Time travels so fast. While I am still in the mood of Christmas and New Year break, it’s already the end of February 2021. 1/6 of the year has gone. Oh well, anyway I hope we all have a fantastic year ahead.
During the break, I did a lot: travelled back to Adelaide; caught up with friends and old work mates; visited Port Lincoln and Coffin Bay (and excitedly the Gazander’s oyster farm!); and return to Canberra safely. I know you must like ‘wow, show us your trip’. I will write about it later in March.
Today, I am going to tell you another story – my recent experience at the most awarded restaurant in Canberra and the ACT, Aubergine Restaurant. Aubergine is housed in the picturesque suburb of Griffith and have received numerous awards since its opening in 2007. The Head Chef, Ben Willis, has consistently been the most hatted chef in town, cooking nationally among other top chefs nationally.
With a modern decor inside, the restaurant gave a cool and calm feeling when stepping into it. With its high ceilings and elegant blinds setting, a good night dinner was well expected. In the overall experience, the waiters and waitress were significantly friendly and attentive and their knowledge to their food should be appreciated. The food and dishes have strong Canberra regional characteristics that are interesting to experience to see the different variant of modern Australian cuisine.
Being a consistent AGFG 2 Chef Hat Restaurant, Aubergine also serves one of the most extensive wine list in the nation’s capital. Tina decided to have cocktail theses to pair with food while I decided to go with a French red (2015 Roc d’Anglade Carignan Syrah Mourvèdre Grenache, VdP du Gard, Languedoc France $32, 150 mL glass) to get the palate going. This later on was proven to be a good choice as the level of astringency and spiciness worked fantastically with a number of dishes of the night.
Aubergine serves a 5 course degustation menu, priced at $120 per head with the option to go wine pairing for $80 (standard wine) or $120 (premium wine). With the age increasing, I can’t drink too much like when I was young so we decided to go single glass rather than a wine pairing.
Ricotta Fritter, romesco, green almond
This is certainly a good dish to start the night. The deep fried fritter crunches my appetite up easily while the bite-sized individual item was easy to chew on. The flavour was not too strong with the right balance of saltiness to balance the oils from the explode-in-the-mouth fritter.
Beetroot Wafer, smoked eel, raspberry
I must say this was a clever dish that showed all ingredients but I just could not see some of them. The dish was very refreshing with the beetroot juicy and fruity flavour, it served well as a second starter while cleansed the palate well. The little crispiness from the wafer improved the mouthfeel and easiness to chew.
These two were just starters. Here it came the 5 course degustation. The 5 courses featured two seafood dishes, two meat dishes and one dessert.
Salmon, globe artichoke, zucchini blossom tempura
This dish has a distinctive flavour – hints of curries and the artichoke tastes. I am always a fan of good zucchini flower tempura and this one clicked well. The sauces are relatively adhesive to all sides of the dish and can certainly get a hungry belly satisfied.
Hapuka, spiced carrot, baby octopus, mussel emulsion
This is definitely among the top dishes of the night. The hapuka (or groper) is commonly found in southern Australia and has a white and delicate flesh. The beauty of this dish is that it is full of seafood and the sea flavour combined well for all the components. One can easily taste the delicate flavour of the fish, the sourness of the octopus and the mussel creaminess. It is interesting to see how seafood dishes are cooked in the inland city of Canberra, quite different from the coastal cities.
Chicken, caramelised endive, grilled blueberry, beurre rouge
Another high on the list dish. I especially enjoyed the succulent taste and soft and tender texture of the chicken and the wing. Probably the wing is better in this dish as the meat was so fragrant on the nose and super tender. The chicken breast was also tender and goes well with the sauces which had a hint of bitterness that reduced the oil from the chicken.
Beef rib eye, leek, yuzu, burnt onion mustard
This rib eye was certainly very creative. The addition of yuzu gave the right level of saltiness while the leek improved the overall texture of the dish. The burnt onion mustard was also a highlight and went well with the mean. Back to the rib eye, it was cooked to fine conditions with internal redness and the crunch from the outside. The burnt onion mustard introduced the burnt flavours to the meat, improving the flavour overall.
Strawberry, Shiso mousse, capsicum sorbet
This sorbet was really good in a way that after a long dinner of all flavours, it gave a good level of refresher to clean the palate as well as the good level of sweetness. Great addition to the night.
Our dinner was completed with the petite fours.
Aubergine has been awarded two chef-hats since its establishment by Australian Good Food Guide (AGFG). It is certainly iconic in the ACT to showcase the regional cuisine. If you are visiting Canberra from other States and Territory, this is a place to check out – be reminded though, it is different in many aspects to other regions.
The next post will be about a new drink product newly launched in Coles, Perkii. Until the next post, have a great week!
18 Barker Street
Griffith ACT 2603
Ph: (02) 6260 8666