Sage’s taste of stunning

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The Michelin star is coveted in the culinary world; and those working at this level are at the top of their game.

So Canberra is blessed that chef Clement Chauvin has joined Sage where he creates stunning-looking, stunning-tasting dishes, executed with precision.

Clement is from France where he worked in the two-Michelin-star Pic and Nicolas La Bec. So why is he now in the kitchen of a small 1920s heritage building at Gorman House? True love. He met a Canberran on a trip down under, married and moved here.

If you’ve never been to Sage (or at least, not lately) there’s lots new: Refurbished dining room; outdoor deck, a floor team chosen for experience and style. And all of this under the direction of brothers/owners Peter and Michael Harrington.

Sage – a “progressive French bistro” – is committed to Australian produce. Dinner is two courses ($55) or three ($65) and you select from five entrees, mains or desserts.

It’s all wonderful, so if you find it hard to choose I recommend closing your eyes and pointing to any spot on the menu. You won’t be disappointed.

My seared scallops with chestnut cream, chorizo, celery tips and molasses, made from Pedro Ximenez Spanish Sherry featuring sultry sultana tones, was marvellous.

The chorizo is lightly smoked so it does not compete with the delicate scallops. The slow-braised pork belly with a trio of compressed melon (adding punch to the flavor) had beautiful crackling and a sweet, smooth pistachio paste. The quail pithivier (little pie) was enhanced with stilton cream and a sexy port reduction.

Mains included pan-roasted ocean trout with tiny French lentils, a prawn parcel (some may love the texture, others may not) and a bisque sauce. The crisp-skin duck breast came with celeriac puree and spiced ganache and the caramelised lamb rump was melt-in-the-mouth.

Then there was the 12-hour braised Wagyu brisket. My, oh, my. The parsnip fondant was created with garlic, thyme, rosemary and butter, roasted in the oven and de-glazed with honey (see what I mean about superb execution?). The meat is sous-vide (French for “under vacuum”) and cooked for 12 hours at 82 degrees, a method producing exceptional flavours.

And another French touch was evident with the peas served with lardons, onion and cos lettuce.

We were convinced to share an unbelievably light, yet decadent, dark chocolate soufflé with honeycomb ice cream. It’s a dream, or “c’est un rêve”, as this creative French chef may say.

Sage; dinner Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm; lunch Fridays from noon, call 6249 6050.

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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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