13 May 2019

Is Canberra Australia’s dining Capital?

| Alex Tricolas
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In less than two weeks, The Australian Financial Review will be hosting a gala event to announce Australia’s Top 100 Restaurants from a list of 500 that includes 23 of Canberra’s finest dining spots.

The list has been compiled by the food critics at Fairfax, headed by Terry Durack and Jill Dupleix–arguably the nation’s foremost authorities on all things gastronomic–but will be culled to 100 on the 18th of May at Melbourne’s Crown Casino based on votes by the industry itself.

What makes this particular award interesting is that their peers will have judged the restaurants that make the top list; but beyond that, it also provides us with a snapshot of the dining scene across the country, allowing us to compare each state and territory, and perhaps, somewhat crudely declare which state or territory is Australia’s dining capital.

As expected, of the eight states and territories represented, Victoria leads the way with 164 entries followed by New South Wales with 148. The ACT, with 23, comes in at sixth place, in front of Tasmania and Northern Territory. But when we make a sneaky little adjustment and compare the entries against the populations of each state and territory, we give them all a sound thrashing!

If this seems a little nit-picky and trivial, don’t forget those times you did the math during the Olympics to put Australia ahead of USA and China–heck, the newspapers even ran a table on those stats! Sure, in the end Cuba still beat everybody on that scorecard, but you get my drift.

But I digress! Back to the results: When utilising the rudimentary mathematical skills at our disposal, we find that the ACT with a population of 385,000 has 16,379 residents for every restaurant in the Top 500, easily coasting to the finish line ahead of our nearest rival Tasmania with 25,650 residents for every restaurant listed.

In fact Tasmania, well renowned across the country for its fine produce, is the state we can most compare ourselves with. They have 20 restaurants listed to our 23, but they achieve that result with a population of 513,000. South Australia with a population four and half times, and Western Australia with a population almost seven times that of the ACT have 49 and 50 respectively, not even doubling us.

As for big guns Victoria and New South Wales… well, read ‘em and weep! Their numbers are respectively one restaurant for every 35,365 and one restaurant for every 50,337. And if we wanted to be really cheeky and disrespect sovereign borders, we may steal Grazing at Gundaroo off New South Wales and make their numbers even worse.

The least represented state is Queensland, with a paltry 51 entries from a population of 4,700,000. That equates to a whopping 92,157 residents per restaurant; but that may just have to do with the fact that Queenslanders are just as content to sit on the verandah eating a freshly picked banana while drinking a Bundy Rum than go out to a fancy dinner.

Here is the list of Canberra restaurants in the Top 500, in alphabetical order. The final tally may make a liar of me, but if you want to see one of our restaurants take out the most popular award, you can jump on to the Top 500 website and cast your vote for your favourite:

A.Baker
Akiba
The Artisan
Aubergine
Black Fire
Capitol Bar & Grill
Courgette
Eightysix
Italian & Sons
Lanterne Rooms
Les Bistronomes
Lilotang
Malamay
Mezzalira
Mocan & Green Grout
Monster Kitchen & Bar
Morks
Ottoman Cuisine
Pulp Kitchen
Sage
Silo Bakery and Café
Smoque
Temporada

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I agree, there are some inexplicable inclusions on the list. Smoque really is an odd choice. I would certainly have considered Wild Duck, Tang Dynasty, Pialigo Estate’s new restaurant and Rubicon.

hahaha Smoque made the top 500? Shows how dead the tastebuds are on the old fogey excuses for judges! Would you like some grease with your greasy meat?

Smoque may not be fancy, but it does a good job with its ribs, and you get what you came for. Some crappy places got in to this list and some good places missed out. Mocan and Green Grout? Half arsed try hard food and the slowest service in the world. Silo? Arrogant old farts. What the hell? Thought that Wild Duck should be on there, and also Pomegranate.

Couldn’t agree more – Canberra is outdoing itself on the dining front. However – can’t believe Pomegranate hasn’t made this list – best around!

I’m sure you can twist the numbers to show whatever you want.

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