While Canberra’s culinary scene is making waves through the nation, we are yet to see a pop-up dining scene emerge in a contemporary style offering. Kiosk could be the trend setter for the notion which has become popular in other major cities around the globe. Temporary dining usually makes an appearance in vacant building with huge potential. This could be said for Owner-chef Louis Couttoupes who was attracted to the Old Kingston for its heritage.
“Kingston was once the place to go. It has great old buildings, historical features and cultural significance to Canberra. Opening a temporary venue is a little intentional to see if Kingston has the space for this style of dining,” he says.
The question posed: will Canberrans take a fleeting chance on dining?
If anyone should take the risk, Louis has our vote. Formerly the Bar Rochford Exec-chef who helped lead the venue to its Good Food Guide Chef Hat. The talented chef has a vision, and now, he has his own space to bring it to life. After spending time in the countryside of France, foraging and experimenting in the kitchen, Louis returned to Canberra with a flattering claim: Canberra is perfect place to be a chef, for so many reasons.
“You have access to so many fantastic producers, we are so close to the bush to go foraging; you can have your own plot and grow your own produce, and farmers are really close by to build relationships with.
“And, clientele in Canberra are an enthusiastic bunch who want to eat good food. They have time to dine, and transport and access is easy. Locals are well travelled and cultured. Overall, they want good stuff.
“Canberra took a long time to catch up but now we have so many great chefs doing great things,” Louis says.
A takeover in a temporary space comes with many limitations, in this case no access to a cool room or deep fryer. Louis says, “It’s the type of cooking I like to do anyway if you build the right team around you the kitchen limitations are a challenge to experiment with.”
The vibe I got from my short stay was that the tools most important to the Kiosk team are produce – and a hand-written black board to tell their ever-rotating food story.
The small venue has made way for things they find important such as a dry store, where the kitchen leftovers are repurposed either by pickling, infusing or dried to avoid wastage. The former café venue has had undergone small changes with big impact; the sweets cabinet is transformed into a cheese fridge and the sandwich bar has been reimagined as a raw fish bar.
“Cheese and charcuterie are something I put a lot of effort into, I love cut to order product. And, we will have oysters and seafood on display, so guests can see some fresh oyster shucking.”
With an entire team interested in sustainability and seasonality, the menu has a strong vegetable focus. “Beyond a point meat is less versatile, I find with vegetables there are so many different things you can do technique wise and with flavour combinations.”
“Sadly, it also means you have to battle the elements. Some of our famers endure six-months of the year battling frost and now they are faced with fires on their doorstep and ongoing droughts.”
The guests at the soft launch found the Smoked Buffalo Mozzarella with green almonds from Sutton to be the crowd-pleaser. If you wanted to take a bite of the more unfamiliar side of the menu, the chicken heart in a Koji sticky sauce marination is exploding with flavour.
Eat it now or never. Kiosk is open in Green Square, on the Cnr of Eyre and Jardine St.
Tues – Thur 6pm til late
Fri – Sat 5pm til late