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The Canberra Food Scene

f
fatmanthinwallet Mar 10, 2012 03:17 AM

I figured I would start a thread to document my various food finds throughout the year to help those passing through the nation's capital to find some good eats.

  1. f
    fatmanthinwallet Mar 10, 2012 03:18 AM

    Lunch @ Cream

    Canberra Centre
    Bunda Street
    CANBERRA ACT 2600

    The Good
    Very good food and excellent juices, generally served quickly.

    The Okay
    Service is generally effective when it comes to getting a seat and getting drinks and food served quickly. However, getting someone to take your order quickly can be hit-and-miss on occasion and I have never been able to get someone to give me the bill at the end of the meal.

    The Bad
    Nothing.

    The Ugly
    10% surcharge on Sundays and Public Holidays and a $2 surcharge on credit card payments.

    The Meal
    Watermelon Juice with Mint
    Chimmichunga - Tandoori chicken, bacon, mushroom, mozzarella cheese & chipotle chilli, wrapped in a flour tortilla, lightly fried & served with ranch dressing
    Wagyu Beef Burger - Premium beef pattie, buffalo mozzarella, tomato, roquette, smoked paprika & red pepper relish, served with fries

    Photos can be seen on my blog at http://fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com...

    1. f
      fatmanthinwallet Mar 10, 2012 03:20 AM

      Brunch @ Bean and Grain

      Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets
      12 Dalby Street
      FYSHWICK ACT 2609

      www.beanandgrain.com.au

      The Good
      Excellent food at very good prices. The addition of a free smoothie shot with every hot breakfast is a nice touch!
      Very friendly service

      The Okay
      None.

      The Bad
      None.

      The Ugly
      None.

      The Meal
      Blueberry bagel served with berry cream cheese
      Bacon Buttie - Crispy bacon rashers between buttered sourdough toast
      Salmon Benedict - 2 poached free-range organic eggs, house made English muffin, cured salmon, shallot chilli sambal, & fresh made lemongrass hollandaise served with a berry and passionfruit smoothie shot and a potato croquette topped with crème fraiche & chives

      Photos can be seen on my blog at http://fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com...

      1. d
        Darrius Mar 11, 2012 04:28 AM

        Thanks FMIW
        Am often in the nations capital and your good eats log is appreciated
        D

        1. o
          Onara Mar 14, 2012 03:51 AM

          I had two excellent meals at Italian & Sons a few weeks ago. It was so good I went back again the next night (and will do so again, when I'm in Canberra later this month)
          http://www.italianandsons.com.au

          Also found great coffee at a place called Mocan & Green Grout
          http://www.beanhunter.com/cafes/revie...

          1 Reply
          1. re: Onara
            f
            fatmanthinwallet Mar 14, 2012 03:57 AM

            Cheers for chiming in. I plan on doing Italian & Sons soon!

          2. f
            fatmanthinwallet Mar 16, 2012 10:16 PM

            Lunch @ Dickson Dumpling House

            2 Cape Street
            DICKSON ACT 2602

            The Good
            Excellent dumplings and main courses served very quickly. The Shang Tung Lamb is fantastic.

            The Bad
            This is not the sort of place for attentive service – go in, sit down, order, eat, pay the bill and get out. The golden soft shell crab, while good, was far too much fried goodness for two people.

            The Meal
            Peking Duck with skin, pancake, cucumber, hoisin sauce (okay, the duck today was fattier than usual).
            Pan-fried Prawn and Pumpkin Dumplings (good).
            Golden Soft Shell Crab (good but too much fried food for two people).
            Shang Tung Lamb (excellent ).

            Photos can be seen on the blog at http://fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com...

            1. f
              fatmanthinwallet Mar 16, 2012 10:33 PM

              Breakfast @ Bean and Grain (again)

              Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets
              12 Dalby Street
              FYSHWICK ACT 2609

              www.beanandgrain.com.au

              The Good
              Presently in my mind Canberra’s best breakfast venue. The addition of a free smoothie shot with every hot breakfast is a nice touch, but getting a free large smoothie when asking if the smoothies are sold separately is even better! Very friendly service.

