Menu - Vincent Restaurant

Menus as at 26 Jan 2017. Current menu can be found on the Vincent website.

Chef's tasting menu

Minimum of 2 people

$65 per person

Scallops
celeriac, chorizo and apple

Prawns
Jerusalem artichoke, almond, beurre noisette

Barramundi
braised leek, capers and creme fraiche

Zucchini flowers
asparagus, goat curd and celery salt

Pork belly
apple cider vinegar, creamy cabbage and apple

Lamb rump
cauliflower florets, labneh and almond

Or

Wagyu sirloin
parsnip, swiss brown mushrooms and mustard

A la carte

SMALL PLATES

Prawns
Jerusalem artichoke, almond, beurre noisette
$16

Medley of beetroot
cherry, macadamia and goat curd
$18

Scallops
celeriac, chorizo and apple
$17

Zucchini flowers
asparagus, goat curd and celery salt
$19

Smoked wagyu
caramelised onion and king brown
$19

LARGE PLATES

Barramundi
braised leek, capers and creme fraiche
$26

Gnocchi
goats cheese, pumpkin, rocket and pear
$24

Peking duck
orange, chilli, coriander and cashews
$21

Pork belly
cabbage, roasted grape, apple cider vinegar jus
$25

Lamb rump
cauliflower florets, labneh and almond
$28

Wagyu sirloin
parsnip, swiss brown mushrooms and mustard
$29

DESSERT

Lemon bavarois
honeycomb, blood orange and mascarpone parfait
$8

The Loft Bar and Grill

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The Loft Bar and Grill is a pop up restaurant situated above The Duxton in O'Connor, Canberra. Previously a cocktail bar, The Loft will run as a restaurant for 3 months while The Duxton undergoes renovations. Head Chef is Griff Pamment, formerly executive chef and culinary director of Luxe espresso, kitchen and bakery (in Sydney), culinary and creative director at Bill Granger's Bill's Restaurants (Sydney, London Japan). I was kindly invited* to attend the launch of The Loft’s pop up restaurant to sample the menu offerings. The produce has been selected with care, with the dishes using the freshest ingredients available. Creative flair can be seen in dishes like the incredible octopus salami from the Fish charcuterie board. After having octopus cooked so beautifully this way, I’m not sure why you would have it any other way! The use of the frozen persimmon in the dessert dish also worked well.

Elements of each dish are well balanced in terms of flavour and texture. I never would have thought grapes would go with chicken, but it did. Also, the chicken was so flavoursome - the seasoning had somehow penetrated the entire chicken breast, and the potato rosti just finished off the perfect dish. All potato rosti should taste like this. It should be made of grated potato and crispy on the outside (not just deep fried mash potato).

I liked that the amount of steak you get for each dish is given in brackets on the menu. So you know exactly how much you're getting for the price. The Dry aged angus sirloin on the bone with roast bone marrow was a delicious main dish that could have easily fed two people (with some sides).

The Loft at Duxton is a great venue for all occasions - from a romantic night for two, to a gathering for friends or family. The dishes can be easily shared or had individually.

Check out my photos from the launch night:

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*I dined as a guest of The Loft Bar and Grill but all views are my own.

The Loft at Duxton Location: Corner of Macpherson St and Sargood St, O'Connor ACT 2602. Entrance is via the stairs in the DuxtonPhone: 02 6247 7330 Open: for lunch Wed - Sat 12pm - 3pm. Open for dinner Wed - Sat 6pm - Late with the bar open from 5pm. Website and menu: http://www.theloftatduxton.com.au/

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Doing dining differently at Sage

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Located on the Batman St side of Gormon House Arts Centre, is the award-winning Sage Dining Rooms. Head Chef Damian Brabender is an approachable and friendly kind of guy - and he's changing things up at Sage. The kitchen comprises of Damian and three other chefs but they are taking dishes out themselves and talking to the diners about the dishes. It's easy to see his passion for food. His excitement is contagious.

Chef Damian uses the freshest ingredients - from the Sage farm and straight from the Mint bar garden out the front of the restaurant. He's cultivating unusual produce to help create a unique dining experience everyday. Just some of the interesting ingredients include kohlrabi (turnip cabbage), chick weed (a leaf vegetable), nasturtium (an ornamental salad ingredient), and salty ice plant (a plant with glistening, succulent leaves). He uses these ingredients to create innovative dishes that are not too traditional and not too modern. The dishes are fun and whimsical, but relatable at the same time.

And because the team are always experimenting, always developing new dishes - there's even more reason to visit more often and experience the evolving menu as the seasons change.

I was invited to sample some of the newest creations on the menu.*

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The first plate for the evening looked like a small dish of bacon bits, but with a smell hot chips in the air. As it turned out, the dish is actually Sage's take on Salt & Vinegar Chips: on a bed of creamy hollandaise sauce - aerated by carbon dioxide - are crunchy potato crumbs. It's a familiar flavour that is elevated by incredible textures.

