When you think of Rundle Mall, you don’t think of food, but when you’re in Rundle Mall and you’re thinking about food you should head towards Lindes Lane.
Use the Mall’s Balls as a landmark. Once you’ve touched them three times and dropped a gold coin into the busker’s hat, look south and then start walking in that direction.
You will pass two or three rustic 44-gallon drums relocated from Port Pirie and planted with real, respirating plants, and some recycled outdoor tables and chairs, most likely occupied by people eating and drinking and enjoying a splinter of sunshine. Unfortunately you will need to walk over some creepy fake grass (would somebody please think of an alternative) to enter the new Lindes Lane “work-in-progress”.
Currently, Lindes Lane is operating as a café/wine bar. It’s a tiny space, but once inside you will appreciate the effort that has gone into its creation.
The tables are few, but they are generous in size, each placed in front of large windows that open wide to let the space breathe. The large colourful bar (is this a doff to the original Sportsgirl store and café?) and wall spaces subtly suggest: “This is a place that’s about good food, good coffee and good wine.”
A big man in baggy checked pants and Birkenstocks might appear from the kitchen and place the dishes you have ordered on the table in front of you. This is James McRae, who previously worked as a caterer, in events and for Central Market institution Lucia’s. He is now following in the footsteps of his mother and brother (Ben McRae), who are both chefs. Lindes Lane is his first head-chef role.
McRae is also part of the team that has transformed Lindes Lane from a place where workers once loitered during smoko into a destination for coffee, breakfast, coffee, lunch, coffee, after-work drinks and snacks. From Thursday to Saturday, it also serves dinner and more drinks.
The Lindes Lane team comes with a lot of credentials. The camera-shy-for-no-obvious-reason venue manager is Mark Van Der Kolk (ex-Adelaide Oval); Ian Callahan (Bar 9, 5 Senses coffee) and Wes Gilson (Cork Wine Café, De Anima wines) are also part of the intelligence, while Jason Jurecky is the designer.
When InDaily visited, Jurecky was buzzing about with his toolbox and we heard a whisper that in a couple of months an underground classic champagne lounge is set to open, complete with a Thunderbirds-style secret entrance and a curated wine list of “rare, collectible and obscure family reserve wines – definitely nothing from Moet-Hennessy or Pernod Ricard – it’s all part of the Lindes Lane evolution”.
Favourite dish: The menu is decorated with Banksy’s “Balloon Girl” print and fits on one page, so it’s possible to order one of everything, particularly under the sub-heading of “Something more substantial”. There are only three dishes: Sea Salt & Szechuan Pepper Baby Squid with green papaya salad ($18); Salad of Thinly Sliced Roasted Scotch Fillet with chimichurri sauce and kipfler potato ($17); and Balsamic & Honey-Glazed Pork Cheeks with puy lentils & rocket ($17).
“Cheeks” are known as the sweetest, most tender part of an animal, but you have to go to a great deal of bother trying to source them. Beef cheeks, fish cheeks … InDaily has never seen pork cheeks on any menu. Lindes Lane sources its pork cheeks through Marino Meats at the Adelaide Central Market. McRae has removed much of the fat, braised them in a star-anise-infused master-stock and then warmed some bite-sized slices in balsamic vinegar and honey, and served them with nutty puy lentils and rocket. This dish is pure goodness; any excess richness or sweetness is tempered by the vinegar and rocket.
Other dishes: There are breakfast dishes and “Morning Sippers” (cocktails recommended for morning consumption), but the three starters were of more interest at lunchtime. The Asian Sashimi Tuna Nachos with Sriracha mayo & wasabi ($16) sounded tempting; there was also a Charcuterie Plate ($20). But we chose the Duo of Cured Tassie Salmon ($20). Clean eating and Australian native ingredients are a focus at Lindes Lane: slices of both lemon myrtle and beetroot, and vodka and dill-cured salmon are served with dill crème fraiche, house-pickled vegetables and salmon roe.
The serving sizes are elegant and the prices are also respectful, which means it’s not unrealistic to share a third dish, particularly because you’ve enjoyed the first so much.
There are jaffles of many flavours ($9), daily salad and bagel specials, and four “Pizze”: Wild Mushroom ($18); Prosciutto & Rocket ($17); Chorizo & Patatas ($17); and Margherita ($14). InDaily had the Wild Mushroom – a mix of black funghi, portobello, porcini powder and truffle essence over house-made tomato sauce, dotted with spoons of Onkaparinga chevre and sprinkled with fresh rocket.
Something sweet/to drink: Panna cotta and chocolate-based desserts are made fresh daily and then there’s a daily selection of cheeses from Say Cheese. The coffee of the day was Black Label by Bar 9 (75% Columbia Primaveral, 20% Brazil Alice Estate and 5% Ethiopia Yirgacheffe) with tasting notes and information about its source.
The wine list is larger than the menu and is an interesting mix of boutique labels from around Australia (not Hunter Valley), and French and Spanish imports. The list is divided into flavour profiles (“Rich, generous”, “Structural”, “Silky, delicate”, “Bright & Juicy”, “Textural”, “Fresh, crisp” and “Aromatic”), making selecting from the uncommon offerings a little easier. There is also a good list of local and imported ciders, perrys and beers.
Lindes Lane is an unpretentious place that looks to deliver the things that matter most (food, coffee, wine) and promises to hold our interest as it evolves. Just don’t tell too many people about it.
Open Monday to Wednesday, 8am to 7pm; Thursday, 8am to 10pm; Friday and Saturday, 8am to 1am.
93 Rundle Mall, Adelaide.
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