55 Ainslie Ave Braddon, ACT 2612
|Opening hours||Tue-Sat noon-2pm and 6pm-9.30pm|
|Features||Wheelchair access, Licensed, Vegetarian friendly, Outdoor seating|
|Prices||Expensive (mains over $40)|
|Seats||85, including 65 inside|
|Payments||eftpos, AMEX, Cash, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||(02) 6249 6050|
Canberra Times Top 20 for 2012
Sage is one of the most difficult local restaurants to place, so very nearly among the top echelon, but never quite settling into a sense of stability. This is partly because brother owners Peter and Michael Harrington have struggled with changes of chefs, which makes it difficult for them to cement their style and approach in a conclusive way. But the trajectory is up, and on our most recent visit we had our best meal yet at Sage.
The setting is gorgeous, in Gorman House, where you enter through a little green-filled bar (great place for summer drinks) into a room of bleached white, wood, and lovely splashes of colour. The waiters are serious and formally dressed. The wine list has hit its straps, with some handy advice at the hands of a sommelier who knows his stuff.
And the menu hits some very high notes. A dish of pressed Braidwood lamb with eggplant, olive and rosemary is the best piece of meat I can remember eating anywhere – the pressed shoulder full of flavour, succulent in the extreme, the texture irresistible. The only note that doesn’t strike just right is the powdered olives, where the olives don’t taste like they’re in the same league as the rest of the ingredients on this plate.
The whisky smoked beef has a lovely smoky note from both the smoke and the whisky, set off with garlic, mustard, watercress and mushroom.
Sage has a set menu only, two courses for $60 and three for $75, or you can choose from one of two degustation menus, one for meat-eaters and one entirely of vegetable dishes. The plateware is beautiful, with a commitment to sourcing locally extends even to this. And there are excellent small touches, like the house-churned butter, highly delicate in taste.
The complexity of its food and plating sometimes feels a step too far, and Sage could probably do with a little more simplicity on the plate. However, talent, commitment and vision are here, and we can only hope the current kitchen team stays to cement the excellence of which it is clearly capable
How we score: Food and Wine Annual Top 20