New menu and a new vibe

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IT was brunch time on a hot summer’s day and three of us were craving something yummy.

So we toddled off to artespresso in Kingston, curious about recent changes on the menu and keen to enjoy the restaurant’s personality change – from formal to laid-back dining.

A new team is at the helm and the place was buzzing when we arrived, with the coffee machine in overdrive.

It took us a nanosecond to decide to share the decadent, sexy mussels ($19). And when I say decadent I mean it. The mussels, sourced from the pristine waters of Boston Bay, in SA, are cooked with bacon, leek, fresh herbs and loads of licorice-flavoured Pernod liqueur. It’s addictive and we used our sourdough to soak up every single bit of sauce.

On the main dining line-up was a dish that is a star at artespresso. The Pollo Frito ($16) is not for those watching their waistline, but it’s worth the treat. The buttermilk-fried chicken, which some say has its origins in Cuba, is crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside. The seasoning is great and the dish marries well with a side of chunky chive potatoes and a healthy organic salad for those much-needed greens. You’ll dream of going back for more.

The fish and chips featured seared salmon fillet with fat rustic fries, a fresh salad and creamy tartar sauce ($19). No complaints.

The third main was the Thai snapper fillet. The dish comes with scampi, half-shell scallop, udon noodles, daikon radish and a light green curry ($28). The flavours were stunning, but a little warning: Don’t expect a dense curry sauce – this is a lighter “broth-type” sauce. This dish is clever with wonderful flavours.

Artespresso’s main eating area is to the right as you walk in. To the left is a smaller area which forms a soundproof, private dining room when the elegant mint-green doors slide shut – a great spot for business meetings or special gatherings. The four separate outdoor patios are all lovely spots to dine, with two overlooking the hustle and bustle of Giles Street (great “people watching”) and two at the side shaded by trees.

The new team sees Craig Mortimer and Shann Howman – who many know from Manuka – at front-of-house and Dan Keogh in the kitchen supported by Rhys O’Neill. This is a fun and energetic crew who are guaranteed to add a special touch to your dining experience.

Artespresso has a good wine list and is fully licensed, but you are welcome to take your own special wine.

31 Giles Street, Kingston. Open from 7.30am (takeaway coffee available) Monday-Friday and 9am weekends; lunch from noon and dinner from 6pm Monday-Saturday.

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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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