Dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON reveals her list of Canberra’s top five restaurants for 2017.
OVER the years, Kingston’s Green Square has been a cool place to hang out. It now has added vibe with the opening of Highgate House in May.
The “global share food menu” takes its inspiration from Asia, Italy, the US and other countries.
We began our food journey with dumplings, house made with spinach, smoked pumpkin and shitake ($14 for five). They received mixed reviews, with several agreeing the flavours weren’t balanced and the texture stodgy. Hmmm, we thought.
We needn’t have feared. Our experience ramped up and we’ll all be back.
We ventured to Hawaii for a poke bowl, a superstar of a dish ($22 and add chicken, tuna, pork or halloumi). We opted for melt-in-the-mouth cubes of raw tuna, sitting pretty on top of brown rice, avo, broccoli, pickled veg, and other delish elements. The burnt orange dressing was superb.
Buttermilk chicken kept us in the US for a bit and we were happy ($22). The dish had bags of flavour, the meat was tender and the pan sauce and lemon yum.
Next, we landed in Italy with a simple but well-executed potato and rosemary pizza ($24). The base was lovely and thin, potato pieces scattered evenly, caramelised onion lovely and sweet, and the creamy pecorino delightful with a hint of truffle.
For our daily dose of green, we explored the chargrilled broccolini with confit shallots and smoked pecans ($12). It was fabulous.
Head chef Matt Ouwerkerk, who has moved from Sydney’s eastern suburbs, where he worked at the Paddington Inn, Bondi’s Neighbourhood and other eateries, has developed a unique menu. If you’re with a whole table, you can dig into the chef’s selection ($65 per person).
Highgate House staff are knowledgeable about food and wine. Local wines shine, which gets a big tick of approval. We had a major problem with one dish but the problem was tended to immediately and Highgate House went above and beyond in making up for it. In some establishments, you get the impression that the promise “to tell the chef” never eventuates. Not here.
The décor is fresh, light and bright, with a white, sea-green and mint-green colour theme. I get the attempt to replicate the vibe of “too-cool-for-words” LA, but it’s hard without beach, boardwalks and palms. Still, Canberra has blue skies and the green lawn in Green Square helps.
The venue seems to be more restaurant than bar in terms of set up. Lots of structural improvements have been made, including to the small area facing the laneway at the back. It’s now more comfy and cosy, especially in winter.
Highgate House is hosting a six-course, truffle and wine dinner on August 17.
Highgate House, Green Square, Jardine Street, Kingston. Open Tuesday to Thursday, 3pm until late; Friday and Saturday, midday until late. Call 6239 6891.