Review: The OlFactory Inn

Things are simple and local at the OlFactory Inn, as regional ingredients, SA wine and good ol’ fashioned local hospitality combine to make a country delight.

The OlFactory Inn is located in the sleepy town of Strathalbyn beyond the Adelaide Hills and en route to the Langhorne Creek wine region. Chef Simon Burr and coffee roaster turned maître d’ Lauren Alexander set up shop in an old residence on the town’s main drag.

OlFactoryInn-Building-SiaDuffIt’s not the usual country eating abode, but a new venue for destination dining that is worth the 40 minute drive from the city, and certainly worth designating a driver as you delve into their Feed Me and Drink Me menus.

To the menu: cracking a fine fatty layer exposes a silky smooth and meaty chicken pate beneath. This is served with a sweet – yet tart – grapefruit and orange marmalade, and piquant slivers of dried lemon.

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Often treated as an afterthought, croutons are given just as much attention as the dish itself and are utterly moreish. Baguette loaves are sliced thinly, seasoned and doused in delicious 2014 Frantoio olive oil – from Shepparton, which Burr helped harvest and press. The slices are then baked in a really hot oven for just a few seconds until perfect. We order extra, twice.

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A vegetarian alternative is the creamiest of hummus drowning in a pool of the Frantoio olive oil. A punch of garlic is spot on, and the plating is simple, with more of the lemon and crusty crouton rounds. It’s a homeware lover’s dream with boards and platters of all shapes and sizes, and dishes piled with food that bursts with colour and flavour.

Next is a roasted salad of sorts topped with crispy enoki mushrooms, fried, dried and woody in flavour. The bright, lightly-roasted beetroot pops and sits alongside an assortment of other fungi and lashings of goat’s curd. Truffle oil drizzled lightly over the dish adds to the forest flavour.
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Gnocchi is cooked in a tomato, chilli and basil sauce that also coats the school of prawns swimming beside. Seasoning is light and allows the fresh seafood flavour to shine through (with smacks of chilli). The next seafood round is caught just up the road, from the Coorong. Battered greenback flounder is the definitive ‘fish and chips’ – fried and plated with a simple tartare sauce and greens.

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Next to it, a peculiar looking log of crumbed seafood turns out to be ‘driftwood’ of cockle meat and herbs. It is a treat for the senses, if not a little confusing at first. Forks at the ready for the next dish, we delve in to what is described as a Sri Lankan-style curry, but with a difference.

Kangaroo replaces the traditionally used goat or beef, with beetroot and a strong coriander flavour. Rice soaks up a little more of the sauce than it deserves, leaving the tender chunks of meat tasting a little naked – but the dish overall is wonderful.

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Local wines feature heavily on the menu, and these guys certainly know their neighbours. Favourites include The Pawn ‘En Passant’ Tempranillo and a Yangarra Shiraz, but any off this short, refined list would do.

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If you miss Fino Willunga’s cottage-inspired charm, take a trip across the Fleurieu to Strathalbyn, a plentiful region where the Ol’ Factory Inn has indeed found its niche.

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OlFactory Inn

35 High Street, Strathalbyn
Thursdays and Fridays: 5pm to late Saturdays: 12pm to late Sundays: 12pm to 4pm theolfactoryinn.com.au

Photography: Sia Duff

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