Wednesday, 26 November 2014

For many years now, Canberra has been turning out some respectable Thai food (thank you Lemongrass and Zen Yai). With menus that rely on the classics like pad thai and chicken satay, there's plenty of wiggle room on the restaurant scene. Enter Morks, a new restaurant joining the hoohah on Kingston Foreshore. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am quite astounded by the transformation that Canberra has undergone over recent years. It's almost a wholly different city, now rated as one of the world's most liveable. Who'da thunk it?

BBQ Pork bun. Something I had been looking forward to trying out. The pork belly was quite delicious, all in a perfectly soft bun. The addition of the desiccated coconut made it extra special. David Chang eat your heart out!
Moving from humble beginnings in Foley six years ago, Morks has found prime position in Kingston and is happily reaping the rewards. The team at the helm are siblings Mork and Benn Ratanakosol who lead the kitchen and front-of-house respectively. If you wondered about the name, you have it! A google search of "Morks" quizzically brings up Robin Williams in a bright red onesie (from a 70s sitcom). The dining room at Morks is spacious with a functional fit-out in subdued black and grey tones with spherical lanterns to spice it up. 

The Kingston Foreshore precinct, am I advertising this or what?! Source:

The menu is a great point of interest, bringing together the best of  the beloved Thai classics with some contemporary dishes all marching to the beat of the same drum. The feature of a 64 degree egg may leave some unconvinced but the flavours are all there. I also appreciate the Pokemon reference in the dessert Jigglypuff (it's just so fun to say!), a lemon and lychee sorbet. It's a young team and the mood is kept light-hearted, all whilst maintaining their  food credentials.

Exhibit A: red duck curry with crispy rice cake. This is a massive departure from the Thai that we have grown accustomed to and that can only be a good thing. The duck was nice and tender but tended on the dry side. The curry sauce was just the ticket. A very generous portion size

I must say one more thing about the service. It ended up being quite hysterical, but in a good way. Making a rather late booking for a largish group, we were relegated to a table outside (fair enough). What we weren't counting on was the precipitous drop in temperature that night, leaving us to shiver in our coats and scarves. However, the front of house staff were a delight, happily shifting portable gas heaters all around us. We proceeded to eat our meal in what felt like the Fort Knox of heating. We literally had to extricate ourselves from the table, not just because we were spectacularly full...

Rainbow trout, tamarind reduction, fried onion, dried chilli and witlof. The wow-factor of the trout was literally lost on me. Where was the fish? Tucked under a delicious layer of rich tamarind sauce and fried shallots. Perhaps slightly overpowering for the trout, the dish still tasted great

How excitement. Morks spells great things to come for the nation's capital. Putting a modern spin on Thai cuisine is perhaps exactly what Canberra needed. What you see now are restaurants and bars that aren't afraid to flirt with the boundaries. There's a new sort of energy and exuberance that fills the air and it's infectious. My faith has been restored that "the hole" is filling up, and pronto.

"Back in my day" this space was Source: Morks
Thanks for reading!
Morks Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Snapshot: A. Baker

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

A. Baker is a jack-of-all trades it would seem. Opening from 7am through 10pm, it wears the hats of restaurant, café, bar and bakery. Occupying a part of the New Acton precinct (which was destroyed by fire in 2011), this area now plays host to a entertainment and dining hub. A. Baker is a venue that seems to tick all the boxes, offering a frequently changing menu showcasing local produce and wines. Chefs Adam Bantok and Bernd Brademann are in charge of the kitchen offering dishes such as slow cooked Cape Grim beef cheek, Bredbo asparagus, peas & pickled mushrooms or a dish of Tumut River trout, smoked corn, lardo & sorrel. It all sounds rather enticing...

A sample of the pastry cabinet. A lemon meringue tart (fluffy peaks of lightly torched meringue, um hello?!). It gets me every time...

In case your were curious, A. Baker proudly lists online all the producers and providores from whom they've sourced their ingredients and wines. Sounds like one hell of a shopping list. Another big ticket is their bakery, with their house made sourdough and a selection of pastries available daily. Come for brunch or perhaps in the evening for a visit to the bar downstairs to kick the night off - or Parlour Wine Room is literally metres away. All day dining venues such as this are blurring the boundaries between restaurant/café and bar. I think that suits us just fine! 

The rather versatile dining space catering for brekkie, lunch and dinner

The design of A. Baker is certainly a talking point. With basically a blank state to work with, DesignOffice has turned the space into a functional dining room and bar on a lower level. Evidence of the fire still marks the bare walls adding an extra flicker of character. The open kitchen acts as an arena where all the good stuff happens. Industrial and chic, the space gets the job done and feels hopelessly trendy. 

The stairway down to the bar, punctuated with black and steel

The original interior which had been gutted by fire has been retained giving an abstract-painted kind of effect

Did someone say sourdough?! A. Baker is also the perfect option for the busy work crowd who can duck in for a quick coffee and takeaway lunch

A. Baker is yet another restaurant to add to the burgeoning Canberra scene. Things are definitely looking up for our previously sleepy capital. Focussing on great design, and bringing together the very best produce and wines of the Canberra region - you can't really go wrong. Perfect for any occasion, A. Baker really is a chameleon. Make tracks.

Lunch on-the-go: slow cooked pulled pork pie with vegetables. The pastry was flaky and divine, the filling nice and chunky. All topped with house made tomato sauce. A rather posh meat pie indeed!

Side salad of baby spinach, radish and Spanish onion dressed in a light vinaigrette

Thanks for reading!
A. Baker on Urbanspoon


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