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September 21, 2023

Restaurant ela at Hotel Alba brings South Terrace to life

Part of the new Hotel Alba, ela is bringing Mediterranean freshness to South Terrace.

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  • Words and pictures by Claudia Dichiera
  • Image 2 from L—R: Nigel Rich and Samantha Farrington

“So ela is the baby of this whole precinct [that is Hotel Alba], and it is meant to be sophisticated, elegant, but top level,” executive chef Nigel Rich says.


ela at Hotel Alba
226 South Terrace, Adelaide 5000
Mon—Fri: 6:30am ’til 10 for breakfast
Mon—Thu: 5.30pm ’til 9pm for dinner
Fri & Sat: 5:30 ’til 9:30pm for dinner


“So quality in every aspect: surroundings, as you can see, service, food.”

Nigel says the quality choices they have made “start from the basics”.

“It’s buying quality. It’s looking after it properly and training and teaching people to be minimalistic with the intervention of quality goods, and just putting honest food on the plate,” he says.

The ela entrance


This honest food has a Mediterranean touch, taking inspiration from the smell of freshly cooked fish while sitting beachside on the Amalfi Coast, or the crunch of rice from a Spanish paella.

“When you think Mediterranean, you’re going Italy, Spain, Greece. There’s also a little bit of Turkish influence if you look at the coastline,” Nigel says.

“We’re really lucky in Adelaide because we have that Mediterranean climate anyway and everyone that’s settled here has brought those influences here.

“So we’re naturally trained to do that and do it well.”

The menu standouts include a 12-hour braised Moroccan lamb shank with couscous, chermoula prawn tagine, and octopus carpaccio with yuzu caviar, all pictured in the slider above.

“We had dinner here a couple of weeks ago and even though we’ve worked on this project for so long, and we’ve read the menu so often and proofread it and had tastings and designed it and cooked, I still struggled to pick something to eat,” Nigel says.

What a spread. This picture: Matisse Chambers


Like the food menu, the alcohol offering is also inspired by the Med, with European imports alongside South Australia’s best drops.

“It’s a mix of what goes well locally, what’s grown here, but it is a Mediterranean style wine,” Hotel Alba general manager Samantha Farrington says.

“But then we’ve also integrated it with some Greek and then Italian wines in there too just to flesh it out a little bit more.”

While maintaining dining standards, the Hotel Alba and ela team are also fighting against the pretentious tropes of some popular food scenes.

“We also wanted to ensure that whilst we were delivering a high-level product that we weren’t pretentious at all. We want to make sure that our menu and our venue appeal to a wide audience,” Samantha says.

“And ela means ‘to come’ in Greek and I thought that that was a really nice synergy with who we are and what we’re about.

“We want everyone to come and just have the best time, a really nice dining experience and they come with us but not feel out of place.”


According to Samantha, they’ve kept the price point accessible and the menu readable.

“I wanted to make sure that there’s still some elevated components to the dishes, but you can still… understand the dish, and they’re not an overly complicated dish,” she says.

“There’s still items on there [that] are very homely as well.”

This unpretentious theme has created a relaxed vibe, emphasising its connection to the hotel, which was designed by Studio Nine Architects.

“Where do you want to eat? Do you want to eat at the bar if you’re a single traveller? You’re a family, you want to sit here by the pool and eat?” Nigel says.

“Accessibility not just for the people that stay with us, but people coming from outside. We’ve got car parking, we’ve got easy access to all the major roads going in, we’ve got free trams at the end here to jump in the city.”

A Watermelon Soiree in the making


South Terrace has been the “dead end of the CBD for a long time” according to Samantha, and she wants Hotel Alba and ela to create a new era for this end of town, warning its “North Adelaide friends to look out”.

“There is a resurgence happening and we feel that we’re a very big part of that,” Samantha says.

“You’ve got the likes of [Bar] Riot, which is now just around the corner, you’ve got Prohibition, you’ve also got a few other cafes that are going up.

“It’s very calming and it’s a different energy down here. A lot happened on North Terrace for so long, especially in the hotel and restaurant world.

“Don’t count us out. The South’s coming.”

Ela at Hotel Alba is located at 226 South Terrace, Adelaide. It is open for breakfast from 6:30am until 9:30am from Monday to Friday and 7am until 11am on Saturday and Sunday. Its all-day dining is from 11am until 9pm, every day and dinner is from 5:30pm until 9:30pm on Monday to Saturday.

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