Grazing: A restaurant review
Who needs a fancy restaurant critic when you have our very own ACT blogger Mick to fill you in on the what’s what of one of Canberra’s favourite restaurants.
Canberra is known as ‘The Bush Capital’ and it’s not hard to work out why. You can drive half an hour in almost any direction in Canberra and you’ll be surrounded by gums, acres of paddocks, sheep and kangaroos.It was on this day that my partner and I headed 30 minutes north towards the small town of Gundaroo.
Housed in the old Royal Hotel, circa 1865, this restaurant gives new meaning to the term, ‘rustic dining’. As you enter the traditional entrance of the hotel, you are presented with the décor of a classic Australian hotel but the main thing you notice are the glorious smells wafting from the dining rooms. This is a unique feature of the building that Grazing resides in; individual dining rooms for groups, perfect for a function or dinner party.
On this particular night we were seated beside a crackling fireplace in a room with about seven other tables. The hominess of the restaurant coupled with the friendly and knowledgeable staff immediately made us feel relaxed.
The menu is presented in simple categories; trout, pork, chicken, duck, pie etc.. We chose the charcuterie for an
entrée along with the seafood raviolo. Included in the charcuterie platter were crispy pigs ears and lamb prosciutto sourced from the famous ‘Poachers Pantry’, just west of Canberra.
Grazing prides itself on using fresh local produce in their dishes and you can’t get much fresher than serving up vegetables and herbs from your own backyard! At this time of year we could expect fresh herbs and broccoli in our meals picked from the large patch located at the rear of the building. The parsley mashed potato that accompanied the duck of my dining partner was described as “..the most amazing mash I’ve ever eaten..”
In keeping with the ‘bush’ theme, I went for the kangaroo main meal which was marinated in those afore-mentioned fresh herbs, garlic and served on an onion and (obligatory Aussie) beetroot tart. Talk about a taste sensation! If you’ve never had kangaroo before it is not an easy meat to cook well. On this occasion Grazing got it right. Tender, tasty and with a beautiful blend of flavours from the lemon yoghurt and chilli jam condiments.
Grazing offers up an impressive selection of local wines to accompany the meal. Canberra is known as a quality cold climate wine region and some of the best the industry have to offer are available in Grazings impressive wine list. In keeping with using quality local products, the staff are locals as well, which in a town with a population of 300 is an impressive feat!
After our first two courses we were stuffed! I mean, we really didn’t need a dessert, but how can one resist ordering a crème brulèe with blueberry and white chocolate custard? If that doesn’t get your mouth salivating, it was topped with a (local) honey crust, berry sorbet and, for the kid inside, popping candy. It works well together and I wolfed down the magical dessert to complete a gloriously flavourful and satisfying meal.
It’s hard to write anything critical of the location, service and meal. Even on a busy Saturday night of a long weekend, we were served promptly with a smile and even indulged in some witty banter with the service staff.
This place is definitely a diamond in the rough of the Canberra region and worthy of a two and a half hour drive south from Sydney to indulge.
A quick Foodies guide to Canberra
1. Rasa Sayang – Located in the heart of Canberra’s Chinatown, you may be fooled by its simple exterior but this consistently good Malaysian food never fails to impress.
2. Poacher’s Pantry – This nationally renowned gourmet food store and restaurant has smoked meats to die for. Bookings are essential on the weekends.
3. Choku Bai Jo – This curiously named store sells a great range of produce from the local region and beyond
4. Knead Patisserie – Located within the bustling Belconnen Fresh Food Markets, this patisserie has outstanding baguettes, delicious cakes and great coffee.
5. Brodburger – This red food van near the Kingston foreshore is a local secret, serving gourmet burgers to patient punters. Expect a wait, but it’s worth it!
What restaurants are currently on your must-visit list?
- Grazing Restaurant, Gundaroo
- Poachers Pantry
- Choku Bai Jo
- Knead Patisserie
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