Scallops - Seared with crispy pork belly and spiced jus - $21
Ok, I guess a few more people than I thought have actually heard of Canberra! (See comments on the last post). I guess it's not quite as humble as I thought, hehe. I'm sure you'll forgive me though, read on...
Before we flew up to Canberra, my friend An suggested we go to a fancy restaurant together, and asked me to decide. First step was to Google "Canberra Good Food Guide". I found out, indeed, that there is no "Canberra Good Food Guide". Rather, Canberra restaurants are listed as a "regional" section in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide.
After a sneaky peak at the menus of all THREE Canberra restaurants listed in the Good Food Guide, I chose Artespresso. If you're interested, the other Canberra entries were Courgette and Ottoman Cuisine. Courgette seemed a bit too haute-cuisine for us, and Ottoman Cuisine would have been too similar to Mecca Bah. Perhaps next visit.
31 Giles St
Kingston ACT 2604
Artespresso is located in a pretty building on the leafy shopping strip of Giles St in Kingston. Other foodie destinations here include The Essential Ingredient, and the famous Silo cafe (sadly closed while we were up there).
The interior: feels quite "Melbourne" to me
Starters: An had the asparagus. The menu advertises white asparagus, but our waiter informed us that they only had regular, green asparagus that day. Whatever, it still tasted good! The asparagus was lightly cooked and very fresh, and the egg was perfectly poached and still slightly runny.
Asparagus - poached egg, parmesan, truffle oil (I think) - $21
My starter was that magnificent scallop entreé you see in the first post. The scallops were massive, and so fresh! The "crispy pork belly" was rather like crispy pancetta, and the jus was lovely and had a rounded flavour. Just fabulous.
Sandra didn't order an entrée, to save room for her steak. (We aren't all massive greedy guts like An and I.)
Steak -with potato puree and red wine sauce - $36
An also ordered the steak, and it was exactly as the menu described. Apparently it had a bit too much pepper on top for their tastes, but apart from that, both agreed it was a very good steak.
I ordered the kingfish - mainly because I hardly cook fish at home. I love it though; I should really incorporate more fish cooking into my repertoire.
Kingfish - mustard sauce, kipfler potatoes and capers - $34
Anyhoo, the kingfish has a lovely crusty top, and was cooked perfectly - it wasn't dry at all. The crushed potatoes beneath were a great accompaniment. With the capers and mustard sauce, it seemed to me like a potato-fied tartare sauce.
Chips - $9
When there is steak, there must be chips. Actually, correct that. When there is An and Sarah and Sandra, there must be fried potatoes. Or hot balls. :P
Onto dessert. We'd seen these pyramidial panna cottas ferried around the dining room, and Sandra had decided on these before we'd even looked at the menus. (Should that be panne cotte? - does it make grammatical sense to pluralise "panna"?)
Vanilla Pannacotta - fresh summer berries - $14
It was smooth and silky, and full of delicious fresh vanilla beans. Apparently it tasted just like a Caramac bar. I've never had one of those, but if it tastes as good as that panna cotta, I know I'd love it! I thought the panna cotta could have had a few more "summer berries". "One sliced strawberry" would be a more accurate description.
An and I each had a soufflé of the day - passionfruit. (What did I tell you about us being greedy guts?)
Soufflé of the day - passionfruit with dark chocolate sorbet - $14
The soufflé was super-light and fluffy, and just the right sweetness. I was actually a bit nervous ordering one, after that sugar-bomb from Bistro Guillaume, but this one suit my taste. And the dark chocolate sorbet was very dark, very intense, and a great foil against the sweet and airy soufflé.
So as you can see, overall we loved Artespresso. The only gripe was that you had to pay extra for bread and butter - so we didn't bother. It's not like we need anything to fill up on!
After Mecca Bah on Friday night, the picnic on Saturday, and Artespresso on Saturday night, you'd think we were done with the eating for the weekend. But that was certainly not the case....