Who would have thought the busy and dusty thoroughfare that divides the South Parklands from the city-fringe suburbs of Wayville, Unley and Parkside would be the next “dead spot” that food and drink entrepreneur Josh Baker would bring to life?
Baker, whose past and current projects include Coffee Branch, Pink Moon Saloon and Clever Little Tailor in the West End of the city, had the idea for a new café and bar in the ground-floor space of the Business SA building on Greenhill Road. He asked chef Stewart Wesson (ex-Flinders Street Project, Public CBD) and “drinks man” Jamie Botten (ex-Edinburgh Hotel) to join him.
The trio got the place decked out by designer Matiya Marovich, of Sans-Arc Studio (Pink Moon Saloon, Nola), whose design brief was to take the office foyer feel out the 120sqm space. Marovich installed a silver-ash timber framework which creates a conservatory-style kitchen-dining space with hanging plants; it completely screens out the traffic and activity of the busy main road, while allowing the light and greenery of the park inside.
Knowing they would be catering for a hungry corporate clientele, they called the business Whistle & Flute, which is cockney slang for “suit”. The cockney theme continues, but only subtly, through some of the menu wording and signage, just as the clientele is only loosely corporate – the cafe draws not only local office workers, but residents with prams and dogs, and people from further afield.
Whistle & Flute is difficult to pigeonhole. The menu reflects Stewart Wesson’s style: simple with generous helpings and mixing lots of fresh Asian and Middle Eastern flavours with English tradition.
The breakfast offering is big, the lunch dishes tantalising and the wine list tightly curated. Whistle & Flute offers restaurant-quality food with full table service at café prices, but also does takeaways and functions as a small bar for after-work drinks and snacks.
Favourite dish: Jamaican Spiced Chicken with puffed rice, kaffir lime and coconut aioli ($18). Smokey, charred, boneless, bite-sized chicken pieces dressed in a soft, garlicky coconut milk with that distinct taste/aroma of kaffir lime, fresh mint and coriander leaves and some toasted rice for crunch. Fresh, light and tasty.
Other dishes: Slow-Cooked Pork Belly with a light green curry dressing, cucumber, fried curry leaves and charred corn ($19; pictured top). Thai-Style Crispy Eggplant with pomegranate molasses, mint and buttermilk dressing ($18). Open Steak Sandwich with slices of charred pink steak, cucumber, crispy shallots and Asian herbs on sourdough bread with real chilli sauce on the side ($20).
Something sweet/to drink: There is only one dessert dish on the menu and it’s a must. The Peanut Geezer ($15) offers a few soft pieces of peanut butter semifreddo with salted caramel sauce, roasted whole peanuts and crisp shards of chocolate biscuit that taste like the slightly burnt bits of a chocolate cake.
We had a glass of the 2015 Brackenwood Barbera from the Adelaide Hills ($12/$58), but there were many other fine examples of different varietals produced locally and around the world. There are some local beers and ciders on tap, and the coffee is sourced from Victorian roaster Five Senses.
Whistle & Flute
136 Greenhill Road, Unley, 8373 2490.
Open Monday to Friday, 7am till late; Saturday, 8am “till whenever”; closed Sunday.
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