Dining reviewer’s top five eateries of the year

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Wendy Johnson.

One of Canberra’s most experienced food critics, WENDY JOHNSON reveals her top five eateries for 2019

MY 2019 culinary journey began with big indigestion at several “hmmmmm” eateries (a couple have closed). Fortunately the year ended with some incredible food… so much so that it was tough to pick my annual top five. Here they are, in no special order. Remember that menus may have changed since my visit.

White Chaco… sensational seared salmon sashimi with fresh wasabi and kombu soy. Photo: Wendy Johnson

AS I wrote about White Chaco in Braddon, “don’t blink or you’ll miss it”. This petite venue dishes up big flavours with flair. The simple seared salmon sashimi ($18.90) was sensational. The crunchy, smoked popcorn chicken ($11.90) was fun, beautifully spiced and not at all greasy. Also huge on taste was the Sichuan bao ($13.90), created with slow-cooked beef, chili mayo, Chinese fritter, spring onion and spiced beans. We worshipped every dish. 

Lamsheds… beetroot tartare, apple and walnut. Pretty on the plate and loads of love goes into patiently cutting ingredients. Photo: Wendy Johnson

IN Yarralumla, Lamshed’s food is amazing. Be prepared to share and let your tastebuds dance. Dishes celebrate seasonal produce and on our first visit we were delighted with the beetroot tartare with apple and walnut ($16) a tantalising start to our meal. The eggplant is another winning dish ($15), with light tempura and white miso paste. We don’t normally order dessert but have twice indulged in the dark chocolate tart with fresh milk sorbet ($15). 

The Italian Place… pork fennel sausage with braised cannellini beans and baby spinach. The sausages are specially made by a local butcher to a secret recipe. Photo: Wendy Johnson

FOR more casual dining, visit Braddon’s The Italian Place. This true trattoria is also part deli so you can shop after dining. The pork fennel sausage with braised cannellini beans and baby spinach is amazing and specially made by a local butcher to a secret recipe ($16 for small). All pasta is made on site and if the rigatoni with pork neck ragu and shaved parmesan ($26) is on the menu, order it!

Bar Rochford… elegant prawn wontons with lap cheong and black vinegar. Photo: Wendy Johnson

THE city’s multiple award-winning Bar Rochford gets a big tick. It’s no wonder it’s picked up a hat in the Good Food Guide and has been ranked as one of Australia’s top bars. Once again, sharing is the go. The specials board included divine prawn wontons with lap cheong and black vinegar (five for $28). The steak tartare looked fabulous and we delighted in mixing the egg in and scooping the meat up with crispy crisps ($20). There’s plenty of noise when Rochford is packed, but you are eating in a bar.

Clementine… zucchini flowers entrée filled with creamy ricotta and smoked mozzarella. Photo: Wendy Johnson

IN historic Yass, we celebrated Clementine, the valley’s first-hatted restaurant quality modern dining with predominantly French and Italian influences. Dishes to start are $10, entrees $21 and mains $33. The vitello tonnato entrée was a generous serve and the veal rump (slow-cooked) super tender. The delicate zucchini flowers were filled with creamy ricotta and smoked mozzarella. Top marks were given for all mains, which included a fish stew, a pasta and a roasted lamb rump.

 

 

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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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