Dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON reveals her list of Canberra’s top five restaurants for 2017.
DINING out is so social. It feeds our need to combine human contact and be nourished.
Social and Co, a relatively new city restaurant, has designed a menu that lets you, well, get social. And social we did.
The food has a Mediterranean feel, so appropriate given that the traditional Mediterranean lifestyle is all about eating in a healthy way, among family and friends with a great deal of banter.
At Social and Co family-style meals include a whole chicken, roasted in the wood-stoked oven, and served with creamy potato, rosemary jus and green beans ($50). Don’t fret, the carving is done for you. Or you can dig into dishes such as a kilogram cut of aged rib-eye served with house-made dipping sauces ($80) or slow-roasted lamb saddle ($60). Again, don’t fret. The carving is done for you.
The three of us were munching lunch before marching to Floriade, so a massive meal wasn’t an option. Instead we began our food experience with two specials.
The fire-roasted king prawns (three in the serve) with artichoke puree, pickled mushrooms (“pickled” seems to be so “in” these days) and basil ($18). The prawns were plump and juicy and the other elements tickled our fancy.
We also shared the pork and duck breast terrine, also on the list of specials. It was a generous slab, but we found it bland ($15). The apple and currant compote saved the day.
Two of us shared the mixed seafood basket ($30). The garfish, prawns, mussels and calamari were all lightly battered in rice flour and hit the mark. The chips were hot and crispy and the lemon mayo creamy, with a perfect amount of citrus.
We also shared the grilled asparagus ($17) – why not, it’s spring? Asparagus and prosciutto are a marriage made in heaven and this dish was loaded with the dry-cured ham and perked up with aged balsamic, smoked salt and olive oil.
The third member of our party dived into the pasta with south coast pipis ($25). The flavours were fab, including the chilli, but the pipis a bit gritty.
Chef Darren Perryman heads up the kitchen at Social and Co. His experience in hospitality runs deep, having made his mark at First Floor (sadly, gone to restaurant heaven) and as head pastry chef at Autolyse bakery in Braddon.
Social and Co has taken over the former Tosolini’s space (also gone to restaurant heaven). The main structure is the same, although the fireplace has been removed and the décor adjusted with a new colour scheme and furniture. It’s brighter, feels roomier and is spruced up with lots of greenery.
Social and Co, Bailey’s Corner, London Circuit, Open seven days from breakfast. Call 6247 8301.