An instant classic on opening in 2019, now settling into a long stride with lo-fi wine & some of Adelaide’s best food – settle in for the chef’s menu, have a plate or two or kick back with snacks
The nuts & bolts
- Function spaces: 20–40 guests
Leigh Street Wine Room is one of those rare places that feels like it’s been there for decades, smoothed and polished over the years. It hasn’t, of course, with LSWR pulling their first corks in 2019. But Nathan and Sali Sasi’s temple to natural wine has made its mark in indelible fashion, anchoring itself as one of Adelaide’s most acclaimed venues.
The appeal of Leigh Street Wine Room starts at the front door, with the narrow venue crowned by an impressively towering arched ceiling that runs the length of the mid-century European-leaning 40-seater. Think terrazzo – bar and floor – fluted dark timber, retro bar stools and framed prints, while white spaghetti-strand acoustic panels evoke 60s Bella Italia while also softening the noise levels – clever. A moody mezzanine at the back, above the kitchen, adds depth and intrigue – as well as 20 more seats that you can book out, if you like.
Nathan had a stellar cooking career before opening LSWR, including stints with Neil Perry and Peter Doyle. Overseas, he worked in the US at Sean Brock’s Husk, and Dinner by Heston in London as well as at legendary Moorish temple Moro. Landing in Sydney, he took on the lead role at Nomad, where a love for curing, pickling, fermenting, drying, smoking and cheese-making took full flight. That interest was fostered by his father, a Hungarian immigrant, who made everything from scratch for the family.
After launching and helming Sydney’s acclaimed Mercado, while also starting an artisan ice-cream business on the side, a move to Adelaide saw him taking the Executive Chef role for the Big Easy Group – NOLA, Anchovy Bandit, The Stag etc. In 2019, Sali and Nathan struck out on their own, giving an old dry cleaner a new fit-out modelled on a melange of their favourite European wine bars.
The wine offer at LSWR is pitched very much in the natural camp, though the selections aren’t dogmatically so, with the wines of South Australia especially well represented. “We have a fairly even split of Australian and International wines,” says Sali. “One thing we do focus on is showcasing our South Australian, in particular Adelaide Hills, winemakers. It’s part of the reason we opened LSWR. We couldn’t believe they were barely represented in their hometown and given we’ve loved their wines interstate, we really wanted to celebrate them locally.”
Leigh Street Wine Room is about wine first and foremost, the liquid wallpaper of over 400 eclectic bottlings on dark-wood shelves the length of the site attest to that, but it’s also home to some of the best food in the city. That deep obsession with fermenting and the like has not waned, with everything from charcuterie, smallgoods and cheese to cultured butter and sourdough bread turned out of the compact open kitchen at the rear. And the menu dominated by small plate offerings can be marshalled into a substantial tasting menu for two or more people for $80 a head – double that if you want matched wines.
But no matter the food cred, LSWR is not about to turn itself into a fine diner. “We’ve always had the philosophy of choose your own adventure,” says Sali. “Come in for a quick drink and a tasty snack or gather with your mates for some after work knock-offs… or get comfy and settle in for our tasting menu. It’s a pretty chilled vibe – sit at the bar or in the dining room. We really just want people to come in, feel relaxed and enjoy good food with good wine, it’s really that simple.”