It isn’t often I get to go the swankiest joint in town but I had the great pleasure of lunching at Monster Kitchen and Bar in Canberra this week. It was pretty spectacular. I mean the building alone is spectacular.
I’ve been admiring the Nishi Building from the outside for the last four months, then my obsession took a step up and I began telling people that I was were there next year – because if you can – WHY NOT? Anyway, this lunch was actually the first time I stepped inside the Nishi Building and it was quite overwhelming. I entered from the Hotel Hotel lobby and you are immediately thrust into the restaurant. It was a little confusing as I was trying to look for “the first floor where the food was” as described by my friend but was already on that floor.
They have an extensive menu with breakfast to 12 and lunch/dinner which includes a lunch specific menu and a tasting plate menu. We opted for the tasting plates this time but I am hoping to visit again soon for a try of some of those delicious sandwiches I saw running out of the kitchen.
The staff are super friendly and the menu is SO big, so we asked for some highlights and they were happy to oblige. In the end we chose a selection of two veggies – the eggplant, smoked goat’s curd, katsuoboushi and sesame AND the broccoli, Ortiz anchovies, chilli, lemon and pine nuts – and a meat dish - the pulled lamb shoulder, pistachio, yoghurt, vine leaf, pomegranate and brik.
The eggplant, pictured up top, was quite theatrical with the katsuobushi gently curling in the air as it was brought to the table. The flavours were quite Japanese and the goats curd cut through the sweetness of the dish. I honestly could have had the entire plate of eggplant to myself, but that would be greedy, so I shared – this time…
The pulled lamb was again visually spectacular with bright green pistachios and shiny pink pomegranate showing off in the light. The dish had strong middle eastern flavours (der, Lauren) and the brik turned out to be a slightly sweet pastry much like the one in Lebanese sweets. It was really delicious.
The broccoli was somewhat out-shined by my love for the other two dishes and THEN I had dessert.
There is a selection of dessert displayed beautifully for you to come and admire/devour, as well as some that are staples on the menu. Angelique, the pastry chef, provides a French twist to the already eclectic cuisine and we were told some desserts are simply called “The Angelique” and require no further explanation. The Angelique du jour was a chocolaty crunchy affair but we were much more drawn to the bright colours of the berries. While the nougat looked meltingly gorgeous we chose the crème brûlée and a type of giant meringue/pavlova mutant, which in fact was extremely delicate and tasted a lot better than my description.
On the business end – the meal was more expensive than your average lunch but for the quality and venue preeeettty preeeettty good. The lunch menu had sandwiches in the $12- $15 mark, which I thought was quite the bonus.
When I live upstairs in the Nishi apartments and am made of money I will dine here everyday – until then I would definitely take all my friends and family.