Canberra Times top 20 for 2013

Ben Willis at Aubergine: No 1.
Ben Willis at Aubergine: No 1.

Aubergine once again tops our list of the best 20 restaurants in Canberra this year, reflecting the excitement and technical flair chef and owner Ben Willis achieves on the plate.
 
Aubergine is a fine-diner with a sense of elegance and correctness in the set-up and service. It’s a style that's not at the edge of dining fashion such as Canberra’s newfound obsession with food that comes with noise, milk crates and soundtracks.
 
But Aubergine is so much more than the category 'fine diner' implies. Willis never forgets that ingredients and seasonality must take centrestage in every dish, and amid the complexity of his food the pristine ingredients always shine, treated with huge understanding. That, coupled with his restless creativity and his sense of adventure makes Aubergine our Restaurant of the Year.
 
This year, we’ve chosen our top 20 and ranked them, 1 to 20. Italian and Sons is in second spot, very close to Aubergine, albeit in a quite different style. The Italian cucina in Lonsdale Street brings bright gutsy Italian flavours to the table with a real sense of warmth in the more casual set-up. Like Aubergine, its success lies largely in its sense of confidence and focus. The Trimboli brothers know what they’re trying to achieve and stay well on theme.
 
And third is newcomer Eighty-six, a big call for an eatery you might even describe as controversial. Eighty-six crashed on to the scene loud, even wild, with an attitude not seen in Canberra to date. It’s their party and you can come along if you want to. We like all this, if nervously, but we wouldn’t rate Eighty-six without the food – which has maintained a highly likeable freshness, simplicity and modernity. Again, very on tune.
 
You’ll find the top 20 restaurants below.

The list

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No. 1: Aubergine

18 Barker Street, Griffith, Australia, Australia, 2603
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (28)
Italian and Sons Thumbnail

No. 2: Italian and Sons

7 Lonsdale Street, Braddon, Australia, Australia, 2612
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (37)
FOOD AND WINE: .Restaurant review:  Eighty six on Elouera St Braddon, Canberra. Steak Tartar. 7th May  2013. Photo by MELISSA ADAMS of The Canberra Times..

No. 3: Eighty-six

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (80)
FOOD AND WINE: Restaurant review at Silo Bakery, Kingston.

No. 4: Silo Bakery

30 Giles Street, Kingston, Australia, Australia, 2604
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (20)
Ottoman Cuisine Thumbnail

No. 5: Ottoman

Blackall Street, Barton, Australia, Australia, 2600
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (22)
Soft-shell crab with Kewpie mayonnaise, sriracha and garlic chips.

No. 6: Mocan and Green Grout

19 Markus Clarke Street, Acton, Australia, Australia, 2601
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (17)
Lanterne Rooms Thumbnail

No. 7: Lanterne Rooms

3 Blamey Crescent, Campbell, Australia, Australia, 2612
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (11)
Poached watermelon, black sesame cake, pistachio crumbs, and yoghurt jelly.

No. 8: Pulp Kitchen

Shop 1 Wakefield Garden, Ainslie, Australia, Australia, 2602
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (23)
Malamay restaurant, Barton.

No. 9: Malamay

1 Burbury Close, Barton, ACT, Australia, 2600
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (9)
Lamb neck, baba ghanoush, broad beans and lamb bacon.

No. 10: Sage Dining Rooms

Gorman House, Batman Street, Braddon, ACT, Australia, 2612
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (23)
Chicken on the rotisserie, centre stage at Ox.

No. 11: Ox Eatery

69 Canberra Avenue, Kingston, ACT, Australia, 2603
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (20)
Terrine de campagne entree.

No. 12: Le Tres Bon

40 Malbon Street, Bungendore, ACT, Australia, 2621
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (11)
Pork-hock terrine, pork belly with celeriac puree and piccalilli.

No. 13: Water's Edge

Commonwealth Place, 40 Parkes Place, Parkes, ACT, Australia, 2600
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (18)
Golden beetroot, mushrooms, millet and parmesan cake.

No. 14: Rubicon

6A Barker Street, Griffith, ACT, Australia, 2603
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (27)
Chilli chocolate slab with poached pear.

No. 15: The Artisan

16 Iluka Street, Narrabundah, Australian Capital Territory, Australia, 2604
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (20)
Grazing Thumbnail

No. 16: Grazing

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (39)
Jamie's Italian restaurant opens next week.

