The evolution of Adelaide’s dining scene has seen many restaurants come and go, and when news that neighbourhood dining institution The Pot in Hyde Park would close came in early 2019 it seemed like it might be the end of an era. But we shouldn’t have worried too much. Driven by hospitality powerhouse Simon Kardachi and relative newcomers at the time, Laura and Max Sharrad, it turned out that Nido was really just another evolution for the venue.

Nido’s toasted focaccia soldiers. Photo: Paul Wood

The menu saw some change, with a new focus on simpler, traditional Italian-style dishes, but even four years later it still somehow feels like the same old pot – only now their pots are filled with pasta, made in-house daily by a kitchen team that has since replaced the Sharrads, whose attention is now largely focused on sister venue Fugazzi. But Nido seems to be in very good hands, if today’s lunch is anything to go by, and while we wait for the pasta to boil, we get stuck into antipasti.

First, it’s toasted focaccia soldiers, slathered with a creamy piquant concoction of blue swimmer crab meat that is topped with slivers of cucumber which gleam in their pickling juices. They are simple, yes, but the layers of balanced flavour in the crab’s sauce and light bitter and tangy vegetal notes from the cucumber heighten these little bits of toast. Crab is one of those ingredients that can often be lost among overpowering elements, but not here.

The kingfish crudo is a generous entree. Photo: Jack Fenby

In its second display of understanding balance, the kitchen sends out kingfish crudo. This entree dish of generous proportion presents like a kind of seafood salsa. Uniformly diced fish and fennel and orange come together harmoniously, with crunch offered by what I thought to be more cucumber but, according to the menu, is pear, which I’m guessing is purposefully just underripe. It gives each mouthful of this dreamy dish a level freshness that some crudos can often lack. While on the topic of fresh, the fish must have been very recently plucked from the sea, too. And little bits of orange offer a different fruity flavour to the melange. A generous amount of poppyseeds adds a lightly nutty taste to ensure that the acid is kept in check, and below all of this is a herbaceous oil that helps the whole dish pop, both visually and in seasoning.

There’s a dish we don’t order today, but I want to. In fact, this is the first time in my many (many) visits to Nido that I don’t. It honestly takes a lot of restraint and if you’ve tried it before you will understand why. In my review of Fugazzi last year, I recounted the time I was asked: If I had to choose a death-row meal served at an Adelaide restaurant, what would it be? One dish. No substitutions.

My answer was Nido’s whipped ricotta with black pepper and honey, served with their signature gnocco fritto. And it’s still my answer, just not today.

Calamari – uncomplicated yet tasty. Photo: Paul Wood

Today we wait for mains. And while we might regret skipping the gnocco fritto, we shouldn’t. It has meant we have room for squid, and a humble and hearty Italian soup.

The squid is southern calamari. A whole mantle has been fired over charcoal and sliced into rings that remain attached, revealing the tenderly cooked flesh inside. Smoky woody flavour is most prevalent and it’s served simply with roasted cherry tomatoes that have barely collapsed to form a sauce, alongside toasted chips of seaweed that are so thin they begin melting into the liquid as the dish sits. And that’s it. Squid. Tomatoes. Nori. Uncomplicated and effortless, yet utterly tasty.

The next dish is uncomplicated, too, but I imagine plenty of effort has gone into producing the base stock for Nido’s take on pasta e fagioli. This traditional pasta and bean soup isn’t the prettiest of dishes; in fact, when it first lands it looks a little bleak. It eats a bit more like a savoury porridge than a soup, but once preconceptions and textural challenges are thwarted, it’s the depth, flavour and heartiness of this pork-flavoured dish that makes it a winner, and just in time for winter, too.


2/160 King William Road, Hyde Park
(08) 8373 2044

Daily – 12pm-10.30pm

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