The leaves have turned and it’s starting to get chilly. Winter is almost here. Lazy Sunday…
Winter and comfort food go together like Canberrans and indoor heating.
Or perhaps that should be, ‘go together like hot soup and crusty bread’.
Nothing is better than something deliciously warming on a Canberra winter’s day, but ‘comfort food’ can sometimes come with an unwelcome heaviness in the belly. Solving this conundrum was what motivated Rick de Marco to fill Ricardo’s Café and Patisserie’s winter menu with foods that satisfy and nourish.
With this in mind, we took the six strong HerCanberra team to Jamison to road test six different dishes. Now, with a vegetarian, a pescetarian, a high-protein dieter and three dedicated carnivores finding a place where the menu can accommodate all our needs is no mean feat…happily, Ricardo’s delivered. Here’s what we ate.
Ricardo’s had me at Fish Tacos and I called shotgun on those babies quicker than you could say “Baja Peninsula”. I am not joking when I say that the whole team had food envy. We’re talking crispy fish, slaw, jalapeños and creamy dressing wrapped in soft tortillas—yum. The lightly battered fish gave the dish a light crunch and the jalapeños a mild heat…it was the perfect dish to wrap my hands around and a great serving size for lunch.
As soon as my eyes scanned the menu, I knew what I wanted. It started with K and ended with FC Burger. I’m a huge fan of burgers, but unfortunately sometime this choice can leave you with regrets when it comes to 3pm and you’re feeling sluggish.
I was happily surprised, however, when my first bite proved that it was moist chicken breast fillet hidden under the light crumb. Topped with an Asian style slaw which added a crunch and lovingly lathered with a punch of tangy sauce and sweet sriracha it was an indulgent lunch without the afternoon slump.
Soup and winter go hand in hand so the Cauliflower Soup was my first choice (it was about 10 degrees outside!).
The flavour was creamy but not too heavy and the generous serve was accompanied by pieces of crunchy buttered toast. Paired with a spicy yet mild chai tea and it was the perfect winter lunch. Cosy and comforting but light.
I’m usually pretty sceptical about ordering a salad off the menu – they’re usually either laden with calorie-rich toppings or boring and bland.
This one from the special’s menu, however, was just heavenly – packed with flavoursome veggies and herbs, while the chickpeas added enough substance to keep me full for hours. Brownie points for the fact that I could add haloumi! I would very happily order this salad again in a heartbeat.
Sometimes when you order Breakfast Fritters they hang around with you until lunch, or maybe even dinner. And this is not in a good way. If your fritter experience has been of the stodgy variety then try Ricardo’s version, where they make the perfect breakfast fare.
Three large golden balls arrive on the plate, artistically arranged beside two poached eggs. The batter is light and sweet, filled with corn, herbs and haloumi. The fried casing provides perfect crunch and no lingering greasiness. A swirl of beetroot hummus and generous helping of couscous ups the healthy component of the dish while the dukkah and harissa yoghurt helps balance out the richness. You may even feel virtuous enough to tackle a dessert…
As a side note, some mini HerCanberra team members ate at Ricardo’s the week before we did and their (albeit informal) reviews were that the strawberries and cream milkshake is superior to many others and that the pancakes are “very excellent.”
When I go out for lunch, I am always lured in by a good salad because I like to eat light during the day. However, when I say a good salad, I don’t mean the ones that are just full of lettuce leaves and too much dressing.
I’m talking salads that can sustain you for the rest of the day and are loaded with a good amount of fresh produce, a good cheese and lots of texture, so when I saw the Haloumi Salad on the Ricardo’s menu, I had to have it. And it certainly did not disappoint. It was packed with haloumi, avocado, roast pumpkin, steamed greens, mixed seeds, raisins, sumac verjuice and the perfect amount of poppy seed dressing. It ticked all my salad boxes and some.
Intrigued? Don’t take our word for it. Ricardo’s is open every day for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea and their desserts are, well, legendary.
There’s also more than meets the eye with free and plentiful parking at Jamison Plaza and a kids’ playground located just outside the covered and heated outdoor area, meaning you can watch your kids play while you sip your latte in the warmth.
What: Ricardo’s Café and Patisserie
When: Open Monday-Friday from 7.30am-5.30pm and weekends from 7.30am-4pm
Where: Jamison Plaza, 1/1 Bowman Street, Macquarie
Phone: 6251 2666
All photography by Tess Godkin
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