69 Canberra Avenue Kingston, ACT 260302 6178 0041
|Opening hours||Lunch Mon-Fri, dinner Mon-Sat, buffet breakfast seven days from 6.30am|
|Features||Licensed, Bar, Wheelchair access|
|Prices||Expensive (mains over $40)|
The Canberra Times Top 20 for 2013: No. 11
Ox Eatery at the East Hotel is into its second year, and running with all the silky smoothness that has accompanied every place with Chris Hansen in the driver's seat. Ox is like this really cool place that has the best barbecue around and a great cocktail bar full of gins, whiskies and brews. It just needs a pool table and a picture of dogs playing pool and it would be the perfect hangout. Actually, it's quite a bit more sophisticated than that and feels like the hub of the inner south, always busy. All you need to do is grab a comfy booth, check out what's spinning on the rotisserie and enjoy the vibe.
The idea is to build your meal around the grilled meats - chicken, pork, beef and lamb, not necessarily in that order. Whatever's on grab it with the vegetables, a few starters to ease into the evening, finish the glass of Hendrick's and tonic, and order a bottle of wine from Hansen's solid list (with excitement also in the gins and whiskies).
Sharing is part of the experience, so you can pretty quickly fill the booth with hearty bread served with those strange little ink-well-like oil and vinegar dispensers, warm olives, bone-marrow toasts - so good - jamon, and gin and tonic cured salmon if your pre-dinner drink wasn't botanical enough. The menu changes but the trio of sliders is a stayer, in for the long haul. You will probably regret having them once the mains arrive, but there's something so elegant about a little burger.
The rotisserie is clearly the best way of going; you can choose a few non-spun mains, but frankly I've never got that far. Pork belly with apple sauce is, I believe, as close to perfection as you can get: crispy crackling, juicy, mouth-coating flesh. Did your mouth just water up like mine? Grilled chicken with lettuce and peas is a charming French country dish that you can grab as a side along with all the vegetables that make a meal here so good.
Desserts will surely finish you off if you have the space. And if there's 14 of you, look to the offer of a whole suckling pig ($800). That's one I'm storing up.