Les Bistronomes Saturday degustations

I had seen on my Facebook feed that Les Bistronomes was doing a 5 course degustation for only $50.00 per person on Saturdays and I promised my stomach that we would go. And so we went.

Complimentary bread and butter.5 course degustation ($50.00 per person)

Escargot and pork rillettes. Quintessentially French. The escargot was in an intense herb and garlic sauce, which was easy to dig out from the shell. I really enjoyed the rillettes as the pickle gave the right amount of tang with the meat and the crouton was perfectly crunchy.Escargot anyone?Beetroot and goat curd. I found this visually stunning dish simple with a great balance of flavours. The goat curd itself wasn’t really strong and I liked how they used an array of coloured beets which were subtly sweet.Alternative dish mushroom delight. TimmyC dislikes beetroot and goat dairy products, so he requested an alternative dish for his second course. This was on the saltier side but very moreish and amazing if they had to just make something on the spot.Duck breast with foie gras salad. This was a very light salad with good balance of acidity and salt. The foie gras was delicately shaved and was enjoyed by everyone including me who doesn’t usually eat it.

Pork with nectarine. I was expecting a big piece of meat but the slices of pork were very tender and succulent. I did find the other edges of my portion were fatty and inedible but not everyone had that. The dressing was on the sweeter side but it paired nicely with the meat.

Crème brûlée. It is always a grand theatrical conversation stopper when Les Bistronomes serve up their crème brûlée complete with flames. The custard itself is cold but very smooth and silky. It is a generous serve to say the least, especially when you’re finishing off a degustation, but I managed to squeeze it all in *pats belly*.One just for me? I wasn’t feeling full at this point but I had a feeling I was about to be after this course.Over the 5 courses, it covered an array of meats and flavours while not being was overly heavy. The degustation is a steal for $50 bucks especially when the crème brûlée alone is usually $16.00.

Venue: Les Bistronomes

Degustation details: Saturdays, 5 courses for $50.00, bookings recommended

Phone(02) 6248 8119

Dimmi: yes, you can book through the app and earn points.

Cholo’s Peruvian Restaurant

**AIYA! I thought I hit post on this before I left for Asia, wah so late already!**

I haven’t eaten Peruvian food before and all I know about it is that they have guinea pig on the menu over there but that is not what I was particularly hoping for when I went to Cholo’s Peruvian restaurant in Dickson (there was no guinea pig on the menu phew).

I love their brightly coloured place mats and interesting ‘Inca Kola’ bottles that have been reused as water bottles.

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Chicha Morada Peruvian purple corn drink ($4.00). This wasn’t overly sweet and had an aftertaste of bubble gum but not so strong that I wouldn’t finish the glass. YUM and very interesting!

Entrees~

Empanadas ($12.50).

The filling wasn’t dry but a bit crumbly when we tried to cut it up to share. I’m a huge huge fan of the accompanying green sauce (be careful it has a bit of a kick to it)!

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Tequenos ($8.50). A smaller version of the empanadas with a different pastry. I think I prefer these if sharing with a bigger group, although it doesn’t have that wonderful green sauce (yes I liked it THAT much!).

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Ceviche diced Ocean Perch delicately spiced and cured in lime juice served with Spanish onion, celery and coriander, served cold ($19.50). There was only one of these left of the night so we quickly ordered this while we were figuring out which mains to order. I didn’t really read the description, so I was quite surprised when I discovered it was a cold dish. There was lots of lime juice and coriander flavours. People either loved it or had enough after one piece. I found it very interesting and slightly addictive as I kept going back for more.

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Mains~

Pollo a la Brasa 1/2 succulent, roasted Peruvian style char-coaled chicken  served with papas, fresh green salad and chili sauce ($25.00). This was a really moist char-coaled chicken with a really great seasoning on the skin. I thought the side of chips was a bit weird unless they eat a lot of chips in Peru?

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Carapulcra slow cooked spicy Papa seca (sundried potato) and pork pieces served with rice and sarsa criolla ($26.50). This had nice pork stewed flavours but I preferred the roast chicken.

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Crunchy cassava chips.

