As a big fan of Fox and Bow, I was very excited to try their new store, Ivy & The Fox, at ANU. Mum and I picked a table out on the lawns in dappled sunlight. We started with drinks – I picked the El Macho, a pineapple and pear juice with lemon, cinnamon, vanilla and nopal cactus. Take the time to mix this up – on first sip, all I got was cactus, cinnamon and vanilla, but once blended with the pineapple it was a beautifully balanced juice. To eat I picked the Reuben Gonzales, with house corned silverside, pickles, mustard, swiss cheese and fries – the portion was massive! The silverside was cut very thin, which is quite different to what I would have expected, and the mustard and cheese added a lot of flavour. I appreciated the bit of salad on the side, and whilst the fries were nice, I found them a bit underdone, but I prefer mine on the crispy side. Mum loved both her Oh Darla and Road Runner. The location was second to none – with glimpses of the lake all around and just the right amount of sun and shade, I can see myself spending plenty of time here.
Ivy & The Fox, Old Canberra House, ANU, Lennox Crossing Acton, ACT, http://ivyandthefox.com/
Make way Canberra, a new venue has joined the ranks of food coma, meat sweat-inducing deliciousness. Welcome, Fillos Souvlaki! A recent addition to the Hamlet’s collective of food trucks, Fillos Souvlaki offers souvlaki as either a pita or a plate, with lamb, pork and vegetarian options. I went for the lamb pita ($12.50), and on reflection I probably should have fasted for some time prior to trying to eat it! My meal was prepared in two minutes flat – even the lady handing me the roll couldn’t believe it was ready so quickly! Inside the rather thick pita bread was a large amount of beautiful chunks of lamb, some serious chips, plenty of garlic sauce (yes!), and a nod to non-deep fried vegetables with some onion, tomato and lettuce thrown in for appearance’s sake. But we all know I’m here for the lamb. Whilst not melt-in-your-mouth, the cubes of lamb were really tasty and I didn’t mind the effort of chewing them a lot to extract the flavour. The chips were at just the right mid-point between crispy and soggy for belonging in a roll. I’d be keen to try the plate next time – bring it on!
Fillos Souvlaki, The Hamlet, 16 Lonsdale Street, Braddon ACT, no website
Sometimes I feel like this blog is a bit of a love letter to Local Press. Every time I eat there I have a consistently excellent experience, and this time was no exception. Having not tried it before, I opted for the smoked leg ham toasted sandwich, while my friends tried the French toast and the porridge. The food came out quickly, and I was struck by the vibrant colours on the plate. The menu didn’t mention that the sandwich came with a salad, so that was a pleasant surprise. The fresh rocket and capsicum was a perfect way to lighten up the rich toastie. And what a toastie it was! The bread had obviously been pan-fried in butter – it oozed with deliciousness and the flavour was incredible. I chose to add a fried egg into the filling and it went really well with the thick-cut leg ham (slightly chewy, but really tasty), the fresh tomato and the tasty cheddar. The whole breakfast was so hearty and I think it would have still been super filling, even without the added egg. The other dishes looked great too – I’ll be back soon to try them out!
Local Press, 128 Trevellian Quay, Kingston ACT http://www.localpresscafe.com.au/
Mama’s Buoi sucked me in with its pretty menus – they’re repurposed old-fashioned photo albums with bright covers. Opening them just confirmed that this would be a good experience. I was dining alone for this meal, and the wait staff, while not super fast, were attentive and friendly. I started with a delicious lychee and gin cocktail, which was bright purple and served in a martini glass – I loved the slightly sweet, fruity flavour and sipped it slowly over the course of my meal. To eat, I ordered the Thit Kho – a caramelised pork belly hot pot. Mmm. The serving arrived in a lovely bowl and came with a large portion of steamed rice. The pork was fatty and tender, and it had absorbed the flavour of the stock, making it quite sweet. There was one flavour that I didn’t like amid the mix (might have been bamboo?) but I could mask it with the onion. I really enjoyed the stock, which I put onto my rice, but I couldn’t finish the bowl by a long shot, so this could be a good one to share. I’d love to come back and try their pho and grilled dishes.
Mama’s Buoi, G25 Melbourne GPO, access via Postal Lane, Melbourne VIC http://www.mamasbuoi.com.au/
Dinner at Chez Kimchi was my first taste of Korean Fried Chicken (KFC). I’ve had Japanese-style variants, but this was my first authentic experience. We were very excited to explore the broad-ranging menu. We ordered the kimchi pancake, the vegetable bibimbap and the “Incredible” fried chicken, and I started out with a cup of apricot tea served hot – it was beautifully sweet and warming. We sampled the five complementary appetiser dishes – kimchi, seaweed salad, potato in a sweet sauce, pickled cabbage and a bean sprout salad – then got stuck into the kimchi pancake, which seemed a bit more like an onion pancake with kimchi sauce in the batter. There were a couple of pieces of kimchi but it wasn’t quite as kimchi-flavoured as I expected, although the portion size was generous. The KFC was next – coated in an unctuous, soy-ginger sauce, the wings were nicely battered and had plenty of meat on them. This was definitely the highlight of the meal. We thought we’d left the bibimbap long enough to make the rice go crunchy on the bottom but it hadn’t quite – this dish needed the red sauce served with it to stop it being dry, but the veggies included were a good mix. A new favourite for sure.
