Baby octopus with Assam Pedas broth ($15, dinner)
Muscat and Japanese pepper-cured ocean trout, potato and arugula salad ($16.50, dinner)
Braised beef cheek with lotus root, Chinese red cheese ($27.50, dinner)
Baked polenta cake with chilled passionfruit sauce ($11.50) I notice the appreciatively unselfconscious sound of cutlery scraping against china, as someone savours the last drops of their dish.
Proper desserts on the menu sound interestingly fragrant rather than decadent and, though I like the sound of the Indian kulfi ice cream with peppered pineapple ($11.50), I decide on an inventive cheese-andafters fusion, a tomato sorbet with goat’s cheese and coriander syrup ($12). The dish is light and delicious with fleetingly intense accents and the perfect full-stop to this stimulating lunch. All Tables visits are unannounced and meals paid for.
Lanterne Rooms Shop 3, Blamey Place, Campbell, ACT. (02) 6249 6889; www.lanternerooms.com.au. Open: Lunch, Tuesday to Friday; dinner, Monday to Saturday. Cost: Three courses for one without drinks, about $47 for lunch or $57 for dinner. Drink: Small, selective wine list strongly influenced by New Zealand and Margaret River; sprinkle of other Australian regions, one Loire Valley sparkler and a good selection of dessert wines. Reason to return: For the duck and taro.