A Year in Review – Top Eateries of 2014

As everyone looks back at the year that was 2014, I sit down try to remember where I’ve enjoyed good meals at in Canberra and surrounding areas. My list has changed from last years but some have been good enough to remain on there. Not all of them are flashy and expensive and not all of them made it to the top 20 list according to the Good Food guide (see here).

This is a list that I have developed myself based on my own opinions and my own experiences when I have gone to these establishments this year.

*I haven’t written about all the places as I have been busy but as I add them to my blog, I’ll create a link from here.

Tales of a Confectionist’s 2014 top twenty list

(IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)

 

Ricardo’s Jamison, I’ve never really enjoyed their cakes as I always find them OTT and too sweet but everything else they do is awesome.

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Akiba Civic, I like the speed at which the food comes, the variety of choices and some of the dishes are amazing.

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Mr Papa Braddon, I got Mr Papa to cater for TimmyC’s 30th birthday and they were absolutely brilliant but you can just grab one of their tasty treats from the Hamlet in Braddon without worrying about inviting 24 of your closest friends.

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Chiefly’s Barton, hands down the best steak I’ve eaten in a restaurant in Canberra this year. Their desserts are fabulous too, I hope to return soon!

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Flute Bakery Fyshwick, still a favourite of mine as they have amazing cakes and pastries. I am still amazed when people have not heard of this place. Just remember it’s only opened Monday – Friday 8 til 3pm and more importantly, no eftpos (or bathrooms).

Frugii ice cream several locations, technically not a shop front yet (although you can sample a lot of John’s work at Stripey Sundae in Gold Creek village and the ODBM/Farmer’s market) but Frugii ice cream seems to be popping up more regularly at Canberra markets and events. He puts lots of thought into his unique ice cream flavours and if you get a chance, you have to try his cakes.

Up 2 You Belconnen, I get cravings for their claypot rice whenever I think about it. I enjoyed my first hot pot experience but the second time around was a bit harder to enjoy when we were at the top level and they didn’t really replenish the stuff that I wanted to eat.

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Les Bistronomes Braddon, as filling as it is sharing a Beef Wellington, I somehow always manage to also squeeze in dessert. I don’t love their smaller plates, if I came here I would just get a Beef Wellington (maybe share between three people?) and a dessert.

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Dumpling Inn Jamison, this is not my local, but if it was I’d be a lot fatter. I’ve stopped blogging about this place because I come here so often but don’t mistaken my written absence as a sign of me no longer eating here. Every now and then they have mudcrabs and it is magical.

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Jimmy’s Chinese Restaurant Dickson. Some may be surprised by my inclusion of this restaurant but I come here only for one thing- MUD CRAB *drools* Mudcrab with ginger and shallots and yi mein noodles is the only way to go.

Morks Kingston, I really need to go back here again with TimmyC, he keeps whinging that I went without him.

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Soju girl Civic I have eaten here a lot and the only bad thing I can say about this place is that I’m always too full for their dessert menu.

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Penny University Kingston, I had an amazing brunch here and I’m super keen to return.

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Robyn Rowe’s chocolates Murrumbateman, these hand made chocolates are fabulous and you can get them locally at the Farmer’s market if you don’t have time to make it to the shop.

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Poacher’s Pantry Murrumbateman, I was lucky enough to have my Human experience here and we were really spoilt. I really enjoy their smoked meat products and they are widely available around Canberra.

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The Cupping Room Civic, for good coffee, great breakfast and amazing milkshakes.

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Lonsdale Street Eatery Braddon, I haven’t written my post yet but the ribs and burgers are amazing.

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Joe’s Thai Wanniassa, I love eating noodles and curries from here and it is my ‘go to’ for take away food when I’m at home.

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Pomegranate Kingston, I might not have loved their panna cotta but everything else was delicious despite the price tag.

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Tudo Turner, after many years, the food is consistently good, I’d push you over for a pan fried chicken wing and I find so much comfort in their noodle soups.

This might be the cutest thing I’ve seen! My hands aren’t monster sized, it’s mini asparagus! So cutesy! (≧∇≦)
#miniaturefood #food #foodie #qld #cutesy

IMG_8352.JPG

Common Grounds

Pancakes, crepes and waffles oh my!
These are the breakfast items that make TimmyC’s face light up, so when RiotAct named Common Grounds in Gowrie with the best pancakes, we made plans to go immediately if not sooner.IMG_7927.JPGIMG_7929.JPGI love the look of their front counter, it has a bit of everything.IMG_7940.JPGDue to an overly comfortable bed, we did not make it to the cafe until 11:45am, but we were seated immediately despite the place being very busy.

