WHEN eight people head out for dinner and there’s not one complaint about the food you know you’re on to a great thing.
That’s the experience our party had at Onred at Red Hill Lookout, a classy restaurant with an ever-so-pretty view of the Canberra landscape, which includes many national icons and, at night, twinkling lights of the city. Hey, I know this isn’t New York, but it’s still something we should be proud of.
Onred began with siblings Jodie and Ben Johnson who transformed a tired, old-fashioned dining room into something quite smart, modern and understated (so the view takes charge). And they’ve upped the ante on the food.
The restaurant’s philosophy is to encourage diners to explore several dishes, so the menu is designed around smaller plates and it’s recommended you try three. The dinner menu is divided into lighter dishes ($16 to $20 each) and richer dishes ($21 to $23). Let me warn you that it’s difficult to choose and reading the menu may result in drooling.
The plating of the food is as lovely as the view and we agreed the simple combinations of flavours and textures and the use of fresh ingredients makes dining at Onred very special.
The open lasagna of Morton bay bug, roast zucchini, caper béchamel and tomato jam is a classic example of the cuisine’s personality. The dish is perfectly balanced and leaves you wanting more – much more.
Just as with as the lasagna, I adored the prosciutto-wrapped, braised rabbit with parsnip puree and a lively prune, pear, witlof and walnut salad. I also opted for the braised beef cheek with horseradish mash, sautéed carrots and parsley salad. It was scrumptious and the beef melted in my mouth. The only issue was two rich dishes in a row, but that was totally my choice.
Among the many other dishes that received rave reviews was the ricotta gnocchi with sautéed prawns, buerre noisette, fried artichoke and broad beans as well as the confit duck with sweet-corn puree, fondant potato, and asparagus served with a corn, shallot and micro-herb salad.
Onred’s wine list is impressive and carefully put together to marry with the style of the food.
And we could easily have been seduced by the five-course tasting menu ($95 per person food only and $135 with matched wines). It starts with the watercress soup with goat’s-cheese fritter (which one of our party adored), and continues with blue eye cod fillet, deboned quail, the beef cheeks and a decadent baked veloute of chocolate with drunken fruit ice cream and chocolate sauce.
Onred has been open under the Johnsons since December 2007. A visit is highly recommended – by all eight of us.
Onred, open for lunch Wednesday to Friday and dinner Tuesday to Saturday. Red Hill Lookout. Call 6273 3517.