I hope you all had a lovely week. My regular readers would know I love fine dining restaurants and always like to interview the chef to see what made their venue as it is.
Do you like fine dining experience? I heard many yes out there so let me tell you a recent finding that really amazed me, Table by Canberra Gourmet.
Interestingly, Table by Canberra Gourmet, as a fine dining experience, is not located in the Canberra CBD, Braddon nor Kingston but instead in the southern suburb Wanniassa of Canberra. The venue is owned by Chef Thomas Heinrich, the ex-head chef of Sage Dining Room in Braddon, and his partner Larah Heinrich.
The Table offers an unique dining experience in the nation that you don’t see anywhere as yet. Eight (8) lucky diners each night will enjoy a fancy 15-course degustation prepared by the Chef right behind them in an open kitchen where they can come and see the Chef’s cooking. I can certainly see an European/Asian dining style influence here. This is probably one of the top secret locations to be unpacked if you are visiting Canberra or if you want to add something new and exciting to your daily routines.
The venue uses fresh local and interstate produce to formulate their dishes daily. With a vegetable garden right outside the venue, there is nothing fresher or more sustainable than this! There is also no such things called a menu here – Diners are fed by the Chef on whatever fresh produce he would get on the day. Fancy and surprising? You must try yourself to discover the beauty of this place.
The venue offers an good wine list, with local Canberra region wines as a focus. For the night, I asked Thomas what would be a good complement the food as everything was yet to be unveiled. He recommended this MADA 2020 Blanc and it turned out this was a good option. This wine was aromatic on the nose with hints of spices and herbs on the palate which complemented most of the seafood dish on the night well.
We had some good chats with other people at the table. Many of them were returned happy customers who just cannot resist the food here. Emm this tells some good stories behind the scene.
Sword fish with lime and tobiko caviar in pie tee
I was amazed from the beginning of the dinner. The first bite of this dish really rocked up my night. The slightly salty fish was so smooth in the mouth while the fly fish and lime caviar burst with each chew to promote the flavours. Sipping with the wine, this experience was further extended – I just wanted more and more of this!
Foie Gras with calamansi in brick dough (On the left)
You probably wondered why this photo and the above one looked quite similar except the actual second course. Well I was naughty enough to eat it first 😀 The second course was one of my to-die-for course of the night. The soft Foie Gras exploded in seconds after getting into the mouth, leaving pleasant fatty flavour on the palate. This was quickly balanced by the citrus zests and the full experience was further enhanced with the crunchiness of the brick dough. So delicious!
Miso kangaroo tartare with Japanese spiced philio biscuits
This colourful dish did not only look great but also tasted right the top notch as well. The kangaroo meat was prepared to perfection – although it was a tartare, it didn’t taste like that. I must say Thomas is a true master of flavours, especially his sauces are something you don’t get in other restaurants. This soft and tender patty of kangaroo was supplemented by the spices, while the biscuits uphold everything altogether. Must try!
Smoked mussel, mint, dill
This dish was another example showcasing the exceptional master skills of Thomas. The mint sauce was super taste-friendly and when combined with the smoked mussel, the magic chemistry occurred to give a very different and joyful experience. It did not only promote the smoky flavour but also created this creaminess on the palate that lasted for a long time with chewing the lot. Yum!
Sea scallop with lemon, star anise, and mint with smoked caviar
This is arguably my second preference of the night. I want more, seriously!!! 😀 The scallop meat was soft and creamy and literally melt in the mouth a few seconds when it was in contact with the palate. The lemon, star anise and mint sauce was a significant highlight that promoted the flavours of this dish to a completely new level. The the smoked caviar added right amount of saltiness with a hint of smoky flavour. I told Thomas at this time of the night that he was truly a master of the sauces and how much I loved his cooking. ‘But I haven’t cooked anything yet’ He went. Yes, indeed, so far the majority of things were raw or prepared already, showing his master skills inside out. This is a must try dish!
Kingfish with mango and chilli relish
This was such a Thai influenced dish. The mango introduced the fruity and sweet flavours and yet a slight hint of sourness while the chilli relish added its slight hotness. Each of the raw fish piece was cut into halves and this really helped to ease the need to chew or bite. I just wrapped it up and here we go – down the throat. The MADA wine was a perfect match with this one to further illustrate the distinctive flavours. Well done.