They serve Campos coffee here which is good to know. I tried buying my friend some coffee beans but they said they doubled their usual order and they still sold out.

When the friendly waitress came to take our order, my mouth dropped when we were told they had sold out of pancakes. Poor TimmyC, he had to pick up the menu and actually read it this time. I on the other hand wanted one of their pasta specials, “sorry the lunch menu doesn’t start until 1pm”. ‘What? What kind of menu is this?!’ I thought to myself. I too then had to scan the menu and choose what will be second choice.

Banana, honey, nutmeg and cinnamon smoothie ($6.00). I’m not the biggest fan of banana taste outside of a cake but this was super nice! It had a great taste of banana mixed in with honey, nutmeg, cinnamon and a decent scoop of ice cream. I would easily order this again but it does fill me up.IMG_7941.JPGFlat white coffee from Campos coffee beans.IMG_7938.JPGEggs benedict poached eggs and hollandaise sauce served  on two pieces of sourdough toast with bacon ($15.50). I really liked the hollandaise sauce and I kept on dipping my fork in to get some. Unfortunately there was only really one rasher of bacon for the whole dish.IMG_7942.JPGConquistador sauteed chorizo, tomato, chilli, garlic and basil on toasted sourdough served with poached egg and topped with goats cheese ($16.90). The chorizo had a decent bite to it and it was a really good sausage but every now and then I had to pop a tomato in my mouth to cool down from the spiciness. I really enjoyed the bread and kept on eating it even when I was full. The goats cheese was too strong for my liking and I felt my poached eggs were a bit rubbery so I didn’t finish either of them.IMG_7948.JPG

IMG_7945.JPGThe central indoor dining area was open to the back area which was nice for ease of access but it did mean that annoying flies came in and kept bothering us while we ate; we were squatting away flies between each bite. As we were leaving they closed the doors up to maybe keep the air con contained but it would have been nicer to do it earlier to keep the flies away.IMG_7939.JPGDespite our disappointment with the availability on the menu, the food that we ordered was really nice, the staff were super friendly and attentive and I really like the lay out of the place.

Being the stubborn person that I am, TimmyC and I returned much earlier the next day (their last trading day of the year) and we didn’t want to be seated unless we knew that there were pancakes available and there weren’t so we left and had breakfast somewhere else.

Venue: Common Grounds

Address4/1 Jeffries St Gowrie, ACT

Phone: 02 6291 7412

Opening hours:

Monday – Friday 7:30am – 4:00pm

Saturday – Sunday 8:00am – 3:00pm

2014 Holiday opening hours: re-open Wednesday January 7th 2015

Common Grounds on Urbanspoon

Milkbar – Port Macquarie

We wanted to choose a good breakfast place before we left Port Macquarie and apparently that task was placed upon myself being the more passionate foodie of the pair. I had read through Port Macquarie’s tourist pamphlets called ‘eat see do’ which had made me want to come back and be here during their food festivals etc but it didn’t really help me in the way of breakfast so I turned to Urbanspoon.IMG_8275.JPGMilkbar near town beach was amongst the top choices for breakfast in the area so that’s where we headed despite being quite busy. We were luckily enough to get a table quickly and from there we browsed the menu chalkboard. It is a very popular place amongst the locals as a lot of the patrons knew the waitresses by name, which I thought was a good sign.

Ordering and paying at the counter really helps as a fast streamline process.IMG_8270.JPGThe menu at the Milkbar has something for everyone. I love how the sign states that all the bread comes with buttered *real butter!*IMG_8273.JPGLarge flat white ($4.30). TimmyC said he really enjoyed his coffee here.IMG_8280.JPGMango and macadamia smoothie ($6.50). This was mainly compromised of ice cream which is probably why TimmyC liked it so much. It only had hints of mango flavour but I liked how in every few mouthfuls there was a crunch of macadamia.IMG_8278.JPGEggs, Gruyère, baby spinach and citrus ricotta tart with prosciutto and roast chilli tomato sauce ($14.50). I couldn’t really taste the Gruyère despite having stringy cheesy bits when I cut bite sized pieces, the prosciutto added a nice salty touch to the light eggy citrus flavours and I think it was worth adding the roast chilli tomato sauce.IMG_8286.JPGLayers of spinach in the tart encased in delicious flaky pastry.IMG_8287.JPGMilkbar baked eggs and sourdough with mushroom, basil, cherry tomatoes and spinach($13.00) we added extra bacon ($3.00). I like how they gave you lots of bacon (4 pieces) and it was only $3 extra, you never usually get that much let alone for that price. The baked eggs were nice enough but for me I fell in love with the sourdough bread smothered in real butter *drool*IMG_8282.JPGI love how they have unique breakfast menu items, everything is reasonably priced (nothing over $14.50) and the food and coffee came out at a fast pace. The staff were also very friendly, fast to clean and clear tables as well as thorough with the ordering process. I definitely will return when I’m in the area!IMG_8276.JPGVenue: The Milkbar