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Lomo Saltado beef stir fry with Spanish onion, tomato and coriander tossed through crispy potato fries served with rice ($28.50). I didn’t think there was anything special about this dish and the beef wasn’t particularly tender either.

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Locro de Zapallo potato and pumpkin casserole served with rice ($24.00). I liked this dish even though it seemed very mushy in texture. I would order this over the beef stir fry next time.

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Desserts~
Everyone was too full for dessert but I convinced a friend to get a little something with me and somehow ended up ordering two desserts. 
Pastry horn filled with dulce de leche ($4.00). The pastry was very stale so I just focused my fork in the centre, as delicious as it was, it was very intensely sweet (like eating ‘caramel from a can’ kind of intense).

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Torta Tres Leches sponge cake, smothered in 3 different milky creams. A taste you won’t resist ($12.50). I really liked this cake. The sponge was incredibly ‘light’ feeling and despite being soaked in syrups, I didn’t feel like the dessert was sickly sweet. It might seem a little pricey for a dessert but if money isn’t an issue, this is worth trying.

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Cholo’s has a friendly atmosphere and this Peruvian menu has plenty of new and interesting things to try. Get the roast chicken, it isn’t too ‘out there’ if you’re not adventurous and it is really well made. The entrees that we had were really nice and I would probably order the pork and the potato pumpkin casserole again. There was a dulce de leche that I was dying to try but they had sold out and I was so disappointed, please take a photo if you happen to order this!

Venue: Cholo’s Restaurant

Address: Shop 68, 12 Challis Street, Dickson, ACT 2602

Phone: (02) 6248 86483

Cholo's Peruvian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Lunch at Ellacure

I really love Ellacure and for a special friend’s birthday who never usually celebrates her birthday, I wanted to take her somewhere very nice. Parking is very easy during the weekday for lunch and we were greeted by friendly service as usual.

Entrees~ Zucchini flowers stuffed with three types of cheese in a light tempura batter (entree special $18.00). Despite being covered in batter and being flash fried, it wasn’t oily at all and you could really taste all the different cheeses. image

Prosciutto wrapped scallops, sauce vierge, balsamic ($18.00). The refreshing vierge balanced out the saltiness of the scallop and pruscuitto. A perfect little mouthful. image

Mains~ Braised lamb presse, green lentils, parsnip puree, gremolata ($30.00). The lamb was so incredibly tender and there were so many lovely spices and wonderful flavours in this dish. image

Lemon ricotta gnocchi, asparagus, peas, grana padano ($25.00). I’ve never had pan seared gnocchi and all the lemony flavours were so refreshing.

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Chicken, pancetta, sage, mushroom and lemon risotto ($24.00). Al beit well executed, it was the least exciting dish on the table.

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Veal fillet, prosciutto, lemon gorgonzola mash, sage, garlic jus ($32.00). The veal took a back seat to the amazing gorgonzola mash and the garlic jus. YUM!

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This was the first time I’ve had lunch here, it is much more relaxed than the hustle and bustle of the dinner service but I would love to come back for breakfast. You wouldn’t have thought that such a special gem would be hidden in Bruce, if you haven’t been, I’d suggest you go.

Seasalt dining

I had first heard of Seasalt dining when was first added to the Entertainment book (2013/2014) and I was super excited because it was supposed to specialise in steak and seafood-  these are a few of my favourite things .

Since then, I had been to Seasalt dining once before and I thought that maybe because I chose a pasta was why I was disappointed. I was told by other people that the seafood platter was good, so I remained optimistic and took a friend out to Bruce to try Seasalt dining’s seafood platter for two.

Garlic bread ($4.20) not included in the platter.

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Seasalt Seafood platter for two Chef’s selection of grilled fish, Thai fish cakes, Cajun calamari, Kilpatrick oysters, seared scallops and prawns served with salad and chips ($59.80).

Kilpatrick oysters – the oyster’s natural flavours were overwhelmed by the Worcestershire sauce and I think it would have been better if they were left under the grill a little longer.

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They chips were served hot and one of the best things of the night and that can’t be good.