No. 17: Jamie's Italian

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (52)
Food and Wine.  Food review Jewel of India Manuka.  Tandoori Chicken  31 October 2013. Canberra Times photo by Jeffrey Chan.

No. 18: Jewel of India

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (26)
A. Baker, New Acton

No. 19: A. Baker

15 Edinburgh Avenue, New Acton, Canberra, Australia, Australia, 2601
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (24)
Food&Wine. Restaurant review of the Red Chilli Sichuan Restaurant in Alinga Street, Civic. Chef's special fish fillets. December 6th. 2012  Photo Graham Tidy, The Canberra Times.

No. 20: Red Chilli Sichuan

75 Alinga Street, Canberra, Australia, Australia, 2601
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (9)

19 comments so far

  • Surprised not to see Ellacure (2/21 Battye St, Bruce) not on your list - we've been there several times and always found the food and service exceptional.

    Commenter
    VixSix
    Location
    Ainslie
    Date and time
    December 04, 2013, 8:13AM
  • Ellacure - wait an hour for a meal the size of a golf ball...no thanks! Nice but wouldn't go back.

    Commenter
    Sam
    Location
    Date and time
    December 04, 2013, 9:56AM
    • Sam, I am sorry but I completely disagree, the service at Ellacure is very warm and friendly and as fast as you can expect for an off the menu order. The food is delicious and appropriately sized. You have to remember that super sized is not normal. Also, the atmosphere is great. We (a three generation family with roots in Asia and Europe) always look forward to it. We don't go very week as we can't afford to but I am very happy pay the going price thinking about the quality of the food, the venue and the staff.

      Ellacure - keep on keeping on you are my favourite restaurant in ACT and a place we look forward to coming.

      Commenter
      Tom
      Location
      Gungahlin
      Date and time
      December 07, 2013, 1:06AM
  • Best restaurants of 2013 include some that have been operating for all of five minutes - great work again Kristin.

    Commenter
    SazO
    Location
    Date and time
    December 04, 2013, 11:19AM
  • Agree with most of these, but have to make the following comments:

    Completely confused with Jamie's Italian making the list. Hardly been open a month, I think its too early to have this one in the mix.

    I thought the list is for best restaurants. Would hardly call Silo a restaurant. And Mocan for that matter.

    Conspicuous by their absence are Soju Girl and Ruby Chinese.

    While I get the "Canberra region" philosophy, are we being a little too greedy as Canberrans by claiming Bungendore's Le Tres Bon and Gundaroo's Grazing?

    Commenter
    yeswecan
    Location
    Date and time
    December 04, 2013, 2:35PM
  • On Red, Red Hill, The Nut (pistachio) at Pierce shops are two of the finest eating houses in the district. How the hell Ox and Jamie's got on the list is a mystery to me....

    Commenter
    Hammer
    Location
    ACT
    Date and time
    December 04, 2013, 3:32PM
  • Let's be honest with this here list. If these restaurants were based in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane etc none of them would have made the list..... sigh.

    Commenter
    Really?
    Location
    Date and time
    December 04, 2013, 3:41PM
    • Yes and all your favuorite Melb/Syd/Bris (really, Brsbane?) restaurants would not make the grade in Tokyo or London or New York. So what?

      Commenter
      Tom
      Location
      Gungahlin
      Date and time
      December 07, 2013, 1:09AM
  • Rubicon is a completely under-rated restaurant. Top quality food, perfectly portioned, friendly waiters who know their menus back to front, including the wine, reasonably priced and the best degustation in town.

    Commenter
    Chris
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    December 04, 2013, 6:55PM
  • there is one restaurant which i would not call fancy but where the food is simply delicious, and the best part of it is, i have never even had the slightest indigestion after eating there.
    its a Vietnamese restaurant in Dickson called Pho Phu Quoc.
    it has been under new management since january this year and if you like asian food you should definitely try it out.

    can't speak highly enough about it.
    just ask for the smiling owner, a lady by the name of Sue, and ask her to recommend the dishes to you.
    they do an amazing sizzling pepper fish.

    and you might not believe it but, i am just a very happy customer and have nothing to do with the people who own it.

    also i have eaten at most of the restaurants on this list, and i have never gone back to any of them. none of them were bad, but none of them really wowed me either.

    Commenter
    temba
    Location
    canberra
    Date and time
    December 04, 2013, 9:36PM

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