Dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON reveals her list of Canberra’s top five restaurants for 2017.
WE all know the hospitality industry is highly competitive. Restaurants come and restaurants go. A point of difference is as essential to success as seasoning is to a dish.
One eatery at the Kingston Foreshore has designed something unique for Friday and Saturday nights and it’s worth a visit.
Merchant Brasserie offers a European-inspired, rustic-style dinner. BYO (corkage free) is a great start, but it’s the food that shines. The entire menu is gluten free.
Here’s how it works. You create your own meal by selecting from the “sausages and mains” list (everything $15) and then the “sides and salads” ($6 to $12). The dinner option ($24.50) is fabulous value. Choose two mains and two sides. Enjoy fresh bread and condiments.
Merchant Brasserie sources its sausages from family-owned and operated Bungendore Country Butchery. This is a true butcher. No meat delivered pre-cut and in boxes for this outfit. The butchery has tailored six sausage styles for Merchant Brasserie. They’re sensational. High on flavour. No uncomfortable fatty content or aftertaste.
The lamb and rosemary is a traditional country flavour and the spicy chorizo with a smoked flavour (classic Spanish). The sweet pork and apple is rustic sausage with chunks of fruit and the French Merguez a spicy, earthy lamb sausage originally created in the French colonies of North Africa.
If sausages don’t make your taste buds dance, the slow-roasted beef belly rubbed in secret herbs and spices and brushed with spicy barbecue glaze sure will. It’s “tender as” and is fabulous with the field mushrooms stuffed with baked goats cheese and herbs.
There’s loads of choice with sides and salads, including oven-roasted rosemary potatoes, rocket pear and blue cheese salad, roasted and caramelised pumpkin, sage and goat cheese, and fabulous lightly steamed French green beans with toasted almonds and dried cherries.
The Merchant Brasserie serves up a great range of condiments – aioli, tomato relish, mustards, horseradish, spicy sauces and caramelised onion. And did I mention the traditional, crunchy sauerkraut?
Desserts are made on site. You’ll drool while choosing from the display cabinet. Some are created with love from recipes that stand the test of time, such as the Esterházy, a Hungarian cream cake named after Prince Esterházy. It’s loaded with marvellous butter cream. Modern desserts, such as the decadent Mars Bar cheesecake, are great for sharing.
A welcoming atmosphere prevails at the Merchant Brasserie. You’re made to feel at home and are free to stay as long as you like, whether dining indoors or outdoors (warm blankets and heaters keep you toasty warm). No pressure.
Merchant Brasserie, 3/2 Trevillian Quay, Kingston Foreshore. Call 6162 1359. All-day breakfast. Lunch, brunch and dinner. Free wi-fi and free BYO. Take away available.