One of Canberra’s most-experienced food critics and this paper’s longest-serving columnist, WENDY JOHNSON indulges herself with her top eating experiences for 2018
THE menu is tiny. The décor sleek and minimalist. The food Japanese fusion.
If anything, Intra, a new eatery in Campbell, is aiming for a niche spot in the capital’s super-crowded hospitality scene.
The poke bowl ($19) was smashing and crafted as a top-notch poke should be (many establishments just toss a bunch of ingredients together, without a real understanding of what this dish is truly meant to be).
The sashimi-grade fish – so delicate – just melted in the mouth. The tang of pickle was delightful, the chinks of tofu silky, all ingredients perfectly balanced. And the poached egg on top was cooked so it was soft and runny, but not overly so. We agreed we could hit Intra every day for a hit of that poke.
We were surprised to see a bacon and egg roll on the menu ($16) but it was the best we’ve ever had in this town. This was a chashu roll with crunchy shallots and Japanese chilli pepper. Absolutely tantalising for the tastebuds. We shared a side of Pialligo Estate bacon (quality doesn’t get better than that).
Other items on the menu, showcasing Japanese fusion flare, are the tofu bagel with pickled zucchini and Yuzu Jerk sauce ($12), a salmon bagel with cucumber, chilli and Kewpie sour cream ($14) and a kimchi jaffle ($12). Those not keen on the Japanese influence can enjoy simple fruit toast with cinnamon butter ($8) or granola with poached pear and seasonal fruit ($12).
The coffee was beautiful and served in lovely cups with no handles, perfect for wrapping both hands right around them. The barista created a wonderful-looking (and wonderful-tasting) latte and cappuccino, at just the right temperature.
Intra serves quality Kuura tea, grown in exceptional natural environments in the tea mountains of Yunnan, China. The flavours are marvellous.
We loved the cool, calming décor, designed to be simple, striking and soothing. And that brings us to the music. It was bizarre for the personality of the place, at least it certainly seemed so to us. It was super loud and, with little to absorb the sound, bounced all over the place. It was clubby and heavy, especially at breakfast. It certainly seemed to be enjoyed by staff but it was doing our heads in so we left without second coffees.
We were impressed by many features of the décor, including the distressed concrete walls, metal benches (with powerpoints for phones and computers) and stunning lights.
Our only other observation was the service. Even though we were the only ones in the place for most of our visit, no-one popped by to enquire if we were enjoying our food. One person was occupied with cleaning with a squirt bottle and another reading a mag behind the counter.
Intra, 30/12 Provan Street, Campbell. Tuesday-Friday, 7am-3.30pm; Saturday-Sunday, 8am-3pm.