Two Canberra restaurants have been named in the annual Australian Good Food Guide for the first time, with 18 ACT establishments making the final cut.
Table by Canberra Gourmet and Pomegranate Restaurant have joined regular award-winners like Aubergine, The Boat House and Raku, as Chef Hat award winners for 2022.
After maintaining a score of 15/20 for the past three years, Aubergine in Griffith managed to better itself to come out on top with a score of 16/20 this year.
Table by Canberra Gourmet owner and chef Thomas Heinrich said it was great for the team to be recognised “for all the hard work that has been put in”.
Table by Canberra Gourmet specialises in an 18-course dinner that changes almost weekly, which isn’t focused on any cuisine, but more the dining experience.
“We want every guest to leave feeling satisfied and having enjoyed their experience,” Mr Heinrich said.
The restaurant was established in Wanniassa in July 2020, and recently relocated to The Truffle Farm at Majura park in October 2021.
This allowed for a bigger location and larger capacity.
At the previous location, only eight people could be seated for dinner due to Covid restrictions, but now it has increased to twenty at The Truffle Farm.
“It’s nice to be able to have more people to come and dine with us,” Mr Heinrich said.
With only a team of three people including Mr Heinrich, and his two apprentices Noah Cairnduff and Maggie Johnson, they manage to successfully run a restaurant, serve customers, cook and do dishes.
“We do everything,” Mr Heinrich said.
Third-year apprentice Mr Cairnduff recently won the Canberra Golden Chefs Hat award last year and competed in a national competition, receiving sixth place.
“We started with limited resources and money, so it’s not about winning awards, but more the dining experience,” Mr Heinrich said.
Ziba and Erkin Esen, owners of Pomegranate restaurant, located in Kingston, were very happy to have received their first-ever award.
“It’s a really great thing to see your hard work being recognised,” Mrs Esen said.
“Any award will make you happy and feel like you want to do better.”
The Turkish family were thrilled when they received the good news and said their key is to keep the consistency and do their best every day.
“We didn’t know anything about judges coming in, so it was a great surprise for us,” she said.
Pomegranate is best known for its modern Australian cuisine with a Mediterranean twist, which has been run by the Esen family since April 2014.
“The most important thing is that we enjoy what we do,” Mrs Esen said.
“We have beautiful customers who give us positive energy all the time, which makes it even better.”
“Consistency is key in CBR dining,” The Australian Good Food Guide’s operation manager, Hannah Yaworksy said.
Following a year of Covid restrictions, lockdowns and unpredictability in 2021, the hospitality industry is finally back on its feet and cooking up some new talent in the capital.
After a year that heavily impacted restaurants around Canberra, it forced many restaurants and businesses to shut down, with some opting to offer takeaway options.
The lockdown in 2021 was an opportunity to “harness skills and refine technique,” Ms Yaworsky said.
The Australian Good Food Guide understood that this year was harder for a lot of restaurants and said Canberra did a great job of maintaining scores and jumping up in results.
Ms Yaworky said, “it was good to see support.”
The 2022 winners include Aubergine, The Boat House, Otis Dining Hall, Raku, Pilot Table By Canberra Gourmet, Les Bistronomes, Monster Kitchen & Bar, Courgette, Morks, Vincent, Italian and Sons, Pomegranate Restaurant, Bar Rochford, Temporada, Corella Restaurant and Bar, Waters Edge and XO Restaurant.