Ainslie's Pilot restaurant has been awarded its second hat in the 2023 Good Food Guide Awards, leading a larger than ever before Canberra contingent of winners.
Nine restaurants picked up one hat - six for the first time.
Ross McQuinn, co-owner of Pilot alongside Dash Rumble and executive chef Mal Hanslow, said the team was "incredibly stoked" by the news.
"It's a testament to the whole team and the effort they put in," he said.
"While this isn't why we do what we do, it's a very nice surprise after a couple of trying years.
"We're beyond proud to sit alongside some brilliant venues in Canberra and love being a small part of the industry here."
Louis Couttoupes' Onzieme claimed a hat in its first year of operation, alongside Pavilion Dining at Pialligo Estate, Raku, Rebel Rebel, Terra, XO, Bar Rochford, Italian and Sons and Mu Omakase.
It's the first hat for Onzieme, Pavilion Dining, Raku, Rebel Rebel, Terra and Mu Omakase. Hats haven't been awarded since 2019 due to the effect of the pandemic on the hospitality industry.
NSW/ACT Good Food Guide editor Callan Boys said dining in the capital has never been better.
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"It was a shame to see Aubergine close after leading Canberra's dining scene for more than 14 years, but Pilot has continued its rise to restaurant stardom by moving up to two hats for the first time," he said.
"Over seven courses, Malcolm Hanslow's high-impact dishes zig-zag with punchy flavours, and owners Dash Rumble and Ross McQuinn show grace under the pressure of two sittings a night, quietly converting diners to multi-varietals from the fringes of Australian wine.
"It's truly world-class stuff."
It's been a heady year for the team from Pilot. In September they were named Gourmet Traveller's ACT restaurant of the year. In December they plan to open a new venue, a more casual eatery Such and Such at Constitution Place in the city.
When Couttoupes opened Onzieme in Kingston in October 2021 he was keen to take the whole idea of French bistronomy and give it a particularly Canberran touch.
"What a way to top off our first year of trade," he wrote on Instagram.
"Feeling a bit overwhelmed.
"Congratulations to the outstanding Canberra restaurants who continue to challenge the notion there's nothing going on in this city."
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Couttoupes won a hat in 2019 at Bar Rochford, but Onzieme has been a real labour of love for him; he and his father spent most of the pandemic doing the renovation themselves.
While it seems hard to believe this is Raku's first hat, owner and executive chef Hao Chen should be extremely proud of this recognition as the standard here never seems to falter.
At Pavilion Dining, executive chef Mark Glenn has turned the restaurant around with his focus on seasonal produce from the estate itself.
While Terra might seem the wild card on the list, Canberra Times reviewer Natasha Shan has long been a fan.
She thinks it's the most underrated restaurant in Canberra, with a magic to the simplicity of the menu.
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Also featuring in the guide, but just short of the marks required for a hat are Corella, Miss Vans, Wilma, Lamsheds Food + Wine, Rizla and Grazing.
Restaurants in the Canberra region to win one hat include: Bangalay Dining, Shoalhaven Heads; The Milton Hotel, Milton; Paste Australia, Mittagong; Queen Chow Narooma, Narooma; Small Town Food + Wine, Milton; South on Albany, Berry; and Valentina, Merimbula.
Firedoor in Surry Hills won restaurant of the year; Kiln, in the Ace Hotel in Surry Hills, won new restaurant of the year; and Michael Stoddart, at Oncore by Clare Smyth at Barangaroo won the service excellence award.
Regional restaurant of the year went to Pipit in Pottsville, in the northern rivers region of NSW; new regional restaurant of the year went to Bistro Livi in Murwillumbah; Anita Potter of Viand in Woolloomooloo won chef of the year; and Tom Foster, of Ele by Federico and Karl, won young chef of the year; and bar of the year went to Ante in Newton.
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