              The Bad
              None.

              The Meal
              Country Benedict - Two poached free-range organic eggs, house made English muffin, sausage patty & sausage béchamel, served with a smoothie shot and a potato croquette topped with crème fraiche & chives (excellent).
              Bacon Buttie - Crispy bacon rashers between buttered sourdough toast (excellent).

              Photos can be seen on the blog at http://fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com...

              1. f
                fatmanthinwallet Mar 23, 2012 01:38 AM

                Dinner @ Benchmark Wine bar - Canberra

                65 Northbourne Avenue
                CANBERRA ACT 2600

                http://www.benchmarkwinebar.com.au

                The Good

                An excellent meal from start to finish shared with two friends. Bookended by complimentary appertizers and pre-dessert courses, we shared six tapas-style dishes all prepared with good technique and ingredients. The anchovy crostini, cuttlefish and foie gras were particular standouts.

                Service was helpful, friendly and attentive throughout the meal.

                The wine list is fantastic, unsurprisingly for a wine bar, with some marvellous Chianti Classico wines available.

                While the restaurant furnishings are basic, as befitting a wine bar, the space and tables are very comfortable. Most importantly, there is excellent spacing between tables so you are not forced to intrude on other tables' private conversations.

                The Bad

                The prices are consistent with the most expensive restaurants in Canberra ($45 for duck liver pate? Ouch!) so the restaurant is definately not priced for casual visits unless one is there only for a glass of wine and perhaps one or two tapas dishes. However, the prices are not unreasonable when the quality of the overall meal is taken into consideration.

                The Meal
                PORK BELLY with pickled daikon and alpine pepper (good).
                ORTIZ ANCHOVIES on crostini with truffled salsa (excellent).
                ZUCCHINI FLOWERS stuffed with goat’s cheese, finger lime and capers (excellent).
                CUTTLEFISH with a thai pomelo salad and fresh coriander (excellent).
                DUCK LIVER lafitte 'foie gras de canard' with fig sauterne sauce (good).
                SAUSAGE PLATE with lamb merguez, beef tomato and onion, veal and herb, pork, fennel and white wine sausages, served with tomato chutney (excellent).

                Photos are available on the blog at http://fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/dinner-benchmark-wine-bar-canberra/

                http://fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com
                www.facebook.com/Fatmanthinwallet

                1. f
                  fatmanthinwallet Mar 23, 2012 03:01 AM

                  Lunch @ Flint in the Vines

                  34 Isabel Drive
                  Murrumbateman NSW 2582

                  http://www.flintinthevines.net.au

                  The Good
                  A good meal, shared with friends celebrating a big occasion, complemented by excellent local wines and stunning countryside vistas.

                  The Rabbit & Pistachio Terrine was particularly impressive of the starters while the pizzas provided some interesting combinations with the brie, mango and salami pizza offering a surprisingly tasty flavour combination. The sole dessert was fantastic, albeit a little too rich for those of us who had overindulged on the savoury courses and excellent wines.

                  It is always difficult to properly judge service standards at a restaurant whilst sitting at a 20+ person table, so I will simply acknowledge the lack of any noticeable with the service or the speed with which dishes or beverages were brought out.

                  The Bad

                  Not much to report on this visit other than the fact that one needs to carefully choose a designated driver for the 40 minute drive back to Canberra afterwards.

                  The Meal

                  Escabeche of WA Sardines with candied lemon, fennel, parsley (okay).

                  Rabbit and Pistachio Terrine with grape & tarragon salad, toasted brioche (good).

                  Flint’s Calamari with chilli seasoning, blue cheese aioli & lemon (good).

                  Seasonal Wild Mushroom Pizza with roquette & white truffle oil (good).

                  Pulled Chicken Pizza with basil pesto, caramelized onion & sun-dried tomato (good).

                  Pear & Gorgonzola Pizza with fresh sage (good).

                  Brie, Mango & Salami Pizza with mascarpone, fresh mango & coriander (good

                  )

                  Chocolate Terrine with crème anglaise, confit lemon & cinnamon ice cream (excellent).

