Stella Restaurant - Dinner Menu Tasting

Stella Restaurant - Henley Square, 2/257 Seaview Road, Henley Beach SA 5022

Henley Beach for me (Amanda) is not somewhere I have ever gravitated to for a good meal, which has always been disappointing as the location and sea views are stunning. So when Stella Restaurant invited On The Chopping Board (OTCB) to a night of 'Italian by the sea' to experience its recent venue renovations and new menu, we were a little hesitant to say the least.

Front Counter/Bar
On arrival myself and Sofia were awestruck with the gorgeous renovations, giving us visions of a trend setting restaurant in the Hampton's or some exclusive beach club in Europe! We loved everything from the yellow, white and light wood decor throughout, to the stone feature wall, fireplace and gorgeous views of the Henley jetty and open sea. The beautiful new decor is a far cry from the dark and dingy Stella's of the past (see our 2013 review here) and instead now has a warm, happy and exciting ambiance that had us thrilled to spend a long lazy menu tasting in.

Staff hard at work
First up the service throughout the night requires a special mention. We understand that as we were invited and all food and beverages were provided on behalf of Stella Restaurant, that we might have received extra attention in this department but you could definitely tell how excited all the staff here were about the new renovations and menu. The joy they showed during service was clearly apparent to us and while observing them with new and regular customers.

Making our Cocktails
Cocktails by the Fire - Blueberry Punch $14 (front), Italian Mojito $12 (back)
To begin, we sat by the fireplace on high stools at a communal white-washed high table and enjoyed a couple of cocktails and a starter of dips. The Italian Mojito (a variation of silver rum and martini vermouth with prosecco) and Blueberry Punch (a gin based cocktail with blueberries and basil) were both refreshing, sweet and a great aperitif to prepare our tastebuds for a feast!

Chickpea & Garlic, & Semi-Dried Tomato Dips $13.50
The dips of chickpea and garlic, and semi-dried tomato and basil came already spread on thick slices of toasted Pugliese Ciabatta, which made a nice change from having to spread the dip ourselves. Our favourite dip was the semi-dried tomato and basil which was full of flavour and paired really well with that amazing Pugliese ciabatta bread, it was a wonderful start to our meal. The bread so fresh, with a nice chew exhibiting similar tastes and textures to a sourdough definitely had us wanting to take home a loaf! The chickpea and garlic dip had a lovely thick creamy texture but we would have loved a squeeze of lemon and a crack of pepper to add a little more to the overall flavour profile.

Pinto Grigio
We then made our way to our window seat overlooking the Henley Beach jetty in all it's pretty lighting and started on our entrees. To accompany our meals we enjoy the suggested bottle of Italian Pinot Grigio, which was light and crisp and perfectly paired our hearty winter dishes.

Arancini $14.00
We start with 'Arancini' filled with pumpkin, gorgonzola, parmesan, chilli and lemon mayonnaise.  Not your typical round balls, we were crushing on the cute bauble difference which tasted as good as they looked. A great crispy fried outer balancing out the soft cheesy inner. The usually strong flavours of gorgonzola were offset perfectly by the sweet mashed pumpkin throughout and paired with the lemon mayonnaise added another dimension of flavour and creaminess.

Chargrilled Quail $23.00
Amanda peer pressured Sofia into ordering the quail, as Amanda loves quail so much, and this 'Chargrilled Quail' served with an Italian cannellini bean salad and crispy pancetta did not disappoint. A nice char on the outer of the quail while retaining tender meat is not an easy feat for such a delicate protein but the chef delivered. Paired with the delicious salad of cannellini beans, kipfler potatoes and capsicum strips, it had the right balance of acidity and freshness from the dressing and topped with the crispy pancetta brought the needed salty element to the dish. If anything maybe a sprinkling more seasoning on the quail itself would bring the quail to that finger licking next level but that's just my personal preference.

Tuscan Style Lamb Shoulder $33.50
Next up was our main course of 'Tuscan Style Lamb Shoulder' braised in red wine and tomato and served with cannellini beans and kale. This was our favourite dish of the night! The lamb shoulder slow cooked until it fell apart with just a gentle pull of our forks, had soaked up that delicious stew sauce and combined with the kale, beans and carrot was the perfect winter dish we wished we didn't have to share. A couple of pieces of that amazing grilled Pugliese ciabatta on top to mop up all that leftover sauce and we were very happy indeed.

Kipfler Potatoes $13.00
A couple of sides accompanied our lamb shoulder, the fried 'Kipfler Potatoes' tossed through with sea salt and rosemary was as you would expect, crispy on the outer, fluffy on the inside and seasoned with large cracks of sea salt and rosemary making them great to mop up some of that extra sauce of the lamb. A delicious must have side for any outing.

Witlof Salad $13.00
To freshen our palates we chose the 'Witlof Salad' with pear, celery, walnuts, Adelaide blue cheese dressed with lemon and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This salad was so delicious I (Amanda) had to take home what we could not finish! The bitterness of the witlof combined with the sweet juicy pear slices, freshness of the celery and creamy intense blue cheese was the perfect balance of flavours. Topped with the walnuts for a textural element it was a standout salad for me. However, if you're not a big fan of blue cheese, I (Sofia) would recommend you choose something a little less intense like the Stella mixed salad.

Egg Fettuccine with Mushrooms $26.00
Maybe having eyes bigger than our stomachs on this night, we ordered a pasta dish to complete our main course tastings. We selected a vegetarian dish of Fettuccine with a medley of mushrooms, extra virgin olive oil, garlic and herbs. The egg pasta cooked to a lovely al-dente with a mix of swiss brown and enoki mushrooms was a very enjoyable dish, finished simply with a sauce of oil, garlic and herbs. Sometimes the simple things in life are the best and that is true here. If we weren't so full already, we would not have left a single bite behind.

Salted Caramel Panna Cotta $13.00
Finding our second stomach we set out to conquer the dessert menu as there were two desserts calling our names! The salted caramel panna cotta with popcorn was a sweet tooth's delight. The panna cotta, a thicker and creamier version, most likely due to the salted caramel addition was paired with the caramel popcorn which gave it some crunchy texture. The toffee shard, well lets face it, is always well received and is something that is fought over at my family dinner table, just so we can spend the next 10 minutes trying to get the sticky sweet goodness unstuck from our teeth! A great dessert but not for the faint-hearted as it can get rich and sweet quite quickly!

Ricotta Frittelle $12.00
A dessert that may suit a few more palates was the 'Ricotta Frittelle' served with double cream and Belgium chocolate sauce. The Frittelle (similar to a donut) was lovely and fluffy inside thanks to the addition of the ricotta and the lightly fried outer covered in cinnamon and sugar paired wonderfully with the slightly bitter dark chocolate sauce and thick double cream. A very easy dessert to devour that had us wanting a couple extra balls each!

Overall we were very impressed with the new and improved Stella Restaurant. It's not too often you visit a restaurant and want to order every dish off the menu but this is definitely one of those places! They even have a dedicated children's menu with nothing over $10 which includes a drink. The venue, food and service were all of high quality and you could easily tell that a lot of love has been put into Stella's to help gravitate food lovers back to Henley Square once again. We know we will definitely return and look forward to watching the menu evolve over the seasons. Great job guys, you should all be very proud.

Stella Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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