Beach vibe: Henley Surf Life Saving Club’s new restaurant opening

Re-posted from CityMag 21/12/2023:

FIRST LOOK: A celebrity chef who’s a western suburbs local shows us Ocean Bar & Kitchen, a coastal Italian-inspired restaurant with great views from a beachside landmark.

Celebrity chef, Adam Swanson and business partner, Marion Bay Hotel publican Josh Harkin, are bringing an elevated yet simple restaurant to the Henley Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC).

Opening tomorrow (Friday), Ocean Bar & Kitchen is an Italian-inspired beach restaurant that highlights the spectacular coastal views from the club’s first floor.

“Ocean is probably the best restaurant location in Adelaide,” Adam says.

“Sitting on Henley Beach, beachfront, left to right coastal views with a beautiful beach vibe to it.

“We’re creating that Sorrento Italian coastal feel, but very simply done — we’re not trying to complicate things.”

Menu-wise, it will again highlight Italian cuisine, with pasta a feature.

“We have five different types of pasta,” Adam says.

“We have spaghetti marinara with all the local seafood in there, we have Bolognese with pork and fennel sausage — a little bit different.

“One of the big ones is the granchio, so we’re using a large rigatoni and that’s with crabmeat from WA — blue swimmer crab meat.”

The menu also offers dishes such as antipasto, Ocean prawn rolls and chicken and eggplant parmigiana.

With this Henley SLSC revamp, Adam has made sure it still caters to everybody food-wise and has “something for everyone”.

“When you read it, you feel comfortable in what’s written on each dish — it’s not overcomplicated,” he says.

He hasn’t forgotten to include surf club favourites either, but done in an Ocean way.

“We have fish and chips using SA King George whiting, we have a local tuna steak,” Adam says. “We have an Ocean double cheeseburger; double patty Angus beef, cheese, pickles, our own burger sauce.

“Our hero is the Ocean seafood platter for two. It’s two tiers. We’re going back to the classic.

“When I started cookery 20 plus years ago, seafood platters were all the rage, but like really, really well done, so that’s what I’m bringing back.”

Adam has made a conscious effort to make sure nothing is imported, using South Australian ingredients as often as possible, but Australian ingredients when it’s the best option.

The interiors again play on a coastal Italian vibe, with a main focus on the best views in the Square. Adam says the entire space has changed.

“The only thing that’s stayed is the lights, the fan and the TVs, everything else has been flipped,” Adam laughs.

“The bar has been all changed. We’ve torn everything out, we’ve put pillars into the bar, we’ve cladded around underneath the bar, we’ve got a brand new waiters station in Tasmanian oak in the corner.

“Again, back to Tuscany-type of style, coastal. You’ve got the blues of the sea, the green of the hills — which is the pistachio green — and the terrazzo [which is a] nice soft, creamy off-white colour.”

The outdoor area will also have a DJ playing soft tunes to bring the fun beachside vibe into the club.

With the West Beach SLSC revamp set to open shortly, Adam is focused on his own space and knows the proximity between the two will mean two different types of clientele.

“I don’t even know what they’re doing there, to be honest. I’ve only focused on, I call it my backyard — which is my business here, myself, Josh and Ocean,” Adam says.

“Differences is, I guess, we’re two different areas. We are obviously in the Square.

“I’ve had that question like ‘do you care?’ And I’m like, you know what, in business, I’ve always been worried about my own backyard and you kind of just do what you’ve got to do.”

As a local, Adam is most looking forward to bringing another food option into the western suburbs and has the community created within the Henley Surf Life Saving Club to thank.

“Meeting the Surf Life Saving community, I guess I call them the family… they have really helped and guided us through to get us to this stage of obviously opening,” Adam says.

“I think they’re excited as much as we are. This will give the volunteer [surf life savers] time to do what they do best.

“Yes we’re here to make money and yes to produce good food, but it’s bringing the community back into this beautiful venue because it is the best location in Adelaide — let’s be honest.

“We’re doing what we love, but we’re bringing [and] helping the SLSC come back to its full flight and its full life, and that’s what we want to do — work together.”

Ocean is located at 246 Esplanade, Henley Beach.

It will open every day from 11:30am until late, with lunch service from 11:30am until 3pm, snacks between 3pm until 5:30pm and dinner from 5:30pm until late.

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