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The next plate of snacks are just as whimsical. Sitting atop a garden pea marshmallow is a pile of interesting-looking shavings. I wondered if it was homemade pork floss, as it seemed to have a fluffy texture, similar to the Asian dried meat product that looks a bit like cotton. The chef revealed it was ham that had been frozen and then microplaned.

Chef Damian (who is allergic to tuna!) lives on the wild side every day to prepare an incredibly fresh Yellowfin Tuna Sashimi Taco topped with wasabi and a finger-licking good ABC aioli sauce (main ingredients being ABC kecap manis and mayonnaise). The light-as-air oyster mousse made a creamy topping for the crunchy tapioca-based cracker.

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Looking as pretty as a flower was the Rockmelon and Trout dish. The ocean trout was incredibly tender after it had been cured in sugar and then cooked in a water bath at low temperature. The rich and salty trout paired really well with the sweet, fresh rockmelon. Tying the dish together was the creamy avocado, wasabi and pine nut sauce.

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The beef tartare came with a very cute fried seaweed lid made of fried seaweed. The mixture of the raw beef with coriander and lightly pickled kholrabi from the garden, peanut praline and the ABC aioli instantly reminded me of a very fancy beef satay.

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A most impressive dish was a Heston-like dish. Out came what looked like sashimi. There was a light-coloured seafood on the left, and on the right was raw tuna, or that's what it seemed! Turns out it was lobster and watermelon! Given the lobster was completely cooked, this meant the dish was a completely safe option for pregnant women. The watermelon, which had been hickory smoked and somehow compressed, magically took on a "meaty" quality.  Chef Damian said the watermelon cooked in this way could also be done to look like nigiri-style sushi where a piece of the watermelon sits atop a small rectangular mound of sushi rice.

Forget about what you thought of stuffy fine-dining establishments. You don't need a special occasion to visit at Sage Dining Rooms. While the white tablecloths and fancy tableware give an air of sophistication, the dining experience is fun and dynamic. The menu is constantly being modified, with some dishes changing on a daily basis. This is particularly the case with Taste and Test where you get five surprise dishes for $75. It's being run for 5 weeks from 7 April - 7 May 2015 for lunch and dinner Tuesdays - Thursdays.

Sage caters for all dietary requirements. Most dishes are gluten free as potato starch is generally used instead of flour.

If you can't make it to Taste and Test, the easiest way to sample the best dishes is to take advantage of the Chef's Menu which gives you 5 courses for $95.00. Wine pairings are $45.00 and soft pairings are $25.00.

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The soft matches are unique and beautifully balanced drinks that won't feel like you're having less fun than those having wine matches. Both the Lime & Hazelnut Soda and the Vanilla & Strawberry Soda had a simple delicate sweetness that complemented the matching dish.

Sage Dining Rooms are open for lunch and dinner Tuesday to Saturday. The restaurant is now also doing a 5-course brunch on Saturdays from 9:30am - 1:30pm,  which includes ham hock, poached eggs, and milk cereal sorbet with fruit loop crumble.

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*I dined as a guest of Sage Dining Rooms but all opinions are my own.

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Elk and Pea - Sunday Boozy Brekky

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Elk and Pea, a funky cafe on Braddon's Lonsdale street serves hearty food with a Central American influence. Part of the Parlour family (which includes Parlour Wine Bar and Knightsbridge Penthouse) Elk and Pea is a more eclectic dining establishment than its counterparts. With Elk heads along the colourful graffiti-ed wall and stuffed peacocks adorning the interior, this restaurant is visually appealing, especially if you get to sit inside what I call the "Birdcage Table".

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On this occasion, I was invited* by Elk and Pea to sample their Sunday Boozy Brekky, which is available all day (from 8am - 3pm).

When Macgyver Boyfriend and I arrived at 11am, it was still packed with patrons so I was super glad I had booked a table beforehand.

There are two boozy brekkies on offer. I ordered the Smashed Avocado, Mushrooms and a Mimosa ($25*).  As a meatlover, the thought did cross my mind whether I made the right choice in ordering this vegetarian dish. Was it going to fill me up? But when it arrived, all doubts flew out of my head immediately. This was a vegetarian dish of mammoth proportions. However, the size wasn't the only thing that impressed me. The mushrooms had been cooked in thyme-butter and were absolutely delicious. Combined with the smashed avocado, marinated feta, torn basil, and poached egg - it was a delightful vegetarian feast. The mimosa cocktail of orange juice and sparkling wine was the perfect accompaniment.

