I have been very excited to try the new bar and eatery that has just opened on 15 Moore st, replacing the Chinese restaurant that used to be in that spot. According to their Facebook page, Temporada is a partnership between between Ben Willis of Aubergine Restaurant and his sous chef, Chris Darragh. Meaning 'seasonal' in Spanish, Ben and Chris opened Temporada together as owners with Chris running the kitchen. Temporada, Canberra isn't a Spanish restaurant - they just thought the name sounded good and felt that it reflected the Spanish way of thinking, cooking and eating that they wanted to bring into the space. The menu changes regularly and focuses on organic produce from local growers and super fresh seafood like oysters, clams, mussels, with plenty of things coming off a wood grill.
A foodie friend and I decided to check it out yesterday on their opening night. We sat at the bar, which spans almost the length of the whole restaurant.
We happened to sit right in front of the bar staff who were learning to make the cocktails on the new drinks menu. We also had a good view of the stairs leading to the second floor. We wondered aloud whether it led to a private room, but our friendly bartender, Caleb, reassured us we weren't missing out on anything exciting (just the restrooms and a storeroom).
I started off with the Jerry Jam cocktail ($17). Little did I know it was going to be my favourite cocktail of the night. The ingredients should have tipped me off, as I do love blackberry jam, seasonal berries, Chambord liqueur, and spiced rum. I just didn't realise how amazing the mix would be. It is a sweeter cocktail because of the jam, but don't let that put you off as the flavours are well balanced and fantastically complex.
My friend had the Count Camillo ($18), described on the menu as, "A fresher variation of the Negroni. Gin, Campari, Victorian sweet vermouth shaken with organic ginger cordial and finished with a splash of soda". She said it was a great alternative to your average sweet cocktail. It's not what you expect and certainly makes a statement.
While we sipped on our cocktails, we were entertained by Caleb being taught how to make each cocktail. We watched as they made the Albuquerque Royale ($19), a Bellini-esque Champagne cocktail made from homemade apricot puree, peach liqueur then charged with Cava sparkling wine.
Next, they made Respect Your Elderflowers ($18), a simple and elegant cocktail with St Germain elderflower liqueur, Gin, Creme de cassis, and fresh lemon.
Caleb looked like he was having a lot of fun making the Temporada Espresso ($18), their version of the espresso martini. Vodka, coffee liqueur and Pedro Ximenez sherry are shaken with cold drip coffee from Two Before Ten.
We were enjoying ourselves so much we considered getting some nibbles to go with our drinks. The notion of getting "nibbles" completely flew out the window once we started reading the food menu. We were so excited by the sound of some of the items, we didn't know how to limit ourselves to our stomach capacity and wallet size! We eventually decided to share two smaller plates and two larger plates.
Actually, we had three small plates because we each got Marinated Sardines on Toast ($4.50 each). This was one of our favourite dishes, as it was jam packed with flavour and textures. The crispness of the toast, the sweetness from the caramelised onion and garlic slices, juicy cherry tomato, the sprinkling of dried olive on top and the slight saltiness from the sardine, all melded together to create a powerful flavour combination. I'm glad we each got one of these because after one bite, I don't think I could have shared the rest of it!
We had the Pigs Head Roll ($7) next. I was okay with sharing this one. While every element tasted great on its own (the bread was beautifully light, the crumbed pig head "patty" was flavourful and crunchy), we didn't think the ratios were quite right. It was slightly too bready. I also thought the use of the word "roll" was a little misleading. For $7, I was expecting something a bit more substantial than a slider that I could hold between my thumb and two fingers.
Our "larger plates" came out next and we tried the Blue Mackeral ($19) first. This was a great sharing dish as the fish easily flaked apart when I divided it with my fork. The fish had a firm texture without being overcooked and had a robust barbeque flavour. I loved the accompanying grilled capsicum, which brought a delicious sweetness to balance out the dish. My favourite part of the dish, however, was the smoked eel pieces. I had only ever tried eel in the Japanese unagi dish, where the eel is grilled with a sweet and sticky soy sauce. We were both curious to find out how smoked eel would taste. We certainly were not disappointed, both loving the amazing smoky flavour and the firm texture of the eel.
The Raw Kingfish ($19) tasted fresh, and had a very mild flavour. Because of this, I tended to sweep everything off the top of the kingfish so that I could have it on its own and appreciate the natural flavour of the fish. Then I enjoyed the freshness of the slices of fennel and radish with the lime-y dressing separately (as a sort of side salad).
I had very good first impressions of Temporada, Canberra. The staff were friendly, humorous and obliging. Both the drinks and food menu excited me when I read them. Most of all, I was impressed by the recurring theme when we were sampling the food - everything was jam-packed with flavour. They used good quality fresh food, the flavours and textures were well thought out, and the dishes were like artwork. I'm already looking forward to my next visit to Temporada!
Edit: Check out my second visit to Temporada (less than a week later!)