The Rydges Lakeside Hotel has been revamped into a designer hotel called QT Canberra by QT Hotels and Resorts, a group that are becoming known for refurbishing and reinventing hotels. I had been to the restaurant's predecessor, Locanda Italian Steakhouse and was keen to see what had changed. In its new reincarnation as Capitol Bar and Grill (CBG), I thought the funky new flooring was tiled but discovered it was actually carpet - which was perfect for absorbing the noise around us. I could actually hear my dining companion and not the neighbouring conversations. The music didn't compete with us either and added a nice touch to the ambience of the restaurant.
Immediately, I noticed the wait staff were friendly and welcoming. They were knowledgeable and good communicators (speaking clearly and loud enough) and were able to recommend dishes from each section of the menu.
I didn't see any cocktails on the drinks menu but there was a very wide selection of wine, as we could see displayed in glass cabinets.
We started with a bread basket. The croissant was my favourite. It was light and had pliable and delicate layers. It had a buttery taste without the oiliness. That croissant left me craving another one for days afterwards!
The antipasto platter ($26 for a medium platter*) was magnificent. I would come back just for this. The deli meats were insanely good. The ham was delicately flavoured and extremely tasty. The texture of the wafer-thin prosciutto was perfect. And I could have had a whole plate of the juicy skewers of cherry tomato, buffalo mozzarella and honeydew melon to myself!
The incredibly fresh oysters (12 for $52*) were accompanied by a white balsamic and spring onion vinagrette. However, it was fantastic with just the lemon. The oysters came from St Helens in Tasmania, a town renowned for its oysters. A foodie friend of mine, Heike from But it tasted good, has been raving about them...and I was not disappointed!
My dinner companion ordered the Crumbed Blue Eye Fish Fingers ($34*) and it was accompanied by a house tartare sauce, which was just delightful. The sourness from the capers and the sweetness from the capsicum balanced perfectly.
I ordered the Rib Eye ($48*) - medium rare. It was perfectly cooked when I sliced it open and I could tell it had been well rested. The wild meats sauce (a sort of barbeque sauce) that I chose to go with it, was tangy and had very robust flavours.
The side of Paris Mash Potatoes ($10) was as decadent and delicious as it should be! Wow!
By this stage, we were running out of stomach room, but we couldn't go past the delicious-sounding desserts. We ordered two to share. The Creme Caramel with saffron persian fairy floss was simply magical.
The creme caramel flavour was beautiful, not too sweet or rich. What stood out for me was the texture of the dessert. It was the first creme caramel I'd had that had a sort of mousse-like texture. It took me forever to eat because I savoured each and every bite slowly. I started off eating the two components separately, but then realised it was best eaten together, with the fairy floss melting together with the mousse-like caramel. Absolute heaven. For me, it was the standout dish of the night. I mentioned to the chef that he should consider putting this dessert special on the menu permanently!
By comparison, the tiramisu was a bit soggy and the cream could have been a bit firmer. It seemed to "melt" when I was halfway through the dessert. The flavours were also on the bolder side and very generous with the alcoholic liqueurs. However, it was still a good dessert and did not detract from the overall meal.
Capitol Bar and Grill is an Italian-themed restaurant that does classic food exceptionally well. A lot of the food is sourced locally and the produce is very fresh. I'm very keen to come back and try the food from the other sections of the menu!
*I dined as a guest of Capitol Bar and Grill prior to its official launch. HerCanberra covered the official launch. Check it out!