Dining / The critic’s pick: Canberra’s top five

“When the editor challenged me to close off the year by writing about my top five picks, I didn’t skip a beat in selecting them,” writes the doyenne of Canberra’s dining reviewers WENDY JOHNSON

THIS is the 46th food story I’ve written for “CityNews” this year. I’m afraid to take a measuring tape and put it around my waist and I’ll be developing a much closer relationship with my personal trainer in 2017. 

Photo by Gary Schafer photography.

Photo by Gary Schafer photography.

When the editor challenged me to close off the year by writing about my top five picks – from my dining experiences of 2016 – I didn’t skip a beat in selecting them. Here goes, in no special order.

I love Les Bistronomes in Braddon for its plating and amazing flavours. Food is a feast for the eyes and it’s no surprise that Chef Clement Chauvin knows that. He was slaving away at Pic, a two-Michelin star restaurant in Valence when he was just 18. It’s a military-style kitchen where staff had to present each dish perfectly. Les Bistronomes specialises in French cuisine with perfect wine matching thanks to Abel Bariller, a professional French Master Sommelier. The five-course chef’s degustation served Saturday lunch is a steal at $50 (be sure to book). 

House made Pork Rillette on croutons and Parsly butter Snails

House made Pork Rillette on croutons and Parsley butter Snails

Vincent, in Barton, burst on to the scene as a new concept restaurant, quickly making its mark. Vincent isn’t too serious on the personality side but seriously good on the food and wine side with labels sourced from around the world. Vincent performs best with guests who love to share. Indulge in one dish with a glass of wine or select several to form a full meal. The wine list is excellent. vincent

Avenue C is a relatively new and uber cool place in Campbell with the bar created with pieces taken from stamped wine crates. Peter Bell – a top-notch sommelier – has created something unique, combining a wine bar and a shop. He has pulled together great wines, with an ever-changing selection of up to 18 memorable picks by the glass. There’s no real kitchen – all food is prepped behind the bar, so the menu features charcuterie plates and the like. It’s designed around grazing. 

Avenue C

Another new kid in town is Otis Dining Hall, Kingston. More wonderful wines and wonderful food. Owner/chef Damian Brabender offers an intriguing menu, with dishes thoughtfully prepared. Enjoy a drink at the long bar and then settle in for some fab food in an unpretentious atmosphere, including nostalgic dishes such as pepper steak. otisdininghall

Last on my top five is Rye, a new addition to Braddon’s dining scene. The fitout features a minimalist Scandinavian approach, with light wood tones and dove-grey accents. The menu is compact, with the emphasis on food quality. The Danish open sandwiches served on seeded dark rye bread are amazing, the breakfast line-up soul satisfying and the prices pretty pleasing. Rye has a great outdoor dining area and you can watch the world go by. rye

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