Everybody has a story. Muse however has many. Part bookshop part café and restaurant, Muse is tucked into a nook of Kingston’s East Hotel and is the perfect place to feed your mind and your belly.
A 21st century re-imagination of the classic Canberra aesthetic, there are no tatty old armchairs here. Bright and airy with crisp lines and light-wood details, the space is a relaxed and refreshing place to unwind.
The owners Dan and Paul believe the spirit of Muse lies in the sharing of ideas and stories of interesting people. This is achieved through their busy events program, often in the form of book launches or wine and cheese nights. The events create an environment to talk about ideas, facilitate a greater appreciation and ultimately generate an enriched experience of food, wine and knowledge.
Muse offers a lively café vibe by day and by night it transforms into a space a little more grown up, with a succinct but flavourful menu. The eclectic menu offers dishes anywhere from sashimi to slow-cooked Moroccan lamb shoulder, full of freshness without exception.
One of the highlights of the breakfast menu is the Grilled House Smoked Salmon. House smoked, the salmon is rich in flavour, which is delicately offset by a sweet-corn puree and avocado cream. The robust flavours are accompanied by slices of dark rye. Its dense texture stands out against the succulent fish and silky puree, and adds a piquant depth to the dish.
The Duck Liver Paté is an exciting plate perfect for sharing. The paté itself is delectably rich made in the traditional French method. Dense, velvety smooth and enhanced with brandy and house-crafted black garlic, this pate is delectably moreish. It matches the sweetness of the charred eschallots and earthiness of Swiss brown mushrooms perfectly, which can be offset with a smudge of the deep red cabernet sauvignon and cranberry reduction. It doesn’t get any better when smeared on a piece of dark rye – the perfect platform to hold the intense flavours that burst from every element of the spread.
The House Cured and Smoked Duck Breast on the dinner menu is a feast for the eyes, as well as the tastebuds – the intense colours of the carrot puree and radicchio match the punchy flavours of the smoky duck and refreshingly tangy slaw. Slices of duck breast, that are melt-in-your-mouth tender, are delicately arranged on a smearing of smooth carrot puree which possesses a sweetness that balances out the rich duck. The dish is all brought together by the radicchio slaw which has a crunchy texture that perfectly contrasts the smooth puree and duck. Its sharp zesty flavour is a lovely refreshing element against the smoky flavours.
The Sticky Date Cheesecake is a dessert not to be missed, and demonstrates that a superb dessert is not just a ‘piece of cake’. A scoop – yes, scoop – of rich date cheesecake tops a mound of buttery shortbread crumbs, served with another generous scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and smear of richly sweet dulce de leche. To top it off, the dish is also decorated with caramelised slices of banana with a satisfyingly crunchy toffee top. The amalgamation of textures from the velvety cheesecake, silky ice cream, crumbly shortbread and crunchy brulée banana makes this a perfect dish to finish off the night.
Dan and Paul also have a passion for wine, which is evident through Muse’s wine list and various wine events. While the wine list is succinct, it is comprised of an array of Australian wines, mostly small producers from lesser-known wine regions. Often dealing directly with the winemakers, their close relationship with them ensures a considered and quality selection that perfectly pairs with the food.
In a town where people read and talk about ideas, Muse provides the perfect setting.