Happy in the sun, shame about the service

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Zucchini puffs… fabulous and made the taste buds dance. Photo: Wendy Johnson.

We quickly discovered that patience was the name of the game, with service levels very much in need of some tender loving care,” writes dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON.

Wendy Johnson.

IT WAS the last Sunday of winter. Clear blue skies, 18 degrees and we were hungry for lunch outdoors. The question was where.

With COVID-19, many cafes and restaurants still aren’t operating their outdoor areas. Some haven’t re-opened on Sundays. Some are still focusing on just takeaway. Some were booked out. And so it was we landed at Bittersweet, Green Square, which was flooded with glorious sunshine.

Bittersweet has been on the scene since 2011 and it has a prime position on the square. 

We quickly discovered that patience was the name of the game with service levels very much in need of some tender loving care. But, first let’s feast on the food. 

We shared a starter from the specials board which looked beautiful on the plate. The zucchini puffs were fabulous and made our taste buds dance ($19.50).

Beef burrito… packed with a generous amount of succulent beef and packed a punch on spice. Photo: Wendy Johnson.

My burrito ($19.90) was packed with a generous amount of succulent beef and packed a punch on spice, which I love. It was served with sour cream which cooled matters down. My seasoned chips were cold.

Southern-fried chicken burger… juicy and tasty, served in a thick bun and served with house-made ‘stinger hot sauce’. Super delish! Photo: Wendy Johnson.

The spiced Southern-fried chicken burger was juicy and tasty. It was served in a thick bun and with house-made ‘stinger hot sauce’ ($21.75). The chicken was super delish and tender.

Fish and chips… the batter on the fish was light and crispy, served with lovely and tangy house-made tartar. Photo: Wendy Johnson.

Also house-made was the tartar accompanying the fish and chips ($20.80), which was lovely and tangy and the batter on the fish light and crispy. It was a generous serve of fish (indeed all dishes were generous). The fish was perfect with a nice squeeze of fresh lemon. 

Nourish bowl… with roast pumpkin, lentils, nigella seeds, cucumber, haloumi, tomato, avo, chicken and mojo rojo dressing. Photo: Wendy Johnson.

The nourish bowl sounded amazing on the menu and oh-so-healthy – roast pumpkin, lentils, nigella seeds, cucumber, haloumi, tomato, avo, chicken and mojo rojo dressing ($20.70). The chicken, although sous vide, was dry and so was the haloumi.

The service started off badly and didn’t get much better. We waited and waited to be served and then we waited and waited for water and wine to arrive. I finally got up and asked what was going on. Our starter took ages to arrive and was served initially without side plates or cutlery even though we specified we were sharing. We hadn’t finished the zucchini puffs when the mains bounced out. Twice we were interrupted by staff who had items to deliver but weren’t sure what table to take them to. We ordered a second bottle of the same wine but none was chilled. When we asked for ice we were told there was some in the wine bucket. And so it went on.

We’ve been to Bittersweet many times over the years and never experienced anything quite like it. Must have been a very off day. Just as well the sun kept us warm and happy…

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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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