Progressive walking dinner – Kingston foreshore

It is always wonderful to meet up with like minded people, so when fellow foodies and I met for dinner at Kingston foreshore and we weren’t sure what to eat, we strategically planned for a progressive walking dinner to get the most of our meal.

To start we made good use of C dine‘s ‘Buck a Shuck’ Friday’s in summer and we had a dozen oysters each for our entree.Venue:C dine bar

Address:17/19 East Lake Parade, Kingston Foreshore, Canberra

Phone: (02) 6239 5299
C Dine Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


7 by the Lake has only opened recently so we were excited to check it out. As we walked in, I was confused by the decor, it was supposed to be an Indian restaurant but it had African-eqsue statues around the room.

We ordered three curries: Goanese prawns ($29.90), murgh makhani (aka butter chicken $23.90) and palak paneer ($23.90). I really enjoyed their butter chicken, it isn’t your typical creamy and sweet version. I felt that the prawns and the paneer tasted slightly watery and didn’t absorb the flavours of the curry, maybe because it was added in later from a stock sauce.

 

We also ordered a serve of masala kulcha fermented plain flour bread stuffed with a mix of spiced potatoes and herbs, sprinkled with onion seeds, chopped coriander and mint, cooked in a tandoor ($5.00). It smelt divine and I would easily just eat this with butter chicken and be happy.
Our waitress did three odd things while we were there 1) she didn’t really know the name of the dish when she put down our palak paneer, she just stated it was our ‘cheese dish’ 2) she interrupted our conversation when she over heard us wanting to have dessert somewhere else 3) she opened the bill folder counted the money at the table, every last cent of it.

 

I found the prices of the curries a little steep but to be fair, everything along the Kingston foreshore seems to be over priced. I really enjoyed the bread and the chicken curry but I feel that isn’t enough to have me running back for more any time soon.

 

Venue: 7 by the lake (contemporary Indian cuisine)

Address: 143/41 East Lake Parade, Kingston Foreshore, Canberra

Phone(02) 6140 7040

Websitewww.sevenbythelake.com/
7 by the lake Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


To not be disappointed any more, we opted dessert an an old favourite, Morks. I had eaten their other desserts recently so I chose the Pikachu *I choose you* mango gelato ($3.00) for dessert with a side of BBQ pork bun ($8.00). It may not be conventional but I think a BBQ pork bun and mango gelato from @morksrestaurant was a wonderful way to end the nights meal. Venue: Morks

Address: 18-19 East Lake Parade, Kingston Foreshore, Canberra

Phone(02) 6295 0112
Morks Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Yat Bun Tong

We were driving home from Sydney when I realise there was nothing but carrots, eggs and butter in my fridge, so I made plans to meet my friends in Braddon to try out the new dumpling restaurant Yat Bun Tong for dinner.

On a Sunday night without a booking at 7pm, we were very lucky to get a table for four without a reservation. The menus are huge  (and heavy) because of the diverse range of dishes and the accompanying photos. I had to be careful not to over order and there were a few dietary restrictions within the group.I was torn between ordering the Shanghai pan fried pork bun (10 for $14.80) or the Shanghai steamed bun (10 for $13.80) but because I know the pan fried pork buns can be filling, I went with the steamed dumplings so I could order more dishes instead.

I expected them to come out in a particular order but instead they came as they were ready and the gap between waiting times wasn’t that long. It was a struggle to fit everything on the table though as the plates are rather big.

Garlic chicken fried rice ($12.80). I wanted a more garlic flavour but it was nice enough as an accompaniment to the other dishes.Fried beef onion dumplings (15 for $12.80). These weren’t fabulous but still rather tasty and I preferred these over the steamed ones.Pan fried chive cakes (2 for $8.80). Not very flavoursome and definitely not worth ordering again.Shanghai steamed bun (10 for $13.80). There is a little soup inside each dumpling which stayed inside as the dumpling wrapper wasn’t too delicate. I didn’t love the taste of the dumpling though.Deep fried soft shell crab with spicy peppery salt ($19.80). I was surprised to see that this was a rather large serve. The batter was a tad too thick but there was plenty of delicious fried garlic, chilli and shallots.Chinese broccoli with garlic ($14.80). A simple tasty dish to break up the oily and heaviness from the other dishes.Someone told me that Yat Bun Tong have the same owners as Chinese Kitchen Dumpling House in Woden. It’s no Din Tai Fung but it is better than other dumpling places I have tried around town. I would like to come back and try the other dumplings like the Shanghai pan fried pork bun and also try their noodles which I hear is quite nice.

