Thirst restaurant, Canberra.
Thirst restaurant, Canberra. Photo: Supplied

20 W Row Canberra, ACT 2601

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Permanently Closed

Canberra Times Top 20 for 2012

Way before everyone else started to tone down their restaurants into more accessible, inexpensive and casual places to eat and drink, Thirst was already there. Jeff Piper and Justin Kavanagh revamped their formal restaurant into an archetypal picture of casualness: bare table tops where crisp starched linen once draped, a bare floor, white plastic chairs, noisy, full of life and youth. And a wine list with a focus on the Thai food that owner Jeff Piper has held so dear for so many years.

The wine list here is an eclectic and ever-changing mix of the unusual and exotic, which is exactly what everyone should be doing, particularly in this brave new casual eatery world.

Crispy fish salad.
Crispy fish salad. Photo: Colleen Petch

In Piper’s Thai food, the flavours are strident and fresh, carrying the Thai balance of sweet, salty, sour and the odd bitter. We love the crispy fish salad with its zestiness and umami punch, and the lighter and sour green papaya salad. Green curry with trout dumplings has become a signature dish, much like Piper’s confit duck was back in the formal dining world.

 The desserts are also worthwhile – a banana pancake with passionfruit ice cream and palm caramel sums it up. Modern, Asian and really good for the price.

How we score: Food and Wine Annual Top 20