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January 16, 2024

Restaurant Botanic and Good Gilbert hit a snag

What happens when a nationally recognised, fine dining chef and an award-winning hospo owner walk into a bar? They host a sausage sizzle, obviously.

  • Words: Claudia Dichiera
  • Graphic: Jayde Vandborg
  • Above L—R: Justin James and Wilson Shawyer

When CityMag asks Restaurant Botanic executive chef Justin James to define fine dining, season two, episode seven of The Bear came to mind as he began to explain.


Restaurant Botanic x Good Gilbert sausage sizzle
From 3pm ’til late, Sunday, January 21
135B Goodwood Road, Goodwood 5034


Chef Carmy sends cousin Richie to work at a Michelin star restaurant to learn the tricks of the trade.

One diner admits in private conversation they’ve never had deep dish pizza, and when recognising this, the executive chef makes a custom-made deep dish-inspired meal.

“I think that term [fine dining] gets thrown around very loosely nowadays,” Justin says.

“I think this is a different level of what a restaurant is, like the prime example of hospitality — and that means you listen to your guests, you look after your guests, and you’re trying to create something magical for that guest.

“You try to create a mini-holiday for three, four hours where they just forget about their life and they’re in your bubble… you grab their chairs; you get the door for them.”

Justin explains he will often make custom-made cocktails using the ingredients he can source upon request.

Justin was put to the Public BBQ test last year and passed with flying colours. This picture: Nicholas Grange.

Restaurant Botanic also uses 26 unusual flavour combinations in the tasting menu.

When taking the position in 2021, Justin told us he uses native ingredients from around South Australia, particularly experimenting with flavours he can find in his garden — the Adelaide Botanic Garden.

“That’s what I really love about cooking, just endless opportunity of equations,” Justin says.

“An equation is really like a dish, and the ingredients are the numbers. It’s an endless way of what you can create and I think that’s really what’s drawn to me.”

Justin says some of his most unusual flavour combinations are currently on the Restaurant Botanic menu.

“We have a sea urchin, emu liver, Murray cod dish that’s all wrapped up in a cabbage leaf and then it has two different pastes; one’s with like a pine emulsion, and the other one’s chili paste,” Justin says. “I’m pretty sure no one else has done that in the world!

“It’s not really looking at ingredients as ingredients – it’s about what they taste like. Really, it’s the five tastes: salty, sour, umami, bitter and sweet, and really looking at ingredients like that changes how I pair them.”

Wilson at Good Gilbert. This picture: Claudia Dichiera.

These flavour combinations will be on show this Sunday, at a Restaurant Botanic collaborative event with neighbourhood wine bar Good Gilbert.

“Justin and I have run into each other [at] quite a lot of awards ceremonies, so it makes sense that we eventually become quite friendly,” Wilson Shawyer, co-owner of Good Gilbert says.

“And so it made sense to do something together, especially after the last Gourmet Traveller awards.”

Wilson explains this collaborative event is his effort to bring “accessibility into the suburbs”.

“I think what better opportunity than to get Australia’s best restaurant that traditionally has 34 seats, and you have to do a full degustation menu, which is quite an experience, and not an experience a lot of people can do often,” he tells CityMag.

“And so, what we like to do [at Good Gilbert] is bring stuff that is normally not so attainable, and give it to the public.

“So I convinced Justin to come and do a fucking sausage sizzle.”

Wilson says Good Gilbert is “going to go from our little mediocre level, and we’re going to step it up a bit and come towards Botanic” while Restaurant Botanic will make its name more accessible to the everyday diner.

The alcoholic offering will be curated with ingredients that require “foraging their own herbs and spices and making bougie complicated cocktails” but with a “silly Good Gilbert touch”, Wilson says.

Justin has curated a sausage sizzle menu that challenges all norms of your Bunnings regular.

“From my side, I’d still like to bring what I bring at Botanic,” he says.

“I’m looking at flavours of Australia, techniques, creativity, some innovation as well, and kind of keeping true of how I like to cook – but just in a little sausage sizzle.”

What’s set to hit the sausage sizzle menu is a kangaroo sausage with green ants and a caviar sausage that Justin admits “won’t be your $2.50 Bunnings sausage, that one”.

Justin also hopes to include a fried chicken sausage, but reassures us this is “pending trials”. It will be paired with fermented onions and cabbage, with hot sauce and ranch to “bring it all together”.

Though at the helm of a fine dining restaurant, Justin appreciates culinary life beyond its doors.

“I’m a professional diner and professional chef… but I just love food,” Justin says.

“And I love food that’s done exceptionally well and you can see it, and it doesn’t matter what level of a restaurant it is, when it’s done extremely well, it’s just so… I don’t know. Good food is just what I live for.”

The Restaurant Botanic x Good Gilbert sausage sizzle will take place at Good Gilbert, located at 135B Goodwood Road, Goodwood on Sunday, January 21, from 3pm until late.

Connect with Restaurant Botanic and Good Gilbert on Instagram for more.

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