Dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON reveals her list of Canberra’s top five restaurants for 2017.
I THOUGHT I had a hole in my head when I looked at the menu. Cured tuna and doughnuts? Granola and doughnuts?
Surprise, surprise, the combos work. Chef Nathan Frost, of The Doughnut Department, newly opened in the city’s No Name Lane, is on to something.
The doughnuts, made daily with locally sourced and artisan ingredients, are created with high-quality toppings and fillings that are a “cheeky nod to fine-dining flavours” says Nathan. These are yeast raised, hand-cut doughnuts.
More than 160 sweet and savoury are being gobbled down each day, even though the café only opened recently. Breakfast and light meals are proving popular like the tuna and doughnut dish.
It arrived on a dark wooden board, with big chunks of tuna stacked in a small glass jar. Pickled veggies add colour and crunch. Thin slices of crunchy doughnut are perched to the side, slightly sweet but not overly so, and the dish comes with some sourdough bread. It’s a refreshing dish ($16), not too heavy and one that delights tastebuds any time of day.
The flavours packed a punch, especially as I dug deep into that little jar. My only suggestion is to slice the tuna into smaller chunks, to make it easier to eat.
Although I didn’t indulge, the house-made granola and doughnut crunch ($9) is popular. Not all dishes feature doughnut elements but more will.
I know you’re hanging in there to know more about the doughnuts. Flavours change daily and I was delighted to see fritters in the glass display case. Fritters bring back memories for me, with my grandmother and mother both loving them. I’m not sure they ever tried an apple, white chocolate and lime leaf version ($6) but know they would have been delighted.
Another intriguing style is the chocolate, cacao nibs and black sea salt ($6). It isn’t sickly sweet, which I love. The dulce de leche with roasted almonds is more of a sugar fix ($6). If you’re keen on just a wee treat, try some doughnut holes (6-pack for $4).
The ethical coffee is from specialty roasters Six8 Coffee (Yass) and the organic, fairtrade, Australian-made tea is from Love Tea (Victoria), served by barrista Kyra Hansen. Milk is from award-winning Little Big Dairy Co (Dubbo). Adding charm are coffee cups made by Hillgrove Pottery (Murrumbateman) just for the café. The Doughnut Department is all about the “special touches”.
In case you get confused when there, The Doughnut Department is a unique café and a mixed-use creative space where those with imaginative minds can hang out and connect. At the back is a massive glass wall which houses three businesses – Fashfest, HAUS Models and The HAUS of Artists.
The Doughnut Department, No Name Lane, 40 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra (shop front on Alinga Street), open 7.30am-4pm, Monday to Friday.