The Salopian Inn
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.
The food is all based on local produce, with a large portion of the veggies & herbs grown by Karena’s family herself which means the menu changes 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 weren't always to our taste - but that is likely just a very personal view.
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 nasty 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).