Address2/38 William St Port Macquarie, NSW

Phone: (02) 6583 2700IMG_8274.JPG

Milkbar on Urbanspoon

Chifley’s Bar and Grill

People have always asked me where to find a good steak in Canberra but unfortunately I’ve had more disappointments than recommendations. Finally I can let people know, if you want a good steak, go to Chifley’s in Hotel Kurrajong.

We were greeted at the door of the hotel and asked if we had a reservation before being led into the restaurant and to our table.

The lovely hotel lobby at Hotel Kurrajong.IMG_8085.JPGThe dining room is separated into three areas, we were initially seated with a lot of the other patrons near the entrance but we asked to be moved to another table for better lighting and seating. I found towards the end of the night that the initial section almost looked like people were sitting in the dark, I’m glad that we moved.IMG_8086.JPGMojito ($18.00).IMG_8097.JPGComplimentary and butter. It was a delicious sour dough bread accompanied by the cutest serves of pepe saya butter that I’ve ever seen.IMG_8100.JPGStarters~

Master Kobe Flank Beef Carpacio fried liliput capers, pecorino sardo, salsa verde ($15.00). The beef took a back seat in terms of flavours in comparison to the other elements of the dish. I’m not usually a fan of capers but these fried liliput capers had an amazing crunchy texture which were bursting with flavour and not too salty. The amazing flavours for me came from the beautiful olive oil that they used, I even had to ask what it was because I loved it so much (they said it was Morello by the way).IMG_8107.JPGSeared Hervey Bay scallops shaved iberico de bellota paletila, jerusalem artichoke crisps, spring pea puree ($19.00). The flavours were really nice and there was a nice crunch to the crisps, I just didn’t think that the scallops had enough seared texture to them but TimmyC really liked this dish.IMG_8106.JPGSteaks~

All steaks are served with a celeriac puree and your choice of sauce.

Sauce choices include: red wine jus, pink peppercorn and tarragon jus, cafe de Paris, classic beef jus, horseradish aioli and fresh perigord truffle jus (+$10.00).IMG_8090.JPGTajima Wagyu Lidcome NSW

300g Rump Cap/ 500 day grain fed 7+ ($42.00) with cafe de Paris sauceIMG_8115.JPGSher Waygu F1 – Ballan, Vic

350g rib eyes (dry aged 60 days) 300+ day ration fed 5+ ($57.00) with  pink peppercorn and tarragon jus.IMG_8116.JPGI’m usually a huge fan of peppercorn sauce (pictured) but after tasting the fresh perigord truffle jus, I just couldn’t go back.IMG_8120.JPG

300g Scotch fillet 300+ day ration fed 5+ ($38.00) with pink peppercorn and tarragon jus. I asked for my steak to be cooked medium rare and it came out beautiful, juicy and incredibly tasty. It was all good until I tasted TimmyC’s steak and sauce.
We were provided with Laguiole steak knife, a French cutlery brand which carved through the steaks with ease.
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 A cross section of my steak before I took my first bite.IMG_8127.JPGDavid Blackmore Wagyu Alexandra, Vic

300g Rump 600+ day ration fed 9+ ($52.00) with fresh perigord truffle jus (+$10.00). My mistake was taking a bite of TimmyC’s steak in between eating my steak, I almost immediately got steak envy and kept watching and waiting for him to get full so I could swoop in and eat the rest of his steak. A lot of the time, paying more for a steak doesn’t mean it is better but I feel in this case it was. There was marbling throughout the steak as well as tasty bits of fat around the sides. Also after tasting TimmyC’s sauce meant I didn’t like my pink peppercorn jus afterwards but he was nice enough to let me sparingly use it on my steak and chips.IMG_8111.JPGSides~ (all sides are $8.00).

After choosing all the sides, I realised I chose two types of onions and two types of potato. Ooops, my bad.

Onion rings. I really disliked the thick batter around these onion rings, I have had better from a cafe a few days earlier, I found these disappointing and I wouldn’t order these again.IMG_8125.JPGPomme fries. Yes it is just a fancy way to say shoe string fries but they were served hot and well salted which is all you could ask for. A great side to dip into your sauce and accompany your steak.IMG_8122.JPGParis mash. Only every so slightly gritty in texture but it wasn’t buttery and delicious like I’m used to with most Paris mash, it must have been a healthier version.IMG_8121.JPGCaramelised Spanish onion with pangratatta. My preferred onion side of the two but I still could have done without it.IMG_8124.JPGDessert~

The waiters had been attentive all night but after leaving us with the dessert menu we looked around the dining area and with only three tables with patrons left, there was no one around to serve us. We waited long enough for us to contemplate having dessert elsewhere, but I’m glad we stayed.

