Rubicon Canberra is a fine dining restaurant located at Griffith shops. Rubicon serves contemporary Australian cuisine and great wines.
Canberra recently celebrated beer week and local businesses jumped on board to offer up beer based goodness to beer lovers. I got pretty excited when I found out my favourite restaurant in Canberra, Rubicon, was doing a seven course degustation with each course paired with beer. Yes, you heard that right – seven course fine dining menu matched with BEER!
I’ll admit that I had my doubts. For me, beer has always been consumed with pub food. And having eaten at Rubicon before I couldn’t imagine how it could be done successfully given the exquisiteness of their food. But I was curious. So I booked a table for Saturday night and turned up with an empty belly and an open mind and soon learned I was no connoisseur of food and beer.
Rubicon is located at the Griffith shops and is easy to miss if you are not paying attention, like I did the first time I visited. This time though, we knew where we were going and walked straight in to be greeted at the door and taken to the back of the restaurant, just like I hoped. This part seems to be an extension to what might have been the original restaurant. It’s adorned with fairy lights which gives it a magical vibe. It’s great for a date night and other celebrations.
THE FOOD AND DRINK
The real magic though was in the food and beer combinations. Soon after taking our seats, warm bread and the first beer of the night arrived, Nail Hefeweizen. Each of us got half a bottle of beer which I thought was the perfect amount as it didn’t fill me up too soon. The beer was quite fruity and a refreshing start without being too overbearing. At this point I have to mention the oil that accompanied the bread. The oil was a basil infused olive oil and was incredibly delicious. I could easily drink a whole cup of it every day. I imagine it would liven up even the most boring salad.
Now to the food. I wasn’t paying much attention when the amuse bouche came to the table so I’m not too sure what it consisted of other than very finely diced and incredibly fresh mackerel.
Course one was roasted spiced beer nuts. The nuts carried a delicious caramel flavour from the bottom of a roasting pan and they were definitely morish. I’m glad the serving was small as I couldn’t keep away.
Course two was presented as two hors d’oeuvres. The first was wild rabbit, porcini and sage sausage with truffled mushrooms duxelle and chevre crème served on a thin crisp bread. Hmm, this was delicious with great flavours. It was devoured fairly quickly. The second was alpaca tartare with Roquefort cheese and crisp capers, also served on a thin crisp bread. I was slightly apprehensive as Alpaca had never been on my menu before. I wasn’t sure if the flavours would be too strong and meaty. It wasn’t and was actually quite pleasant. I’ll admit that I probably wouldn’t choose to order this off the menu, but that’s only because I can’t get my head around eating cute alpacas.
Course three was BBQ baby octopus with palm hearts, deliciously soft fennel, labneh and blood plum. Previously, every time I’ve had octopus it has been chewy and just boring. This night, tough, it was cooked just right and for the first time, I completely enjoyed eating octopus. The sweet components on the plate were beautifully balanced with tartness of the labneh and blood plum. This course was paired with a celtic red ale which was a bit heavy but was my second favourite drink of the night. If I find this in the shops in Canberra I’m definitely picking up a few to take home with me.
Course four was pork assiette – belly with chilli lime caramel; rolled shin, shoulder, boudin noir and shitake mushrooms, celeriac and bois boudin crispy ear and herb salad and crunchy crackle. I was looking forward to this course as a friend who had previously tried it had said it was his favourite dish of the night. It was certainly a good dish. The chilli caramel was interesting and the crackle had a great crunch to it without being overly fatty. The flavour of the shitake crumb came through nicely as well. Everything looked very pretty on the plate. This course was came with a Wicked Elf pilsner beer. I don’t recall much about the taste but I do remember enjoying it.
By now beer was piling up on the table. I think we had about five glasses going by this point.
Course five was chicken, leek and smoked paprika wrapped in Serrano ham, fried fermented cauliflower, harissa, pistachio dukkah. This course was paired with the Cricketer’s Arms India Pale Ale and was my favourite combination of the night. The chicken was tender, and together with the flavour of the smoked paprika, made for an almost refreshing meal. And then I got to the cauliflower. It was the single, most delicious thing I consumed on the night and I wished I could have had more, lots more. In fact, I was so inspired that the next night cauliflower was on the dinner menu at home. Yum, I just loved it!
Course six was chargrilled beef fillet in bacon, charred asparagus, potato Boulangère, horseradish cream and olive. This was my least favourite dish of the night. I ordered the beef medium rare and for fillet, it was chewy and inconsistent and definitely not what I expect from a fine cut of meat. I didn’t have more than a couple of bites. The saving grace on the dish was the potato. The potato boulangère went really well with the horseradish cream and spring onion. This course was paired with Mc Chouffe Brown Belguim which was quite nice.
Course seven, and my favourite as always, was a caramel chocolate tart, white chocolate ice cream and drunken figs. The tart was divine!! The white chocolate ice cream and drunken fig smear brought a complimentary sweetness and both were lovely accompaniments. By this point I thought I had had enough beer and wouldn’t be finishing the last one. But when I tried the White Rabbit Dark Ale, I just couldn’t help myself. It was easy to drink and was a pleasant and cleansing end to the dessert with just enough left to sit around sipping (yes, sipping) the last of beer and having a lovely chat.
It goes without saying that the brains behind Rubicon Canberra know exactly what they are doing and they do it exceptionally well, and tonight was a testament to that. The service was also friendly and attentive as it always is and the guys were happy to answer all my random questions about the food and beer. I had a lovely night and am already looking forward to my next visit.
More information and contact details are available on the restaurant’s website.
Editorial Note: This is not a paid review. The meal and drinks were paid for in full.