It might be blue skies at the moment but we all know that as soon…
If you love the classics—classic food, classic architecture and classic views of Canberra—then you need only book a table at Onred to enjoy all three.
Housed in a mid-century and unique circular glass-walled building atop Red Hill, the building has held a place on Canberra’s skyline since 1963.
But the culinary pace has picked up since Onred was established in 2008, and more recently has been a showcase for executive chef Pradeep Manupriya who brings more than 25 years of international experience and energy to the hilltop.
Having earned a place in some of the best kitchens around the world, Pradeep has always followed his passion for fresh produce and creative challenges, working for Gordon Ramsay at Powerscourt as well as 5-star hotels such as the Burj Al Arab, Jumeriah, One and Only Royal Mirage, Dubai, and Four Seasons Dublin. His passion is for modern European and Australian cuisine, always with a seasonal bent.
The five-course menu allows Pradeep to show off his credentials which veer towards more classic fine-dining than casual food. And there is a definite French vibe to the dishes appearing from the kitchen, which are elegantly plated and finessed.
We started the night with a fragrant Moroccan spiced lentil soup with oregano crouton, followed by Chicken liver crème brûlée, with strawberry chutney, and homemade walnut lavosh bread.
There was also a blue swimmer crab remoulade with pickled baby cucumber jelly, avocado and wasabi mousse, roasted sesame seed, and coriander sprouts (which, like many of the available dishes, was gluten-free).
This was a standout dish—the remoulade was beautifully textural, offset by the creaminess of the mousse and the surprising hint of sweetness in the savoury jelly.
Third course was butter-seared scallops, with rhubarb purée, English black pudding, and alpine apple cider butter. The scallops were plump and beautifully caramelised, while the apple cider butter cut through the richness.
There was also a pan-seared pork loin, with ginger and carrot purée, pistachio crumbs, and a black garlic reduction (GF).
It was tender and perfectly cooked, with the ginger and carrot purée adding sweetness and a touch of heat, while the pistachio crumbs provided texture and nutty depth of flavour.
Not to be deterred, we soon find room for a fourth course—pan-seared kingfish, with pickled mushroom purée, buttered green peas, mussels and saffron reduction (GF)—cooked perfectly just to opaque, with the accompaniments thoughtfully selected to not overpower this delicate fish.
The Pomegranate-marinated sous vide medium rare beef fillet, with rosemary and potato terrine, pickled shimji mushroom, buttered baby vegetables, and marrow jus was melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the jus wonderfully rich.
We have nothing but love for the potato terrine (so pretty!) which manager Alok Anand described as ‘mandolined potatoes and a lot of butter’. No wonder.
Surprisingly, we still look forward to dessert despite the gastronomic journey we have just been on.
We choose a spiced rum and vanilla bean panna cotta, with banana and passion fruit espuma, burnt caramel walnut, and white chocolate shards (GF). It was an adventurous twist on the traditional panna cotta, served in a martini glass – the espuma added tartness, and the burnt caramel walnut and white chocolate shards provided texture.
Meanwhile, the bittersweet dark chocolate tart, with hazelnut and chocolate mousse, common plum, roasted plum ice cream, and frangipani crumb was decadent and creamy—the fresh elements of plum balancing the richness.
It is clear that the menu espouses the restaurant philosophy, which is to elevate a meal to an experience 175 metres above the city.
Service is warm and knowledgeable and like the food, leans towards respectful and formal rather than the overly familiar style employed by some of the newer additions to the Canberra dining scene.
This makes Onred a lovely spot for a romantic dinner, a special family lunch where the volume within the restaurant doesn’t overpower diners, or a place to take that important client. We can’t help but think it would also be a perfect spot for an intimate wedding.
We appreciated the range of options for vegetarians and gluten-free diners as well as a wide spread of expertly cooked meat and seafood dishes.
Cost for five courses is $99 with wine pairings $65, while seven courses is $149 with wine pairings $65. There is an express lunch special from Wednesday to Saturday of two courses for $50 and three courses for $60.