Food partners Pinot

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THE Artisan takes food very seriously. And wine. And matching food and wine.

The Artisan (Dining Review) 008-2So it’s always a delight to visit this fine dining restaurant when owners Sam McGeechan and David Black pull together a special menu. At the moment they’re celebrating Australia’s best Pinot Noir ($105 for five courses matched with wines from some of our best growing regions).

If you’re not fussy on this variety, that’s not a problem. The Artisan, which rarely skips a beat on customer service, still offers its regular a la carte menu.

The Artisan (Dining Review) 033
Smoked quail consomme, confit leg and smoked breast with sweet potato fondant and quail egg. Photos by Brent McDonald.
I love quail and the smoked quail consommé dish, with confit leg, smoked breast, quail egg and sweet potato fondant looked beautiful. Smoked dishes can be heavy, but this was light with a lovely aroma, which Sam says reminds him of autumn when Canberra fireplaces are lit. The consommé could have been warmer and, while intrigued by the flavours, this was our least favourite dish. However, it married well with the award-winning Eden Road’s 2011 Tumbarumba (keep your eye on this boutique winery).

The Artisan (Dining Review) 010
Pressed confit of duck leg with pistachios, pickled leek and blood orange preserve.
The pressed confit of duck leg with pistachios, pickled leek and tangy blood orange preserve was next up, and the 2011 Yabby Lake Red Claw Pinot Noir (Mornington Peninsula) had sufficient strength to cut through the duck.

A signature dish at The Artisan is the mushrooms and there would be protests on the street if this was taken off the menu. It’s irresistible. The exotic mushrooms are sautéed with shallots, chives and thyme, placed lovingly on top of caramelised garlic bread and strengthened with Stilton. It was wonderful with the 2011 Farr Rising Pinot Noir (Geelong) – big, beefy and scored 96.6 by James Halliday.

The creamy braised rabbit vol-au-vent with black salsify, a hardy perennial vegetable, tarragon and baby carrot salad, was lovely and served with the winner wine of the day – 2011 Stefano Libiana Primavera Pinot Noir (Tasmania).

Dessert was a wagon wheel with homemade marshmallow and a very crunchy peanut praline (a bit fussy to get through), raspberry jam and dark-chocolate ganache. Great tastes, but we would have preferred a more refined dessert.

Our only suggestion would be to toss in a simple salad or dish of veggies to round matters off.

I’ve been to The Artisan several times for food and wine celebrations. They book out quickly (the restaurant’s data base is 600 plus) and this one was no exception. If you love Pinot Noir, you’re lucky. The Artisan has extended the food and wine special until June 8.

Artisan, 16 Iluka Street, Narrabundah, call 6232 6482.

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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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