Dining / Monster’s new menu put to the test

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Beef tartare with miso-cured egg yolk and dollops of avo placed here and there on the plate. Photo: Wendy Johnson

“Monster recently launched a new menu. We were looking forward to the adventure. Local and seasonal produce is celebrated in all that Monster does and if you like the idea of sharing plates you’ll find intriguing dishes on the menu,” writes dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON.

THE large round fireplace in the middle of the dining room is massive and we scored a seat right next to it ensuring we were toasty warm on what ended up to be one of Canberra’s coldest winter days.

Wendy Johnson.

We were at Monster for lunch, Ovolo Nishi, which recently launched a new menu. We were looking forward to the adventure.

Local and seasonal produce is celebrated in all that Monster does and if you like the idea of sharing plates you’ll find intriguing dishes on the menu.

We started by sharing the Boxgum Grazing beef tartare. This multi-generational farm has named itself after the eucalypt woodlands in the Hilltop region of southern NSW. I love their philosophy: “Farming should co-operate with nature, not try to tame it”.

The beef was amazing and we mixed in the miso-cured egg yolk and dollops of avo placed here and there on the plate, enjoying the crunch of the black rice crisps ($23). While delish, we felt it could have used just a tad more seasoning.

Next up with creamy, soft buffalo mozzarella, accompanied with puffed rice for texture, bitter leaves, black olive and basil ($20). It also came with grilled bread but it was burnt so we returned it. Still, how wonderful is this cheese?


Monster’s spiced lamb ribs… the meat just fell off the bone and the spices were a beautiful combo. Photo: Wendy Johnson

The dish of the day for both of us was the spiced lamb ribs. The meat just fell off the bone and the spices were a beautiful combo – not over the top, but not subtle either. The chilli jam was yum ($17).

To cut through we ordered the mixed-Asian-leaf salad, glad there was a simple offering like this on the menu ($10). The presentation was pretty, the greens nice and bright and the Yuzu vinaigrette delicate. Once more, we felt a bit more seasoning was in order to bring the dish to life. There was no salt and pepper on the table and we couldn’t, at that point during our visit, seem to find anyone to help.

Monster’s wine list is impressive. Extensive. Well thought through. Interesting options.

The décor is eclectic. Pattern city. Throughout that level of Ovolo Nishi are plenty of original and interesting artwork and furniture.

We had three people tend to our table; one very experienced and knowledgeable. We got off to a very slow start, even though the dining area was only half full. Eventually menus were brought. We had to ask for the wine list and then waited some time before the bottle of Lerida Estate Pinot Grigio landed at our table. You can order wine by the glass, half carafe, carafe or bottle.

No one asked us (not once) throughout our meal if we were enjoying our dishes.

Monster, Ovolo Nishi, 25 Edinburgh Avenue, Acton, open 6.30am-11, Sunday to Thursday and 6.30am to late on Friday and 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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