Chez Kimchi, Shop 11, 70-86 Bunda Street Civic, ACT, no website
I’ve been following Nutrition Republic on Instagram for a while now and have been impressed by how fresh and amazing everything they make looks! On a recent trip to Adelaide we stopped in to try their raw cakes for afternoon tea. It was close to their closing time (4pm), so we go our cakes in takeaway trays rather than on plates. The staff were really friendly and happy to answer my questions about the food – everything here is designed to be considerate of dietary requirements, and the raw cakes ($8 per slice) are all dairy and gluten free, as well as being vegan to boot! I picked the vanilla bean and berry cake with its pretty layers of colour. All of the cakes do contain nuts of some kind, and these (cashews and almond) help make the base of the cake. I love the texture of raw cakes – they remind me of cheesecake – thick (but light), rich and smooth. The vanilla flavour was nicely combined with the berry flavour, so it wasn’t a strong artificial vanilla taste, but a blended, more complex flavour. The slice looks small but was really filling – a lovely treat!
Nutrition Republic, Shop 2, 92-94 King William Road, Goodwood SA, http://www.nutritionrepublic.com.au
I haven’t been to Me & Mrs Jones in years, and I have very fond memories of their shantung lamb burger from way back when. With that memory in mind, I picked from the sandwiches part of the menu on this weekday visit with a group of friends. I was actually running late for lunch, and when I arrived the waitress took my order of the ‘Finger Lickin’ Chicken’. Amazingly, my meal came out with everyone else’s (hats off to the kitchen staff!) and it looked fabulous. Of course, it tasted fabulous too. The chips were lovely and soft inside and I’m a sucker for a good aioli – this one didn’t let me down. I ended up cutting the burger in half to eat, and whilst it was a bit messy, I devoured every mouthful! The chicken was really plump and tender, but the real magic came from whatever honey sauce had been drizzled on top. Hello deliciousness! The coleslaw added a nice bit of fresh crunch, and I’m a fan of traditional soft burger buns used here. Friends had the beef burger and I don’t think it’ll be too long until I come back to try that. Fabulous food and impressive service.
Me & Mrs Jones, 26 Giles Street, Kingston ACT, http://www.mmjones.com.au/
When heading down to Tuggeranong to try out Rockin Ribs, I was imagining the sort of ribs you get at the supermarket, with minimal meat and maximum bone. If that’s your expectation, throw it out now! We ordered the full rack of ribs ($38), which comes with a little basket full of sweet potato fries and a small bowl of salad, plus a plate of onion rings ($8) from the specials menu. The food took a while to come out but when it did we got stuck right in. The fries were nicely seasoned and had a lovely sweet flavour – I would come back for these alone. The onion rings are house-made and are real rings of onion, not reconstituted. The batter was light and not overly oily for something deep fried. But really, it’s all about the ribs. The BBQ sauce on slathered on top was a perfect mix of sweet, BBQ and vinegar – we would have liked just a bit more, but it was by no means dry. The beef itself was plentiful and we each ended up with 6 ribs – the meat fell off the bone and melted in your mouth – tender and full of flavour. Yes, yes, yes. I’ll be back.
Rockin Ribs, 38-70 Gartside Street, Wanniassa ACT, no website
There’s really nothing like grabbing an obento and going on an adventure. We picked ours up at Shinjuku station and took them out to the lovely Inokashira-koen in Kichijoji to soak up the sunshine in the park. I remembered that Ekbenya, near the JR line exits close to the South-East exit, had some delicious options, so that’s where we went. I picked a square bento with a big range of ingredients (to try as much as possible), and was really happy with this choice. I love being able to mix between the fish (which flaked perfectly and went really well with the steamed greens), three serves of rice with different flavourings, veggies (pumpkin, lotus root, carrot), and pickles. All bento are served cold, so the different textures are really important for variety. This one ticked all the boxes, although I was sorely tempted by the kid’s one shaped like a bullet train! Surprisingly, the highlight of the bento was the dessert – a little yuzu jelly, which was so juicy and deliciously citrusy that I would have gladly eaten another handful. Whilst there are so many great restaurants in Tokyo, don’t forget to try the local, humble bento!
Ekibenya, Shinjuku JR station, near South-East exit, Shinjuku Tokyo http://www.nre.co.jp/shop/brand/ekibenya/
I heard about The Knox opening on Instagram and stopped by to check it out after visiting the Capital Regional Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning. On arrival I went to photograph their sign and a lady seated nearby started chatting with me – turns out she’s responsible for the beautiful pots of herbs and veggies dotted around the courtyard! The vibe here is casual and comfortable, with fun, modern decor and a kid-friendly space. We only had stomach space for a snack, but the brunch mains looked fabulous! I ordered a muesli bar ($2.50) from the display cabinet and a watermelon, orange, apple and kiwi fruit juice ($7), and Dad picked the Portuguese tart ($3). Impressively, all the bakery items are made in house. The juice arrived first in a large milk bottle – there had to be at least 500ml of juice in there, making it great value. There was minimal ice and fresh mint and it was basically spring in a bottle. Absolutely delicious. The muesli bar was exactly what I wanted – a healthy-ish, slightly sweet snack, packed with pepitas, dried apple, honey and other good bits in a perfectly-sized bar. Dad devoured his Portuguese tart and we both agreed that another visit is essential for breakfast soon.
The Knox, 1/13 Watson Place, Watson ACT