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Seared scallops and Cajun calamari– The scallops were rather nice with a good sear served with a bit of sweet jam (?) but too bad that they were served barely luke warm, actually nothing was particularly hot. How long was the food sitting around before it was served to us when there was next to no one in the restaurant? The Cajun calamari was one of the most disgusting calamari that I’ve ever eaten, the batter had a weird taste to it and the texture itself was chewy and hard to bite.

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Grilled fish – I was surprised that there was only one fillet to share between two people. The fish wasn’t too bad, just barely seasoned but very light and not oily.

Thai fish cakes – the most blandest, pale ‘supposed Thai fish cakes’ that I’ve ever eaten.

Prawns – drenched in overwhelming garlic creamy sauce.

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Home-made sticky date pudding with vanilla ice cream ($11.80). The best thing of the night, a warm well made pudding with a very rich butterscotch sauce. I’m glad that the night ended on a good note.

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Despite the service’s attentive friendly nature, the food was sub par and some parts were completely inedible. I’ve been here twice to try a variety of things and I would not come back or recommend this restaurant.

Venue: Seasalt Dining

Address: 85/15 Braybrooke St Bruce ACT 2617

Phone: (02) 6162 1617

Entertainment book: Yes, it’s in the book!

Seasalt Dining on Urbanspoon

Barbeque Nation

I’m always up for trying new places, even if one of my favourite Indian restaurants was across the road, I was ready to give BBQ Nation in Erindale a chance. I was surprised to see it was run by the people who used to run a small Indian takeaway in Kambah village, ‘Treats of India‘.

I was disappointed that with a name like ‘barbeque nation’ that it was just a typical Indian restaurant with no extra ‘BBQed’ menu items.

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A clean set up with easy access parking.

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Mango lassi ($5.00). A lovely smooth lassi that wasn’t overly sweet. 

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Patti samosa (2pcs mild) tasty deep fried triangular pastries filled with spiced lamb served with tamarind sauce ($7.00). A moist filling with a crispy pastry that went really well with the tamarind sauce.

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Chicken lollipops (med/hot) spicy chicken wings ($9.90). These weren’t spicy at all but I don’t know if that is because we asked for all the curries to be mild/medium. They tasted like tandoori chicken, nothing too special here even if I love chicken wings.

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Butter chicken (mild) boneless chicken pieces simmered in a makhani sauce ($16.50). A creamy butter chicken sauce but it is no where near as good as Punjabi Hut.

Aloo gobhi (med/hot) cauliflower and potatoes stir fry with cumin seeds, ginger and garlic paste. Season with selected north Indian spices ($15.50). I was quite surprised with this dish. Even  though it is more of a stir fry than a curry with sauce, it was one of my favourite dishes.

Palak paneer (mild) home made cheese with fresh English spinach ($15.50). I couldn’t really taste the paneer in this dish so it felt very bland.

Beef Korma a mild preparation of ground roasted cashew nuts, hint of spices and fresh cream ($16.90). Not the best korma that I’ve had, it wasn’t particularly flavoursome.

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Naan – cheese ($4.00) and garlic ($3.50). Served nice and hot, they weren’t stingy with the cheese or garlic which was nice.

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Although the service was attentive and the food was served fast, overall the food was very mediocre and I don’t think I would come back here.

Venue: BBQ Nation

Address: 4/33, Gartside Street, Erindale, Wanniassa, ACT 2903

Phone: (02) 6296 6608

Websitehttp://www.barbequenation.com.au/

Opening hours: Dinner only

Monday – Sunday: 5pm – 10pm

Barbeque Nation Indian Grill on Urbanspoon

Crossing over

I’ve been using Tumblr for the past two years developing my food blog, besides yelling at it to share to my Facebook page better and having no real way to reply to comments and questions, it has been a good run. Thank you to all my Tumblr fans out there.

I’m looking forward to using WordPress, although it’s a completely new look both at the user and writer’s end. I hope it will be easier to navigate between all my food adventures and recipes. Looking forward to going on foodie adventures with you all.

from the Bean to Bar to your mouth

People say that they love chocolate, but I believe that the people who truly love chocolate are the people who lovingly prepare the simple cocoa bean to make chocolate – the chocolate makers (not to be mistaken for chocolatiers).

