Hotel dining impresses
Breeze Restaurant & Sports Bar
by Luisa De Liseo 17 May 2010
I didn't quite know what to expect from my visit to Breeze Restaurant & Sports Bar, the dining option for guests staying at the popular Clifton Suites, Northbourne Avenue in Braddon.
The combination of 'sports bar' and 'restaurant' is certainly curious, and when you are walking down the narrow, long corridor to enter the dining room you can't quite imagine what experience you'll be in for. I was greeted warmly by Restaurant Manager, Kyle Hollingworth and Restaurant Supervisor, Nick Brown, who ushered us to a table in the middle of the room.
The room is neither bright nor dim, and is dotted with plants and coloured feature walls of clashing colours. The decor doesn't set out a distinct mood or sense of expectation, but the quietly chattering dining guests enjoying their meals and a few glasses of wine makes for a cosy scene.
My dining partner and I are informed that the menu selection that we will sample this evening is a combination of the existing restaurant menu and a future menu that will be released in the coming winter months.
I am pleased that the menu offers a range of cuisine influences, a balance of heavy and lighter dishes and indeed vegetarian and gluten free options. I find out that the restaurant is jointly managed by the restaurant at the Pavilion, further north on Northbourne, and that the Executive Chef of both restaurants will be out to speak with us shortly.
Karl Krautler is a friendly, endearing character who impresses with his attention to detail when talking about the menu and his work at the restaurant. I learn that he was previous Executive Chef at the Shangrila in Manila, and before his stint in the Philippines was Executive Chef at the Hyatt Hotel in Canberra.
Karl generously introduced each dish in tremendous detail which provided a mouth watering preview of what was to come. Our entrees were so beautifully presented that I didn't want to ruin them by taking a bite. The seared scallops with chorizo, sweet potato, pea puree and tomato coriander salsa ($18) were delightful mouthfuls of complimenting flavours.
My dining partner and I were whisked away on a Japanese-themed mini break by the twice cooked pork belly and king prawn skewer, with miso dressing and parsnip puree ($18), literally fighting over every last bit. The pork belly was moist and tender, the intense salty miso flavour and soy sauce cut through its richness, and the subtle bitterness and smooth texture of the parsnip puree polished off every mouthful. The prawns were a delicious way to cleanse the palate after a sumptuous dish that truly was a journey of flavours.
We find a moment to glance over the wine list, which is an even balance of local wines and tried and true Australian and international favourites. We’re spoilt this evening, with the knowledgeable staff matching wines superbly to each of our courses.
Next we were treated to mains that were both extremely distinct and represented the variety in the menu at Breeze. The confit leg of duck with rice noodles, Asian greens, duck sausage and shiitake mushrooms ($29) was cooked to bring out the full flavour of the duck and offset well by the Asian greens, rice noodles and flat duck sausage underneath. The duck was rich, succulent and very tender.
The spinach and aged parmesan gnocchi with Mediterranean vegetables and rocket pesto ($22.50) marked a change to continental flavours, and proved to be a hearty and creative interpretative of an Italian staple.
By this point I was hardly surprised when the lavish desserts arrived, and my already satisfied stomach was suddenly ready for more. The vanilla bean and cointreau pannacotta with orange candy and chocolate shavings, and the dark chocolate tart with marscapone and strawberries were both plated exquisitely, and somehow tasted even better.
The pannacotta was among the best I've had in Canberra, the Cointreau gave it a unique flavour and the candied orange peel made for a unique Sicilian touch. The dark chocolate tart was a simple dessert of absolute perfection. We devoured every last piece, so perfect in its textures and flavours that I was moved by the experience. The chocolate was rich and creamy, neither too hard or too soft, held in place by a crumbly yet crisp tart base, with each mouthful freshened by the whipped mascarpone and strawberries.
Breeze is a surprising find on the local dining scene. I could not recommend the food enough and thoroughly enjoyed the scrumptious feast and journey of flavours.
Without the hype, price tag or high profile that accompanies so many Canberra establishments, I was happy to find a hidden gem which embraces a variety of cuisine influences and presents its own unique take of fine dining staples - truly a breath of fresh air in Canberra, and high on my recommendation list this winter.
...Visit Breeze Restaurant & Sports Bar
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