Which dessert would you have chosen?IMG_8130.JPGPassionfruit souffle with passionfruit sorbet ($18.00). The passionfruit sorbet packed a punch and upon tasting it, we all made a face like we just sucked a lemon. It was intense and I thought the flavours would lend it self better to a vanilla based dessert rather than more passionfruit. The souffle itself was very light and had a distinct passionfruit taste, easily one of the nicest souffles I have ever eaten.IMG_8133.JPGThe souffle had a great airy light texture.IMG_8137.JPGVanilla panna cotta macerated strawberries and hazelnut tuiles ($16.00). Wow, if this dessert had a bum, it could twerk like mad! We spent the better half of 5 minutes watching our dessert hypnotically jiggling about on the plate. It had an incredible smooth texture with a distinct sweet vanilla flavour and I love how the vanilla beans are dispersed throughout and not just stuck on the top.IMG_8135.JPGWe received the bill and lucky we double check as some of the steaks were overcharged.

It was hard to navigate ourselves around the menu, the steak choices on the list are extensive so we just chose based on favourite cuts and marbling score. We were told we wouldn’t get a bad steak here and after the meal we all collectively agreed. I love how they cook their specialty well and the fabulous desserts were a pleasant surprise.

Venue: Chifley’s Bar and Grill

AddressHotel Kurrajong, 8 National Circuit Barton, ACT

Phone: 02 6234 4444

Chifley's Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Akiba- good things come in threes

Yes, I did go back to AKIBA for the third time in a short time span but in my defense, it was my friends’ first time so really I went for their sake.

Despite having been so many times, I did notice several new things about the place and menu since their official launch last week: the outdoor seating is now completed, AKIBA now serves breakfast and to my dismay the steak tartare and smoked potato have both been taken off the menu.

Excuse the photo lighting, we were in the booth right underneath that fluorescent sign.

The new roomy outside area at AKIBA.IMG_8037.JPGWe all started off with an AKIPOP ($7.00) all without the ‘boom’, the flavours include: pineapple, coconut and chilli; sour cherry and vanilla and strawberry mint. They were all carbonated when I was expecting mixed fruit juices for some reason. The prominent taste in my AKIPOP was the pineapple, I couldn’t taste the coconut and the chilli was a nice burn at the back of the throat after every sip.IMG_8046.JPGThe new menu after AKIBA’s official launch. Why oh why did they take the potato and steak tartare off the menu?!IMG_8042.JPG

After having tried most of the menu, we of course were going to come across things that we have eaten before and recommend it to our friends, but there were still 6 menu items that we hadn’t tried but one of them wasn’t available that night.

The items we couldn’t resist ordering again included dumplings, sashimi, pancakes, baos and the beef short rib. We ordered the J.F.C again but for me it was still just fried chicken and nothing special.IMG_8146.JPGOyster, black vinegar, ginger wine (4 pieces $10.00). I warned my friend that you would have to set your oyster ‘free’ before trying to one shot it. I found this topping much nicer than the ume mignonette.IMG_8069.JPGShiitake and water chestnut dumplings, red vinegar, black pepper (4 pieces $10.00). I found the red vinegar over powering in comparison to the dumpling. Out of the three dumpling choices, this is my least favourite.IMG_8054.JPGRoast broccoli, miso blue cheese, sesame seeds ($9.00- we were given this as a complimentary dish). Having mentioned to Jed a waiter who sees us every time we dine, that there was only several items left to try, he said that he would let us try the broccoli free of charge. TimmyC looked sceptical, he DOES NOT like blue cheese, I mean I’m not a fan but I’m more tolerant than he is. TimmyC flat out did not like it so a friend and I ended up finishing it. The blue cheese itself is still a strong bold flavour but it is dulled out by the al dente broccoli. The flavours of this dish won’t be for everyone.IMG_8072.JPG I asked to see the breakfast menu because I was keen to see what was on offer.

The breakfast menu of AKIBA, not many options but hopefully they do this small selection well.IMG_8044.JPG

Food came out at a fast and steady pace, we didn’t book a table we just walked on in and as always the service was really helpful, attentive and friendly. Just in case you didn’t know their opening hours, I’ve attached their flyer underneath.IMG_8056.JPGI promise I won’t go again… For the rest of the year. 😉