I was barely back from Paris that work took me to another Capital, and for almost three weeks, Canberra has been "home away from home". I just returned yesterday and hopefully there will be little travel from now until Christmas...
So, having been on the road almost non-stop since the beginning of October, my usual enthusiasm for going out for dinner started to become more a necessity than a pleasure.
Sure, I do enjoy coming back again and again to Belluci's in Manuka, because of the honest Italian fare and the friendly service that one enjoys by being a regular, and also having "brekkie'"at My Cafe in Manuka as well, where I do not have to place an order as most of the waiters and waitresses as well as the owner would not dare serve me my coffee before I have finished my food (they make a very good Egg Benedict...), an unfortunate habit of all cafes in Australia, where you end up either ordering a second one later or drinking the first one cold...
So out of frustration, I went back to the Promenade Cafe at the Park Hyatt, a "valeur sure" in the Canberra hotel and restaurant scene. We had experienced some of the "new" style brought in by their new Executive Chef, Hartmut Kehm, and his Chef de Cuisine, Jiju Rajappen last Christmas, when I took my wife for a tour of the region's museums, restaurants and wineries and stayed at the Hyatt.
So here I am on a lonely Thursday night, and surprise, surprise, there is now a three-course menu for 65$! That has to be good value, even if you add a couple of glasses of wine (which I did...obviously!) and the total bill was 84$.
Most nights, for more money, I certainly didn't experience such good food in such a confortable and friendly environment.
Dinner that night consisted of an entree of prawns, followed by a lovely pair of Italian style home made sausages on a mash and a generous cheese plate. It was so good that I asked if I could talk to the Chef, and Jiju comes and introduced himself, we have a chat, I told him about my blog, and how impressed I was with the new menu.
We said our good byes and a couple of days later, I got an email from him, asking me if I was going to be in Canberra two weeks later for an special Asparagus dinner. I may have done the trip just for that, but didn't have to as I was already booked to spend the week in Canberra anyway - and no, it was not because the POTUS was in town...
The memories of this dinner still linger, being one of the best meal I had in a long time. See my review on our "Restaurants" page.
Also Jiju was kind enough to recreate some of the dishes from the set menu, so I could take proper photos:
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.
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