Dinner @ Courgette (Canberra, Australia)

January 2, 2020 in Australian, European by thywhaleliciousfay

Because I was spending 4 days in Canberra, I made a pact to myself to try at least 2 fine dining restaurants. Keke. So beside Aubergine which was an obvious choice as it’s the highest rated restaurant in ACT (Australian Capital Territory) by Good Food Guide 2019 with 2 hats, I decided on Courgette which was awarded 1 hat.

Now… I originally made reservation for lunch via Courgette’s website. However, when I was in Canberra, I called the restaurant to ask if I could change my lunch reservation to dinner; I was visiting galleries the day I meant to have lunch at Courgette, and it didn’t make sense to cross the bridge to go to the restaurant and cross the bridge again to resume my gallery-hopping. My bad. When I did my itinerary planning on Google map, I didn’t expect Canberra to be so big. And thankfully they could slot me in at 8.30pm.

On the day of my dinner, I decided to reach much earlier than my 8.30pm reservation time. I honestly thought I could be seated earlier by reaching earlier. And thus starting dinner earlier for me to return to hotel earlier (Haha. The number of ‘earlier’ I used). However, I soon realised it was a bad decision.

Entering through the entrance at 8.10pm, I immediately noticed the staff was bustling around. Even though they saw me, no one came forth to the receptionist desk to acknowledge my presence. And soon, more customers streamed in at 8.15pm. It was apparent the staff were struggling with crowd management. But thankfully chef-owner James Mussillon stepped in to manage the mess.

There’s 3 dining areas. The main dining area had a view of the internal garden through the full-height glazing. Unfortunately for me, I was seated in another area and right at the corner. So it could be because I was out of the waiting staff’s line of vision or they were seriously too busy understaffed that I only had my order taken 20 minutes after seated. For dinner, Courgette offered a 4-courses meal (AUD88). And from the menu (pages 1, 2), I ordered:-

  

1) Bread, Complimentary (above)

2) Welcome soup, Complimentary (above) – The waiting staff didn’t elaborate the flavour, but I guessed it’s probably celeriac.

3) Dish #1 with options of:-

(A) Hawkesbury River stuffed baby squid, blue eye cod, Eden Bay mussels, chorizo, charred red pepper (above)

(B) Beer battered courgette blossom filled with lightly, smoked buffalo mozzarella, basil & olive pesto, carrot gel (above) – I was surprised to see head chef James serving the dish personally. And after introducing the dish, he apologised for the slow service as it’s a busy night with many big groups. I softened. Ha!>

4) Dish #2 (above) – Seared clearwater scallops, free range confit chicken wings, cauliflower puree, star anise & Szechuan pepper gastrique.

5) Dish #3 with options of:-


(A) Spinach & ricotta tortellini, pumpkin, baked eggplant, haloumi, mixed seeds, sage beurre noisette (above) – I didn’t like this. The pasta skin was too thick.

(B) Market fish of the day, smoked salmon custard, herbed potato hash, seaweed salad, avruga caviar sauce (above)

6) Dish #4 with options of:-


(A) Caramelised honey crisp apple and cinnamon, flaky pastry, milk sorbet, freeze fried maple (above) – Similar to the pasta, I found parts of the pie pastry too thick. Especially the perimeter. It even tasted a little… Doughy? But the apple puree served alongside with the pie was really good.

(B) Brillat-Savarin, red wine poached pear, granola cookie, quince, lavosh (above)

7) Petit fours (above)

I wasn’t too impressed with my meal at Courgette mainly because of the service. But! When I was onto my last dish, head chef James came over. He was surprised at how much I could fit into my stomach. HAHA! So the thing was… I ordered extras. A supposedly 4-courses dinner became a 7-courses meal. Keke. And through my conversation with him, I learnt that they were short handed because a number of his staff pulled out at the very last minute. At 5.30pm! It was the Labour Day long weekend that I was in Canberra too. So that explained the bad service. He went on to say he could have done something if his staff gave him enough notice. In fact, I noticed head chef James was busy shuttling between the kitchen and dining area. And I really give him credit for it. He’s a good multi-tasker.

So ignoring the poor service standard (which shouldn’t happen normally), I would say Courgette is ideal for a fancy dining experience. And because my 3 additional dishes coincidentally happened to be 1 appetiser, 1 main and 1 dessert, I was told I was charged AUD154 which was the price for a 4-courses dinner & a 3-courses lunch.

COURGETTE
54 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra ACT, Australia
+61 2 6247 4042, Website
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 6
* Closed on Sun