In 2006, the dynamic duo of David Swain and business
partner Sharon Romeo opened the doors of Fino in
Willunga on the Fleurieu Peninsula. David creates
magic in the open kitchen in this tiny restaurant that
shines a focused light on local produce while Sharon
keeps the front of house fl owing.
Fino has been named Best Regional Restaurant in
South Australia in 2013 in the Australian Gourmet
Traveller Restaurant Guide, in 2009, 2010 and 2012 in
The Advertiser Food Awards. In 2010, David Swain was
acknowledged by his peers for Outstanding Use of
Produce by a Chef in the Australian Produce Awards.
For David, it’s all about the produce and nurturing a
connection with local growers. He can visit a farm and
discover a rare gem that others may not know about.
He says, “The farmers markets have made it viable for
all sorts of producers to follow their passion and grow a
range of produce.”
Tracing the hands
“It goes across the generations, but particularly
with the older generation, I fi nd they love sharing
their produce and giving advice, particularly if it is
something different that is not commonly available.
“Gems, such as tiny green walnuts, heritage quinces
and bitter oranges, are regularly dropped at our
doorstep by growers. It’s so fresh - they pick the
produce on Friday and it is all consumed by Sunday.”
The beach! He has fond childhood memories of family
holidays here. David and his partner looked for the right
place to settle in Victoria but eventually returned to
Fleurieu. “We knew we could be successful with a small
food focused business here.”
Fino is open for lunch from Tuesday to Sunday and
dinner on Friday and Saturday.
A Fino romance
Whether it's advancing age, a yearning for the bucolic or simply a shift in personal priorities, it's hard to tell. But there is undoubtedly a common thread to the most pleasurable meals of the past year: smart chefs cooking with their hearts instead of their egos, in semi-rural locations, using the kind of produce only hard work and strong local contacts can procure.
december 19, 2009
Willunga's Fino Restaurant wins Adelaide Food Awards
A tiny regional restaurant on the Fleurieu Peninsula has beaten the city slickers, winning Restaurant of the Year in the 2009 Adelaide Food Awards last night.
Willunga's Fino Restaurant earned the prestigious main award after also being named South Australia's Best Regional Restaurant.
november 17, 2009
Put your trust in Sharon
Sharon Romeo (front) and David Swain (back) are very well known and respected in Adelaide’s hospitality (horrible word) industry. I adore Sharon and I’m in a big queue. Even if you don’t know her by name you will probably recognise her as starring at various restaurants where you’ve had a good time. She makes everyone feel special and that’s a gift.
Best Small List: Fino, McLaren Vale
Gorgeous! Yummy! Hurray – what a lovely couple of weeks giving my favourite South Australian restaurants their annual review.
Five entrees, three mains, three desserts and a couple of specials… what more do you need if they are all terrific? Absolutely nothing!
Best Small List: Fino, Willunga
“We can’t have every variety or lots of the same on the list but we can have really good examples of wine that work with [Fino co-owner and chef] David Swain’s food.” The thrilling mix and match of his small menu to Romeo’s tight wine list makes Fino one of Australia’s most pleasurable regional restaurants.
PRODUCE AWARDS 2010
OUTSTANDING USE OF REGIONAL PRODUCE BY A CHEF
It's perhaps not surprising that the chef making the best use of local produce tis year hails from the McLaren Vale area. Chef David Swain opened Fino with partner Sharon Romeo in Willunga in 2006. "David grasps better than most that his produce limitations are also a strength," says John Lethlean. "It gives his restaurant a vibrantly proud identity, dedicated to sympathetic, hones presentation of the district's bounty." Think wild mullet from the Coorong; white beetroot and Russian kale; and Cape Jervis tommy ruff.
The art of excellence in restaurant service is a seamless mix of managing the needs of a busy kitchen and the various expectations of every table of diners as if they were your only customers for the day.
Fino has established an enviable reputation for chef David Swain's elegantly crafted regional dishes where produce is king, but this year we acknowledge the vibrant contribution to this restaurant's overall experience from co-owner and front-of house dynamo Sharon Romeo.
Her personality is everywhere in this restaurant, starting with the finely-tuned one-page wine list where local artisan labels sit on equal terms with intriguing international styles.
Move to the main menu and you'll discover elements in many dishes that come from her own family's tradition and kitchen.
Yet it's the constant attention to tables, the handling of large groups and small, the front door welcome and farewell, the sage wine-list advice and all-round front-of-house capability that prompt this year's recognition.