La Boca's Omakase Degustation

La Boca Bar and Grill Adelaide - Stamford Plaza, Adelaide, 150 North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000

At On The Chopping Board (OTCB), we are firm fans of anywhere/anyone who appreciates and provides quality, local, in-season produce. I (Dani) recently visited La Boca Bar and Grill, where chef Nicolas Arriola has created a degustation menu which focuses precisely on these things.

Though the dishes themselves showcase a repertoire of Argentinian inspired dishes, the degustation is referred to by the Japanese term ‘Omakase’ which means ‘the chef’s choice’, as Arriola will regularly be reviewing and updating the selection to ensure that it features the freshest produce available at the time.

 Cabernet Shiraz Sangria

After being warmly welcomed into their North Terrace locale by their friendly waiting staff, I sat down to try the Omakase Asador Menu, a six-course degustation, which includes Asador grilled meats and South Australian seafood. All food and beverages were provided on behalf of La Boca.

Selection of artisan sourdough with house-made duck pâté

The Omakase menu comes with the option of paired alcoholic beverages, personally selected by Arriola. Not one to lessen an experience if I can help it, I allow my rubber elbow to be twisted and start with a slice of artisan sourdough with house-made duck pâté which has been paired with a vibrant cabernet shiraz sangria. The savoury and slightly buttery pate spreads smoothly across the toasted sourdough and its richness is balanced by an assortment of dried and pickled edible garnishes. The refreshing sweet-sour tang of the sangria is light, summery and well matched to the delicate spice of the pate.

Grilled Spencer Gulf prawn tail with salsa verde, paired with Pikorua Sauvignon Blanc

The next course of char-grilled prawns arrives with a flourish. The smoky flavours of the char-grill are strong, but don’t overwhelm the sweet and delicate meat of the prawns. The chilli-infused herbaceous salsa verde has a cheeky kick, which some may find a little warm to taste. 

The first sip of the Sauvignon Blanc reveals a quite intense fruity bouquet, but once the bold flavours of spice and oil in the salsa verde enter the palate, I find they are nicely mellowed out by the acidity and sweetness of the wine.

Duck, prosciutto and fig terrine with roasted pickled onion, paired with Argento Classic Pinot Grigio

I’m impressed by the beautiful plating of our terrine, but even more rapt after my first bite. Jammy fig entwines itself through the soft texture of pulled duck within the delicate wrapping of prosciutto. One of my favourite dishes of the night, it is perfectly seasoned and the flavours work so well together. Arriola even includes his secret house-made blend of roast spices on the side in case you’d like to sprinkle some on yourself to further amplify the dish. The light, clean Pinot Grigio is a perfect backdrop, with delicate floral aromas supported by hints of lime and light spice.

Mayura Station wagyu rump MBS9+ with chimichurri, paired with Gramp’s Cabernet Merlot

La Boca is an infamous haunt for carnivores and it’s easy to see why when the Wagyu dish is served. The medium rare meat has been rendered on the grill to tender perfection and it almost melts away in the mouth. The tart chimichurri compliments the grilled oils of the meat with its smack of vinegar and strong herbs. The rich and powerful flavours of ripe berries and spiced Cabernet Merlot have been well-selected by Arriola as a complement to the dish.

Selection of wood-fired grilled Asador with jus, paired with barrel-aged old fashioned

The next course, a selection of wood-fired grilled Asador, shows off La Boca’s ability to present a variety of meats to well-cooked perfection. Salty, well-done crackling rests upon the delicately cooked lightly smoked meat of the pork. Though still tender, the brisket and lamb have a bit more chew than the Waygu I had earlier, which lets you savour them in your mouth before the sweet release of their rich, smokey flavours. 

This dish is served with an Old Fashioned, which is a nice deviation from the wine pairings and, coincidentally, one of my favourite cocktails. The whisky for the cocktail has been infused with chargrilled wood from La Boca's Asador grill and a dash of pisco gives it a unique South American twist.

Dessert sample: Churros, tres leches and caramelised banana, paired with caramel espresso martini

I must admit a small squeal of delight may have escaped me when the waiter approaches with dessert. I had the pleasure of speaking with Arriola himself, who tells me the dessert sample is a selection of some of his favourite elements from the sweeter side of La Boca’s al la carte menu. 

Small tweaks to classic Argentinian desserts, such as the slightest sprinkle of salt amidst the churro’s sugar coating and a touch of chocolate within the tres leches keep the dish interesting and though it is sweet, it is not overtly so. The caramel espresso martini gives me both the energy to resist a potential food coma and rounds out the sweet ending to the degustation nicely.
Even after such a lovely meal, I still have to say that the passion Arriola and the La Boca staff showed for their food and service were one of my favourite parts of the night. They took the time to knowledgeably answer queries about each of the courses and took obvious pride in how many of the dishes included ingredients which they had taken the additional time to make and prepare in house.

The Omakase menu will change regularly to match what is in season, but I have no doubt that Arriola will continue to see to its quality. There is also a seafood option available for those who prefer not to eat red meat. The six course degustation can be booked for dinner for $109 per person or $139 per person with paired beverages.


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