On the Thursday of our trip to Canberra, I attended the second day of my conference and emerged at 6pm, still with my sore throat, tired but surprisingly hungry.
After our not-so-great experience at the Shanghai Dumpling Cafe the night before, we were ready for something western for dinner.
Kingsley’s Steak and Crabhouse was mentioned in a couple of the guides we’d picked up along the way and it sounded good to us. We took a cab to Bunda St, my tummy growling all the way.
I ordered one of the specials of the day for my starter: Canadian scallops with crispy pancetta, peas and minted butter (AU$21.90). This dish was a wonderful combination of tastes and textures and was a pure pleasure to eat. The scallops were delicious -caramelised beautifully, bouncy and juicy. The minted butter flavour was whisper-subtle, adding a fresh note to the savoury scallops and salty strips of shatter-crisp pancetta. This was my favourite dish of the entire Canberra trip.
We didn’t manage to visit Poacher’s Pantry on this trip, but Jac was pleased to have the chance to eat cured meats from Poacher’s Pantry with marinated feta, olives, crunchy little sour gherkin pickles, toast and duck rillette, all served on a slab of basalt (AU$23.90 – this seemed on the expensive side, but Jac enjoyed it very much).
Jac loves pate, potted meats and terrines – she’d never tried rillette before. She LOVED the duck rillette and enjoyed stabbing her knife through the butter layer on top before spreading it generously on the toast.
As usual, we ordered a Virgin Mary for Jac, a lemon, lime and bitters for me. This was one of the worst LLBs I’ve ever been served in a restaurant. I was given a bottle of lemonade and a glass of ice topped with a squeezed lime wedge, filled with enough bitters for two drinks. Unfortunately, the bartender hadn’t given thought to what would happen when I poured my first drink – yep, lemon lime and much-too-strong bitters. Luckily, there was a large wine glass on the table I could use to remix my drink to make it drinkable.
For her main course, Jac ordered the Alaskan king crab carpet bag – tail end fillet steak stuffed with Alaskan king crab meat, served with tarragon butter and steakhouse chips (AU$37.90, 250g steak). Regular readers, here’s a question for you: see the photo below – what did I like best about the presentation of this dish?
YES! The steak was NOT placed on top of the chips! No steam trap effect, beautiful fresh, hot crispy chips.
The thick-cut chips were crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. I’m glad Jac didn’t mind sharing!
This was a VERY TFP meal, as my scallops were followed by… pork belly!
For my main course I ordered the slow roasted Berkshire pork belly served with braised wombok, spiced apple fritters and soy honey glaze (AU$24.90). I first heard of Berkshire pork when Gordon Ramsay reared two Berkshire pigs in his backyard (then turned them into Christmas lunch) on his TV show The F Word.
The pork was juicy with a melting layer of guilt-inducing fat and golden brown crispy crackling. The portion didn’t look very big but believe me, that square of pork was rich and satisfying. The soft braised wombok was delicious, served as a cross-section, botanical diagram-style. A mystery blob of sweet chutney tasted fruity and figgy. The warm enticing aroma coming off this plate was amazing. I didn’t just eat this dish, I indulged in it.
The apple fritters were a twist on the traditional apple sauce accompaniment to roast pork: two apple rings battered and deep-fried like puffy soft doughnuts, just to make the dish even more wicked.
As we finished our main courses, we decided to share a slice of key lime pie for dessert. Neither of us has ever eaten key lime pie and we were eager to try it. We waited for a waiter to come over to clear our table. And waited. And kept waiting… waiting… waiting… Jac went to the loo, Jac came back to the table… and still we waited, and got sick of waiting.
In addition to all the waiting, trying to get a waiter’s attention became tiresome, so eventually we left without ordering dessert. I was disappointed as I had been looking forward to tasting key lime pie, but we refuse to spend any more money at a restaurant when we’ve been forced to suffer incomplete service. As we stood up to leave, I noticed several vacated tables, all with uncleared main course dishes. I wonder if Kingsley’s chef has ever been disappointed with the restaurant’s dessert sales.
Hot tip to restaurateurs: if you’ve ever wondered why your desserts aren’t selling, pay attention to closer your floor staff – are they actually following through after main course, clearing dishes and offering customers dessert?
When we went to pay, the maitre’d asked how everything was, and Jac answered honestly: “The food was great but no one came to clear our main dishes or take our dessert order, which was a shame, as we would’ve ordered dessert.” The maitre’d looked extremely uncomfortable at Jac’s reply. He fell silent, stopped looking Jac in the eye and suddenly appeared very focused on punching the buttons on the cash register. Not the recommended way to deal with customer feedback and certainly not the way to encourage repeat business.
Kingsley’s, your food was great but your service let you down.
Kingsley’s Steak and Crabhouse
North Quarter, Canberra Centre
125 Bunda St, Civic
Canberra ACT 2601
Telephone: 1300 546 475
Kingsley’s Canberra was the ACT winner of the best steak category in the I Love FOOD Awards 2010
Kingsley’s Steak and Crabhouse is also in Sydney and Brisbane (check website for details).
We dropped by Koko Black next door where everything looked beautiful and smelled intensely of chocolate coma. Perhaps just smelling all that sickly sweetness was enough; we decided to skip dessert and instead headed back to the hotel for much needed rest and digestion.
Canberra trip, November 2010
See the full list of posts from our Canberra trip, November 2010 in correct reading order.