CEL Summer Masthead

HerCanberra Best Eats of 2017

Emma Macdonald

The HerCanberra team has spent 2017 racking up some serious food miles.

We love to share, so here are our favourite eating experiences from across the city. And don’t think we go for the hot new places with the flash social media accounts. We don’t care what it looks like, as long as it tastes good.

Head Chick Amanda Whitley

XO’s Steamed Dumplings: Pumpkin Ricotta with Tom Yum Sauce

I took two interstate mates to Narrabundah’s XO in the hopes of blowing away their city-slicker tastebuds—these babies totally delivered. The little morsels of sweet pumpkin nestled in a complex and intense Tom Yum sauce were a flavour explosion that I’m still drooling over.

XO’s steamed dumpling. Image: Amanda Whitley

Jones & Co Kingfish Ceviche and Steak Tartare

I could not decide between these two dishes, both from the now sadly-closed Jones & Co in Kingston. The delicate Kingfish was dressed simply but perfectly in coconut cream, nahm jim, fresh herbs—a brilliant start to a meal—while the Steak Tartare with the “usual trimmings, cognac & black truffle” was one of the best I’ve had outside of France.

Jones & Co ceviche. Image: Alex Tricolas

Vincent’s Peking Duck: coriander, orange, chilli and cashew

Every mouthful is an adventure with this dish from Vincent. Succulent pieces of duck are sandwiched between layers of crispy wontons, with a surprising addition of tart raspberries cutting perfectly through the rich flavours. Wash it down with a glass of Domaine De Triennes Rosé 2016.

Vincent’s Peking Duck. Image: Anisa Sabet.

Food Editor Michelle Brotohusodo

Teddy Picker’s French toast

As I get older I find it hard to eat sweet dishes first thing in the morning—my one exception is the French toast at Teddy Picker’s. Though it changes regularly depending on what’s in season, no matter what’s in it, this dish is always sublime and a happy way to start a day.

Teddy Picker’s french toast. Image: Michelle Brotohusodo.

XO’s Asian Bolognese

Words cannot express how much I love this dish. It is my favourite item on XO’s menu and if they ever take it off I’ll be devastated (and I know I won’t be the only one). It’s a simple idea and pure comfort food, executed perfectly. I talk it up so much to first-timers to XO that I worry they might be disappointed when they finally try it, but it’s never happened yet—in fact, almost every time they’ve said it’s their favourite too.

XO’s Asian Bolognese. Image: Michelle Brotohusodo.

Darbar’s chaat

This dish is as visually stunning as it is tasty. The menu describes it as crisped spinach tossed together with potato and chickpeas topped with ‘tongue twisting’ sauce, but I guarantee that it won’t prepare you for the experience of eating it. A cold dish with a great balance of textures and flavours, this is my must order when I go to Darbar.

Darbar’s Chaat. Image: Michelle Brotohusodo.

 

Associate Editor Emma Macdonald

Barrio Cheese Toastie 

Every week I will make a trip to Barrio where I’ll pull up a stool and savour a cheese toastie. Some may call it an addiction, others just understand that as a harried, working mum, I need some comfort food in my life.

The toasties come in various incarnations as the seasons change, but the basics are always spot on. Three Mills sourdough and two types of cheese and just a little something to make it interesting—such as a house-made Thousand Island dressing with pickled celery, or house-pickled jalapenos.

Barrio Cheese Toastie. Image: Emma Macdonald.

The toastie comes to the bench with perfect edges of fried cheesy goodness and it oozes out the middle just as it should. Don’t forget to order their superior coffee.

Pho Phu Quoc’s Curry Puffs

It actually doesn’t bear thinking about how many of these I have stuffed away this year. They are the freshest, crispiest, flakiest pastry encasing a creamy filling of gently spiced vegetables. They are also tiny (that’s why you can eat hundreds of them) and come with a delicious nutty sauce which assists them to melt in the mouth. Sue Le has been running this northside gem for years and there are no dishes that aren’t praise-worthy.