Venue: Yat Bun Tong

Address: 61/10-12 Lonsdale street, Braddon, ACT 2612

Phone: (02) 61520880
Yat Bun Tong Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cibo 

After a decade of trading under ‘Peppered Prawn’ in the Woden town centre, the owners have decided to do something a little different and have revamped the restaurant with a new look, new menu and a new name – Cibo.Meze/small plates~

This is why you bring friends along, you get to try more of the menu.Arancini fried risotto balls filled with porcini mushrooms with napolitana sauce, fresh basil leaves (3 for $16.00). I noticed the ‘holes’ in the arancini as soon as they  were put down in front of us. I found that the risotto mixture was too sloppy to make a perfect arancini ball without it crumbling. The interior was nice and salty with a district mushroom flavour but I was hoping for a more cheesy filling.Crispy prawns lightly battered, golden fried, served with lemon wedge and lemon mayo (4 for $16.00). Despite being favoured by the other guests that I was dining with, I was impressed with the size of the prawn but I didn’t think there was anything special about this dish.    
Burek baked handmade layered pastry filled with ricotta and feta ($10.00).I didn’t get much of the filling in my bite but I really liked the flaky pastry. Not really made for sharing, I would just eat one myself next time.Zucchini puffs with tzatziki (5 for $14.00). Not really memorable in comparison to the other dishes but they weren’t oily which I admired.Kobasice thin spicy semi smoked pork sausages simply filled with ajvar ($12.00). I really enjoyed these as I found them to have lots of flavour in the sausages, although I was not a fan of the ajvar as I could taste a light bitterness from capsicum skin. This was my favourite meze plate of the night.More substantial~

Pappardelle fresh ribbon egg pasta, traditional slow braised veal and pork bolognaise, grana padano ($22.00). I was very tempted to order this as I love pasta. I found that the sauce to lack some salt and found it overall a bit bland but the pappardelle pasta was fresh and was fantastic.
Pork skewers marinated with garlic, lemon, oregano, olive oil with spanish onion, tomato, tzatziki and pita (2 skewers $26.00). I don’t usually see pork skewers as an option on a menu, but these had a lovely char-grilled flavour whilst remaining succulent. It seemed like a complete meal because it was served with a small salad and bread.
Chevapi char grilled skinless sausage made of veal and pork, with spanish onion, feta and ajvar (300g $22.00). The chevapi was nice on its own but it was the perfect balance of flavours when you added a bit of onion and feta with every bite. Again I found the ajvar a bit bitter so I avoided dipping the meat in it. I thought as a main, it was a bit sad that this didn’t come with some bread or a simple salad to balance out the heaviness of the meat.
Sides~
Bowl of chips ($10.00). Unlike the skewers, the chevapi sausages were served on their own and it was suggested to get a side of chips or bread to balance out all the meat. I thought the price was a bit steep for chips but fortunately they were delicious because of their crispiness and seasoning.
You can’t tell from this angle, but the bowl was pretty deep.
Pita ($4.00). This bread was warmed which quickly turned cold and brittle. I think $4 is a bit steep for one pita bread, I should have just borrowed some from the skewers plate, but they said that they made it on site so I was curious to try.
Something sweet~
Gelato panna cotta, white chocolate and raspberry, salted caramel ($10.00). I really liked the salted caramel gelato over the other flavours but TimmyC really enjoyed the panna cotta, it goes to show each to their own.
Palacinke Balkan style crepe filled with Nutella served with bon bon rocher gelato ($10.00). I felt that this ‘crepe’ was too thick and since it was presented in a rolled cigar, it made it feel even thicker, heavier and too sweet in one mouthful. If it was even slightly thinner, it wouldn’t feel as doughy in one bite.
Krofne European donut filled with raspberry jam and icing sugar ($4.00 each). This reminded me of a Nanna’s frozen jam doughnut, but fresh. The sweet centre was at a good ratio to the doughnut so it wasn’t too sweet, the doughnut itself was nice and fluffy in texture. These are made in house and they are definitely tasty when they are fresh.A soft fluffy pillow encasing some delicious jam, that’s how I would describe this dessert.
We found the staff very friendly, knowledgeable and efficient. It is nice to have a restaurant concentrating on Mediterranean cuisine in the area. I would come back and try more unique dishes I couldn’t get normally in other restaurants.

 

Venue: Cibo
Address: Sky Plaza Apartments, 98 Corinna Street, Woden Town Centre, ACT 2606
Phone: (02) 6162 0122

Websitewww.cibokitchen.com.au/ << they have a handy online booking system

Lolo and Lola

There are not many reasons why I would get up early on the weekend but Lolo and Lola‘s opening day is a pretty good one. I’ve been waiting for months for their addition into the shipping container community at the Westside village but it wasn’t just the excitement of them finally opening that got me out of bed, it was also because they are notorious of running out of food due their popular demand. So I found it fitting that we went earlier rather than later.Michelle from HerCanberra met me at Westside 1 hour after Lolo and Lola’s grand opening and they were already being swamped by keen customers. We were quick to order and because we didn’t know what to get, we decided to get one of everything just to be sure that we didn’t miss out. And our early morning start paid off because we didn’t miss out and we happen to order the last box of ensaymada #sorrynotsorry Since we were invited to their opening, they were nice enough to give our order complimentary.

