17 Eastlake Parade Kingston, Australian Capital Territory 260402 6239 5299
|Opening hours||Breakfast Sat-Sun; Lunch Mon-Sun; Dinner Mon-Sat|
|Features||Licensed, BYO, Wheelchair access, Vegetarian friendly|
|Prices||Expensive (mains over $40)|
|Payments||Visa, eftpos, AMEX, Cash|
The Kingston foreshore is finally coming to life, the apartments along the waterfront bright with lights every night. The new shopfronts are spoken for, with tradies doing final fitouts and businesses preparing to move in. One has already thrown open its doors - C Dine Bar, on the edge of the lake.
It may be new on the scene but it's packed for dinner on weekends and Friday nights. The welcome is friendly, the dining room cosy with blue and silver embroidered seats and dark wood.
Along the far wall are high benches and tables for the post-work drinks crowd, which on this Friday night seems to consist only of me, my partner and our two friends. But the restaurant section is full.
With such a big focus on seafood, the better dishes of the night are the meat ones.
Let's get the bad news out of the way first. We've eaten at C Dine twice, the first time for lunch, and it was not great. We had fresh oysters ($10.50 for three) that seemed watery and briny, and a dish of moules frites ($18) that included mussels, cream, bacon, salt and leek with a pile of limp fries soaking up sauce. A clam chowder was filled with mussels, clams and good hearty chunks of fish, but the potato, leek and cream soup tasted, to me, too similar to the moules frites sauce.
We return for dinner. This time, the fresh oysters, with a squeeze of lime and lemon, are much better. We also start with a plate of tuna ($18) with soy and wasabi, which is a little overwhelmed by the soy sauce. Much better is the tray of poppy-seed encrusted salmon ($18), which tastes clean and succulent and mixes brilliantly with a dab of cream and the sharp red onion and fennel slaw that accompanies it.
Another good dish is a dish of panko-crumbed calamari ($18) - golden and crisp with satisfyingly tender innards. They go well with a good garlic aioli and a reasonable green leaf salad.
A beetroot salad ($16) is popular in our group and is a nice mix of sweet, sour and savoury flavours. There are slices of beetroot, translucent pickled onion, hazelnuts and shreds of goat's cheese (we could do with more of those).
Service is tentative and leaves us with a mess of mixed up cutlery on the table (perhaps we shouldn't have said we were sharing plates).
Much thought looks to have been put into the wine list, which makes interesting reading, has a good range of local wines and plenty of reasonable options by the glass. It's served, though, in plasticky feeling glasses.
For a restaurant with such a big focus on seafood, the better dishes of the night are the meat ones. C Dine Bar has a cabinet for dry-ageing meat, and it pays off. The surf and turf plate ($38), a slab of dry-aged beef flanked by the halves of a yabby, looks good on its wooden block and comes with a salad and curious salted powders on the side. The steak has a distinctly beefy flavour and a lovely ruby red interior. The little yabby is reasonably tender and easy to pick apart. It comes with a side of truffle polenta chips that are a star of the menu, a crispy, salty and truffle-umami crust and rich creamy interior.
One of our girlfriends takes on the pork ribs ($34), which are superheated and covered in spicy, sticky bourbon sauce. Everyone is covered in sauce within a couple of minutes but the ribs are pretty good and served with a side dish of your choice (she chooses green beans) and a salad.
Crab ravioli ($28) with salty caper flowers is dark, buttery and crabby in a pleasant way. But the trout with peas and potatoes ($32) is uninspiring - the potato slices taste unseasoned and the fish is tender and pink but tastes bland.
On to desserts. When a restaurant names a dessert after itself, it's signalling its intentions and the C Chocolate Bar ($16) is a pretty impressive dish. A bar of moussy, light chocolate with a smear of orange gel and a generous scoop of tart berry sorbet, it is a satisfying end to the meal. By contrast, the C Chocolate Bar we had at our previous lunch was hard, as if it were frozen, and had to be chipped away noisily with a spoon.
A white chocolate parfait ($16) with vanilla cake and a sprinkle of pretty green pistachio is pronounced delicious - but so delicious I don't get a taste and have to take everyone else's word for it. Less successful is the hazelnut cake ($16), which comes as three wedges of cake, and doesn't work for me with the light, chai-flavoured ice cream and some pink cubes of moscato jelly.
With its great position on the waterfront C Dine Bar is bound to be popular, and it will be a lovely place for drinks or a meal in the sunshine in summer. The dinner we've just finished is pretty good and the service is friendly. We're happy with our dinner, but the difference between dinner and the previous lunch is like the difference between night and day.