Tuna mornay dates back to the late 1800s, although many of us experienced it in some form or another in the late 1900s through grandparents or parents who each had their own family recipe. For me, those early morning memories still send shivers down my spine (lumpy mashed potatoes and house brand tuna flavor). And so, when a dish described as a modern version of mornay is delivered to the table towards the end of a long lunch, a sense of dread takes precedence over the pleasant nostalgia experienced so far.
We are on the lower level of Two Pot Screamer, which set up its two-part restaurant last year in Adelaide’s East End, replacing Blackwood Bistro and Orana, the former best restaurant in the country. Upstairs is a chic, bold and bright new lounge bar featuring 50 trendy shades of pink and equally brilliant cocktails. Downstairs, a patriotic facelift uses darker hues of green and gold, backed by a menu designed to pay homage to some Australian classics.
We’ve tried some of the smaller bites so far, including lightly marinated cucumber segments topped with taramasalata dip, breadcrumbs and chives. There’s an air of familiarity in these tasty little bites, and then the realization hits: it’s a version of a cucumber sandwich, with fewer carbs. Next came the sausage sangas, this time with all the expected carbs. Served on white bread, the sausage is more like a chevapchichi, a minced sausage sometimes Greek, sometimes Serbian, without casing. This thin and savory version is topped with a spicy tomato chutney and a touch of tzatziki. It’s Greek. Simple? Yes. But quite tasty too.
And then a bunch of potato scallops that could be straight out of fish ‘n’ chips, but for a strong truffle flavor. These are topped with grated parmesan cheese and a few sparse fried leaves called blue bush – we’re told (by a very knowledgeable waiter) it’s a bit like savory, but here it seems to add more topping than taste .
Things take a modern step with Kingfish sashimi rolled up into individual bite-size pieces, floating in a zingy pool of sabayon that has an obvious and delicious tangerine scent and flavor. The cleverly arranged plate includes fresh segments of mandarin orange, strips of marinated fennel and herb oil that cuts the acidity well. Puffed wild rice and salmon roe add delicate touches of texture, and each curated little heap has a slice of pickle and a dill floret that provides consistency in every bite.
And now it’s time for this morning, but luckily there’s no canned tuna or casserole in sight. In its place, a whole smoked trout is carefully dissected down the middle and spread on a plate with its silky, shiny fillets sticking out between a (generous) dose of creamy cheese sauce that has been dusted with freshly baked and buttered breadcrumbs and topped with freshly chopped chives. A citrus flavor turns out to be thanks to the lemony myrtle added to a sauce that, while reasonably heavy, doesn’t overpower the dish, or more importantly, the fish. Unlike some older versions, it’s flavorful, textured, and hearty. And perhaps, a turning point in history for the morning mistakes of the past.
Nostalgia is back in earnest with the desserts at Two Pot. Think mango lamingtons with white chocolate and coconut mousse, or pavlova made with feijoa and topped with strawberry granita. However, it’s the early taste of tangerine that interests us most in a tangerine-infused dark chocolate pie. It’s dense. It’s intense. It’s everything a choc-orange lover could want. Served sliced on a yoghurt cream, topped with fresh segments, puffed rice and a few crunchy bits for texture, the glistening galette is surrounded by salted caramel, because – why not?
And why not?” seems to be Two Pot Screamer’s (welcome) attitude, and a big part of the reason the venue seems to be filled with an entertaining crowd most nights of the week.
Why not serve bread with a vegemite glaze? Why not add lime to grilled shrimp? Why not try recreating (and improving on) some outdated Aussie dishes like chicken with apricots?
And why not try it in the morning? Keep going: your inner child will thank you.
Two Pot Screamer (the restaurant)
285 Rundle Street, Adelaide
0429 455 357
Open: Tue 5pm – 9pm; Wed – Sat 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
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