Pizza Kitchen, The Stirling Hotel - That's amore

The Stirling Hotel Pizza Kitchen - 52 Mt Barker Rd, Stirling

Written by Tom - check out our other pizza blogs here.

Before I begin, I should let you know that the Stirling Hotel is affiliated with the hospitality group I work for; however, I am not contracted to or employed by the owners of the Stirling Hotel.

Having been open for a few weeks now and living close by, I couldn't believe we hadn't been to The Stirling Hotel to try out the Pizza kitchen. Both in our 30's, relatively boring and not being arsed to change out of our shorts, tonight was pizza night.

Pizza Kitchen, The Stirling Hotel - Adelaide Hills
Inside is like a Scandinavian 70's inspired lounge room, blended with the kitchen of your dreams.
To give you an idea of size, the Pizza Kitchen has occupied the space where the bottleshop used to be, alongside the Bistro. The bottleshop is now next to Foodland and has a delicious little patisserie and cafe addition.

Walking into the pizza kitchen, our attention went straight to the ceiling, not because we passed out from the intoxicating smell of freshly cooked pizzas but because the light fittings elegantly perched above diners' heads are something we'd never seen before. The plain white tiled kitchen and simplistic bar is reminiscent of a traditional Italian kitchen or perhaps some of today's domestic kitchens.

Turn around and you're immediately transported to a 1970's inspired Scandinavian lounge room. There's a gas fire (shared with the adjoining bar) surrounded by a rich wooden panel wall, deep leather chairs with wooden arms, spacious coffee tables and polished wooden stumps. We opted to sit close to the kitchen on a long, shared wooden table.

The one page menu (excluding drinks) lists shared dishes, breads, 12" pizzas (one size fits all), a two-item kids menu and two desserts. While I understand the simplicity of the menu, it reads more like a shopping list than menu. There are very few adjectives and menu item descriptions lack closure. This wouldn't have bothered me so much but what I thought was going to be a pull apart loaf of bread turned out to be a salad. Here's the description, make your own mind up:
Heirloom tomato, red pepper, caper, basil, torn bread   10
I ordered at the counter and was politely told there would be a 50 minute wait - totally expected given how busy it was at 7:30pm on a Saturday night. The guy who served me was super polite, ridiculously efficient and I appreciated the banter between him and the chefs (who were busy making and rolling dough).

Pizza Kitchen, The Stirling Hotel - Adelaide Hills. Heirloom tomato, red pepper, caper, basil, torn bread.
Heirloom tomato, red pepper, caper, basil, torn bread.
Although delicious, not too oily and full of flavour, I wouldn't have called the crouton-style breads "torn bread" and I can't remember seeing any capers but without this dish, I doubt I would've enjoyed our pizzas as much as we did.

Pizza Kitchen, The Stirling Hotel - Adelaide Hills. Confit forrest mushrooms, truffle, crispy enoki, baby herbs
Confit forrest mushrooms, truffle, crispy enoki, baby herbs (non-vegan version has pecorino and tallegio)
Being vegan, pizza only exists for me without cheese. Ordinarily, I'm served oily pieces of cardboard - on occasion, the box our take away pizza arrives in is taster than its contents. Not this time, the chefs took my vegan order without complaints and produced the tastiest pizza I've ever eaten, served on a thin bamboo board. The mushrooms were moist, the base was thin and crispy and the crispy enoki mushrooms gave a brilliant texture. I have a feeling the baby herbs were replaced by chives but if this pizza got any better, I'd have an embarrassing 'Harry met Sally' moment.

Pizza Kitchen, The Stirling Hotel - Adelaide Hills. Daily special
Daily special
Mark's pizza was topped with chorizo, cherry tomatoes (so juicy that when he bit into one, it squirted and hit the woman next to us - luckily, she didn't notice), basil and bocconcini. Echoing my comments about the base, he said his pizza was "excellent". There you go, a man of few words but do you really need to know anything else?

Mark also hit up the two Matilda Bay beers on tap (in addition to a healthy selection of bottled Aussie craft beers) and I stuck to water. The wine list echoes that found in the rest of the hotel and as expected, there's a good selection of Adelaide Hills wines. What really impressed me about the Pizza Kitchen is how well it works with the rest of the hotel; it doesn't feel like an add-on, it is perfectly integrated and the team work like clockwork.

I should also add that the 50 minute wait was more like 40 minutes and felt like 20 minutes because we were so pre-occupied by that bustle around us and our own conversation.

Ambiance - 5/5: Interior design, comfort and layout couldn't be any better.
Service 4/5: Ordering was seamless but the glassies from the bar are left to clear (read: stack) plates and glasses
Food: 8/10: Overall, brilliant but I swear I was missing capers and micro herbs.

In total, Tom gives Pizza Kitchen 17/20 chops on The Chopping Board.

Bistro, Stirling Hotel on Urbanspoon

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