Despite its recognisable location perched high above the beautiful cityscape of Canberra and taking pride and place at the peak of Red Hill Lookout, Onred is an inner-south hidden gem that you’ll regret not discovering sooner.
Built in 1964 and steeped in history, the Red Hill Lookout restaurant elevates 175 metres above the nation’s capital, providing its guests with stunning panoramic views of Canberra’s icons and treetops. Onred has brought this amazing venue back to life and its perfect vantage point is further enhanced by the restaurant’s innovative menu and modern, yet classic, fit-out within.
Owner Ben Johnson and chef Jenson Heycox’s vision follows a simple but resilient philosophy – it’s all about the food you want to eat in a place you want to be.
“This year we have begun a new menu structure offering a four-course menu with three options per course, and the added option for matching wines at half or full glass,” Jenson explains.
The meal begins with amuse bouche and house baked bread before the exquisite Pork Belly with currants, pomegranate, coriander and celeriac dish is placed before our eyes. The pork’s crispy skin top encompasses everything that you’ve come to know and love from this classic dish, but with an Onred twist that takes it next level. Combined on the palate with the rich smoothness of the celeriac and the pops of pomegranate citrus, the taste will leave you feeling loved and oozy inside.
Next up we were graced with a delightful dish of black morsels – Nero Squid with fennel, kohlrabi, radish and romesco. First a bit stark in contrast from your usual dinner plate, the flavour of the dish provides you with a new appreciation for contemporary seafood and a chef’s eye for detail.
“It’s quite a stunning dish to look at with lots of colour. It features red and black romesco – the red standard traditional style and then we run a mild but rich fennel squid base for the black, and the slaw is a fresh way to showcase the fennel and radish,” Jenson says.
A favourite on the menu is the Lamb Cutlets with beetroot, fetta, roquette and yoghurt. Cooked to perfection, the cutlets were succulent and a true celebration of our region’s freshest and best produce. Similar to Onred menu philosophy of letting the ingredients speak for themselves, this dish does exactly that – the natural flavours of lamb, beetroot and fetta are left alone, and proved to be the perfect marriage with every bite.
“As well as our meat, we source all our produce and ingredients locally wherever possible,” Jenson adds.
“As a chef, we think about creative ways to bring ingredients together, but sometimes it’s best to take a step back and let the ingredients be the star of the dish.”
A fresh dish on the menu is the King Reed Barramundi with an assortment of shoots, lime, chilli, palm sugar and coconut puree. The salad is slightly Asian inspired and is amplified with a hit of heat from the chilli slivers, which is subtly subdued by the creamy taste and texture of the coconut puree. Twist a dash of lime over the dish and it will bring all the elements together seamlessly.
On to dessert and for the classic sweet-tooths, the Chocolate and Caramel Éclair is a must-try, elegantly presented with a sprinkle of pretty bright yellow micro petals. However, if your taste buds are etching for a tasty bite then you can’t go past the Classic Lemon Tart with vanilla and raspberry. Both of these pastries are made in-house.
If four courses aren’t enough the Onred menu also boasts ‘A little extra’ section. Choose from Freshly Shucked Merimbula Oysters – natural or grilled with chorizo and vintage cheddar; cheeses to graze on pre or post meal – aged Manchego from Spain, Stilton from England or Brie Fermier from France; and for something a little more substantial, you can even add on an extra course. At our sitting, this option was Seared Scallops with purple slaw, bonito and sesame. Delish!
Dining at Onred you can’t help but envisage your next visit. The views are just spectacular and the starry sky blankets a certain je ne sais quoi over the entire space, making it an ideal restaurant for every occasion. It’s the perfect spot for a romantic date, special family dinner or just a long overdue catch-up with a girlfriend – and with the option of adding on a half or full glass of matching wines to every course, why not!?
Onred four courses – $85 per head
Four-course wine match $35 half glass, $55 full glass