I usually find myself at Local Press for breakfast, but on my last day before going back to work, I treated myself to a late lunch on a whim. The lunch menu has great seasonal options, and given the heat of the day, I opted for something on the refreshing side – Seared Tuna with furikake rice, house kimchi, pickled vegetables, miso bok choy, edamame puree and togarashi ($24). Phew. Luckily, eating it wasn’t as exhausting as typing it. This is definitely one of the food highlights of 2017 so far – the tuna was beautifully cooked (although one of the three portions was a bit cool by the time it got to the table), and the togarashi seasoning added a nice kick of spice. The accompaniments were well-considered, each adding great flavour and texture, and making the dish easy to eat slowly and savour. The bok choy was crisp and salty, and matched nicely with the heat of the kimchi (soooo good). The rice, well-seasoned, also helped to cool the kimchi heat and helped the dish become filling. The pickled vegetables were a highlight – the cucumber stole the show, although the beetroot and carrot were also tasty. This one is definitely a keeper please Local Press! Can’t wait to order it again!
Local Press, 128 Trevellian Quay, Kingston ACT http://www.localpresscafe.com.au/
Little Bird is one of the nicest mid-range places in Barton for lunch, and, stopping in with a friend on a warm weekday, I was tempted by their salad options. The quinoa and haloumi salad ($17.5) , while not something I would usually order, turned out to be an excellent choice and one I will happily order again. Firstly, the serving is generous, not just in terms of size, but also in terms of grilled chicken, avocado and haloumi content. These folks know how to cook their haloumi, bringing out the natural saltiness with perfectly charred pieces. This is complemented by the creamy avocado and good dose of chipotle hummus, which adds a nice but not-over-the-top kick to the dish, and also removes any risk of the dish being dry. Roasted sweet potato, fresh cherry tomatoes and rocket make up the rest of the salad, creating a good mix of textures and flavours. The quinoa is a great lunch option, not leaving you feeling sluggish in the afternoon and with a drizzle of lemon on top you couldn’t really ask for anything more.
Little Bird, Corner of Macquarie and Broughton Streets, Barton ACT, http://littlebirdbarton.com/
Jones & Co has a great summer menu, with plenty of cold food options to enjoy in the warm weather. I had a weekday lunch with friends, and we started with Pacific oysters. We tried the mignonette ($3.5 each), bloody mary and kilpatrick ($4 each), with the latter being the pick of the bunch (although the mignonette was beautifully refreshing too). Each oyster was huge, fresh and plump, and I could have eaten a tonne more. Next up were the pork belly bao ($6.5 each), with fatty, crisp pork and a great combo of hoi sin sauce and kewpie mayonnaise. Tick. The zucchini flowers ($17 for 2) were delicate and tasty, although trickier to share with 4 people, packed full of goats cheese and honey, done in a poppyseed tempura (for photos of all dishes, check out my Facebook page). We loved the sashimi plate ($24), which had slices of salmon, tuna, kingfish and scallops, and then followed on with the large meat board ($34) – packed with cold cuts, terrine, pickles, beetroot relish and char-grilled bread. Yum, yum, yum. Every dish was done well, beautifully presented and tasty. Oh, and I’d recommend the cucumber mojito mocktail ($9) – very refreshing!
Jones & Co, Cnr Giles & Kennedy Street, Kingston ACT, http://jonesnco.com.au/
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Reviewing this place twice is ok, but three times is excessive. Well, in my quest to share the best sushi experience in Tokyo, I did venture away from my beloved Sushi Zanmai in Akihabara and tried their flagship Tsukiji store. So, here’s how it went. Unlike in Akihabara, this Sushi Zanmai is multi-storey (oooooh), and at lunchtime it was pumping. We waited about 15 minutes for a table, and then were taken upstairs. Unfortunately our sushi chef was under the pump and had three groups of diners to look after at the counter, along with the table orders, so service was very slow. We started out with green tea and miso, sharing a bowl of the seaweed miso (so good). Next was the tempura squid, which was quite a good size portion and had a really lovely crispiness, along with plenty of salt to season. Then it was sushi time. We went for the classic favourites, having multiple serves of aburi salmon, before another go at the saba – sadly there was a bit too much wasabi on our pieces to fully enjoy this one. The unagi was excellent though – it just melted in your mouth. The verdict? Stick to Akihabara, or go at an off-peak time.
Sushi Zanmai, 4-11-9, Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, Tokyo http://www.kiyomura.co.jp/ (Japanese only)
My team organised a lunch at Bookplate, the cafe at the National Library of Australia, which has come under new ownership this year. The menu is varied and extensive, making it hard to pick just one thing. One of my favourite lighter meals is a caesar salad, which was my pick on this visit. Whilst you have to order at the counter, meals are brought out to you – we sat under the beautiful stained glass windows. The salad was elegantly presented in a reasonable-sized bowl. This caesar was all about the individual flavours – the pancetta was beautifully crispy and salty, the lettuce really fresh, and the spring onion added a kick. I am a sucker for good croutons, and these were right up there, although a little hard to cut. My only complaint was the lack of dressing – a good, oily caesar dressing would have gone better than the sparing daubs of a creamy version. For dessert I ordered one of the giant hazelnut meringues in the cake cabinet – it was heavenly! There was a lovely balance of crispy outer and gooey inner and the hazelnut flavour was just perfect throughout. Oh yes, I’ll be back.
Bookplate, National Library of Australia, Parkes Place, Parkes ACT http://bookplate.com.au/
Having formerly worked in a juice bar as a student, juice is very important to me. I even have my own juicer at home, although I’m usually too lazy to use it because it takes so long to clean. As such I don’t mind paying for juice, especially when I’m out of town. I’d seen a closed-up Pressed store after hours in Adelaide earlier in the year, but was very excited to wander past an open one when I was in Melbourne. I have to admit that the store fit-out drew me in – almost Scandinavian with blonde wood, plants (yay) and rows and rows of beautifully coloured juices. I’m not very adventurous when it comes to juice flavours, but Pressed really encourages you to move away from the traditional apple/orange mixes and pack some veg into your beverage. This time I stuck to something more traditional – green apple, lemon, mint and pineapple – and was rewarded with a tangy, beautifully refreshing juice that brightened up my afternoon. There is a clarity of flavour you get from cold pressed juice that isn’t like anything else. Definitely calls for a #cometocanberra campaign.
Presse Juices: various locations in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide http://www.pressedjuices.com.au/index.php/