Locals call Canberra Australia’s ‘best kept secret’ – there’s no rush, more chance to thrive beyond 9 to 5 and people look out for each other and visitors to the region.
Iconic national attractions, riding Mount Strombo’s bike trails, sipping cool-climate Shiraz and dining at Chef-hatted restaurants, the ACT offers a peak experience for all who visit. Here are five award-winning restaurants you need to try next time you are in town:
Tantalise tastebuds with modern Japanese fare at Raku Dining
(14) on Bunda Street in Canberra. Combining the precision of Oriental cuisine with the vibrant energy of Mod Oz dining, Raku is all sleek lines, pale wood tables and stools, mixed with glossy tiles and floor-to-ceiling glass windows, to create a chic and trendy vibe.
Best described as art on a plate, be prepared for starters like Wagyu tartare, sansho pepper dressing, caramelised miso butter and a lotus cracker; before robata-grilled snapper, orange ponzu, onion, tomato and yuzu kosho dressing, or chicken skewers with shallots and yakitori sauce.
Experience a fresh, intimate and unique fine-dining experience at Table by Canberra Gourmet
(14) on Sternberg Crescent in Wanniassa. This limited-seating restaurant delivers an amazing celebration of great food and exquisite flavours in elegant surrounds of candle-lit tables, fresh flowers, blond wood and twinkling fairy lights, as Chef Thomas Heinrich delivers an eight-course degustation menu.
Think starters like cured King salmon, dill and cream cheese, or Tiger prawns, watermelon and shallots; moving onto larger plates such as duck, cherry and macadamia, or pork, cabbage and curried carrots. Decadent desserts like strawberry, mascarpone and financier make for an indulgent finish to a memorable meal.
(12) delivers a new concept restaurant for the Canberra region, hidden amongst Government departments and new apartments in the leafy suburb of Barton. Nestled on Macquarie Street, this elegant restaurant embodies a laid-back vibe with a long communal bar to comfortably seat groups, or couples looking to relax over a glass of wine.
A dark and moody, yet warm and ambient, interior complements a menu pairing great food with specially sourced wines; start with small plates like scallops, black sesame, yuzu kosho, shiso, nori and katsuobushi, before memorable mains of lamb, peas, olives, Persian feta and a herb crust.
When two cultures collide…magic happens at Canberra’s Nikkei restaurant Inka
(12) on Bunda Street. Fusing Japanese and Peruvian cuisine, Inka is home to a functions mezzanine, sushi bar and restaurant, with South American accents woven throughout a moody décor of colourful pendent lighting, communal and intimate tables and a well-stocked bar.
Nikkei was born when Japanese farmers migrated to Peru at the end of the 19th Century, combining their skill with local ingredients to create dishes like grilled prawn tacos with yuzu koshu, tuna tiradito with tomato, jalapeños and onion chalaquita, or robata-grilled octopus with cauliflower purée and puffed quinoa.
Experience contemporary Australian cuisine with hints of heritage at Pomegranate
(12) on Giles Street in Kingston. This elegant Canberra dining destination exudes charm with dark wood, rustic tables and exposed beams, while an eclectic mix of knickknacks adds to the vibe; on balmy days head outdoors to sip a glass of wine on two terrace-style balconies.
Seafood features highly in starters such as Atlantic salmon carpaccio, marinated with apple cider vinegar, onion, ginger and chilli; moving onto main offerings like confit duck leg, sauteéd spinach, celeriac purée and pomegranate sauce. Finish indulgently with a dessert of chocolate mousse cake and sour cherry sorbet.