The Salopian Inn
There is no doubt, The Salopian Inn and its proprietor & chef Karena Armstong are true McLaren Vale "institutions" and a must visit on any McLaren Vale foodie excursion.
Daily | 12.00pm - 3.00pm
Thu to Sat | 6.00pm - 8.30pm
$28 - $38 (mains)
(08) 8323 8769
Another long time favourite and ‘must visit’ restaurant for us whenever we have friends here from interstate or overseas - and one of only three McLaren Vale restaurants now honoured with a Chefs Hat from the Good Food Guide. If I have to summarise in one sentence, then the experience at the Salopian Inn is all about the trifecta of the beautifully restored old homestead, high quality local and fresh food and the not to be missed old red wine cellar (or the 200+ gin selection if you are a gin lover).
So first off, the building: Sitting proud on the corner of Main and McMurtry Road the building dates back to 1851 and given its original use a homestead, features quite a few different rooms and nooks that now house the dining tables which creates quite a special atmosphere. Personally, I love the first room when you enter, with a view onto the open kitchen in the back.
Then again, the second room features a large open fire place and it was perfect at our most recent visit.
The food is all based on local produce, with a large portion of the veggies & herbs grown by Karena’s family herself - the menu even includes an explanation and outline of the veggie patches. Food creations therefore change frequently, to match what is in season. Focus is on modern Australian cuisine with always one Asian inspired dish. From the many times we have dined there we have never been disappointed - that is I have to admit the Asian inspired dishes haven't always been to our taste, but at our last visit, the Roasted Chicken with Spiced Cashew Curry and Kallete Pakora was outstanding. As was the Paroo Kangaroo Tartare, the Harisima Kingfish Sashimi - all incredibly fresh and perfectly seasoned.
What we also love is the wine selection – large variety of local and international wines, with plenty of choice by the glass. White wines are listed on the menu, but for red wines (by the bottle) you have to make your way down into the old cellar, pick one and bring it back up. And even if you don’t go for a bottle of red, the cellar is always worth a visit. Prices are marked on the bottles, so no surprises.
In short, The Salopian Inn is an institution in McLaren Vale and rightly so. Tough call for lunch with so many great restaurants at wineries with amazing vineyard views – but definitely a must do for dinner (if only they would be open on more days).