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:
Over the last couple of years "commuting" to France to take care of my Dad , and spending a few days in Paris on the way, I usually stayed with a good friend in Versailles.
This year though, he had just bought a new appartment meters away from the previous one, but in dire need of renovation. So this was not really an option...
Besides, I had a lot of meetings for my other blog, most taking place in the East of Paris, so I decided to find a small hotel near Gare de Lyon and Bastille, and I found a little gem on tripadvisor.com - The Pavillon Saint Louis Bastille, old stone walls, tiny but confortable room. Only complaint was that their WiFi connection was not working in the room, apparently a temporary problem due to a change of provider. Nice little breakfast room at the front of the hotel where the service was lovely and the fare quite adequate, although cooked breakfast is not available. It seems to be very popular with Dutch people, a sign of good value!.
It is walking distance from three Metro stations: Ledru Rollin, Gare de Lyon and Bastille a bit further away, so really convenient.
Also, walking distance to Rue Cremieux - see photo on the left _ a very charming street lined up with plant pots, quite like a London mews.
There is quite a collection of good brasseries, small bistrots and also the Train Bleu in the Gare de Lyon itself.
If you keep coming back and check my "Restaurants" page, then you will see my reviews of the ones I tried.
Near by Bastille, there is a BIG market, with 6 kms (!) of stalls on the Thursday and Sunday - don't miss it!
In the meantime, here are some photos and later on, see my review on our "Markets" page.
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.
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