Bistro Blackwood, the acclaimed casual eatery of celebrity chef, Jock Zonfrillo, located at 285 Rundle Street in Adelaide’s CBD, sadly closed its doors in December 2019.
The two-level venue right in the heart of Adelaide’s eclectic East End has experienced a troubled time recently.
Whilst such an iconic location and fine dining institution never stays empty for long, the two-level space has also seen the modern-Australia eatery and cocktail bar Two-Pot Screamer (what a great Aussie name!) fail to thrive.
After only a few years, Two-Pot Screamer has made way for the Southeast Asian restaurant Paper Tiger, with its modern Asian-fusion Chin Chin vibes.
The Paper Tiger menu is an interesting mix of Malaysian, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Thai cuisine, and the decor is contemporary, funky and neon. It’s a welcome addition to the neighbourhood.
Jock Zonfrillo, one of the country’s most visible and prominent chefs, was the popular host and judge of Network Ten’s Masterchef Australia.
Tragically, Zonfrillo passed away on 30 April 2023 at only 46. He will be greatly missed both within the restaurant scene and as a much-loved mentor on Masterchef.
Zonfrillo opened Bistro Blackwood in the downstairs premises of his flagship restaurant, Orana, in 2107. The Bistro delivered a lively bistro-style option to the lauded fine-dining experience upstairs.
Zonfrillo was well-known, both domestically and overseas, for his passionate advocacy and use of native Australian Indigenous ingredients, culture and knowledge in his culinary creations.
Bistro Blackwood was a place for everyone, serving a seasonally evolving menu with daily specials drawing from the same indigenous ingredients and techniques that were brought to life at Orana.
If you are interested in knowing a little about Native Citrus, see here.
Bistro Blackwood – A baby sister to Restaurant Orana
Zonfrillo’s widely respected Restaurant Orana was, in 2018, named Australia’s restaurant of the year by Gourmet Traveller magazine.
The bistro was of the same style as its fine-dining sister upstairs, but at a different price point. It was still a quintessential Australian restaurant, but more approachable and families were welcomed, so there was a great choice of kids meals available.
Bistro Blackwood was a project for the Orana team. Importantly, it was a space for the chefs to be creative and use seasonal ingredients from the local organic farmers and suppliers. The restaurant even had it’s own forager, Peter, the the team cooked with whatever he brought them on a daily basis.
The name hinted to the fact that the bistro’s fire pit cooked with blackwood ash and the tables in Orana were made from blackwood.
Dishes were playful riffs on bistro classics. They might find smoked Goolwa pippies dressed with crème fraîche and beach succulents. Or perhaps fire-pit chicken with cos salad. And then there was the eponymous steak tartare. There were daily entree, main and dessert specials as well as ‘cocktails of the moment’.
If you are a fan of casual dining, check out our guide to some of the Best Pubs in Adelaide
The bistro would happily cater to dietary needs and was a favourite of many Adelaide families.
The menu included a punchy local-leaning wine list with an emphasis on lo-fi producers. Guests wanting to splash out beyond the 40-bottle list could order off Restaurant Orana’s 400-bottle spread, curated by the upstairs Sommelier.
Wondering where to go to get the best breakfast in Adelaide? Read on.
Bistro Blackwood Reviews
The reviews were universally strong for Bistro Blackwood –
-Just terrific food at reasonable prices. A true bistro experience, based in Adelaide, but inspired by the world. Go now.Simon Wilkinson, The Advertiser
-With this crowd-pleasing mash up, Blackwood is what Australian dining is all about.John Lethlean, The Australian
-Bistro Blackwood hits on all marks.Myffy Rigby, Good Food Guide
–Looking for a quality cut of beef? Check out our guide to the Best Steak Houses in Adelaide
SNACKS FOR BREAD
Spiced Red Lentil Hummus w/ sour cream & crispy saltbush 9
Fire-Pit Roasted Red Capsicum w/ sherry vinegar & herb flowers 9
Baba Ganoush w/ parsley yoghurt 9
Ndjua & Stracciatella 12
Freshly Shucked Coffin Bay Oysters w/ pandanus, ginger dressing 18/36
Baby Roma Tomato & Cucumber Salad w/ persion feta & basil 18
Broad Bean Leaf Salad w/ provolone, pancetta 21
Bistro Blackwood Tartare w/ french fries 19
Smoked Goolwa Pippies w/ crème fraîche, beach succulents 18
Crispy Golden Prawn Roti Prata w/ fermented chilli dip 18
Young Coconut w/ pumpkin & pineapple curry 17
Does the talk of pumpkin and pineapple curry make you hungry for a fragrant, spiced dinner? See our rundown of the Best Thai Restaurants in Adelaide
Spencer Gulf Prawn Pasta w/ fennel, chard, lemon & chilli 32
Snapper SoupSoup w/ chunks of snapper, spring vegetables 32
Fire-Pit Octopus w/ chilli chutney, crispy cassava, bean leaf & coriander salad 29
Kangaroo & Broccoli Leaves w/ quinoa, pumpkin seeds & spiced yoghurt 30
450g Peppered Rib Eye Steak on the Bone w/ mushrooms & pressed potatoes 68
Ngeringa Organic Lamb w/ myrtle chipotle, cavolo nero & potatoes 33
Roasted Pork Belly w/ organic greens, rice noodle sheet, kombucha broth 32
Love the crispy skin and succulent flesh of pork belly? Then try our Easy Pork Belly recipes for yourself.
Black Lentils & Buffalo Curd w/ baby kale, fermented mushroom dressing 12
New Season Asparagus w/ lamb hollandaise, pickled lemon 14
Fennel, Zucchini & Avocado Salad 12
Braised Finger Carrots w/ lamb, oats, herbs & spices 14
Churros w/ salted dulce de leche, crème fraîche 14
Macerated Strawberries w/ strawberry eucalyptus, yoghurt granita 14
Chocolate Brownie Stack w/ blood orange, macadamia, salted caramel 14
Lamington Ice Cream w/ red fruits, chocolate 15
Kris Lloyd’s ‘Grace’ Goats Cheese w/ crackers, brush cherry, roasted wattleseed, walnuts 22
Tarte Tatin (for two) w/ apples, vanilla ice cream 28
Jock Zonfrillo tested the Sydney market in 2019 with an Orana pop-up in the former Longrain site in Surry Hills. However, the option to extend the arrangement was not taken up.
Of course, the COVID-19 crisis and the ensuing border closures and restaurant industry chaos would not have helped, as would Zonfrillo’s reported permanent move to Melbourne. In addition, Zonfrillo was also said to be very busy with his native food flavour lab.
Zonfrillo had reportedly teamed up with venture capitalist Mark Carnegie to open a food laboratory where native Australian ingredients would be investigated and tested for commercial purposes.
Apparently, Zonfrillo had believed he has identified a gap in the indigenous ingredients’ value chain – a missing link between businesses looking to use native ingredients, and those with the know-how.
“Companies want to use Australian native ingredients but don’t know where to start. All they know is that there are amazing ingredients coming out of Australia – potentially the next goji berry – and they want to work with them.”
Where Zonfrillo’s untimely death leaves these plans and more remains to be seen.
What we do know is that he will be greatly missed.