Did someone say Aussie yum cha? Henry did. The Henry Austin is a classic, charming venue that will make you feel as if you’ve stepped off this hidden laneway and into a fabulous European escape.
When owner Max Mason (an ex-Brit hospitality guru who’s become somewhat of an Adelaide icon) started restoring the 1930s building in early 2016 as part of the Renew Adelaide initiative, one of the first things he did was pull down the vines that obscured the top half of the building and the building’s forgotten name – Henry Austin.
When you arrive at The Henry Austin, don’t expect to be handed a menu. Co-Head Chefs, Shane Wilson and Jimmy Zerella, create a daily selection of dishes, creating intriguing and exciting flavour combinations from only the freshest, local and seasonal produce. Two mornings every week, Shane and Jimmy hit the road, heading out to the Adelaide Hills to forage for produce they love.
Experimenting with foraged ingredients means that Shane and Jimmy will often change a dish two or three times during service – it’s all part of the creative process and ensures diners are always served the best produce, in the best forms the kitchen team can think of. The result is a constantly changing array of dishes that keeps Adelaide locals coming back time and time again for exciting dining experiences.
If you have a hard time making a decision, look to Max or Sommelier, Georgie Davidson-Brown, before even glancing at the wine list. Between Georgie’s experience at Melbourne’s Lume, and Max’s experience drinking as much wine as possible, they’ll be able to find you the perfect drop from the 8,000+ bottles in the basement bottleshop.
Focusing on local, often very rare, wines, the bottleshop is one of the many discoveries of this fascinating building. There’s an upstairs private dining room and downstairs bar to name a few more. Take a good ol’ gander in this joint – it’s well worth a look before you plonk yourself down for a feed.
For Max, wine is a true delight. The house wine is one of his own creations, poured from carefully stored barrels.
While many restaurateurs would gut an old building when opening a new venue, Max has preserved the building’s history. In a former life as the iconic Chesser Cellars, the building was adorned with glamorous touches from the extravagant ’80s. Many of these touches are still visible, from the lights, to deep oak and brass finishes. The ’80s vibe is reflected in the service and Max’s particular indulgence in a glass or two of Bollinger.
The Henry Austin is a celebration of exciting food, excellent wine and old world charm. This place is a mystery, a marvel and a delight and is not to be missed.