The ‘bean to bar’ movement means that chocolate makers control the chocolate making process from the cocoa bean all the way to the bar, creating a better chocolate that preserves the beans’ distinctive flavours and allows for sourcing beans from sustainable productions which provide better financial stead for the farmers by avoiding the middle men.

For you and I, the mere humble consumers of chocolate, to obtain some we just go to the shops but before it is lovingly wrapped in its packaging, there is a long laborious process involving roasting, cracking, winnowing, stone grinding, conching and tempering (see videos of the process here). That is just the gist of it without taking into account of all the research to source the right co-op who provide good training to their associated farmers so they can produce better sustainable organically grown cocoa beans (for higher wages) and who could forget, getting these beans through customs!

Now because cocoa beans can be sourced from all around the world, they would all differ slightly in the production process depending on the acidity levels and other factors. Coming from a Science background, I can appreciate the finicky process of optimising the roasting temperature and time for each single origin.

The ‘bean to bar’ movement has taken the US by storm and we are only now slowly feeling the ripples here down under with several ‘bean to bar’ movements being established in Australia. I was lucky enough to taste the efforts of such chocolate from the wonderful people at Matale Chocolate based in Melbourne.

I don’t often open two bars of chocolate at one time but for a direct comparison between the two products, a blogger’s gotta do what a bloggers gotta do. image I was really surprised at the colour difference and after tasting them, I was even more impressed with the flavour difference between the two. Who knew that a slight cocoa percentage change and origin of the bean made such a big difference.

I believe that the ‘thin’ bar mould helps with texture and maximises taste, both chocolate bars were very smooth and a delight to the senses. With no ‘rows’ set into the chocolate, I let fate (and strength) determine how much chocolate I get at a time, but this does allow for uneven sharing (stop bogarting the chocolate Timmy image).

72% Cocoa Malekula Plantation Vanuatu (2013 harvest). Most people’s aversion to dark chocolate is the bitter after taste that coats the tongue but I was pleasantly surprised that this is not the case with this bar of chocolate despite its very rich dark colour. It has a very full bodied flavour of cocoa but followed by a ‘light’ after taste, this would make it very easy to finish off a whole bar of dark chocolate (if you couldn’t do that already).

TimmyC’s pick of the bunch and he doesn’t usually eat dark chocolate, I had to tell him to stop munching on it so I could take photos.

68% Cocoa Somia Plantation Madagascar (2013 harvest). Even with the smallest bites (if you can restrain yourself) you can tastes the unexpected fruity undertones along with the intense richness of the dark chocolate which makes this chocolate very unique.

My pick of the bunch because it is so different to anything that I’ve ever tasted.

Being dairy, nut and gluten free and sourcing organically grown beans means that Matale chocolate make it accessible for everyone to enjoy ethically produced quality chocolate made here in Australia. So next time you get a craving for chocolate, go for the good stuff, you and your taste buds deserve it.

Thank you Thibault and Eloi for your amazing product and educating me on the delicious benefits of ethical chocolate. I was given these chocolates as a gift and to provide honest opinions (good or bad) and really highlight the points of the ‘bean to bar’ movement but I wouldn’t hesitate to promote this conscientious brand and I’m looking forward to trying more of their other chocolate range from Canberra stockists.

Venue: Matale Chocolate – Melbourne

Address: 22A Plateau Road, Reservoir, Melbourne Victoria 3073

Websitehttp://www.matalechocolate.com/

Canberra stockists:

Go Vita – Jamison

Mountain Creek Wholefoods – Griffith

Wiffens – Fyshwick markets

Ricardo’s Cafe

I knew the Jamison shops way before it was ever refurbished, before they had an Aldi or FSW and even before the Commonwealth bank closed (I’m now awaiting for the Asian grocery store to open). It figures that after I move away from Aranda, Jamison now becomes a bustling hot spot for the locals wanting a coffee, something from the supermarket or a delicious breakfast/lunch from Ricardo’s cafe. I had been here before but I wasn’t to overly impressed with their sweets, they look a lot prettier than they taste.

