I love Two Before Ten in Aranda, and was excited to hear they’ve taken over the space that was occupied by 79 & Fine in the city. The decor hasn’t changed much, but the menu is certainly more expansive than its predecessor’s. I ordered a fresh juice, which unfortunately tasted awful, so the staff kindly replaced it with a bottled juice. So it was a disappointing start, but when my breakfast arrived, all was redeemed. I ordered the Brown Bear ($13) – a boiled egg with avocado and a rye muffin, with mushrooms. The plate was beautifully presented, and my egg, when opened, was cooked to perfection. The salad greens on the side added a hit of fresh, crispness that complemented the other textures nicely. Both the egg and the avocado were nicely seasoned (I do love a good smattering of pepper) and the rye muffin wasn’t too heavy, as I often find rye to be. On the other hand, it wasn’t so light as to not be filling, so the balance was just right. The mushrooms did steal the show a bit – juicy, earthy and salty, I scooped these up with no remorse. A perfect weekday breakfast in town.
Two Before Ten, 1 Hobart Place, Canberra ACT, http://www.twobeforeten.com.au/
I’d always thought of Chaco Bar as a yakitori place, and it is, but only for dinner. We went for a weekend lunch, and discovered that the lunch menu is all about the ramen. I picked the yuzu scallop ramen ($16), with one bearded Hokkaido scallop, a wanton, black mushrooms, leek, Japanese mustard greens (mizuna) and butter, plus an egg as extra ($3). I also ordered a yuzu and lychee soda ($7), which was huge, beautifully refreshing and possibly my new favourite drink ever. Now, the ramen was a first for me – I’ve only ever tried ramen with pork, miso or soy broth, but this was a seafood broth, and it was beautiful. It was lighter than the other kinds, although surprisingly rich, particularly with the butter stirred through, and the yuzu in the broth really helped balance it out. The scallop was a little bit chewy, but I’d never had a bearded one before, so that may be usual. The ramen had a perfect amount of bite, and I really liked the mustard greens, which also helped cut through the rich seafoodiness of the broth. The egg, as all ramen eggs are, was perfection, and I saved it until last (although the wanton was a close contender for best bit – soft skin, tasty insides). I will definitely be back!
Chaco Bar, 238 Crown Street, Darlinghurst NSW, http://www.chacobar.com.au/
I’d never been to the Torrens shops before, but my friend booked us in for their first high tea and I will certainly be back. We were greeted with a glass of sparkling on arrival, and then the food began to flow. One of the highlights of this high tea was the fresh serving of each savoury piece, rather than all being lumped together to go stale/cold on a tray. Classy. First up were two mini sausage rolls, pork and lamb, served with a tomato relish. The pastry was crisp and buttery, and both had great flavour. This was followed up by the ‘Caesar salad in a pastry shell’ (refreshing) and finger sandwiches, which were perfectly fresh (no stale bread here!). The savoury highlight was a haloumi, preserved lemon and mint pastry roll – I could have eaten fifty of them! So good. There was a nice break between servings, and then came dessert. The tiered tray held 3 different goodies – scones with jam and cream already applied, mini raspberry and Oreo cheesecakes and mini chocolate brownies. Small portions turned out to be essential, as both mini desserts were super tasty and rich! The scones were also lovely, and went nicely with the tea, coffee or hot chocolates we picked. For $40, this is certainly one of the best value, high quality (although casual) high teas in town.
Smogue, 2/24 Torrens Pl, Torrens ACT
Those who know me know I’m partial to a G&T, so when I heard icecream genius Mr Frugii was doing a G&T sorbet, I put it on my Canberra foodie ‘must-try’ list. That was more than 12 months ago, and I FINALLY managed to visit when it was on offer! Unlike the usual Frugii fare, this sorbet is more like a jelly version and comes in a tube kind of like an icypole for grown ups. Firstly, let me say, the flavour is excellent. Made with local The Canberra Distillery Gin, the rich juniper flavour leaves you in no doubt this is a G&T. Secondly, the texture is an absolute delight. Because it’s hand-held, it does melt a little quicker than the usual icecream or sorbet, but the slightly jelly-like smoothness keeps the sorbet together to be eaten from the tube. The portion is smaller than a standard flavour serve, but given the alcohol content, maybe that’s a good thing! I also found that by the end it was a little tricky to get out of the tube, but other than that, it exceeded my (high) expectations. Go team Frugii! Champagne sorbet is my next boozy bucket-list flavour goal!