Fermented black tea and spiced rum rockmelon with mountain black pepper berry
At this point of the night, we had a palate cleanser. I thought it was interesting timing as normally the palate cleansers came after either the raws or the entrees but I was soon proven to be over-thinking. This palate cleanser came at the time for the next dish. One of my top preferred on the night 🙂
South Australia Goolwa Pipis with golden sesame and bonito vinegar and finger lime
This was the most imaginative pipi dish I have seen out there – eating them raw. For how many times over the past 25 years I have gone to Goolwa and dig these goodies myself? I can’t remember but this was certainly very very innovative. Someone may argue raw seafood is not something to rave about but you got to try this yourself before making comment. It was certainly delicious but yet a delicacy. The raw pipi was as fresh as possible with some salt water still intact within their cavity while the vinegar and finger lime both added the citrus flavours needed to promote the fresh flavours of the sea. Interestingly enough as a side note, we were given tweezers for this dish – new way of serving hay? After tasting the first pipi, I went like ‘I want more, I want more and I want more’ so three of Tina’s pipi went down my throat. MUST MUST & MUST try dish!
Fresh prawn with vichyssoise and lemon myrtle puffed rice
Seafoods could not get any fresher than this I tell ya. The prawns were fresh enough that I could taste the ocean right at the table. The creamy vichyssoise added the complexity on the palate, of course the flavour but I thought the puffed rice was a good highlight. The rice sucked sufficient amount of the sauce into its holes and with each bite, they got released back onto the palate to give extra flavours with the prawn. Good technique.
Mushroom and truffle air
What else do I need to say about this? Everything tastes much better when adding truffles they say. However, I would argue that only if one uses good cooking skills like this one. The airy foam was full of truffle flavours though one can certainly detect the mushroom but the two combined into each other and yet promoted each other on their flavours. This is certainly a dish worth crossing the road to wait for an hour! Must try.
Roasted lamb, burnt cabbage, celeriac and bush tomato
Cabbage and lamb, another interesting combination but the flavour was second to none. The burnt cabbage, with its flavours and texture served the lamb well. The meat itself was so tender and soft and there was not much cutting required. The creamy celeriac mash glued everything together as well as adding distinctive flavours while the bush tomato gave some fruity hints. What a lovely dish!
Filipino bbq pork belly with sweet potato and kaffri lime lotus root
I must say the plating of this dish is a true art, like many of the dishes at the Table. However, what took this dish to a completely new level was the heritage of Filipino food, passing on from generations to generations. Larah was Filipino and this dish according to Thomas was one commonly seen in the streets of Philippines. Flavour-wise, nice salty bbq’d pork belly liquified in the mouth when the fatty parts got warmed up. The crackling was done so good to give a crust on the outside. The combination with lotus root was interesting but was good to improve both the mouthfeel and the presentation of the dish. Nice!
Wattle seed seared beef cauliflower, beetroot potato
This was another of my top preferred dish of the night. The meat was cooked to exactly perfection. It was soft and tender but to a completely different higher level. A slight cut took the meat off and a chew really got me excited. This was the feeling I had years ago when Wine Underground in Adelaide was still around. It was fabulous. This dish was consistently high quality throughout, from the beef, to the cauliflower puree and to the beet. Must try!
Now more desserts are coming… What a treat!
Who doesn’t like a sweet banana tartan to end a nice dinner? Well, not to the end yet as there was another course after this one. However, the dessert was certainly sweet and combined fantastically with the cream. I could taste all the bananas on there as well! Surprisingly, each couple at the table were given a spare banana tartan slice as a take away gift. How nice you are Thomas! It certainly made my following day shine for dessert. Love it.
Strawberry chips, passion fruit jelly
Tina loves dried fruits and this dehydrated strawberry chips? She was a big fan of this final course. The chips were crispy enough but each bite gave plenty of the strawberry flavours. What was a surprise was the jelly which added both the acidity to the whole dish but also could stand along by itself. Must trys!
So what about the price tag? I heard you asking. The price tag for this massive 15-course degustation was very affordable to your average households. $135 for 15 courses as shown above to me is under-priced but top value in the ACT market.
Thomas and Larah’s vision and mission is to be able to provide a healthy and substantial meal for the whole family; which is easy to prepare. Affordable food, that gives everyone the experience of sharing a gourmet restaurant style meal with their friends, and bringing back their family to the table.
When talking to Thomas on the night, I could definitely see his passion in his career, in his customers and most importantly in his family. Thomas has worked in many high end restaurants and hotels across the globe and came back to Canberra for the Sage Dining Room. He said his relocation to Canberra was the best decision made.
Interested in experiencing the same level of service and quality of food? Head to Table by Canberra Gourmet website to make a booking. They usually book out very quickly so good luck.
Until the next post about a new Japanese venue in Kingston Canberra, have a great week ahead.
2/65 Sternberg Cres
Wanniassa ACT 2903
Use their website to book into the Table