This is the view that you would continue to see for the rest of the day. The line to Lolo and Lola never really stops.Pancite Palabok rice noodle with prawns, tofu, smoked fish and chicharon in a garlic-annatto sauce ($10.00). I was surprised about the heavy seafood flavour in this dish, it turns out that the sauce/thick soup’s stock is made from prawn heads boiled away for 8 hours. This dish will not be for everyone because of its strong seafood flavours; I didn’t mind it but I much preferred the rice.Pork and mushroom adobo with garlic rice and petite atchara salad ($12.00). I really enjoyed this dish; the pork was tender and the sauce went really well with the rice. I’ve never eaten a non-chicken wing adobo but this reminded me of delicious tamarind pork belly that my Mum makes. I like the addition of the salad, because it breaks up the heavy rice/pork combination. My handy tip: try to avoid crunching on the peppercorns.“Filo” style chicken BBQ with garlic rice and petite atchara salad ($12.00). Stop what you’re doing and eat this immediately if not sooner. I was surprised that I found this my favourite dish as I did have my heart set on adobo. The chicken is so succulent and full of flavour, it made me make my ‘eyes widen with a big grin’ face because it was so tasty yet unexpected.Classic ice scramble Filopino streetside treat made with creamy blended ice topped with powdered milk and chocolate sauce ($6.00). I’d be the first to admit that this sounds like a crazy combination, but that was why I was here, to experience another culture through their food. As soon as I took my first spoonful I knew exactly what everything reminded me of. The pink thick creamy blended ice tasted like musk sticks, the texture of the powdered milk reminded me of undissolved blobs of milo in milk and even though I don’t like musk sticks, I was strangely addicted to the texture of the powdered milk with blended ice. Yes, definitely hard and weird to explain without you trying it, so if you’re game, definitely order it.Ube cake slice ($7.00). This sold out just before midday. I ate mouthfuls of cake between eating our brunch, which would have put many people off but I liked having a bite of sweetness between my mouthfuls of garlic rice. It was like a soft sponge cake with delicious butter cream frosting.Classic ensaymada ($20.00 per box of 9 or $3.00 a piece). This sold out by 10:30am which is ridiculous considering Lolo and Lola only opened their doors at 9:00am. The combination sounds strange but it works as a ‘sweet’. Think of a sweet bun (like Bread Top type of bread) that has been proofed for 8-12 hours, which then turns into a fluffy bread texture, topped with butter cream and cheese (yes you read that right). Michelle gave me a tip to warm them up a little before consuming and I am loving it.I’m a huge fan of cross section photos and this is what the ensaymada looks like on the inside.The menu may change daily so I’m not sure what they will serve today but their ‘cake’ will be classic sans rival. If you see mango sans rival on the sign, msg me and I will drop what I’m doing and head straight there.It was very popular opening morning and so there was a small wait after ordering to get the food, worth it though.

Venue: Lolo and Lola

Address: Westside Acton Park, 3 Barrine Drive, Acton, ACT 2601

Opening hours: for now are:

Mezze

It isn’t that often that TimmyC will hear about a new restaurant before I do but that was the case this time when he took me to Mezze in Manuka, which is located next to the cinema where Camellia used to be.
I don’t usually like having Turkish with one other person because it really limits you to what you can order, but we tried to be smart with our ordering, so we avoided eating a lot of bread and more delicious grilled meats.
We were going to order two grilled meats plates but after doing some quick calculations we realised it was much more economical getting the platter for two which encompassed what we wanted to order and many more delicious things. After we ordered the waitress asked us if we knew that the price was $40 per person and we said we were aware. There must have been awkward situations before that have led to clarification of the price before ordering.

 

Kebab platter minimum two people sis tavuk, sis kebab, kofte, pirzola with rice, salad, garlic bread and zucchini balls ($40.00 per person).
Zucchini balls. They were hot, crispy and fluffy but nothing special.
Garlic bread. I know I said we weren’t going to go bread heavy but there was a bit of bread in the banquet. I thought it was unusual that they were serving garlic bread at a Turkish restaurant but the twist is that they serve it on Turkish bread. I know this dish sounds simple but the bread was flatter than usual, it was really hot and crispy and it had a strong garlic flavour. We ate this so fast with no regrets! I’m craving some more as I write this.
 
The platter. I was surprised to see that one of the chefs came out to present us with our platter. Everything was super freshly cooked and very hot. Even though we had gorged ourselves on popcorn before, we ate everything on the platter but only left a bit of rice and salad. We were getting full but we couldn’t help ourselves.
The chicken kebabs and kofte were so moist and succulent, the lamb skewers were a little chewy (definitely eat them while they are hot) but the lamb chops albeit were overcooked, were still very delicious. It was refreshing to have the fresh salad, char grilled vegetables and rice on the side as the platter was rather meat heavy. I think my favourite thing on the plate were the kofte with spoonfuls of hot rice.
This is not a ‘buy a banquet for two which really serves four’ type of place, the servings are still on the larger size but it is about quality over quantity. Service was fantastic even though there was only one waitress, she was friendly and efficient and I also liked how the chef presented his food with pride. I would be curious to see what they serve for ‘Turkish breakfast’ on weekends.

Venue: Mezze
Address: Shop 8 Capitol Theatre BLDG, 17 Franklin St, Canberra ACT 2603
Opening hours:
Monday – Friday 11:00am – 11:00pm
Saturday – Sunday 8:00am – 11:00pm

Coffee Lab’s Free Coffee Day!

That’s right caffeine addicts, rejoice as Coffee Lab are giving away free coffee from 8am- 8pm TODAY!

Artistry will meet Science – at coffee lab located in the Canberra Centre, next to The Australian Tax Office on Narellan Street.

Get ready for the most exciting coffee event of the year. In the exploration for the perfect coffee, Canberra’s premier coffee lover’s destination will be serving out Canberra’s finest coffee for FREE all day until 8pm. Along with live music performances and free food tasting throughout the day.

