative twists” on the menu served up by newly appointed head chef Sam Gunter, previously of Stamps restaurant at Mitcham.
The first menu for “dinners after dark” includes dishes such as Karaage fried chicken with house-pickled carrot, cucumber and sesame salad and smoky bonito mayo; crispy miso pork belly with steamed rice, Asian greens and cashew nuts; slow-cooked lamb shoulder with a rosemary potato gratin, marinated artichokes and garlic confit; and warm chocolate brownie with burnt orange and double cream.
The drinks list has been expanded with more South Australian wines, beer and ciders to complement the dishes.
“We’ve got a beautiful selection of wine,” Barnett says. “It’s all local; 90 per cent of it is Adelaide Hills and there’s some from the Barossa and Clare Valley… I’m keeping it relatively short because we’ll keep changing the list with our food, which is seasonal.”
The dining room – which has both a log fire and a gas fire to keep diners warm in winter – will also undergo a transformation for the evening service, with fully set tables and candles to add to the ambience.
Although Patch is seeking to broaden its dining appeal, it will retain the children’s play areas and menu items to cater for all ages.
“It’s always been designed to accommodate everyone,” Barnett says.
“That’s a unique thing we’ve been able to do because of the great spaces we’ve got.”
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