The “chef’s table” experience in a restaurant is usually an exclusive and relatively expensive option for groups who want to have an up-close experience with the chefs, try their signature dishes, or simply join in the kitchen action. I attended many of them over the year: some resulted in the ultimate experience while others felt like I was on the journey. Backstage seating can expose you to some of the best culinary entertainment, but also some of the worst. There is not always a fixed menu, you are often guided by seasonality or the daily whim of the chef, or in the case of eleven – chefs.
There are a few familiar names and faces behind this place, and it’s the joint effort and energy that has brought this place to life over the past two years. The first is Callum Hann, former Chef became a real leader. Next is Themis Chryssidis, a dietitian and cook who really knows his stuff. Together they work with the kitchen team to develop a menu that is very obviously designed to tick all the boxes.
Like any good trip, tonight starts with snacks. Three small bites, each bursting with flavor and texture, serve as the introduction to the menu at Eleven’s Chef’s Table. The first is a single plump Gazander oyster topped with a frothy mignonette. The slightly sour dressing barely masks the flavor of the shellfish underneath. Next comes a small hollowed potato filled with smoked eel, caviar and chives. Not usually a fan of eel, I was impressed by the balance of this bite, the salt offered by the caviar taking control of the sweet smoky flavor of the fish. And then, a Gruyère puff pastry is sprinkled with truffles. Pungent and earthy, this introduction to eleven still leaves us hungry and thirsty too. Luckily, the extensive wine list has plenty of interesting drops to keep us busy. There is a pairing option, matched with each dish, but tonight we hit the Giant Steps chardonnay.
Our selection fits perfectly with the following course. Incredibly thin strips of Hahndorf Venaison are presented as a carpaccio, in a pool of good olive oil sporadically splashed with chilli oil. There’s a mash that looks like pickled onion (revolutionary) and crispy slices of seared Jerusalem artichoke to add an oaky flavor. I’ve had good carpaccios in my day, and this one is among the best.
Next comes a succulent and scintillating bisque made with chestnut shells. A single chestnut tail swims in the soup, with slices of candied leek and lightly charred broccolini rounding out another excellent dish.
The only thing better is the bread: Eleven’s signature milk roll. Two thick, chewy slices are served alongside a generous ramekin filled with chook fat infused butter. My only complaint tonight is that it fades too quickly.
Our next dish is disappearing just as quickly. It’s grade 9+ wagyu, perfectly cooked, sliced and spread alongside charred baby turnips and a dollop of homemade mustard. Yes, it’s steak, but that’s next level. A translucent juice further enhances this dish, but the regret creeps in again. Why didn’t I save some of that bread? This sauce was made for the mop.
And then they serve a palate cleanser – an old fashioned culinary tradition that I wish for even more often. It’s not fancy, but it’s tasty. Blood orange granita. Yogurt sorbet. Bay leaf infused oil. They could have called this dessert and I would be satisfied.
But, the dessert is even more interesting. Maybe a little difficult. But I decide after a few bites that I like it. The meringue-like shards are actually dehydrated chocolate mousse. There are lightly poached quince slices on a hazelnut crunch. The challenge is porcini ice cream. Yes, mushroom for dessert. A slight tweak to soft expectations and here we are. It’s silky and flavorful, slightly salty and a balanced counterpoint to the slightly sweeter bursts of mousse.
A few petit fours (a chocolate filled with whiskey and something that tastes exactly like apple pie) and we’re done.
Over the night, we befriended other duos as they ate through the menu, gave us some preview tasting notes (and shared their bottles of wine). This chiefs table is a shared event, but it doesn’t look like an average common table. It’s definitely an experience, and it’s clear after tonight that eleven o’clock is what it’s all about.
11 Waymouth Street, Adelaide (enter via Post Office Pl)
08 7008 0222
The restaurant is open for dinner from Monday to Saturday and lunch from Wednesday to Friday