I think it takes a certain personality or courage to dine alone. It used to terrify me but there was a stage when I had to travel religiously for work and got comfortable to dining alone. However, it has been a while since then and it took a lot of courage and psyching on my behalf.
The problem with dining alone is that people either assumes you are a food critic, or you are a business traveller or you are dealing with relationship stuff. I believe, solo dining is really just a matter of changing your mindset and once you have gotten over the ‘I don’t want to be seen alone’ or ‘its’s so sad to dine alone’ you can start to enjoy your meal. It’s hard, but if you bring a book to read or a newspaper, or a flyer to keep you occupied, it really isn’t that bad. So once I got over all those fears, I went to Aubergine.
Aubergine is located in Griffith shops in Canberra. It was given a lift a couple of years ago when head chef and owner Ben Willis took over in 2008. Ben a Canberra boy, left the Capital City to work in Sydney and London before returning. The food presentation is immaculate and contemporary and the flavours are absolutely delicate and refined. The menu has a combination of French and European twist and guests are offered a choice of either 2 courses ($60) or a 3 course ($70) prix fixe menu.
I was greeted by the lovely floor manager. The restaurant is small and intimate with high ceilings and huge windows overlooking the park and Griffith shops. There’s a long bench at the back, the bar and wine shelves are the backdrop over the room.
Whilst perusing the menu, I was presented with some roasted almonds and dates. Everything on the menu looked absolutely delicious and I was certainly looking forward to my meal.
The sourdough bread was warm with crusty exterior and soft fluffy on the inside.
I couldn’t go pass the confit ocean trout, shaved fennel salad, oyster beignet and avruga caviar. WOW. The confit ocean trout was served at room temperature, it was so delicate that it just melted in my mouth. The shaved fennel salad had a tangy, citrusy flavour, and it was refreshingly light and absolutely wonderful.
The oyster beignet beautiful! Love the batter, it was thin and beignet batter just makes everything so much better! I really did love this dish, the cucumber and the fennel salad were a wonderful complement.
For main, I couldn’t go pass the mustard pork loin, black pudding, pork croquette, braised fennel and crackle. Again… OMG! Tender and succulent pork loin which is smothered with mustard was amazingly good.
The pork croquette with chunks of meat was fantastic and it was beautifully accompanied with fennel puree. I was in pork heaven!
It didn’t end there, the black sausage with gratin of cauliflower was frigging fantastic and eaten with braised fennel was just too good that I didn’t want the meal to end. The crackle which I ate last was one of the best things about the dish.
Unfortunately, I was too full for dessert, but the crepe suzette with blueberry ice cream sounded excellent so did the vanilla panna cotta, poached pear, and raspberry sorbet. I will have to come back on my next visit to Canberra and have the mains and dessert.
I sat there drinking my wine whilst talking to the floor manager. He moved to Canberra for a year, and three years later, he is still there and loving it. He was friendly and made me feel ‘welcome’. I did notice other diners ‘gawk’ but I was comfortable enough to sit there, read a book and scroll my iphone.
No doubt I will be back in Canberra and to Aubergine. I had such a wonderful meal here and am really keen to try their dessert next time. Reservation is highly recommended, most of the diners that evening was in suits. The service was friendly and warm, they had an extensive wine list, and the food, well, stupendous.
GA’s ratings: 8 / 10
18 Barker Street
Griffith, ACT, 2603 Canberra