All pictures credits Africola
Most would agree that the best dining experience doesn’t always consist of sublime food with unrecognizable ingredients, served with foam and microns, with a presentation so complicated that you don’t know where to start. A good time with good friends and eating together often moves us most. Africola is arguably the most exciting restaurant in Adelaide, whose recipe consists of all of the above, with an unlimited serving of damn fine cuisine.
Africa is located on Adelaide’s trendy East Terrace amid a range of gastro-pubs, restaurants and eateries. It will be easy to spot because it will be the liveliest of the lot, with tables full of guests along the sidewalk and inside too. You’ll also hear the music before you can smell the food, throbbing beats in a mix of pop, salsa, and energetic dance tunes that you’ll want to move on the way to your table.
And the high octane atmosphere doesn’t end there. The restaurant, like the food and personality cult, owner and chef Duncan Welgemoed, is bright, bold and sassy. The interiors scream for attention with walls full of sheer Andy Warhol-esque artwork and quirky art objects. The open kitchen offers culinary theater in which the chefs move to the rhythm of pots that sizzle, burn and then serve. It’s nothing more than a food party as the waitresses turned on seem genuinely enjoying working there, laughing at their own cheeky jokes between the efficient deliveries of a stream of aisles with guests.
Africola is one of the most renowned restaurants in Australia. Mainly because of the cuisine, but also because of what it has done for the culinary palate of the country. Africola has added a layer to the patina of the rich Australian food culture created on indigenous “tukka” influences with a flood of immigrants from European, Asian, Latin American and Africola flavorful African cuisine. Getting a table at Africola isn’t easy, and for good reason. Foodies come in where they can enjoy the African-inspired plates of fried vegetables, sizzling smoked meats, and decadent flatbreads with a flavorful menu that changes seasonally, if not weekly, based on what’s fresh, ethically grown, and available .
The head and the muscles behind Africola are the South African master chef Duncan Welgemoed. Today he is a driving force and influence on Australian cuisine, with a loyal following of diners, chefs he trained and weekend kitchen heroes who try their hand at dishes from one of his best-selling cookbooks. It’s an overnight sensation created through decades of work in some of the world’s top kitchens. Duncan received his first Michelin star in a small restaurant in the British hamlet of Oxfordshire Blumenthal. Not a bad family tree that made it possible to shape your culinary worldview under a sky full of Michelin stars.
Today Duncan has become Australia’s adoptive son, kitchen god and celebrity chef, where he appears regularly as a prominent judge in newspapers, magazines and television programs. However, his foundation was much stricter. He gets his cooking DNA from his father, who was a Swiss chef, as well as culinary influences from his childhood in Johannesburg. His most valuable recipe for himself and his customers is his peri-peri chicken. Forget the boring chain restaurant Peri Peri Chicken from this terrible franchise. This is Peri-Peri the way it’s supposed to be, hot, tangy, and a taste you’ll think of on the drive home – it’s that good, really. This is his father’s secret recipe that lives on to the delight of his happy guests.
The saying goes that when you have a big mouth, you are better able to support it. It’s just that Africola and her celebrity chef have that covered. This is a fun meal that is seriously prepared at a flat rate and you choose a starter, a side dish, a main course and a dessert from the well-rounded menu. After a brief check by the waitresses for dietary restrictions and spice levels from five-alarm fire to mild, the whirlwind of the dishes begins. The dishes are prepared to be shared, giving a couple eight courses to mix and nosh. What guests will love as much as the ambience and service is the direct taste.
Every dish is a party in the mouth that is so complex, ranging from crispy to soft, savory to picante to sweet. The menu offers a who’s who of culinary delights, but the standout ones are the tea sandwiches, fried chicken skin on white bread with peri-peri-dip sauce, and the Boston Bay mussels with fermented chilli and garlic. For the starter, the aforementioned Peri Peri Chicken is simply more than delicious. Duncan is also very focused on how and where he sources the ingredients for each dish and encourages ethical and sustainable local producers. The wine list follows with a healthy list of small local organic producers.
Good food is not always about tasting or fine dining. Africa has carved out its own niche as the king of sexy, fun, and tasty food. The bold cuisine and popping ambiance are just some of the reasons Africola is high on the list of best restaurants in Australia and why you may have to put yourself on the waiting list to enjoy a meal that is nothing short of hedonism Plate.