Don’t miss out on your chance for Canberra’s best coffee for FREE!

 

Venue: Coffee Lab

Address: 26 Narellan Pl, Canberra ACT 2601

Event: FREE COFFEE  with live performances and free food tasting throughout the day

Time: 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Facebook eventhttps://www.facebook.com/events/926012224139575/

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Meatball Monday – IKEA Canberra

Recently road signs have warned of major delays in the Majura area for at least a week starting this Monday 16th November. Why? If you somehow have not heard, the IKEA Canberra store is opening and everyone wants to be there. According to the Facebook event, over 13,000 people want to be there during their opening celebrations starting from around 6:30am and the store will open at 9:30am.One of my friends who has never been to an IKEA store before asked me ‘what is the big deal about IKEA?’; this made me ponder and I didn’t know where to start. I wanted to tell her that when it opens in Canberra on Monday it will be the most sustainable store in Australia using LED lighting, they have just under 2000 solar panels, they source sustainable salmon as well as becoming the first major retailer to source 100% of its cotton from more sustainable sources, just to name a few things. I also wanted to mention their charity initiatives supporting educational project run by Save the Children and UNICEF. Instead, I explained that most people want to improve their home and their personal spaces and IKEA helps people to do that regardless of socioeconomic backgrounds. Despite people saying that everyone’s houses will look the same, there is so much choice and room for personalising, I don’t think that would be the case.

I was lucky enough to have a sneak peek of  Canberra’s IKEA store on Friday and I wanted to tell you all what you’re in store for starting Monday.

Unlike other IKEA stores, Canberra’s store is single level and will be the first in Australia to have a ‘IKEA Cafe’ with coffees, cakes and some savoury options available. The IKEA restaurant itself has a 380 seat capacity and I would consider the whole menu to be a bargain and that’s not just comparing it to Canberra prices!The Market Hall is one of my favourite places to browse, even if my kitchen is full. IKEA plans to run workshops so customers see first hand how to use the products and produce. On top of all this, the IKEA Canberra store will have a free child minding for the children aged 3 – 10 that are toilet trained. Småland (pronounced small land for those who don’t speak Swedish) is available to parents to are on site (in store or in the car park) for maximum 1 hour a day, they have a capacity for up to 45 kids at a time with activities including colouring in, stadium seating for the ‘cloud’ tv and a ball pit which is 80cm deep. Be aware that this is a really popular facility and long wait times might apply. See the additional information below taken from their website:

We like to make visiting IKEA both fun for kids and easier for grown-ups. Småland is our free supervised play area, located next to our store greeter. So kids, come on in… We look forward to seeing you soon!

Småland is licensed under the Department of Education, so all children must be enrolled before coming in to play. This paperwork is only needed once a year. There is a limit on the number of children allowed in Småland to ensure their safety at all times. As a result, you may experience longer waiting times during busier periods.

IKEA launched ‘LATTJO’ their play collection that inspires everyone to play more together – everyday. I am tempted to everyone a snail hat this Christmas.With kids and their parents set as a first priority, IKEA have awesome parent rooms, the restaurant area has microwaves for warming milk, kids cutlery and even a small children’s play area so the parents get some peace while they’re eating Swedish meatballs.

There is so much cutesy things to buy for kids and the young at heartI love IKEA’s store concept where they create fully furnished areas, making it much easier to visualise the end product or lend creative inspiration especially storage in small spaces. If you’re like me and get your cardio work out from shopping, you’ll get over 1km walk if you don’t take short cuts.

Do you need some room inspiration? It took the IKEA staff 5 weeks to set up the whole store! Come and see their amazing space.

They have over 700 car parks available on opening day, with staff parking off site and taking a shuttle bus to the store; being a sustainably minded store they encourage everyone to carpool or take public transportation (extra buses will run from platform #9 Civic interchange).

Are you excited for IKEA Canberra?

Venue: IKEA Canberra

Address: 1030 Majura Road, Majura, ACT 2609

Phone: (02) 8020 6641

Extended trading hours
from 16 – 22 November

Monday: 9:30am – 9:00pm
Tues-Friday: 10:00am – 9:00pm
Saturday: 9:00am – 9:00pm
Sunday: 10:00am – 9:00pm

Regular trading hours
from 23 November onwards

Mon-Thur: 10:00am – 7:00pm
Friday: 10:00am – 9:00pm
Saturday: 9:00am – 7:00pm
Sunday: 10:00am – 6:00pm

Regular Restaurant trading hours
Mon-Thur: 9:30am – 6:30pm
Friday: 9:30am – 8:30pm
Saturday: 8:30am – 6:30pm
Sunday: 9:30am – 5:30pm

Chez Kimchi

When my friends wanted to know what I felt like eating for dinner Friday night, I knew exactly where I wanted to take them, to Chez Kimchi for some Korean fried chicken. I didn’t anticipate a line at the door and a 20 minute waiting period but we were there and I had already promised my stomach fried chicken, so I left my name on the wait list and browsed through the menu. Continually throughout the night people there were people waiting for a table, so you knew it was either A) really good and popular or B) new to Canberra, I was hoping a little from column A and a little from column B.

