1 Wakefield Gardens Ainslie shops, ACT 260202 6257 4334
|Opening hours||Lunch Wed to Fri, dinner Tues to Sat, weekend brunch from 9am|
|Features||Accepts bookings, BYO, Licensed, Outdoor seating|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
Canberra Times Top 20 for 2012
Specialising in European brasserie-style eating, Pulp Kitchen is a breath of fresh air on the Canberra scene. It combines informality with very high standards in food and service, drawing on the great culinary traditions of France and other European nations.
Everything is available in entree and main sizes (even the steaks), the service is charming, and the food is exciting. Tucked into a slightly noisy space in the Ainslie shops, a change of owner and chef has taken place this year with the departure of founder Christian Hauberg, but the place has lost none of its magic, and has regained some of its energy.
You might start with a few excellent local oysters, enlivened with a feisty lime sorbet. You could move on to a spectacular veloute of white fish, creamy with the depth of flavour and sweet subtlety that really good fish soup has, with light-as-air sea bream quenelles popped on top.
Or you could sample a great carpaccio, raw beef sliced paper thin, and dressed with oil and lemon, with a little salad of radish and beetroot wafers and delicate greens for crunchy contrast. This is a great dish, a reminder of how good carpaccio can be.
Homemade bread comes crusty and warm from the oven, with good oil for dipping.
It is hard to go past a steak here, especially given the entree-sized option, and the respect and skill used in preparing it. If you have never had a really good steak, Pulp is a revelation. The texture is just different, resistant but tender, and with a wonderful richness of flavour. The beef often comes with great shoestring fries and a punchy, bearnaise. Add a side serve of excellent green beans, and the meal is complete.
If you can save space for dessert or cheese, do so. Chocolate mousse is glossy and dark and rich, set off with crisp little ricotta doughnuts crusted with cinnamon sugar and a lovely ball of silky pear sorbet.
Pulp Kitchen is a restaurant with personality and confidence, and spectacular food made with skill and passion.
How we score: Food and Wine Annual Top 20