European and Asian influences

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CRISP, white-linen table cloths, a still-life painting from 1901 by an artist named Harrison and chairs that replicate one of famous Phillipe Starck’s contemporary designs, all make up the décor at D’Browes, Narrabundah shops.

Other than it being a bit too dark, the décor is graceful. And the byo charge is priced just right at $8 a table cloth.

Owner Damien D’Browes, who worked at Marinetti’s Italian Restaurant in O’Connor for 15 years, has created a menu that draws heavily on European and Asian influences. Be prepared for rich dishes and rich sauces. And very big portions.

Our group agreed that the quality of the food during our dining experience is nowhere near a match for the look of the place. Out of four entrees ($14.50 each) and four mains ($27.50 each), two dishes were fine, but the rest disappointing.

And serious work is needed on presentation if it is true that you should be able to feast with your eyes.

My entrée duck livers served on pasta were tender. The scallops came with the coral, which we did not mind – although, as recently discussed, on an episode of “My Kitchen Rules”, this is a turn off for many. The problem was that the scallops were, to our taste, terribly undercooked.

The tempura prawns were served with two huge chunks of watermelon, mint and thick pieces of Spanish onion – all very unmanageable (why not a refined salsa?).

European favourites are on the menu, including osso bucco ordered by one of our party who was looking forward to tender veal with the full flavors that can only be accomplished with slow cooking. But the presentation was a shock, with the ingredients plonked on the plate. The chunks of tomatoes cried out to be cooked down and the gremolata, instead of being made with finely chopped herbs, appeared to be bits of raw garlic.

The ratatouille alongside my big piece of pork was cold so I asked for it to be heated up. My plate came back sans ratatouille.
The one main that was tender and tasty was the char-grilled eye fillet, although the beans seemed overcooked and not at all a bright green.

The seafood pie had some interesting flavours, but was far too salty to my fellow diner’s taste.

Much of the food went uneaten, although no-one asked – when clearing our plates – if there was an issue. And for desserts? We departed early and indulged at a new restaurant around the corner. Sorry D’Browes, but the experience was anything but savoury.

D’Browes, 59 Boolimba Crescent, Narrabundah shops. Call 6295 6990. Lunch and dinner Tuesday to Saturday. BYO only.

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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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