We were given condiments and bone bucket. We were ready to start!Gogi-gunmandu deep-fried Korean dumplings filled with pork mince and vegetables (4 pieces $6.80). These dumplings were crispy and cooked perfectly, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what was inside the dumpling. I didn’t think these added much to our experience and I wouldn’t bother ordering any of the dumplings again.Saewu Jjinmandu steamed Korean dumplings filled with prawns and vegetables ($6.80). You could tell that these had prawn inside, but they weren’t particularly good; skip the dumplings and head straight for the fried chicken!Ginger iced tea and Lemon iced tea (around $4.50?). It is not your typical iced tea, think more preserved lemon and ginger. I think I preferred the ginger one more because it was more refreshing.Bulgogi Bokkeum beef stir-fried with vegetables in a Kimchi’s specials sauce served on a sizzling plate ($18.50) served with steamed rice. This is one of my favourite Korean dishes and I wasn’t going to pass it up. I don’t know if it was traditional or particularly good; I’ve never had a bulgogi that I haven’t liked.Japchae stir fried glass noodles (sweet potato noodles) with vegetables in a soy sauce ($15.80). I’ve always liked Korean sweet potato noodles (easy to cook at home too) and these were really nice but I wasn’t a huge fan of the cloud ear fungus.Now to why we really came here, fried chicken!

Spicy chilli chicken smoked chilli spicy sauce (half chicken $18.00). When we ordered this, the waitress stressed that it was spicy, yes that is why we were ordering it, then she stressed that it was really spicy and that made us a little worried but my friend was adamant that she wanted this fried chicken, so we ordered it anyway against our better judgement. I am not a good judge of spiciness because my tolerance for chilli is on the lower end, but man! For me it really spicy (and subtly smoky) but I made it through and even ate two pieces out of spite (yes waitress, we ate the whole thing!). So maybe for other people who LOVE spicy food, it might not be too bad.Soy sauce chicken perfect combination of garlic and soy sauce good with beer (half chicken $18.00). This by comparison seemed really sticky and sweet. Easy to eat and very messy (not a first date food) but I don’t know if they gave us the right one because I didn’t taste any garlic at all. I think next time I’d choose another flavour of chicken, one with a fried coating rather than a sticky marinade and one that won’t make me tear up and blow my nose.

Despite being very busy and borderline overwhelming for the staff, they were still very friendly and attentive. Chez Kimchi have 14 flavours of fried chicken and I am super keen to come back and try more! I imagine when they aren’t crazy busy that it would be a place to grab fast dinner before a movie.

Venue: Chez Kimchi

Address: 70 Bunda Street, Civic

Phone: (02) 6247 5525

Chez Kimchi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lolo and Lola coming soon

Yes, Canberra’s favourite Filopino bakery, Waterhouse Bakers will have a more permanent home at the Westside Acton Park! They are joining the shipping container village in December not only bringing their delicious bakery goods but also an eatery! I really hope they have adobo for those who don’t have a Filopino family to make it for them.

I will definitely be keen to see their menu!

Thanks TimmyC for the photo and my delicious sans rival!

Space Explorer

I wasn’t able to make it to a breakfast at Space recently, so instead a fellow blogger kindly offered to write her experience. So here it is, Tales of a Confectionist’s first GUEST BLOGGER: the wonderful Serina from Ms Frugal Ears.  How exciting! Her photos are crystal clear, she writes well and she wrote this much faster than I ever would have. Hahahaha, maybe we can make this a regular thing.

Thank you Serina for sharing your experience and making us want to run to Space and check it out for ourselves!


 

I’m heading off to Space. For breakfast. Only I’m not heading to outer space, but rather to a car park. In Woden.

Space, a new café/restaurant by Rick de Marco of Ricardo’s fame, opened three weeks ago in the Skypark car park. Yes, in a carpark. A pretty modern and funky NEW carpark in Woden with 940 spaces and plans for a lightshow. It is an unusual place for a café, but not so unusual for someone used to working hard and taking risks.

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Rick opened Ricardos in Jamison Centre ten years ago when he was only 18. I remember Jamison Centre back then; I used to regularly forage at the Sunday morning Trash n’ Treasure market that the Rotary Club of Belconnen runs. Before the Jamison Centre refurbishment the area was a bit of a dive. I remember seeing Ricardos when it first opened and wondering if it would stay in business in such a drab environment.

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But Ricardos Jamison has flourished, so much so that on weekends you have to queue along the red carpet before one of the staff will grant you a pass in. It feels more like being an at exclusive nightclub than the family friendly and fun café that it is. Not that staff behave like brusque bouncers – everyone is utterly courteous and service is brisk. It is just extremely popular.

The new business is not simply a new Ricardos. “I consciously chose to give Space a new name, a new brand,” explained Rick de Marco. “I opened Ricardos when I was only 18. This is like an adult version of Ricardos. I want to be able to experiment with new dishes, rather than having people wonder why things weren’t exactly the same as Ricardos Jamison Centre.” Rick also expressed passion for heading the revitalization of Woden to mimic what he was part of at Jamison Centre.

Before you ask – yes Space still does amazing cakes including Rick’s signature Golden Gaytime and macarons. But the feel is slicker, more modern, with subtle references to the ‘car space’ theme throughout. And Rick is even more courageous with his food creations.