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The other boozy brekky dish was the Grande and a House Beer ($25*), which Macgyver Boyfriend ordered so we could try one of each dish. If my vegetarian dish was of mammoth proportions, then the Grande was Jurassic-sized: two eggs done your way on sourdough toast with bacon, chorizo, mushrooms, spinach & black beans. This was a generous big breakfast with a Central American twist. Macgyver Boyfriend let me try the chorizo and it was a big mistake. It was so amazingly flavoursome that I kept trying to steal it from him!

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If you're looking for a fun and hearty breakfast or you're recovering from a fun night, the Boozy Brekky at Elk and Pea is definitely for you!

*Macgyver Boyfriend and I dined as guests of Elk and Pea.

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Pialligo Estate - my future wedding venue?

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I can picture the golden glow of a gorgeous sunset bathing the lush manicured lawns of Pialligo Estate as the backdrop to my dream wedding. With sweeping views across Canberra, right to the Brindabellas, I can see iconic landmarks of Parliament House and Telstra Tower in the same gaze. I've always wanted a garden wedding with an emphasis on beautiful food. So after I took advantage of the opportunity to have a sneak peek of Pialligo Estate prior to the relaunch, I could tell it was a very special venue.

The beautifully landscaped grounds feature four individual verandahs for private dining functions. There will be a separate kitchen and bar servicing these outdoor bungalows.

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Wedding guests can sit back and enjoy the magnificent panoramic view (while I frolic around in the grape vines for my wedding photos).

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Following extensive refurbishment, Pialligo Estate boasts an olive grove, vineyard, fruit orchard, market garden, as well as the award-winning Pialligo Smokehouse. Visitors to Pialligo Estate loved the self-sustaining rural lifestyle so much that the owners decided to open the Estate to guests to enjoy the unique food, wine and lifestyle experience.

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As a foodie, I would want the food at my wedding to be memorable and a highlight of the event. Last year the Pialligo smokehouse was awarded Australia's Best Artisan Bacon.

It makes complete sense to have my wedding where they make the best bacon in the country.

Pialligo Estate launched their new farmhouse restaurant last weekend with a Valentine's Day menu. Having their own fruit orchard and market garden affords them the opportunity to create  seasonal menus featuring their own produce. I tasted these food samples as a guest of Pialligo Estate.

Spanner crab sandwich, picked cos lettuce and lemon verbena

Delicate crackers were the perfect vehicle to transport the fresh spanner crab to my waiting tastebuds.

Yellowfin tuna, peas from the garden, sea blight, almonds & Tasmanian wasabi

The tuna was delicious, but the peas were so incredibly fresh and vibrant that I just wanted to eat a whole bowl of those peas.

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Pialligo Estate wines were available for tasting. The 2009 Riesling went particularly well with the food on offer.

Sabayon of Pialligo Farm smoked salmon, green apple and chives

The light-as-froth sabayon served as a creamy sauce to the smoked salmon and apple combination. This dish was a well-executed balancing-act of flavours and textures.

Beignet of grilled corn and black truffle cream

For me, this was the stand out dish of the night. It was sweet corn soup - deep fried. It was accompanied by a black truffle cream dipping sauce, made of Canberra truffles from last year's season. We were instructed to pop the golden cube in one go. Good thing I had my mouth closed when I bit into the crunchy morsel because sweet corn soup immediately flooded my mouth. It was (literally) sensational! I loved that the presentation included the corn leaves.

But it wasn't just the food that wowed me. Featuring natural stones and recycled timbers, the Pialligo Farmhouse Restaurant evoked a stately, country elegance.

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A quick tour of the restaurant revealed a commercial kitchen out the back, and a temperature-controlled cellar with approximately 5000 wines inside. An in-house bakery is still being built.

Pialligo Farmhouse Restaurant private dining room

The dining area is expansive and versatile. There are private dining rooms and large verandahs with retractable shades. Leather chesterfield sofas have been placed next to fireplaces. If that's not cosy enough, there is underfloor heating for chilly Canberra winter nights. Though I'm not sure I would be having my wedding in winter!

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Only minutes from the airport and 8 minutes from the city, the 86 acre Pialligo Estate is a gorgeous location for a beautiful country wedding. My interstate or international guests wouldn't have to travel far from the airport. And my local guests will be able to appreciate a "country escape" in a central location.

With a Michelin-starred chef leading the kitchen and beautiful stately grounds with spectacular view, Pialligo Estate could very well become the most coveted wedding venue in Canberra!

With all this wedding talk, you might be wondering whether I've become recently engaged. Nope, the right guy hasn't proposed to me yet. But it couldn't hurt to have a good venue in mind, just in case, right?

The details Address: Pialligo Estate, 18 Kallaroo Rd, Pialligo ACT 2609 Phone: 02 6247 6060 Website (and menu): http://www.thepialligoestate.com.au Open: Wednesday - Saturday for lunch and dinner. Sunday lunch only.

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