Otis Din­ing Hall, ACT

GQ (Australia) - - TASTE + TRAVEL -

The na­tion’s cap­i­tal has had quite an en­tic­ing food evo­lu­tion over re­cent years – Mon­ster, Tem­po­rada and eightysix, among oth­ers, help­ing give Can­berra the con­tem­po­rary edge it’s long craved. Otis Din­ing Hall, in the lake­side sub­urb of Kingston, man­ages to strike an en­gag­ing bal­ance be­tween pro­gres­sive new­comer and old faith­ful – with a dose of tongue-in-cheek fun thrown in for good measure. Housed in a for­mer Bel­gian beer cafe, they’ve opened up the space and decked it out with warm­ing dark wood pan­el­ing, mir­rors, chan­de­liers, tall brown leather chairs and a long bar (open quite late) for those that like to dine at a bench or bend the arm after a long day. The bustling bistro is backed by af­fa­ble staff, and a wine list that not only sup­ports the re­gion but looks after the bank bal­ance too. Chef and owner Damian Braben­der (for­merly of Can­berra’s award-win­ning Sage) is cook­ing with ma­tu­rity by re­spect­ing the clas­sics as much as re­viv­ing them with a breath of fresh air. Clas­sic pot­ted chicken liver pâté hides be­neath a thin layer of fat. The lux­u­ri­ous, vel­vet spread ben­e­fits from a lib­eral serv­ing of crisp baguette, while cor­ni­chons add a sharp ex­cla­ma­tion mark. Mean­while, a tempt­ingly tooth­some risotto high­lights the sweet earth­i­ness of new sea­son peas, and the del­i­cate grassy notes of beau­ti­fully cooked John Dory fil­lets. Braben­der con­tin­ues the nos­tal­gic tip to sub­ur­ban life with a house­made ren­di­tion of Neapoli­tan ice cream – dense vanilla ice cream join­ing fresh straw­berry gelato and an aer­ated choco­late mousse in a bowl of grin-in­duc­ing joy. Otis Din­ing Hall has added to the ACT’S culi­nary evo­lu­tion without let­ting go of the build­ing blocks of the past. 29 Jar­dine St, Kingston; thi­siso­

From top: Beef tartare with smoked eel; truf­fle gnoc­chi; Otis Din­ing Hall’s Damian Braben­der.

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