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My visit was hosted by Rick as part of a social media event to showcase some of Space’s signature all-day breakfast dishes. Space does make some standard style bacon & egg type dishes, and these are also popular – according to head chef Russell, although Space has only just opened it typically cooks around 1,200 eggs on a weekend.

We began with vegetable fritters ($18.90) This is kind of like traditional corn fritters your mum probably made only more upmarket and served on beetroot humus and corn cous cous with salad and poached eggs. Remove the cous cous and the dish is gluten free – chef Russell makes them with a flour made from chickpeas, amaranth, quinoa and arrowroot. He also said that during the week this is by far the most popular breakfast item.

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I wanted to try more of the hot smoked salmon breakfast (hot smoked salmon, smashed avocado, coconut roesti, poached eggs and puffed grains, $18.90), but it disappeared quickly amongst our group. There was a substantial salmon serving and if ordered as a breakfast you would not leave feeling unsatisfied. I liked the gentle tea-smoked flavour, which was distinctive yet not overdone.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI noticed owner Rick de Marco plating something up himself. “Does he interfere often?” I playfully asked. “We take a collaborative and cooperative approach,” answered head chef Russell tactfully. Rick is clearly a perfectionist, evidenced when he presented a plate of the most beautiful bircher muesli I have ever seen. Adorned by fresh fruit and flowers, the bircher muesli ($15.90) was surrounded by circles of yoghurt and blood orange curd and decorated with passionfruit caviar (perfect pearls made through a chemical emulsion process). And yes it tastes good as well, augmented with freshly grated apple.

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Then came the two spectacular dishes that have a creative wow factor that will likely put Space on the galaxy map. Space benedict ($18.90) incorporates the Golden Gaytime theme that Ricardos has become famous for as a dessert – but here it is a deep-fried savoury pulled pork croquette, served on a bed of beetroot coloured hollandaise sauce with avocado, poached eggs and pork crackling brioche crumble. I loved the crumble texture, liked the concept of the croquette but it is not my preferred choice for breakfast as it is a bit oily. Russell said that Space plans to make it with smoked trout in the future, which I think will be nicer.

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My favourite dish was, quite unexpectedly, waffles ($18.90). I am almost over waffles after consuming way too many while in Taiwan – usually they were overly adorned with fake cream and fake maple syrup and looked much nicer than they tasted. But these were savoury waffles made with polenta and cheese and served with a side of mushrooms sourced specially from a grower in Yass, with a liberal sprinkle of popcorn. And served with goats cheese, poached eggs, corn puree and salsa verde. Yet there is more – as they are served, the waiter (in our case Rick himself) poured diffused truffle oil over the top, which wafts out in a (safe) cloud of dry ice. Spectacular and fragrant.

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We were served soft cooked poached eggs, but Russell assured us you can order them well done or prepared a different way if you like.

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If you are hungry, I recommend the boysenberry hotcakes, with blood orange curd, freeze dried raspberry and white chocolate crumble with coconut mascarpone ($17.90).  These were pretty, and also pretty filling.  I would have struggled to finish an entire plate.  Or perhaps I would have been greedy and managed the task – the hotcakes were thick yet inviting and moreish.

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Venue: Space

Address: Ground floor, Skypark, Furzer Street, Woden

Phone: (02) 6281 6668

Opening hours:

Mon-Fri: 7:30 am-5:30 pm
Sat: 8:00 am-4:00 pm

Guest blogger details: Serina blogs about mindful frugality and low-cost recipes at www.msfrugalears.com and about Taiwanese food and Chinese postpartum confinement at www.taiwanxifu.com.  She is an avid tea drinker and loves brunching with friends. She participated in a breakfast tasting at Space at the invitation of the owner, Rick de Marco.

A simple breakfast at Fox and Bow

I was meeting a friend for a catch up breakfast at Fox and Bow; the sun wasn’t really shining but the cafe was lovely enough to provide blankets. My meal choice might have seemed odd but we were later heading to a market where I thought I’d be eating most of the time so I tried to go with a lighter brunch option.

 

The ginger short bread smiley face is a really cute addition to any hot beverage.El macho pineapple, pear, lemon, cinnamon, vanilla and nopal cactus ($7.90). Sour dough toast served with butter and Lynwood strawberry jam from Collector ($6.00) plus a side of bacon ($4.00?). For something so simple, I was surprised how delicious it was and I would happily order it again. The bread was super tasty, the jam was perfect and they served it with Pepe Saya butter which is incredible. I added bacon for a savoury finish.
Old mate Stephanie Alexander’s ricotta gnocchi recipe, slow cooked lamb shoulder and mushroom ragout ($16.90). I could not believe how soft these pieces of gnocchi were, although I felt that the ragout needed a bit more salt as it was on the bland side.
It is always lovely coming here, the service is friendly, the menu names make me giggle and the food is delicious.