                  Photos are available on the blog at http://fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/lunch-flint-in-the-vines-murrumbateman-new-south-wales/

                  http://fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com
                  www.facebook.com/Fatmanthinwallet

                  1. f
                    fatmanthinwallet Mar 24, 2012 01:28 AM

                    Lunch @ Bean and Grain

                    Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets
                    12 Dalby Street
                    FYSHWICK ACT 2609

                    www.beanandgrain.com.au

                    The Good

                    While breakfast may remain the star attraction, my lunch at Bean and Grain only served to confirm the talents of its chefs who are obviously committed to using quality ingredients to turn out what may be the best representations of basic cafe, or even bakery, dishes in the city. I must admit to being curious as to what these chefs are doing the rest of the week when the Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets are closed.

                    I would happily order any of the dishes below again, although perhaps next time I will save some space for the gigantic sausage rolls I saw a few other people eating. I wonder if they do take-away?

                    Friendly service.

                    The Bad

                    The cafe was extremely crowded at about 1pm but slightly better when we returned half an hour later. The next time I visit for lunch, and I will be back, I will have a late lunch at 2pm to avoid the crowds.

                    The Meal

                    Tomato Bisque & Sourdough Grilled Cheese Sandwich (excellent).

                    Muffaletta - Olive salad, (green olive, Kalamata olive, roasted red pepper, red onion, parsley, fresh oregano, red wine vinegar & olive oil) salami, mortadella, ham, provolone cheese on roasted garlic, herb foccacia (very good).

                    Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (good).

                    Oriental Twist Tea (From their website: ORIENTAL TWIST has power of the ancient Chinese super food, lychee, blended with the delicate Jasmine Flowers and Green Tea to deliver a unique tasting oriental tea experience. Rejuvenate & Revive) (excellent).

                    The complete review, including photos, is available on the blog at http://fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/lunch-bean-and-grain-canberra/

                    fatmanthinwallet
                    http://fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com
                    www.facebook.com/Fatmanthinwallet

                    1. o
                      Onara Mar 27, 2012 01:15 AM

                      I went to the (re)opening of Brodburger this evening, in Kingston. Well worth it, though there was a constant queue out the door

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Onara
                        f
                        fatmanthinwallet Mar 27, 2012 04:43 AM

                        Nice, will have to visit it now that it is back up and running.

                      2. o
                        Onara Mar 30, 2012 01:26 PM

                        Not sure whether you're a coffee drinker, but Harvest is pretty good too
                        http://decafsucks.com/cafes/379-harvest

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Onara
                          f
                          fatmanthinwallet Mar 30, 2012 04:00 PM

                          I work on Marcus Clarke Street so go to Harvest a few times each week. Agreed, great coffee!

                        2. f
                          fatmanthinwallet Apr 21, 2012 11:11 PM

                          Dinner @ Sage

                          Gorman House Arts Centre
                          BRADDON ACT 2612

                          http://www.sagerestaurant.net.au

                          The Good

                          A fabulous meal featuring excellent ingredients and presentation. While some of the dishes were creatively presented, I never felt that creativity came at the expense of taste, something which cannot be said of a number of other restaurants I have visited.

                          The menu changed in the days before our arrival, which unfortunately denied me a dish that I had been anticipating when I made the reservation. However, the dishes on the new menu did not leave me wanting at the end of the meal. The lemon sole and veal tenderloin, which featured a small addictive sweetbread, were particular standouts. I cannot fault any of the dishes, although perhaps the beetroot and carrot dishes lacked the punch of the protein courses.

                          Our server was friendly and helpful throughout the night. From the moment we sat down, he offered help us add additional courses to the autumn omnivore tasting menu should we desire. We did so desire after reviewing the a la carte menu and after a quick trip to the kitchens our server confirmed there would be no issues incorporating two extra courses (the pork and duck courses).

                          As for the venue, it is within walking distance from the centre of the city and thus conveniently located. The room is very nice with tasteful, modern furnishings.

