It was a mere five weeks ago that we revealed what was to go into the old Chesser Cellars building, but already The Henry Austin is opening its doors. A fabulous launch party was held on the 1st of June to show guests a preview of what to expect when they officially open on the 6th of June.
Guests were greeted by bubbly wait staff and gifted on arrival with a glass of Bollinger champagne, two Yum Cha tokens and an extra drink token to cash in at the bar. The building had an old-world class to it – from the modest chandeliers to the warm wood panelling to the tapered candles centring most tables.
Owner Maxwell James Mason then presented a guided tour of the venue, his proper English accent only adding to The Henry Austin’s classic charm. Amongst the many formal dining and quirky event spaces there is a wine cellar far below the ground that houses wines from thirty-three different wineries. The unique factor about the cellar is that each column is rented by a particular winery that can stock it with a number of different wines of their own making. Every Friday at 5pm each of these wineries will take a turn hosting a free wine tasting at The Henry Austin. The cellar also doubles as a takeaway bottle shop, or if one of the six whites or reds on the dining menu doesn’t take your fancy, guests can pick any bottle from the cellar they like and drink it at their table for a $15 corkage fee.
Our favourite dining space is at the top of the building, up a very long, wooden flight of stairs that we wouldn’t like to encounter drunk. In this room you’ll find statement artwork from SA gem Emma Hack, as well as modern bowls made by the graduate UniSA porcelain class. At the end of every year these bowls will be sold with the proceeds going towards charity to make room for the next graduating class’ work to take centre stage. All glassware is Plumm, another Australian company, and an enviable $30,000 sound system branded with The Henry Austin’s logo is the feature of the room, serenading ears with clear, tasteful music.
As beautiful as the decor of The Henry Austin is, it’s their modern Australian Yum Cha that has the town talking. We sampled three of the dishes available; fresh kingfish ceviche served with sweet, juicy riberries and a smooth cultured cream; tender, smoked beef tartare with zesty pickles and crunchy, fried coastal salt bush; and a rich ten-hour braised kangaroo with soft grains.
We can definitely imagine ourselves spending many a winter’s evening cozied up in The Henry Austin’s warm, candle-lit dining rooms drinking beautiful wine and dining on gorgeous Australian Yum Cha. If you’d like to read more about the story of The Henry Austin, check out our previous article here.
[Note: As of July 2017, the Henry Austin will no longer be open for business]