SA Life

Get CityMag in your inbox. Subscribe
December 14, 2023

The Crafers Hotel summer menu is go, go, go

Go for the food. Or the wine list. They’re both exceptional.

  • This article was produced in collaboration with The Crafers Hotel.

It says something about the South Australian psyche that, along with food, wine is now equally, if not more closely, associated with our pubs than beer.


The Crafers Hotel
8 Main Street
Crafers SA 5152

Obviously, there will always be the siren’s call of outstanding craft beers on tap. And it’d be hard to find inferior wine poured anywhere in the state. But for a really, really good wine list, well, that requires a car trip at breakneck (but legal) speed up the freeway…

In this year’s Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards, The Crafers Hotel was awarded the coveted 3-glasses and selected as a finalist for best pub wine list in Australia. For those who’ve drunk from the vast 10,000-plus collection of wines, or walked among the racks and explored the cellars below – the recognition is unsurprising.

The Crafers Hotel aims to present a world-class food and wine offering – and it’s succeeding in spades.

In the kitchen, head chef Mathew Grant’s new summer menu is being ushered in. It’s a lighter style of eating with small sharing plates, fresh seafood and seasonal produce. And it represents the way he himself enjoys dining out; with an array of dishes that’s also visually pleasing and sparks conversation.

Mat champions local produce, saying it’s important to “support the businesses that allow us to do what we do”. There’s a reverence for the produce too.

“I work to be as creative as possible with the different ingredients, to utilise every part and find new ways to showcase it in our food,” he says.

“It’s also about running an environmentally sustainable kitchen in any way I can to try to foster industry-wide improvement moving forward.”

Head chef Mat is bringing the summer feels to the new menu

The Crafers Hotel is open for lunch and dinner every day, with all day dining on the weekend and public holidays.

Among the dishes on the new summer menu is a Lobethal lamb rack with warmed summer greens tossed in burnt butter, with thyme infused potato and finished with a crème fraiche jus and citrus mascarpone. It’s surprisingly light while still showcasing warm Crafers comfort.

The refreshing and highly sharable ocean trout gravlax is being carried over with the change of season. The lightly citrus cured ocean trout is garnished with fresh blood orange, caper aioli, ruby grapefruit, avocado mousse, dill and red vein sorrel. The bitterness of the grapefruit is balanced by the sweetness of the blood orange and combines well to season the cured trout.

“I’m keeping a few of the entrees like this from the spring menu,” says Mat, “Ones that have become crowd favourites and still champion those summer qualities.

“Otherwise, I’ve changed most of the other courses to reflect what Crafers summer should taste like!”

For someone who’s only been cooking professionally for a decade, Mat’s local credentials are impeccable, like his dishes.

His foundational years cutting his teeth in the kitchen of higher end gastro pubs gave him a love of “cooking for a lot of people at the highest possible quality”.

Later moves to Jolley’s Boathouse under Tony Carroll and Maxwell Wines under Fabian Lehmann saw him blossom creatively and in terms of plating. More recently, working with Glen Carr (previously of Auge Restaurant), he’s added fine dining catering and in-house degustation to his skill set.

With desserts, Mat applies French-inspired techniques and serves up a pleasantly surprising mix of savoury and sweet.

The salted peanut butter parfait features an almost savoury peanut butter caramel parfait alongside a pistachio and dark chocolate soil with a rocher of dark chocolate cremieux garnished with elderflower blossom, fresh in season raspberries and a raspberry gel. The dish is finished with a light dusting of white chocolate snow.

In keeping with the exceptional quality of the food, the locally-owned hotel has its own sommelier, Seth Piszczuk.

Seth’s happy to recommend a wine pairing from the hotel’s 10,500 bottles on hand, or have you browse the wine room for your own pick, and he’ll even take you into the locked fine wine room to explore what he calls the “once in a lifetime bottles” within.

“It’s not necessarily important to me that people purchase them,” Seth says. “To be taken a journey around Australia and the world with what we have to offer is sometimes as much fun as actually drinking the wine.”

The working wine list – presented as The Little Book of Wine – changes every four to six weeks and, like the food, is guided by the season.

“It’s also a chance to rotate and highlight through some of our local heroes, because there are so many local producers that we’d like to give a little bit of time in the sun,” Seth explains, noting that with wines at every price point, even the house pour is something special.

The Little Book of Wine also includes a fine array of half bottles and magnums, and toward the back is a selection of “really exciting wines” listed without any fanfare, but delighting customers who discover them in – Seth’s words – “a little regional pub”.

In contrast, The Big Book of Wine is an odyssey through the enormous collection – including museum wines and a century’s worth covering every decade and, importantly, customers’ significant dates.

“I had a couple in here a week or so ago celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary, so I could find a lovely bottle of wine from the year they got married to make their anniversary dinner all that more special,” Seth shares.

Those museum wines include a 1928 Château Mouton Rothschild Bordeaux – surely, placing one in a quandary as to whether to drink it now or bags it for its centenary year.

First exit off the freeway to a first class food and wine offering

“We have a lot of winemakers and wine folk patronising us regularly,” say Seth, explaining that because of the scope of their wines, local makers use it as a benchmarking tool.

“They come in to compare some of their offerings with what’s considered the best in the world equivalent from our wine room.”

There’s always a risk of such an expansive list overwhelming the customers.

“That’s why we have the Little Book and someone like myself, who’s here to make people comfortable to explore that and give them a little education and advice if they’re unfamiliar with the scope of our offerings,” Seth says, adding that wine exploration is not reserved for the elite.

And, despite its exceptional quality, the food is reasonably priced. Small and sharing plates are generally between $16 and $26, while pub classics and mains are between $26 and $38.

It’s an elevated pub experience and a winning formula for diners says Seth.

“The majority of people come here because we are renowned for just a great quality of service and the food and wine experience as a whole.”

Connect: Instagram

Share —