I was here during a lunch birthday celebration for a dear friend of mine and I wasn’t planning on blogging but when we all started ordering fabulous (looking) desserts and dishes, my camera instinctively came out. image

It was a struggle and a half try to get to our table that we had already booked in advance, there were people EVERYWHERE. People young and old, hipsters and pensioners, all gathered to eat where apparently prams and strollers are mandatory. Needless to say, it was very busy.

Portuguese tart ($5.00?). Seeing how busy it was, I thought I’d start by getting something I could eat straight away without waiting. It was okay but TimmyC thought it was the bee’s knees.

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Red skin macaron ($2.50). Despite looking all wonky shaped, the taste was pretty accurate.

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Choux pastry swan – very clever design and execution, I had bought one of these before but wasn’t too overly impressed.

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Pancakes souffle pancakes, bananas, bacon infused maple syrup and vanilla bean mascarpone cheese ($14.90). When I go out for breakfast/brunch I’m always on the look out for unique items on the menu, don’t get me wrong, I love my bacon and eggs/pancakes/banana bread/granola but I’m looking for something that plays on the creative side from the kitchen on a good ol’ breakfast classic and this is it (although this is not my dish, I made sure I had access to it). I avoided the bananas and couldn’t really taste the ‘bacon’ element in the syrup but that didn’t matter because the souffle pancakes topped with vanilla bean mascarpone cheese was soooo good!

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OMG! It’s so fluffy!

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Smoked salmon fritters corn and zucchini fritters stacked with smoked salmon and avocado, cherry tomatoes and sour cream ($17.90). These were fantastic, I always have a fear that fritters would be dry and limp but they were well made and topped perfectly with salmon and sour cream.

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Pork belly salad part of the specials board. Oh I wish I saw the specials board before I ordered, but someone on the table did. YUM!

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Wagyu truffle sliders white truffle Wagyu beef, red wine, caramelised onions, truffle aioli, gruyere cheese and parmesan truffle fries ($18.90). The bun seemed a bit brioche-y but that didn’t matter when everything tasted so good. By the time I got to the third slider, because of my slow eating habits and talking to everyone, was very cold but if you’re not a slow eater, this won’t be a problem for you. I was really surprised that the fries actually tasted like parmesan truffle fries! Two thumbs up for this!

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Macarons – not exactly uniform in size but across the board the flavours were very good (not the best in Canberra but pretty good for ‘made in house’ at a cafe).

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I can see why Ricardo’s is so busy –  lots of good menu options; there is some method to their chaotic madness and the wait for food wasn’t too long and nothing was crazily over priced (well maybe that Portuguese tart). I would come here again but I would like to try more of their menu despite having found multiple things that I would love to eat again.

Venue: Ricardo’s cafe

Address: Jamison Plaza Bowman Street Macquarie, ACT 2614

Phone: (02) 6251 2666

Websitehttp://ricardoscafe.com/

Ricardo’S Cafe on Urbanspoon

The Conservatory Restaurant @ the Aboretum

I had been asked by some readers and friends to go check out the food at the National Arboretum Canberra. I had heard mixed reviews that the food was somewhere between mediocre and terrible, which I thought was odd knowing that the catering was done by Chef Janet Jeffs and the people at Ginger Catering. What I later found out was that there is a cafe AND restaurant up there (both were run by Ginger Catering), so which one had people been going to? 

I usually plan my restaurant outings like doctors’ appointments- I book a few days in advance and be a little lenient when I can’t get my first time slot preference, but on a lazy Saturday morning I seized  an open opportunity in my schedule and decided- today is the day I’m eating at the Conservatory Restaurant at the Arboretum. Not long after, I was promptly turned down as they said they were booked out, I quickly ran through some alternative venues to have a last minute lunch in my head and then I irrationally thought to myself, ‘no, I don’t believe they could be booked out!’ (keep in mind I hadn’t eaten breakfast during my delusional state of mind). I asked TimmyC to book this time, thinking that somehow his unenthusiastic tone was going to make a difference. He got someone else on the phone (20 minutes between calls) and he asked if he could book a table of four for lunch later that day. There was silence; I waited with baited breath… “Sure that will be fine, you can have 1pm or 1:30pm”. “1:30pm would be great” TimmyC excitedly replied while I was left making WTF faces at him looking very puzzled. I tried to just be happy that we had got a booking rather than dwell on the unusual events that had just occurred and off to the Arboretum we went.

