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Pialligo Estate: An escape close to home

Natassja Hoogstad Hay

I can think of few Canberra dining institutions that have had such seemingly meteoric rise as Pialligo Estate.

What started out as a passion project for founders Rowan Brennan and John Russell has fast become a favourite in Canberra’s food scene.

The slew of awards for the Pialligo team is impressive. Best restaurant in the 2015 Australian Hotels Association AHA ACT Hospitality Awards, wine list of the year nominee in the Gourmet Traveller 2016 Restaurant Guide Awards and in Canberra’s top 10.

And of course you can’t go past their award-winning bacon, best in Australia two years running. The smoked salmon and gravlax, also award winners, are insanely good too and about to become a regular feature on my dinner party menu.

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While you can enjoy their traditionally smoked goods anywhere, a trip to the Farmhouse Restaurant, which opened in February this year, is truly something special. I’ve been to restaurant twice – once for long weekend lunch in summer, soon after the restaurant had opened, then again last week on a chilly winter night. It was perfect both times, despite being completely different seasons and times of day.

The food is modern Australian fine dining using beautiful seasonal produce, some grown on the estate itself. Chef de Cuisine Brendan Walsh has created a two or three course option for lunch or three courses at dinner, or six course chef’s tasting menu.

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The restaurant itself reminds me of a huge cosy log cabin. High ceilings greet you as you walk in, with exposed brick and dark wood throughout. Upping the cosy factor is the fireplaces, which have been designed to be visible from every table, a touch which owner Rowan admits is completely “over the top”.

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On a sunny day you can look out through the restaurant’s wall to ceiling windows to Pialligo Estate’s 86-acre property. Even though it’s only a 10 minute drive from the city, it feels like an entirely different world when all you can see is greenery, fruit trees and rolling hills in the distance.

The property already houses the restaurant, a vineyard (the Pialligo Estate riesling is amazing!), an orchard, an olive grove, a market garden and the original smokehouse kiln.

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The Pialligo team has plans for expansion though, with a café and pavilions near the main building to start serving a more casual style of food at breakfast and lunch

Lazy weekend brunch looking over Mt Majura and the stunning Pialligo property? Sounds incredible to me. Watch this space…

the essentials 

What: Pialligo Estate
Where: 18 Kallaroo Rd, Pialligo ACT 2609
When: Lunch: 12 – 2:30pm, Thursday – Sunday
Dinner: From 6pm, Wednesday – Saturday
Book: 02 6247 6060
Web: http://www.thepialligoestate.com.au/estate/farmhouse-restaurant/

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Natassja Hoogstad Hay

Natassja Hoogstad Hay is a communications professional working in Canberra. An unashamed foodie, she loves cooking and going out to eat, and has a special love of coffee and wine. She’s obsessed with social media (handy in her field!) and is working on perfecting her Instagram game. In her spare time you might find her at a yoga class, cosied up on the couch with a book or the TV, or outside taking photos of beautiful Canberra sunsets. More about the Author

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