For ten determined years, Fino forged itself into the dining intellect of South Australia, showing the lot of us what a proper regional restaurant can be.

January 27, 2016

Faaaarkin look at em!  The great Fino at Willunga served its last meal yesterday. 

It was the feast day of St Vincent, the patron of viticulturers and winemakers.

For ten determined  years, Fino forged itself into the dining intellect of South Australia, showing the lot of us what a proper regional restaurant can be.

I managed to drink too much, get a few snaps, indulge in a meal that will die on my lips with me, and leave without paying my bill, after finishing Shazza’s last bottle of grappa. 

Above is master chef David Swain and the brilliant Sharon Romeo and their lovely lovely crew after they’d polished that tiny kitchen for the last time. I cried for about three hours. 

I tried to explain to David how important it was that the night we couldn’t get a cab to take us to the Victory he wiped his hands on a towel and drove us there safely and how one afternoon he took me into his kitchen and showed me all the pigs’ heads he’d got curing in brine for sausages instead of wasting them and how everything he’d ever cooked for me was delightful and stimulating and bright and light and memorable.

My black gizzards loved David Swain’s food. I always woke feeling better. 

And now I’m blubbering again.
Not pushing the head thing too hard, I ate all the sardine heads that were left on my table, and managed to get [this] shot of Shaz and her loving Mum, who warned me “She’s got a girlfriend you know!” 

I left, like the big boofheaded bloke I am, promising to guard them with my life, trying to explain how this restaurant, along with those various great eateries of Cheong Liew and Tony Bilson, had forever changed the way I appreciate food. 

Grazie, Shazza and David and wondrous crew. 

Sadness and delight. 

McLaren Vale never deserved you. Go kick some sense into the Barossa.

My delicious memories will outlive me.

Silly to end all sad and wistful, though: the new owners, Tarik and Sandrine Maltret, the south-of-France couple who have run the popular La Terre around the corner and up the street say they should have their  rebranded acquisition open in a week or so, after they’ve made it theirs. Because the local breezes remind them of home they’ll going to call it Le Mistral, after the drying wind which blows down the Rhône across the delta to the Mediterranean. The Willunga wind, of course, blows across the vine-filled embayment into the Gulf St Vincent … DRINKSTER will report on their new business once they’ve settled in.

The Fino crew will continue with their big bold new restaurant at Seppeltsfield in the Barossa. DRINKSTER wishes both teams the very best in their new enterprises!

– Drinkster (AKA Philip White)