Aubergine has long been atop Canberra's restaurant scene with its two Good Food Guide chefs hats, the highest rated eatery in the capital, and chef and owner Ben Willis has also won plaudits for his second eatery, Temporada, which he owns with Chris Darragh, in the city.
This is a restaurant that's probably now an institution - the cream-and-white interior, the plush seats and the floor to ceiling wood panelled windows that offer a view of suburban and leafy Griffith. It's all very special occasion but in a gentle and welcoming way, rather than the aggressive glitz you might get at a more brash fine diner. Service is a standout - pleasant, unpretentious and calm.
And in the kitchen Willis shows he's still the master of the unexpected and the refined. Ingredients and seasonality drive the ever changing menu which ranges from smoked eel to mulloway to blood pudding to black garlic, all treated with a deft hand that mixes flavours without falling prey to fuss.
The wine list which has previously won Good Food awards, has always been a delightful learning experience, the best kind of masterclass that takes you from South America to Margaret River in a couple of glasses. Still a favourite for a special night out.
8 Barker Street, Griffith, 6260 8666, aubergine.com.au