I had never driven that way before but I was assured that I would see a huge spaceship like building and to avoid the mini Opera house. As we drove up Forrest Drive, sure enough there it was- the Mother ship. 

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I walked in and scanned the room, I was lost. I didn’t see anything that resembled a restaurant anywhere. We poked our head outside, nope that was towards the bonsai exhibition. ‘Where was it?’ I thought to myself. We finally found the Conservatory restaurant tucked to the side near the Village centre deck, right next to the Bean Sprout Cafe.

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Complimentary warmed bread and olives.

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Jewel box sushia selection from Eli Choi master sushi maker ($25.00). There wasn’t much in way of entrees so my friend and I shared this sushi platter. Nothing too impressive or traditional here, it was a mix of Westernised sushi and to me what seemed like hors d’oeuvres mashed together with some rice which looked very out of place on the platter. I wouldn’t bother ordering this especially when you get complimentary bread.

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Sides~

Thick chips with parmesan crumbs and rosemary salt ($10.00). Probably considered expensive in the way of chips but they were made very well, served hot and crunchy.

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Mains~

Confit duck legs with pomegranate and mandarin ($32.00). Crispy skin duck with tender meat.image

Saffron ravioli and caramelised root vegetables, rosemary and garlic ($29.00). I didn’t see any caramelised root vegetables, just a whole lotta carrot. Nothing too fabulous but my friend really enjoyed his meal.

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Boxgum Grazing beef ragu with hand cut pappardelle ($29.00). I peer pressured TimmyC into getting this dish as this was my second choice for a main and what’s the point in taking your partner if you can’t force him to get what you want to eat so you can have the best of both worlds? image I am a big BIG fan of Box Grazing, the beef was so tender in a very rich ragu. I love my parmesan cheese but I thought this was an odd way to serve your pasta (with a huge side of cheese plonked on the side). I prefer my parmesan to be more sharp and salty, this didn’t have as much flavour as I’m used to eating.

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Beef porterhouse grass fed, tarragon mushrooms and marchand de vin sauce ($32.00). I found the sauce to be a bit too much and salty but it didn’t matter if you didn’t smother each bite sized portion of steak in the sauce. This was a very tender and very flavoursome meat which probably didn’t need an OTT sauce.

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Complimentary truffles~

Vanilla marshmallow and chocolate truffles. I’m not usually a fan of marshmallows but I really liked this one. The chocolate truffle had a hard chocolate encasing a very rich chocolate ganache.

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Dessert~

Vanilla and almond crème brûlée and amaretto biscotti ($15.00)A very velvety smooth vanillery brûlée with a hard toffee hat, just like a perfect brûlée should have.

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Chocolate mousse dessert special ($12.00). I forgot to take a photo of the menu so excuse the description. A very OTT chocolate dessert with an airy light texture.

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Banana bavarois dessert special ($12.00). I forgot to take a photo of the menu so excuse the description. I expected a softer non frozen hard texture but we had to chisel away at this dense, frozen dessert.

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Cheesecake fromage frais with blackberry granita ($15.00). I was a big fan of this cheesecake as it tasted like a Japanese cheesecake which is one of my favourite desserts. The base was like a hard vanilla shortbread which was hard to cut through and the granita was better when it had semi melted as it got rid of the harsh icy chunks in the texture.

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When I rang my friends telling them that we were going to the Arboretum for lunch, I could hear the unenthusiastic tone in their voice but I assured them we were going to the restaurant side not the cafe side where they had been disappointed with the food before. After the meal, they were much more impressed with the food at the Arboretum.

The service was attentive and polite and we didn’t feel rushed towards the end even while being the only table left during lunch service. I’ll admit, the food wasn’t as marvellous as when they were running the Ginger Room at Old Parliament House but it was better than a lot of restaurants. The prices can be seen as rather quite high but I suspect that is because of the breathtaking views that you get while enjoying your meal. The centrepoint tower in Sydney doesn’t have the best meals nor the cheapest prices but people keep going for the view.

