The first thing you notice when you ascend the stairs to The Light Room is, well, the light. The east-facing windows of a 150-year-old building (formerly a tobacco factory), spill sunlight into a spacious room that’s prettily finished with latte-coloured leather banquette seating, polished concrete floors and exposed stone and brick walls painted white and cream, Cadbury Top Deck-style. Interesting light decorations – three yellow moons above the bar, half-shell sconces, cone shades and a big fried-egg-shaped feature – are simply the cherry on top.
Apart from a few plants, sage green quartzite benchtops and bar stools upholstered in mustard velvet, there is no colour in the room – an intentional contrast to its darker downstairs neighbour, socially responsible restaurant Aurora. Both spaces were designed by Georgie Shepherd and the two diners share the address with cafe Little Mission and art space The Lab. You’d expect colourless interiors to feel sterile and loud, but it’s the opposite: The Light Room is welcoming and comfortable. The funky Anne Wiberg-curated playlist of handbag house helps – as will the soon-to-be-completed DJ booth.
There’s something unexpectedly theatrical about it, too. The emphasis on the “lights” part of the “lights, camera, action” equation and the dramatic curtains ready to separate the large space into private sections (“Booths are a bit 10 years ago,” according to head of hospitality Adam Waters) allude to the stage. This makes sense given Light’s mission which is, as founder Nick Dunstone told Broadsheet in 2020, to be “a place to unleash the creativity of South Australians and connect them with the best opportunities and technologies available”.
To eat, there’s a small but decadent selection of snacks including freshly shucked Leeuwin Coast oysters served with ponzu sauce or Vietnamese mignonette, Little Acres mushroom pate, plus cheese and charcuterie platters. The menu is expected to evolve, with a caviar service set to feature shortly.
As is the case for restaurant sibling Aurora, there’s not one publicly listed company on the wine list. Every drop is from an independent label with a focus on small and sustainable producers. It’s a short list, but carefully considered by Waters: The similarly short cocktail list is a colourful one, designed so you pick your own base – whether that’s Lost Phoenix vodka or Spring Bay gin out of Tasmania. “Let your cocktail bartender take you on a journey,” is Waters’ advice, and we’re not mad about it.
But all that’s just one-third of it, the “bar” in “bar, gallery, studio”. Carry your cocktail or glass of champagne next door into a moody, all-black gallery featuring exhibitions by local and international artists that celebrate sight, sound and social. Take your time walking through the expansive space before discovering the pièce de résistance: the studio, a futuristic room with two enormous LED screens – one that wraps around three walls, one that lies flat and tall against the other. In terms of what’s coming up for the gallery, watch this space. It’s set to host a range of exciting exhibitions to add to its already impressive resume, including Illuminate, the Adelaide Fringe and a Scott Hicks feature.
Written by Emily Taliangis for Broadsheet Adelaide.
Photography by Kelsey Zafiridis