Frugii Dessert Laboratory, 30 Lonsdale Street, Braddon ACT, http://www.frugii.com/
Chez Frederic has been getting a lot of my business lately – I’d forgotten how amazing it is, and this is no more evident than in my new favourite dish – the Aglio e olio ($12), one of the simplest, but most delicious, pasta dishes I’ve had in Canberra. There’s not too much to write here – this dish is authentic in its simplicity, with extra virgin olive oil, parsley, garlic and chilli, plus your choice of pasta, but somehow these ingredients come together in an explosion of flavour that takes me back to Italy. The pasta was cooked al dente, and the portion was huge – although I was greedy and ate most of it! There is a lot of oil, which makes the pasta nice and glossy, and the kick of chilli is lovely at the back of the throat. I can’t believe that so much flavour is extracted simply from parsley and olive oil, but there’s nothing else there to do it. Magic. I also treated myself to a side of garlic bread ($3.5), which was super garlicky and very, very yummy (useful to balance the chilli too). I’ll be back for this again soon.
Chez Frederic: 4/14 Lonsdale St, Braddon ACT, http://www.chezfrederic.com.au/
Ok, so technically it’s autumn (bummer), but luckily I have a solution to this tragic summer-ending season. It’s called #icecreamthurs – let’s eat icecream every Thursday until it’s summer again! Back in January I visited Fridays After Five at Aldinga in Adelaide’s south, and fell completely in love with Sunshine Iceblocks, one of the stallholders. Selling iceblocks, gelato and shaved ice (perfect on a 40 degree day), they use only fresh, seasonal, local ingredients, and boy does it show. I ordered a Nectarine and Orange iceblock ($4.50) and opened it up with joy – the pieces of nectarine with the skin still on were clearly visible in the iceblock. Yay! Given the heat I was worried it would melt too quickly, but it actually lasted really well, allowing me to fully enjoy the beautiful flavour. First, nectarine and orange are meant to be together. There’s sweetness, there’s citrus, there’s a bit of tartness from the skin – the overall taste is pretty much perfect, without being sugary or too sweet. Dad tried the dark Belgian chocolate gelato, which was equally delicious (although more melty) in its own way – rich, decadent and not bitter, I basically cannot wait until my next visit to try more (raspberry lemonade is top of the list for next time!).
Sunshine Iceblocks, various locations, SA http://sunshineiceblocks.com.au
Adelaide has jumped aboard the ‘rooftop bar’ bandwagon with 2KW, a sleek, sophisticated venue with stellar views across the city. Dear friends of mine treated me to lunch there, and we worked our way through the ‘Let Us Feed You’ menu ($65 pp). The first course was 2 freshhly shucked West Coast oysters each – large, plump and perfect with a drizzle of lemon. Next up was the Chacuterie plate, with proscuitto, peach, blue cheese, and greens, all coming together to create a delicate balance of flavours that was pure pleasure. The portion was generous and delicious. There was quite a long wait between courses here, but the Clare Valley chicken with achiote (a Caribbean spice) and chargrilled orange was worth the wait. Drizzling the orange juice on top, we devoured the tender meat, relishing the coriander on top and keen to find out where to get achiote from (it’s amazing!). The final dish was the Jack Creek 120 day grain-fed scotch fillet, served with chimmichurri and grilled spring onions. I was pretty full at this point, but oh man was that steak good. My only criticism was that it was served medium, without having asked us (we definitely would have gone medium-rare), but otherwise it was a delight, tender and well-matched with the accompaniments. Oh, and the side of triple-cooked salt and vinegar potatoes deserves its own blog post – to die for! Please eat some for me on your visit.
2KW Bar and Restaurant, 2 King William Street, Adelaide SA, https://www.2kwbar.com.au/