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Clementine: A regional delight

Elsie Adamo and Belinda Neame

Canberrans don’t need much excuse for a road trip.

With award-winning wineries, boutique providores and charming small towns at our fingertips, there’s every reason to hit the road for a culinary day trip this summer.

One such reason is Yass restaurant Clementine, which was opened by culinary power couple Brooke and Adam Bantock in 2015 after a long stint in top-tier international and Canberra hospitality.

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Before helping establish Canberra icons A Baker and Temporada, Adam completed his apprenticeship in London and worked at Coast and the Royal Yacht Club in Sydney, the ‘M at the Fringe’ restaurant in Hong Kong with Michelle Garnaut and Dieci e Mezzo and Two Before Ten in Canberra.

It was Adam’s stint in Hong Kong that inspired his and Brooke’s ‘escape to the country’ with the couple choosing Yass as a stark alternative to the high-density city living they had experienced in China.

“We have some family in Canberra, we like the snowfields and being two hours to the coast ticked a lot of boxes,” explains Brooke.

Looking around the county towns surrounding Canberra it was a day trip to Yass that really impressed the couple, both saying the atmosphere was unique to them.

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“The old architecture, country feel and small community ticked a lot of boxes. We now love Yass. [The] kids go to school across the road, as we are right in town we walk everywhere, great community, lots of sporting competitions, yoga, everything you could want. Lots of young families like us moving [are] here.”

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Clementine itself is housed in the old Yass General Practitioner building, built in the 1950s. The local family that used to run it still lived in town and can be often be seen ordering a meal at their old workplace. In fact, many Yass locals remember the building and were excited to see it repurposed in such a fun way.

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Brooke and Adam purchased the property in 2014 and began the 10 months of renovations straight away. Brooke says their vision for Clementine was simple; “to create a warm, welcoming regional restaurant where Adam could cook the food we like to eat.”

Clementine’s philosophy is to source as much local produce where possible and Adam says he’s enjoyed being able to forge relationships with producers around the Canberra region.

“We have some great local producers that we have formed great working relationships and friendships with such the Andersons who own Wagga Free Range Pork and the Heffernan’s from Dalton who own Moorlands Biodynamic Lamb. Both products are amazing and the families behind them are equally amazing.”

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The restaurant also likes to change up their menu to keep it fresh, with Adam preferring to cook in harmony with the seasons. Adam and Brooke also make sure to have many local wines on offer, with Brooke saying that the region deserves more praise than it gets.

Far from being just a tourist destination or only for Saturday nights, Clementine has been warmly embraced by Yass locals.

“We initially thought our main clientele, particularly on the weekend, would be Canberran’s but it is definitely Yass Valley locals,” says Brooke. “We have had wonderful support from the locals and we are very grateful to them.”

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While Adam is in the kitchen at Clementine, the front of house is taken care of by Brooke, who says that while her background is in Occupational Therapy, she’s enjoyed the change as the two roles aren’t all that different.

“Hospitality is a bit like healthcare in that it is very people focused which I love, I really get a kick out of creating a lovely dining experience for our guests,” she explains.

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Even though Clementine is only two years old, the couple is looking forward to what’s next. This summer they will be trying to use the restaurant gardens, especially in regards to outdoor events and they’re hoping to expand their current take-home selection of sourdough and retail products. Locals even keep asking the talented couple to expand and start a bakery.

“We never thought two-three years ago we would be where we are today so who knows where the future will take us. It’s an exciting ride.”

the essentials

What: Clementine
Where: 104 Meehan Street, Yass
When: Open Thursday – Sunday, see website for detailed opening times
More information: clementinerestaurant.com.au

Photography: Tim Bean Photography 

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Elsie Adamo

Elsie originally hails from South Australia but after almost five years in the Capital likes to consider herself now as a local. A student at ANU she keeps herself busy on campus with student societies and now interning at HerCanberra. Her great loves include sitcoms, podcasts, bookstores, cider, brunch and online shopping. More about the Author

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Belinda Neame

Belinda is HerCanberra's Production Manager. A foodie and lover of handmade, Belinda enjoys nothing more than a good coffee and seeing Canberra businesses thrive. In her 'spare time', Belinda organises the quarterly Canberra street food event, The Forage with her husband Tim. More about the Author

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