Even though it is the same catering company between the cafe and the restaurant, the menu and calibre of food is very different. I would much prefer to pay a bit more (well in this case, the price difference is much more) for assigned seating (I hear fighting for a seat on the cafe side can be quite a feat), table service, the different menu and the more relaxed sparse space between tables. They could easily fit a lot more tables in the restaurant although I feel they are trying to keep the area more intimate.

Venue: The Conservatory Restaurant

AddressNational Arboretum Canberra, ACT

Phone: (02) 6130 0173

Conservatory Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Jade Dumpling Noodle House

When I went to the Jade Dumpling Noodle House, it was so new that the grand opening flowers had only just started wilt. I was excited at the promise of delicious dumplings and noodles in Canberra, fingers crossed!

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They have an ordering system that you would sometimes find at yum cha places where you just write how many of each dish that you would like. Trying not to go too crazy, I grabbed the pen and started marking numbers against everything that I wanted to try without taking much notice of how many people were there to eat with me. image I’m sure I didn’t order too much. imageimage

Spicy wontons vegetable and pork wonton dipped in a spicy sauce, peanut butter and chili sauce (10pcs $10.80). All the heat comes from the sauce so I was careful not to smother it in. A lovely dumpling but I couldn’t taste any peanut butter in the sauce, which is probably a good thing because I think it would have ruined it.

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Radish cake deep fried pastry filled with radish, dried shrimp and shallot (4pcs $8.80). I didn’t read the description and what I was expecting was a square prisms not these spheres. The pastry was nice and flaky but it left the filling to be a bit too mushy.

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Peking duck served with 6pcs of Chinese pancake, second course stir fried with handmade noodle (2 course $36.00).The noodles were a bit salty but what annoyed me the most was playing ‘find the duck’ amongst the noodles.

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Finally found one!

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The duck pancakes were a bit meh, nothing too spectacular here.

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Jade Xiao long baosteam mini pork bun (6pcs $8.40). The best xiao long bao in Canberra (but it has nothing on Din Tai Fung). Dumpling etiquette requires you to delicately pick up the dumpling and dip it in soy sauce or Chinese vinegar (the more acceptable option) and it eat it in one bite (don’t burn your mouth though). What you should get, unlike most places in Canberra, is a ‘soup’ that has developed during the steaming of the dumpling with all the meaty juices, so be careful not to break it open while picking it up.

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Pork dumpling pan fried pork dumpling (6pcs $8.40). I wish the bottom was more crispy.

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Pork and chive dumpling (steamed 10pcs $11.50). Not a fan of these at all, I felt that the wrapper was too thick and didn’t have a good wrapper to filling ratio. I didn’t want to waste them so I ended up dipping the nude filling in a bit of soy sauce.

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Pork bun pan fried pork bun (6pcs $8.80). This is not what I expected at all, it should have been an actual fluffy bun (think BBQ pork bun) with a pan fried bottom. Instead this was just a pork dumpling with a wrapper that was way too thick to be pleasant.

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Szechuan eggplant ($15.80) braised eggplant with minced pork. I’m a big fan of this dish so I wanted to see their take on it. It is usually very oily but this wasn’t and it was so delicious. image

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Jade fried rice House Special fried rice ($11.80). I didn’t really taste much in this dish as I mainly used it as a sauce sponge for all the eggplant I was eating.

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Peking pork ribs deep fried pork ribs with peking sauce ($16.80). I was hoping for something along the lines of hot rock salt but this was really just sweet and sour deep fried pork.

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Kung po chicken stir fried chicken with Kung po sauce ($15.80). Wow, I was amazed at how incredibly tender the chicken was and even though I avoided the dry chilies I was still expecting a spicy kick to it but it didn’t have any.

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We started with the first dish when it arrived but not long after taking a quick snap shot of it, one dish after another just kept on coming like an avalanche and I couldn’t keep up. I’m hoping that the dumplings will get better, I hear that they hired a chef from Hong Kong especially when they were opening this restaurant.

It is better than your average local Chinese take away.

