Where do you go for weekday dinners and drinks in Canberra? Recently, we dined at Ondine, a brasserie (opened in 2021) in Canberra and it was a surprisingly good find. My long term readers know although I love fine dining, I am also a fan of modern Australian and European cuisines, especially those with a casual setting. The discovery of Ondine in the capital is particularly exciting and interesting from that perspective.
Ondine is located in Deakin, Canberra with numerous embassies around in the close vicinity and is at the back of the Canberra Deakin Football Club. Opened in 2021 during the pandemic, the restaurant has done a great job in attracting customers. We attended the venue on a Tuesday night but the venue filled up quite quickly within an hour. Not to mention the number of luxurious Porsche cars parked at the venue.
With a deep blue-toned decor, the brasserie gives a calm feeling but I should pre-warn you, it is noisy when the room is filled up but that is the type of noise I would prefer in a genuine brasserie. The venue’s menu focuses on French cuisine and also has dishes from other parts of Europe.
There is a bar onsite at the venue, serving on-tap beers. Beer with French cuisine? I heard someone asking. Why not? Recently Tina and I got into the habit of beer and food pairing so decided to try this Italian beer with the dishes we ordered and it was proven we were correct. The strong fragrant barley taste neutralised most of the dishes on the night and promoted their flavours so well. However, don’t get me wrong, the venue also has an extensive beverage menu.
For the dinner, Tina and I decided to share our food for everything we ordered. Hence, you will see three entrée and a main (yes four shared courses). The food was plentiful and was delicious.
Pork and Hazelnut Terrine with Leek, Piccalilli & Apple, $19
This was our first entrée – Terrine. Many of my long term readers know I love a good terrine and have been making them in my kitchen since 2012. As a typical European/French cuisine, terrine is one of the most wonderful appetiser to start the night in my opinion. This terrine was quite refreshing with minimal taste of its own, giving a clean palate on a bit on the terrine itself. Once adding the piccalilli and apple, the flavour has been enriched with good level of acidity.
The next entrée on the night was steak tartare, but a very different one!
Traditional Raw Beef ‘Steak Tartare’, Prepared Table Side, $22
My regular readers would know that I love steak tartare, possibly influenced by Mr. Bean through the episode on this. Lately I had several good steak tartare dishes, but the one at this venue gave me the wow factor on how it was prepared.
The dish was prepared right at the table with the traditional method. The waiter rolled over a side table with raw beef meat, raw egg yolk, mustard, capers, and finely chopped herbs. The diners were then asked if they can eat everything. In my case, yes of course. The ingredients were then mixed and presented.
I must say this was one of the most traditional steak tartare I had. The flavours were right on the mark while the meat tasted like jelly cubes. At the precise temperature, each bite of the dish was so enjoyable and melt in the mouth, releasing juicy and yet balanced flavours. This is a must try!
At this point of the night, I was already excited to see what is coming next. And here we go, the national dish of France, Escargots.
Escargots au Café de Paris (6 Snails in Café Paris butter), $19
Edible snails are hard to find in Australia, let alone in the ACT but here we have it – Escargots! No wonder this is the national dish of France. The creamy texture of the snails sucked in all the buttery flavours and each bite is a burst of the liquid gold in the mouth. What a fantastic experience！To complement, bread toast was served tp improve the crunchiness. I just felt 6 is not enough for my craving so in future when I visit this venue, I will go with the 12 snail option. A must try!
The three entrées have already filled us up at this point but our willingness to try the main was still high. For the main, instead of ordering two dishes, we decided to try one for sharing and it turned out this was a fantastic choice.
Duck Cassoulet, Braised White Beans, Confit Duck Leg, Smoked Ham Hock, Pork & Fennel Sausage, $85
This is a country style French cuisine that peasants in the old times enjoy. I must say this was a surprisingly tasty dish! The duck legs were slow-cooked to perfection and the meat can be pulled from the bones easily with the cutleries. The duck was so fragrant with the smoky flavour from the cassoulet while the sausage added extra layers of flavours and saltiness. The sausage deliciousness also diffused into the dish and sucked into the brasied beans, making each mouthful an unforgettable experience. A must try dish!
Ondine is a casual European brasserie focusing on French cuisine. It is one of the most suprising finds this year with flavours rightly ticking all aspects of my palates and preference. The brasserie nature also makes the venue a great place to socialise. Does it have noises? Yes plenty but that’s something I like and gives a geniune brasserie atmosphere. Would I recommend? Oh yes, and this should have not been a question.
Until the next post, have a lovely time foodies!
7 Duff Place
Deakin, ACT 2600
Ph: 02 6282 0026