Dining / Clement loves sharing the love

“If you’ve never eaten Clement’s creations, you’re missing out. Love of food and respect for food is his philosophy,” says dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON

NEVER one to shy away from a challenge, chef Clement Chauvin has switched from fine dining at Water’s Edge to transforming the food experience at Kingston’s Kennedy Room.

The hours are more manageable, but what inspires Clement is Canberra’s love affair with sharing innovative dishes, created with quality produce and skill. And I did I mention the plating? It’s nothing short of art.

If you’ve never eaten Clement’s creations, you’re missing out. Love of food and respect for food is his philosophy.

Born in Lyon, Clement knew when young that he wanted to be a chef and at 18 was sweating it out at two-Michelin-star Pic in a military-style kitchen. He then put in the hard yards at two-Michelin-star Nicolas Le Bec, also in France, and later got little sleep slaving away at Gordon Ramsey’s Claridges in London. Clement eventually fell in love with an Aussie woman and now calls Canberra home.

But back to the Kennedy Room; it’s a bar and so dining on busy Friday and Saturday nights comes with a bit of noise. You can settle in at the tall communal bench tables or in the restaurant section, which features an endearing wall-sized photo of Kingston in days gone by.

I’ve been several times and will be many more. Lots of places have share plates, but you won’t find frozen salt and pepper calamari here, or pre-made commercial dips. A shining star is the Asian-style beef tartare ($20), which has the right kick of chilli and is delightful with crunchy beef tendon crackers and a wasabi sauce. Did I say delightful? I meant sensational! The caramelised pork belly is as sexy as Clement’s accent, with house-made celeriac remoulade, coconut mayo, beetroot and cashews ($16).

Mains are also on the new menu. If you crave something lighter, Clement shows his true colours with the Salade Niçoise, which originated in the Côte d’Azur region, an area known for its seafood, olives and sunshine. This vibrant salad dances on the plate and the combination of tastes is superb ($24).

Several options fall under “grilled”, including a gorgeous Riverina Black Angus sirloin ($35, 350 grams) and 100-day, grain-fed eye fillet ($36, 220 grams). A shorter, more refined list of pizzas, made with a new type of dough, is now available.

And desserts? To die for.

Clement’s cooking gives the Kennedy Room a true competitive edge in a market where sometimes food can be a big blur. Absolument incroyable.

Kennedy Room, 25 Kennedy Street, Kingston. Call 6162 2318. Closed Mondays. Hours vary during the week. Not always open Sundays as promised on the website and front door, so check first.

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