Venue: Jade Dumpling noodle house

Address: Shop B Gungahlin Place West, Gungahlin ACT 2912

Phone: (02) 6262 2918

Jade dumpling noodle house on Urbanspoon

Sage taste test

I hadn’t been very enthusiastic about publishing (or writing) this blog post but since Sage has finally completed their 5 week taste testing and are launching their new menu, I thought I’d better get around to it. image

I received a sms (ages ago), it read that Sage was having a 5 course degustation tasting menu for $60.00 per person. I was super excited to trial their taste test and grabbed three friends and headed there for a late night Thursday dinner.

They gave us each a stamped score card on the butcher’s paper table cloth, I thought it was super cute idea and also found it very handy to keep notes but this also meant that I got to find out what everyone else thought of the same dish.

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Complimentary bread and butter.

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Course #1artichoke soup served with an artichoke crisp. So airy and light in texture yet there was so much flavour. This was a really good start to the night, I couldn’t wait to see what was coming next!

score: 9/10

J: 8/10

T: 9/10

T: 8.5/10

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There was a bit of a wait between these courses, I was starting to think that they forgot about us and there weren’t that many people left when we were having dinner (with an 8:30pm start).

Course #2Braised oxtail, olive snow, artichoke, rosemary with a parsley blob. The braised oxtail was very tender but when eaten by itself I found it a little dry and it needed the vegetables or the olive snow. I’m not the biggest fan of strong salty olives so I found the tapenade a bit too much.

score: 7/10

J: 7/10

T: 7.5/10

T: 6.5/10

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Course #3Non seafood option: pumpkin ravioli with sage. The classic pairing of pumpkin and sage, you can’t go wrong.

J: 9/10

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Murray cod, leek, asparagus, kipfler potatoes. I thought the kipfler potatoes were cooked to perfection, crispy yet tender in the centre but all it lacked was seasoning, I was surprised it didn’t have any salt on it. I didn’t mind the fish but if you’re going to pan fry it, I prefer the skin to be (at a minimum) little crispy.

score: 6/10

T: 6/10

T: 5/10

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Course #4 – Roasted duck breast with foie gras, Heirloom carrots, celeric and green apple salad with hazelnuts. With the right person, this dish would probably be perfect, but for me, I’m not a fan of foie gras and I’m very picky with my duck.

The duck skin was not crisp at all and was almost rubbery to cut. I did enjoy the salad though as I found all the crisp and sweet textures refreshing to the disappointing duck and I’m always a fan of Sage’s superb purees. I gave this a score of 4 not because I don’t like foie gras, but I felt that this dish didn’t hold it’s own when I omitted one element and that major component of the dish were not executed well.

score: 4/10

J: 5/10

T: 6/10

T: 7.5/10

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Course #5 – Yoghurt bavois, oat biscuit, ginger ale jelly, rhubarb compote, pepper honey and almond ice creamThis was so disappointing and that was represented by the score. Where to start? The almond ice-cream wasn’t to my liking and it tasted very much like a strong marzipan. The rhubarb compote was overwhelming so I could not taste the ginger ale jelly or the bavois unless I ate it on its own (and even then the jelly flavours were very faint).

My favourite aspect of the dessert was the oat biscuit and that can’t be good.

score: 4/10

J: 8/10

T: 7.5/10

T: 5.25/10

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Numbers were dwindling as I went down the score card. It will be interesting to see what made the cut and what didn’t when Sage releases it’s Spring menu this Thursday. I hope the soup made it on there!

Love the blog! Are you going to the Malaysian High Commission this Sunday for their food and cultural festival? :)

Aww thanks! 😀

I’ve been trying to make it to most of the ‘Windows to the World‘ that has been happening, unfortunately I didn’t make it for pancakes with Canadian maple syrup or the Haangi with the New Zealanders but I did go to the Thai (along with everyone else in Canberra) and also checked out Saudi Arabia with their dates, vegetarian pizza and exotic Arabic coffee.

I have plans this weekend so I probably won’t be able to go to the Belgium one (10am – 4pm) tomorrow which will show off their waffles, beer and mussels, but I hope to make it to Malaysian one (9:30am – 5pm) on the Sunday! If you go, I would love to see photos!