Dieci e Mezzo, Canberra
I have heard wonderful things about this not so new Italian restaurant which is situated in the foyer of an office building in Canberra’s city centre, ActewAGL House (which stands for ACT’s power, water and gas utility). Robert Foster is the Canberra-based designer of this foyer, I love the colourful fluorescent lights. It was what attracted me to the building, and hence, Dieci e Mezzo.
Dieci e Mezzo is the latest project by Fiona Wright, an ACT restaurateur known for The Lobby and Water’s Edge. Fiona teamed up with James Kidman, ex chef at Woolloomooloo’s Otto. I can see the resemblance of food that James Kidman has created at Diece e Mezzo. Otto was one of our favourite business lunch venues so when I heard he’s was here in Canberra with his new rustic Italian fare, I had to try!
The restaurant is very spacious; I thought it would be a bit weird having a restaurant in a foyer, but it is protected from the foyer by removable opaque glass panels. I love the colourful back drop at the end of the room and I can see this restaurant as a great function room.
The menu had variety, although only six different choices for both entree and mains, the choices were vast. Entree ranged from salad, sardines, liver to quail. Mains, fish, beef and pie and pasta, which can be ordered for both entree or mains.
The wine list is quite extensive, however, I wasn’t in the mood for wine. I was afraid drinking a glass of wine would make me sleep ….. at the restaurant!
Started with complimentary rye bread, it was served at room temperature – fluffy and absolutely tasty when dipped in olive oil.
I wanted to try something different, so opted for mille feuille of sardines, cauliflower puree, pickled cauliflower, pine nuts and watercress ($23). This was such a flavourful dish. I know my friend, C, would not appreciate this dish as it has too many greens but the sardines were served at room temperature, the pastry thin and crispy, and the cauliflower puree was creamy and subtle. The pickled cauliflower and pine nuts I loved and the watercress really gave it that lovely touch. It had the sour, the sweet, the tang, and the creamy – it had it all and it worked!
I had to refrain not to order the pork belly! A couple of friends had noted that I ordered a lot of pork, so thought I would order something different, the Whole whiting filled with prawn, scallop, bread crumbs, lemon and soft herbs $36. Yes a whole fish! And yes, it ‘looked’ at me!
Inside, prawns, scallops, bread crumbs infused with lemon and herbs. The fish was incredibly tender and fresh. The prawn and scallop I thoroughly enjoyed. The only problem with eating a whole fish is the bones and this was one bone-y fish! It was good but I think I would have enjoyed it if I didn’t have to pick out all the bones!
Dessert, well, I couldn’t really fit any. I ate ‘a whole fish’ as the waitress re-iterated! I was stuffed. I am keen to try their breakfast though, the granola is supposed to be one of the best! They also have a fixed price express lunch menu, a two or three course menu which changes every week.
I love the ambiance, the service, and the food, fantastic! To be honest, I have not been to Otto since James Kidman left. I am keen to try Otto again and compare (so stay tuned!). If you are visiting Canberra, I would definitely recommend this place.
GA’s ratings: 8 / 10
Diece e Mezzo
Corner of Bunda and Mort Street
Canberra City, 2601
Ph: +61 2 02 6248 3142