When is a cellar not a cellar ?

Restuarant Cibo North Adelaide is a great restaurant that reinvented cafe (ie not silver service) Italian in super competitive Adelaide. Great professionalism. No part-time waiters – career people. A fabulous in-house patisserrre, great gelato, and a serious pizza chef. The only mistake they made was to fit the restaurant out in a way that sound/talk bounced everywhere and destroyed their good intentions of buying decent sound system speakers.

Their only mistake until now that is. Cibo have recently installed a pretentious walk-in cellar of approx. 4 metres square. All for show. It holds a pathetic amount of wine under super cool conditions. The signal to customers is supposed to be that Cibo cares about wine, and that these bottles are special/precious. But anyone who gives a second of thought (or observation) will realise that these wines are very young, and most have come from the wholesaler within a few weeks/months.

Hey that’s the same as 99% of restaurants – but it is sad that a really professional place like Cibo would pretend. The local Chinese takeaway has more authenticity and honesty when it comes to wine.

3 thoughts on “When is a cellar not a cellar ?

  1. The Adelaide Wine Bar/Restaurant Scene….

    I agree, it is a very lame attempt at creating some sort of wine backbone for their offering. The Royal Garden at Toorak (my local Chinese hang out) has a relatively good list- with a few good back vintage wines .
    From my experience, Chloe’s at Norwood/Kent Town has an exceptional list, although like everything in the place, you pay for the quality. Wine underground – Pirie St have an exceptional range of wine. I am yet to mach it with their menu, but it seems like very wine friendly food. The Apothecary (Hindley St) have a huge range of wines (their list is of the same magnitude as The Supper Club, Spring Street, Melbourne), of all pedigrees, regions and types (stored very well in their underground cellar) to match their usual Tapas style menu- or for special occasions (ie Valentines Day) full fare menu’s. Windy Point (old Belair Rd) have a full time MC/Sommelier that really knows wine. Their list is exceptional, and cover good wines rather than Dan Murphy-ised commoners. Fumo Blue (Rundle St) have an exceptional range of well stored wines (and cigars) from choice vintages, and producers. For a club frequented by the pretentious teens of Adelaide wanted to be seen- their list is surprisingly great, with well trained staff. No critique of Magill Estate is required- they serve Grange by the glass:)

  2. There are some excellent topics of discussion here..
    1. Cibo- ‘cutting edge’, or just cutting???
    2. Restaurant wine lists
    3. Preferred alternatives

    The Cibo issue?? Yes…. I have been to Cibo about 6 times. Three of them while working as a sales representative for a wine distributor. The owners are close friends with my previous boss, and I have always found the owners to be friendly, considerate and welcoming to me personally.

    However, on every single occasion I dined in their restaurant, I have been disappointed in some way by the service and/or food.

    Like anyone with some experience in dining out, I value skills and professionalism in floor staff as much as the quality of food and ambience of an establishment. On every dining occasion at Cibo I have experienced one or all of the following service faults: patronising, arrogant, ignorant or unhelpful staff.

    My partner believes she had food poisoning from oysters eaten there once. However, a courtesy call to inform them of her illness and request that they check the oysters resulted in vehement denial and indignance that we ‘would suggest such a thing of their esteemed establishment’. Empathy and thanks for informing them, along with an indication that a check of the oysters would have been a far more effective way of dealing with a diner, without admitting responsibility for the illness at any stage (as I’m sure we’re all aware of the possible legal implications).

    In short, the food has been patchy. Menu items ranged from extraordinary to indifferent. Although one constant has been the high quality of the gelati, coffee, pastries and pizza. On that note I can only support previous blogs in promoting Cibo!

    Like many other restaurants, the idea of a visually appealing cellar is a token gesture, but may serve the purpose required. If diners at Cibo value the image a cellar entails, then good luck to them. BUT If their diners want matured and ‘hard to find’ examples of premium wine, they will be disappointed.

    In my experience there are few restaurants that actually mature their wines in any case, and I am fed up with paying extortion-like mark ups for a wine I could purchase at a retailer for about a third of the price.

    My other ‘beef’ is with establishments that have impressive and elaborate wine lists, only to have many (if not most) of the wines unavailable. For example, I have not been back to ‘Chloes’ since experiencing this situation in 1999. I agree, Chloe’s has an extensive wine list, but at the time we went for dinner, I tried to source three different Pinots noir, a Tasmanian Riesling and Victorian Shiraz, and all were unavailable. I ended up having to select a wine from my firm’s portfolio (as a wine representative), and even then the vintage in the list was two years older than the wine they delivered to the table!

    If a wine is difficult to procure, and matches the food presented- I’ll pay a substantial premium for that wine. For ‘run of the mill’ current releases available anywhere, I’ll probably just drink beer instead, and deal with the condescending floor staff in turn!

    Two examples of under-appreciated wine lists that come to mind are The Royal Oak and The Grange Restaurant. The Royal Oak as a suggestion may surprise many, but the food is fresh and consistently good, and the walk-in cellar in the bottle shop actually has a selection of matured wines and some difficult to obtain current vintages. The Grange Restaurant is without peer for a premier dining experience in Adelaide. I haven’t eaten there for six years, but the wine list is exceptional (and the wines are available). The food? Well, there are few superlatives good enough for the food of Cheong Liew!

    Cheers, and keep up the blogging!

  3. Restaurants and wine lists:
    Just be glad you don’t live in the modwest or many other places in the US, soon to be the world’s biggest wine drinking country (by volume). In some ways we are spolied here for a selection, sometimes small, but usually drinkable. I too drink beer when I find the wine list overpriced and familiar. I struggled in quite a few restaurants in Ohio trying to find something to have. We did go to one place on the way to the outdoor symphony, restuarant on a cross roads in the country (as it passes for country in Ohio) that had a real multi-continental selection, including a good range of Baroosa Shriaz and Grenache blends.

    When one goes out for a special dinner, you do want something well cellared and different from your own cellar. I agree about the wine list at the Grange. We were there recently for a dinner given for my partner, when she left her last job. We had a Gewurtztraminer comparison from Australia (Adelaide Hills), Austria, and Alsace. Not many restaurants could do that!

    Mainly, however, we choose to make good and usually simple food at home and drink a wide range of wines? The food is always hot (or cold), the beer is cheap and the wine list unique.

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