                          While not an inexpensive restaurant, I regarded the meal as providing exceptional value for money in Canberra.

                          The Bad

                          There were four occasions during the nearly four hours we were dining that we had to wait more than is usual for our glasses to be refilled or for our next course. However, the issue was usually resolved before we began to get really irritated by the issue. In the case of the timing of the courses, this may have been the result of our adding courses to the tasting menu, which may have placed the kitchen out of synch, so I will not hold it against them.

                          The tables against the walls are probably too close ot each other for my comfort, but at least the music was at a low enough level that the restaurant never felt too crowded and one did not spend the entire night listening to his neighbour's conversations.

                          Even though it is technically still Autumn, it got very cold in the restaurant each time someone opened the front and back doors to the restaurant.

                          The Meal

                          House baked bread with artisan churned butter with sea salt

                          beetroot variations with eucalyptus smoked trout, freeze dried mandarin, coriander

                          honey peppered heirloom carrots with malt, yolk, ricotta, olive powder, brioche

                          tuna & foie gras with sashimi, mojama, crackling, chervil, PX dressing

                          pork ‘all sorts’ featuring slow cooked belly, braised cheek, choucroute, baby vegetables

                          lemon sole with potato crumble, cauliflower, parsley, capers, red wine jus

                          veal tenderloin with sweetbreads, forest mushrooms, sweet potato, soy & maple glaze

                          muscovy duck with orange, carrot, pickled red cabbage, licorice

                          rhubarb & raspberry with quinoa crunch, creme brulee foam, rose petals

                          chocovado with chocolate cremeux, hazelnut cocoa crumble, lemon gel, avocado cream

                          autumn scenery (an alternate for my wife to the chocovado course
                          )chestnut log, chocolate branches, malt, apple sauce

                          Photos can be seen on the blog at http://fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com...

                          1. f
                            fatmanthinwallet Apr 21, 2012 11:34 PM

                            Lunch @ Ellacure

                            Corner of Braybrooke and Battye Street
                            BRUCE ACT 2617

                            http://www.ellacure.com.au

                            The Good

                            A quick lunch at Bruce's favourite restaurant featuring very friendly and efficient service. The food was good for what is was, and I would be happy to return to obtain a better idea of the restaurant's capabilities.

                            The venue is very nice and perfect for a lazy weekend lunch.

                            The Bad

                            As odd as it sounds to say this, the service, while friendly, was perhaps too casual with the staff talking to my wife and I in a jovial manner that was initially off-putting given we had never been to the restaurant or met our servers before.

                            The Meal

                            Fresh bread with chive butter & olive oil
                            Twice cooked pork belly with apple & mint salsa
                            Spaghetti with prawns, garlic, olive oil, lemon, chilli & cherry tomatoes

                            Photos can be viewed on the blog at http://fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com...

                            1. p
                              pizza_minelli May 8, 2012 03:44 AM

                              agreed

                              1. Food Tourist Jun 26, 2013 05:20 PM

                                I'm staying at the Burbury Hotel in the Precinct for one night next month. Is there any high quality coffee (barista) or snacks or local specialties (dine-in) or food shopping nearby? I won't have a car and will have limited time. It will be my first time in Canberra. The address is Barton.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Food Tourist
                                  Food Tourist Jun 29, 2013 10:27 PM

                                  I'll also be at the National Gallery of Australia for a couple of hours if there's anything walking distance there.

                                  1. re: Food Tourist
                                    Food Tourist Jul 25, 2013 02:49 AM

                                    Ate at all the hotel complex casual restaurants - Maple + Clove is "healthy" but not really tasty (Australian bacon is abysmal) though their super green smoothie is excellent (quinoa corn fritter is a bit boring/dryish). The Turkish place Mavi is decent takeaway (can eat it on the terrace) though fairly average taste. Ostani is a casual eatery next to it, with a good wagyu burger (no complaints!) My friends enjoyed the breakfast included in the hotel package - 7th floor buffet spread with plenty of tasty choices including excellent pastries (she took some in her bag for me to sample - yum!)

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