X5 2017 Masthead

ACT snubbed in Top Restaurant list

Amanda Whitley

A couple of weeks ago, the Australian Financial Review (AFR) announced Australia’s Top 500 Restaurants, with 23 ACT spots making the cut. It was an interesting list, with a couple of surprising inclusions and startling omissions (The Boathouse by The Lake and Pialligo Estate Farmhouse Restaurant, anyone?)

After a frenzied flurry of commentary about how Canberra was punching above its weight for a city its size, the Top 100 was released last night. And just one ACT restaurant – Ben Willis’ Griffith fine diner, Aubergine – made the cut, coming in at Number 95.


What a disappointment.

Without taking anything away from Aubergine, because it undoubtedly deserves its spot (and should have been ranked more highly) for its consistently inventive cuisine and excellent service; the fact that it has been singled out as the only Canberra restaurant worthy of this recognition does not reflect the explosion in our dining scene in recent years. It doesn’t demonstrate the quality of establishments we are lucky enough to enjoy in this city. And it certainly doesn’t help our assertion that we’re a dining destination in our own right.

Capital foodies know we have amazing restaurants. From Willis’ more casual but no less impressive second restaurant Temporada, to Braddon’s l’enfant terrible, eightysix; from the creative regional stylings of Sean McConnell’s ‘Monster‘ to the always surprising Sage Dining Rooms. These restaurants – and many more – consistently deliver in all elements of a top dining experience.

sage duck

Sage Dining Room’s Quail Two Ways


So who decided who made the grade? According to AFR, the inaugural list of Australia’s Top Restaurants was “compiled in consultation with a distinguished Australia-wide panel of Good Food Guide editors, reviewers and industry experts”, with the Top 100 created from votes by “an academy of chefs and restaurateurs”.

And what defines best? AFR says, “restaurants that are at the very top of their form, consistently delivering world class standards across every aspect of the dining experience. The very best food in terms of produce, flavour, skill, seasonality, creativity, excitement and spirit of place, and the very best wine and drinks offerings, in terms of quality, relevance and craft.

“It also means a level of design and atmosphere, formal or informal, that contributes to a memorable dining experience. Our top restaurants deliver a professional and personal standard of service that sets them apart from their peers. In short, these are the restaurants that help define and build our own culture of excellence, showcasing the very best of Australia on a world stage.”

Well, I object. Having eaten at around 20 of the Top 100 restaurants, I think ACT restauranteurs were hard done by…I think there’s at least a good handful that more than hold their own with their counterparts in other states. And I reckon local foodies would agree with me.

What’s your take? Do you agree, or do you think we only deserve to have on restaurant included in Australia’s Top 100 restaurants?

Feature images from Aubergine’s Facebook page


Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author

  • Justin Smith

    Well this is pretty hypocritical, Her Canberra is one of the biggest snobs when it comes to Canberra dinning establishments. There are many great eateries that get snubbed all the time because they are not the new kid on the block or the trendiest place.

  • Yolondi

    I would have liked to see more Canberra featured too Amanda. I also was able to tick off quite a few from the list! I think Her Canberra opens eyes up to heaps of local eateries, not just new or trendy. I’ve discovered many places that were never on my radar! Features like ‘best Canberra brekkies’ are my favourite.

    • Amanda Whitley

      Thanks Yolondi! Glad to know our articles are useful 🙂

  • Trish Smith

    I couldn’t agree more! I was so disappointed that Canberra didn’t feature more prominently in this list. Perhaps by hosting the Australian Food Bloggers conference here this year, we might be able to attract a few more of these fabled “reviewers and industry experts” to our great city. We have phenomenal chefs here in Canberra, and they deserve more recognition.