EQ Cafe and Lounge

TimmyC and I were taking advantage of our weekday break and headed towards EQ Cafe and Lounge in Deakin for brunch before the near by workers came and swarmed the place. I was really surprised how big it was and how it extended to another area as the ‘EQ bake house’.Lots of space inside and out; a really nice atmosphere.Eggs Benedict two soft poached eggs on toast with hollandaise sauce and bacon ($18.00). TimmyC said he really enjoyed his eggs benedict even though it wasn’t the best he has ever had.Coffee TimmyC said he has never had a bad coffee here and they are pretty consistent.House-made potato rosti stack with herb roasted mushroom, gruyere cheese, hollandaise topped with crispy poached egg ($18.00). I don’t know why but I’m a sucker for crispy potato so I ordered this for my brunch. I must admit, I don’t think I read much beyond ‘rosti’ so I was surprised it was served on mushrooms and topped with an unusual crispy poached egg. I really enjoyed the big juicy mushrooms but I found I had to add some salt to the dish as a whole because there wasn’t a salty aspect; a stronger sharper cheese might have helped.Two huge juicy mushrooms made this dish rather quite filling.Melted cheese, oozing egg yolk and dripping hollandaise, it looked like a very sexy breakfast.EQ juice orange, apple and passionfruit. I really enjoyed this juice combination and it is apparently a popular juice choice.I couldn’t help but grab something from the EQ bakehouse  as a takeaway.Do you want a juice to go? EQ Bakehouse has you covered!So many options!I really liked the creme brulee tart ($6.00) even when the top wasn’t hard.Home-made sausage rolls ($5.00). I was drawn to the size of their sausage rolls but I have to say that didn’t enjoy this sausage roll at all. The smell was rather potent of lamb(?) and it just had a really odd taste that I couldn’t put my finger on. Has anyone else tried it?I could not believe how attentive and fast the service was, it really impressed me. I also really liked how they have a sit down and enjoy type of menu at the cafe and an ‘on the go’ type of food from the bakehouse side and both sides had loads of variety. Now I know I have another option to get not OTT (in price and sugar) cakes and tarts in the south side.Venue: EQ Cafe and Lounge

Address: Equinox Business Park ,70 Kent Street, Deakin, 2600

Phone: (02) 6161 1666

Opening hours:

Monday – Thursday 7:00am – 4.30pm
Friday 7:00am – till late
Saturday 7:00am – 2pm

 

Vanilla slice from Erindale Cakery Bakery 

We were hungry and looking for a sweet snack when we found ourselves at the Erindale shops and I remembered that a few months ago when RiotACT were looking for the ‘best vanilla slice in Canberra’, Erindale Cakery Bakery was mentioned. I looked at their cabinets and they were filled with old school ‘Australian’ bakery treats; everything from meringues to caramel tarts to lamingtons (oh how I miss lamingtons!) and of course vanilla slices. I loved the variety of sweets and treats they had and a bonus was that everything was reasonably priced.

Now back to the real reason why I was there: vanilla slice! There were two types, one with good ol’ passionfruit icing and the other was the ‘French’ version which is the one that I bought ($4.40??). I really liked how the pastry was easy to cut through with a fork and kept its integrity as I slow it ate it, bite by bite. I didn’t think it was overly sweet which was nice and I really liked the pastry. The custard could have tasted a little better but it was still okay and it had a great creamy thick texture.

I will sure to be back and buy more old school treats which takes me back to my primary school days.When was the last time you had a bite of a vanilla slice where it didn’t crumble/break/squirt out the sides? Never? Same here but check out my first forkful of the French vanilla slice from Erindale Cakery Bakery.When was the last time you had a delicious bakery treat and where was it from?

Venue: Erindale Cakery Bakery

Address: Erindale Shopping Centre, 68 Comrie St, Wanniassa ACT 2093

Phone: (02) 6231 2510

Opening hours:

Monday -Friday 7:00am – 20:00pm

Saturday – Sunday 7:00am – 18:00pm

The Fish Can re-post

* I just saw a more recent photo of their menu board and prices went up a little but all individual baos are still under $5.00

I’m re-writing this post with a bit more detail after I rushed to blog the original post within the hour that The Fish Can finally opened their doors.
The Fish Can has only been opened for two weeks but have had many positive reviews from people in Canberra who have been craving a good bao at a decent price. The first thing you need to know is the menu so here it is:I love how there are a combination of things including sweet and savoury and everything is under 5 bucks! They had another menu on the other side which is more of a ‘fish and chip’ side but today I’m concentrating on the more important issue: BAOS! But here it is just in case you were curious.  *photo from a friend who doesn’t want to be named.

The thing you need to know before you start to wonder why I only tried three baos is that this is what I saw when I got to Westside that day (see photo below). My heart sank and I headed to Miss Van’s to drown my sorrows in a bowl of pho (and I also may or may not have had a banh mi). While I was slurping away, I looked up from my bowl and noticed that The Fish Can had just opened their doors (so to speak) and I almost immediately dropped my chop sticks. So this was my second lunch and yes I am now a Hobbit.
Porkster braised free-range Murray Valley gilt belly, served with crushed Szechuan peanuts, house relish and cilantro (left $4.10). I was a bit disappointed at the size of the filling to bun ratio but I’m hoping that it was because it one of the first few baos served and they improve with some feed back. The pork itself was tender but it needs some sort of sauce so it isn’t just some dry ingredients in a bun. I would love to see a sliced pork belly with kewpie mayo and some lettuce (like Ippudo).