Pho Phu Quoc’s curry puffs.

Production Manager Belinda Neame

Some Café’s Chocolate and Beetroot Cake

Some Café feels like home when you are there and the food is hearty and homely too. No one does a toastie like them (although Emma probably begs to differ, given her favourite dish). I have no idea what makes them so special but the bread, the butter and the fillings make your taste buds do a little dance.

The cake cabinet is loaded with homemade cakes and you can’t walk away without shoving a piece in your mouth, no matter how full you are. My favourite is the Chocolate and Beetroot which is moist and chocolatey and homemade and just perfect in every way!

Some Café’s Chocolate and Beetroot Cake. Image: Tim Bean Photography.

Schmicnics picnics

Absolutely love everything about this concept. We don’t take the time to picnic enough and I think sometimes it’s because the effort you have to go to to prepare, pack and then unpack the food. And all the things that you need to consume the food like crockery, cutlery, napkins etc. 

Schmicnics takes all that hassle away and produces the most exquisite picnic hampers. The food is of high quality (heck, Head Chef John Leverink from The Boathouse and Pod food is at the wheel), it travels perfectly and is absolutely delicious. 

Schmicnics. Image: Tim Bean Photography.

Online Editor Beatrice Smith

Pulp Kitchen’s Sirloin

My favourite dish of the year is hands-down the Beef Sirloin with Paris Butter and French Fries at Pulp Kitchen. It’s perfectly executed, the meat is tender and the butter rich. It is divine with a glass of red and perfect for sharing.

Pulp Kitchen’s Sirloin. Image: Beatrice Smith.

Ramentic’s Chicken Ramen

This Lonsdale Street gem serves a ramen packed with interesting ingredients and authentic flavour. I had high expectations when they opened and they were heartily met—Ramentic’s casual atmosphere making it perfect for a quick pre-movie meal or the ideal way to warm up in winter. 

Ramentic’s Chicken Ramen. Image: Beatrice Smith.

ACTIVE Editor Ashleigh Went

Trecento Gnocchi 

The only problem that I found with Trecento’s gnocchi was having to share it with my significant other. This is a dish that should be savoured in solitude: soft pillows of gnocchi with roast pumpkin, sharp parmesan, crispy sage leaves and a burnt butter sauce topped with earthy beetroot dust. Divine.

Trecento’s Gnocchi. Image: Supplied.

Lazy Su’s Su-shimi Platter 

The perfect summer dish: light, fresh and flavourful. Lazy Su’s fish is always fresh, there’s plenty of wasabi and soy and the pickled ginger is to die for. Best accompanied with a lychee beer or a cucumber cooler with Hendricks.

Lazy Su’s Su_shimi platter. Image: Supplied.

Contributing Writer Alison Senti

Kusina’s Pork Belly Popcorn

Two reasons: first, well it’s pork belly! Second, I love how Kusina keeps evolving Filipino food to suit to Canberra’s multi-faceted food scene.

Kusina’s Pork Belly Popcorn. Image: Alison Senti.

Honourable mentions

Lilotang’s Sake Lees Marinated Grilled Chicken with Herb Salad, Sesame Chilli Sauce

Eightysix’s Frozen Margarita

Lazy Su’s Poké Bowls

Secret Garden’s Raspberry and ricotta-stuffed French toast with lemon lavender curd, cherry sorbet, meringue shards, coconut emulsion, freeze dried raspberries and pure maple syrup

Agostinis’ one-metre pizzas

Ricardo’s K.F.C. BURGER—Korean fried chicken, bacon, Asian slaw, sriracha, soy aioli

Ritual’s Chocolate Chip Cookies with Rolo centre

What was YOUR favourite dish of 2017?

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Emma Macdonald

Emma Macdonald has been writing about Canberra and its people for more than 20 years, winning numerous awards for her journalism - including a Walkley or two - along the way. Canberra born and bred, she’s fiercely loyal to the city, tribally inner-north, and relieved the rest of the country is finally recognising Canberra’s cool and creative credentials. More about the Author