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Canberra Today 17°/19° | Thursday, January 20, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Critic’s top eateries in a challenging year

Wendy Johnson.

Drum roll… Here is food critic WENDY JOHNSON’S top five dining picks for 2021 (diplomatically arranged in alphabetical order). With lockdowns and takeaways, it’s been another challenging year for hospitality. 

“Hats off to those who persevered through all the pandemic pain,” says Wendy. Here’s her best-of:

Corella’s prawn roll with chilli mayonnaise.


CORELLA, in Braddon, quickly made its way into the “Good Food Guide, and for good reason. It’s edgy, but not pretentious. It dares to be different, but in a considered way. If it’s still on the menu, do not go past the prawn roll, scrumptious prawn packed into a soft milk bun and dressed in punchy homemade chilli. We adored the plum-cured kingfish, pretty on the plate with pops of pink and perked up with blood lime, chilli, and chives. The wine list is amazing.

ILY’s Coronation chickpea.


ILY, in New Acton, stands for “I love you” and the food does make your heart pitter patter. The menu is intriguing, the food focused on simplicity and comfort (with plenty of room for surprises) and the wine list carefully curated. Don’t confuse “simplicity” with basic. ILY’s menu is designed around quality local produce and execution. The dishes look as wonderful as they taste. My fave was the “Coronation chickpea”, a mega mound of chickpeas on rye with mixed leaves and addictive kettle crisps.

Inka’s tuna ceviche.


INKA celebrates the Japan and Peru relations. The fitout explodes with colour and the food explodes with flavour. The tune ceviche was exceptional with its Peruvian influence. Another spectacular dish was the charcoal grilled Yuzu Prawns and the brussels sprouts, which even those with an aversion to this veggie should try. It’s no surprise that Civic-based Inka’s reputation quickly spread far and wide. 

Lamshed’s eggplant tempura.


LAMSHED’S and neighbouring Cork and Glass in Yarralumla work in harmony. Lamshed’s nailed its takeaway menu during lockdown, taking its packaging as seriously as its food, so dishes travelled well. The ocean trout cudo was perfectly sliced and gorgeous with little cubes of bright beetroot, crispy apple and micro herbs. The chicken tagine was magical and the chargrilled zucchini stunning. We popped into Cork and Glass for wine, takeaway olives, and a selection of scrumptious cheeses.

Miss Van’s Vietnamese curry cauliflower.


Miss Van’s is a new Vietnamese eating house in Civic. Old ways meet new traditions at Miss Van’s and some dishes are inspired by owner Andrew Duong’s grandmother, including the to-die-for Vietnamese curry cauliflower, a hot bowl of comfort packed with flavour. We couldn’t resist topping off our meal with “The Dessert”. The Vietnamese coffee and salted caramel ganache was decadent (but not overly sweet), the condensed milk ice cream “smooth as” and the wild rice a welcoming crunch.

And to top off the year, The Dock Dining Dome gets a special mention for the experience of dining in a large, clear plexiglass igloo overlooking the water at Kingston Foreshore. 

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Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Wendy Johnson

Wendy Johnson

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