Dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON reveals her list of Canberra’s top five restaurants for 2017.
BABY, it’s cold outside. And winter weather inspires restaurants to dish up winter warmers.
Les Bistronomes, which wears an “Australian Good Food Guide” chef hat, remains an all-time favourite restaurant. It takes you on a culinary journey with a distinctly French theme. It’s excellent value. It’s a delight to the senses with each dish artfully plated. And now it has an exciting winter menu.
The presentation of the new French soup is delightful. Sitting pretty in the tasty bowl of piping hot soup are several gougère and a baked savory choux pastry made of choux dough and mixed with decadent Emmental cheese custard ($16).
A must-have on winter menus is slow cooking and the beef burgundy ($35) is sensational. No need to use a knife to cut the braised beef cheek. The meat is served in red wine with soft polenta, mushrooms and soft onions.
A lighter dish is the whole NZ lemon sole ($31), with the fish super moist. The forest mushrooms danced around the plate and the chestnut and beef burnt butter sauce was perfectly executed.
To backtrack a bit, I highly recommend the pork and apple black pudding. The thought of black pudding causes some to shudder but relax and give it a go. Les Bistronomes has struck a lovely balance of tastes. The dish is served with a fried, free-range egg and salad Lyonnaise ($16).
Some all-time favourite items remain on the new menu, including the garlic snails Chef Clement Chauvin is famous for ($3 each). Mains to share still include the ash-crusted duck a l’orange, with the meat sourced from Pepe’s Ducks, a family-owned NSW business ($80 for two; pre-ordering recommended).
And what would a French restaurant be without beef tartare? Clement says he could eat quality tartare for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The key is the execution.
While some restaurants mince the beef, Clement carefully carves thin pieces with a sharp knife, respecting the fillet all the way. This menu features a traditional tartare with eschallot, parsley, capers, cornichons and a sensational dressing. Clement has created many different versions, including a delightful Asian one with a big hit of chilli.
We were in heaven with desserts, including the tarte au citron, served with blackberry sorbet and toasted meringue. The cherry clafoutis, with vanilla ice cream and oat and pistachio crumble (for that much-needed crunch) was another winner. All sweet desserts are $16.
Even though the cold weather has taken hold, you can still sit outside on a sunny day at Les Bistronomes. Or inside where the atmosphere is relaxed and warm.
Les Bistronomes, corner of Mort and Elouera Streets, Braddon. Call 6248 8119. Open Tuesday-Saturday for lunch and dinner. Special truffle dinners will be held on July 27 and August 3. And Les Bistronomes celebrates Bastille Day with a tailored menu on July 14.