Top 20 restaurants in Canberra
Kirsten Lawson If you want an up-to-date meal, excellently executed, with cool surprises in the food, Aubergine is top of the list. This is fine dining that delivers an excitement you don't always find at this end.
Bryan Martin Whenever anyone mentions cubes to me, and it comes up more than you'd think, this dish of pork belly pings around the brain. Do they have a laser level in the kitchen?
Kirsten Lawson It's a rather hushed, formal place, but not uptight. There's a sense of calm in the carpets and white linen, well-spaced tableware and pretty elegant service.
Bryan Martin The menu is modern Italian with a really interesting range of entrees, including a gorgonzola tart, tuna carpaccio and a delicate scallop and celeriac arrangement.
Bryan Martin I'm not sure what they're doing that creates this feeling of comfort and a sense of belonging. They're well versed in service, and it's always busy but under control.
Kirsten Lawson It's in the Royal Hotel in the village of Gundaroo, a building nearly 200 years old, with walls as thick as Arnold Schwarzenegger's thighs. And there's a new chef in charge.
Bryan Martin And of course, since this is Japanese, Iori's sushi and sashimi combinations never fail to excite, such a fresh, precise arrangement of tuna, kingfish, salmon.
Bryan Martin You've got to love the personality in the food at Italian and Sons, the impressive wine list, the ambience, the old-school Latin gist of the place. And pizzas aren't bad either.
Kirsten Lawson We generally head to the city because here you'll get some regional specialties and a bunch of goat recipes, and how can you go past that? It's also at Manuka.
Kirsten Lawson Most little shopping centres have a restaurant and many are Asian, but Campbell is one of the lucky ones. Places as fine - and fun - as the Lanterne Rooms are rare indeed.
Kirsten Lawson It is absolutely worth the drive. He's in a rickety, atmospheric little shopfront on the main street, small tables, old wooden chairs of that French spindly kind, Parisian prints on the walls.
Kirsten Lawson The action is in pizzas, boat-shaped and knotted together at each end to contain the fillings. A favourite is sardines with caramelised onion and olive pizza.
Catriona Jackson Mezzalira holds a place in the top 20 after one and half decades for very simple reasons - the food is good and often exciting, the wine list a good combination of local, Italian and reliable Australian greats.
Kirsten Lawson What you get now at this temple of Turkish and wider Mediterranean cuisine is understated opulence, a carpeted and chandeliered sophistication with spaced tables, offering a lovely relaxation.
Kirsten Lawson It's a menu that sticks to the point and gives you the feeling that Keeley, who you just know is out back looking after your meal, is careful about just how much he can handle.
Kirsten Lawson Think bare tabletops with tealight candles, dim lights, a small space, a dark alley for the loos. In the food, big Brit-themed flavours, with beautifully handled offal like a seam of gold through the menu.
Kirsten Lawson If you can't build it around a piece of meat, where do you start? Well, Owen Kenyon at Rubicon has the answers. A menu full of answers (albeit a menu of four dishes).
Bryan Martin The chef is a Frenchman. Well, he sounds and looks French - Clement Chauvin, see I told you. He met a local girl and has a new bub, born in a kitchen no less.
Bryan Martin Pride of place is a blackboard with half a dozen wines available by the glass. Graham Hudson is an uncompromising wine lover with a huge knowledge and natural lean toward interesting regional wines.
Kirsten Lawson Jeff Piper - no, he's not Thai, used to run a classic French-based modern Australian place in the same spot - throws all his love of intense and pungent and wild Thai flavours into this food.
Find out from an expert what all this truffle fuss is about.