Not so Crab tempura soft-shell crab, lemon, cabbage slaw, Szechuan aioli and crushed peanuts (right $4.60). More filling, more exciting and more colourful. This was definitely my preference out of the two, the crab was crispy and so was the slaw, there was a nice aioli in there and there was flavour in every bite.
A close up of the ‘porkster’: delicious layers of fat and meat but I didn’t like the pickle so I picked it off. The thick short cut means that you don’t get some meat with every bite and there isn’t much else in the bun, it needs a little extra something…Lots of contrasting crunchy textures with the soft bao.Mars bao handmade bao with Mars bar core ($2.90). I didn’t expect a closed bao but if you think about it, a melted chocolate bar had to stay contained somehow. It might not look appetising but it definitely hit the sweet spot. You could taste the caramel, chocolate and nougat despite it being all melted, I just wish the bao itself had a tad bit more sweetness to it. My first preference was the sweet bao fries but they weren’t available that day, they will definitely be popular with the Asian crowd having been served with condensed milk.My friend tried the Chican bao all natural fried chicken breast, Szechuan aioli, crushed peanuts and cilantro ($4.10). He really really enjoyed it and went back a few days after and ordered more. The chicken looked really moist and the fillings were more generous, I wish I ordered this one too. Next time! Look at that juicy chicken patty. *drool*The savoury baos themselves were soft but could have been served a little warmer than they were, but then again it could have been a ‘we just opened and sorting out the kinks’ situation. In any case I am still super keen to head back, eventually try one of everything and get my hands on some sweet bao fries! The people serving inside were super friendly and the wait wasn’t long at all.

Are you ready to get your bao on?

Venue: The Fish Can (Next to The One)

Address: Westside Acton Park, 3 Barrine Drive, Acton, ACT 2601

Opening hours: **updated apparently they are not opened Thursday any more?**

Friday – Saturday 11:30am- 9:00pm

Sunday 11:30am – 4:00pm
The Fish Can Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Locale

Michelle from HerCanberra Food & Drink and I met up after my big Europe trip and before she left for her big America trip; we were overdue for a massive catch up. She asked where I wanted to eat and out of the blue I suggested we try Locale in Deakin. Being a Tuesday night for only two people, I figured we could get away without booking but that wasn’t the case as the place was packed and the remaining tables were reserved. We could have sat inside at the bar for just over an hour or outside without a time limit (or heating), but knowing that I was a slow eater, it was logical that we chose the outdoor seating and they gave us a blanket to keep warm.

Between being indecisive and wanting to try everything, Michelle suggested we get a starter to share, two pastas that we really liked the sound of, one pizza because everyone was ordering pizza and we wanted to see how good it was (plus we could always take away what we don’t finish) and then share one dessert if we could fit it in. My eyes lit up, it sounds like a lot of food for two people but I finished everything on my half while Michelle took her half of the pizza home.Starters~

Arancini porcini mushroom, taleggio, truffle oil ($18.00). The outside was extremely crunchy while the inside was a soft but not mushy risotto. It is a bit pricey for three arancini balls but it is really delicious.Check out the sexy cheesy interior.Pasta handmade with love~

Pappardelle alla bolognese ribbon egg pasta, slow braised veal and pork bolognese ($28.00). This was a beautiful rich bolognese with perfectly looking pasta. It is exactly everything I am looking for in pasta although I like my meat to ratio a little more even, TimmyC would love this though.Ravioli di granchio crabmeat filled ravioli, leeks, asparagus, enoki mushroom, bisque ($32.00). I get really excited when I read crab meat on a menu but I’m usually met me disappointment as I can usually feel the texture of the crab meat but not really taste it, but this dish was packed with crab/seafood flavour. I was surprised to see the generous serve of ravioli (even when paying $32.00) and I would happily order this again. As much as I love a good bolognese, I think I liked this pasta more because I love these seafood rich flavours.Wood fired pizza~ 

Specials board pork sausage, caramelised onion, gorgonzola, tomatoes, balsamic reduction ($24.00).  I really liked their pizza bases and the toppings on this pizza went perfectly with each other. The meaty sausage was complimented by the sweet caramelised onion and the gorgonzola gave it sharp salty notes. I think next time I’ll order something with cured meats for that extra hit of salt.Dessert~

Tortino al cioccolato Perugia chocolate warm pudding, salted peanut gelato, caramel sauce ($14.00). Chocolate lovers rejoice, we have found the dessert for you! I found the pudding intensely rich but when paired with the gelato it was perfectly balanced. I was unsure why there was a caramel sauce as it didn’t really need much more but maybe it is for the intense dessert die hards.  
We took one small bite at a time but we eventually finished it.
As the night went on, it got even busier inside than before. It easy to talk outside, while inside can get a bit noisy and a tight squeeze to get past tables.
There was outdoor seating with heating but I assumed those people booked unlike us.While we were eating dinner, countless people were getting take away pizzas. I love how their boxed is perforated for easy tearing into plates and therefore means even less to clean up!Despite sitting outside and away from everyone else, we were never forgotten. The service was really friendly and attentive. I would definitely come back again in a heartbeat and any know many people who would love to eat here with me.

Venue: Locale

Address: Shop 5, Deakin Shops, Deakin, ACT 2600

Phone: (02) 6162 2888

Websitewww.localepizzeria.com.au/

Opening hours: Everyday, 5pm–late