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Review: Marble & Grain

Tess Parisotto

I’m not really a pub kinda gal, but that’s not to say I don’t enjoy a good steak and chips. I’d just prefer to enjoy said meal in the company of those whose eyes aren’t glued to an outdated plasma TV screen, clumsily clunking their glasses together in a noisy salute every time their football team scores.

Naturally, then, I was intrigued to learn about Marble & Grain’s new European Steakhouse-inspired GastroPub, described as a ‘premium pub feed’ (minus the testosterone fuelled atmosphere) serving high-end beer and food.

exterior

Created by internationally renowned Chef Danny Russo, with the help of Executive Chef Paul D’Monte, Marble & Grain’s menu uses premium local and Australian meat and produce to deliver a true paddock-to-plate menu. This, I thought, was a dining concept I could get behind (especially with mention of a vast selection of craft beers, wine and a cheeky cocktail list to match every meal).

With no time to waste, a friend and I ventured off to Mort Street, where we were greeted by a friendly host who led us through to the restaurant area. I began to understand the name, Marble & Grain: a polished marble bar, dark timber panelling and loads of texture: marble, brass, corrugated iron, timber. A stylish, warm space that’s casual enough for after work drinks yet elegant enough for an intimate dinner.

dining

The menu was split up into a few sections: starters, entrees, salads, mains, sharing plates, sides and desserts. Each course averaged about five different options, aside from the mains which just about doubled in choice. There was enough to choose from without feeling overwhelmed, and even though it’s a steakhouse-themed menu, there were some vegetarian and gluten free options too.

Starters

To start with we chose Chorizo Corn Dogs and some Ewan McAsh Pacific Oysters, both which arrived promptly, the oysters sitting atop a bed of ice inside a treasure-chest like box. We learnt that all the seafood served at Marble & Grain is sourced from the Pacific Coast and the Sydney Fish Markets, and is delivered to the restaurant daily.

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So naturally we had to try something. My friend chose the oysters to try out. After having just one she couldn’t stop raving about them — they were ‘silky and soft — not at all chewy’ and fresh like they were straight from the ocean. She thought they were some of the best oysters she’s tasted in Canberra.

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As she continued raving, I tucked into the Chorizo Corn Dogs. Definitely not your typical corn-dog you’d find among hoards at the Canberra Show, these bad boys were served up as little fried balls, accompanied by the most delicious smoked tomato relish, remnants of which I may or may not have fingered off the plate and into my mouth…

ENTRÉE
Next up was entrée. I went for the Pork Belly with black pudding, pear and witlof and my friend ordered the Goats Cheese salad with figs, roasted hazelnuts and prosciutto, which, when it arrived at the table, I immediately began to drool over.

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The presentation was absolutely beautiful: the Goats Cheese salad was bursting with vibrancy, the cheese wrapped up in a thin pastry atop the salad’s vivid sea of colour. The goats cheese itself was very creamy, both texturally and in flavour, and the salad complemented it perfectly with zesty vinaigrette and the saltiness from the prosciutto.

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The Pork Belly boasted a tantalising caramelised exterior, accompanied by a pear puree sauce and black pudding, topped off with shredded pear & salad. The pork was lovely and tender, and the skin was salty and crunchy, just as it should be.

Main

Feeling satisfied with what we’d had so far, my friend and I were excitedly anticipating our main meals. We decided on the 12hr Braised 500g Beef Short Rib with smoked carrots, cavolo nero & herb jus and, one of the vegetarian options, the Potato Gnocchi with chanterelle mushrooms, peas, leeks & fennel butter.

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The first thing I thought when I laid my eyes on our meals was that they both looked so seasonally appropriate. The way they were presented brought about feelings of warmth and heartiness –meals I could picture being eaten in front of an open fire with a nice glass of wine.

The Beef was flavoursome and tender, and came off the bone very easily. There was also a really tasty puree to go along with it, not mentioned on the menu. I think it might have been a cauliflower and pumpkin puree; it was creamy and buttery and complemented the overall dish perfectly. The Gnocchi, though a vegetarian option, did not lack any substance whatsoever. It was packed full of flavour and very moorish, with the mushrooms packing a salty punch and the fennel butter adding depth of flavour.

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I thought the serving sizes for our mains were quite generous, but then I saw the Marble & Grain Butchers board arriving at a nearby table, and any idea of appropriate portion size went right out the window. This sharing plate was absolutely enormous and totally mouth-watering. It was piled with meat – venison sausages, lamb ribs, wagyu rump – accompanied by some sweet corn, chorizo roasted onions and crumbed fennel with black pudding & herb jus. I literally couldn’t take my eyes off the platter. It made a lasting impression to say the least. 

Dessert

Eventually, we polished off our main meals and it was time to decide on dessert, to put the proverbial cherry on top of a lovely evening. We may have been feeling full, but everybody knows you have a separate stomach for dessert – a reserve tank, if you will, only to be used once you’ve reached the last leg of the race.

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We ordered the Mixed Cheese Plate with honey, fruits and crisp bread, the Dark Chocolate Tart with chocolate mousse, honeycomb & vanilla bean ice cream, and the Petit Fours.

I went for the dark chocolate tart first because it would have just been wrong if I didn’t and it was absolutely delicious. Probably one of my favourite desserts I’ve had in Canberra. Everything on the plate worked magically with its counterparts; the tart in combination with the mousse was amazingly rich and chocolatey, but the vanilla bean gelato balanced out that richness so it wasn’t overpowering and you could still finish the whole dish. I loved it and if it were socially acceptable I probably would have licked my plate clean.

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Needless to say I was selfish with this dish, and allowed my friend only a few spoonfuls as she munched her way through the cheese platter which was made up of a selection of three cheeses: blue stilton, brie and provolone; some fresh strawberries; pear; and some fig & walnut jam. Upon finishing the chocolate tart, I tucked in too. And, finally, we finished off with the Petit Fours – a chocolate truffle, Turkish delight, vanilla macaron and a mini chocolate mousse tart.

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All in all, it was a pleasant dining experience. The food was enjoyable and it wasn’t boastful or ostentatious; just good tasty food made dotingly by passionate chefs.

And it’s not just for dinner that you can enjoy its premium pub fare — I hear that there’s a mean buffet breakfast on offer, as well as some scrummy cheap-eats on the lunch menu ($14 for an authentic GastroPub-style Chicken Schnitzel – don’t mind if I do!).

Either way, if you’re looking for a sophisticated and enjoyable dining experience in a relaxed and warm environment, Marble & Grain is the place to be.

the essentials

What: Marble & Grain Restaurant and Bar
Where: 25 Mort Street Braddon in Avenue Hotel
When: Open 7 days from 6.00am-12.00am
Phone: (02) 6246 9555
Web: www.marbleandgrain.com.au or find them on Facebook

The author and her guest dined courtesy of Marble & Grain. 

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Tess Parisotto

Tess Parisotto is a 21 year old freelance writer and University student currently studying a Bachelor of Writing at the University of Canberra. Born and raised a Canberran, Tess loves her city and being a part of the Canberra community. She has a love for all things local, and is a self-confessed coffee nut, fiercely passionate about coffee and cafe culture in general. Follow @tessparisotto on Instagram for your daily dose of Canberra goodness and other pretty things. More about the Author