Being a Kingston local, I’ve been excitedly trying out all the new restaurants and cafes that have opened up on the Foreshore. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the opening of the latest addition to the Foreshore, Walt & Burley, since I found out about it in December last year. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed the fencing had been cleared away, the tables were out and some lights were on but the windows were still covered up. A few days later, I noticed people sitting down inside for a soft launch and private function, teasing passer-bys peeking in.

It finally opened to the public on Wednesday night. As you step inside, it feels like you’re walking into a warm home with the fireplace right by the entrance. A hostess greets us and ushers us to a table.

There seems to be three seating areas that seamlessly blend into one. First, a more casual set up with high tables and stools near the bar – perfect if you want to share some starters and a beer. I love the stained glass along the top cabinets of the bar.

Then there’s a more formal sit down dining area by the kitchen with banquette style seating down the side.

This looks out onto the park area and lake. When those big bi-fold doors open up for summer, there will be no obstacle between you and the lake. It’s going to be brilliant!

And then a few comfy chairs and sofas to lounge around in by the fireplace. Outside, there are plenty of long wooden benches and seats on both sides of the restaurant. The light bulbs strung up outside really light the place up.

Inside, we noticed this locked wine display cabinet allowing diners to pick out some rather fancy wines.

The menu looks AWESOME. Expecting some expensive dishes, I was surprised to find that everything is pretty affordable (for Kingston). The owners have a strong focus on the community and really just want people to stop in and enjoy themselves. I was also surprised to find that Walt & Burley smoke their own meats with a range of Smokehouse options on the menu. Both my partner and I found it hard to narrow down the choices.

The starter and snacks menu looks great and we decided on multiple starters which all came out at the same time.

The arancini with 3 cheese and smoked tomato sauce ($8) came in a serve of four. That’s good value. The fried outer layer was perfectly crispy when slicing through it. Inside lies hot risotto mixed with melted stringy cheese. The tartness of the tomato helped provide some balance to the dish. A nice warm starter.

The crispy fried squid with smoked chilli aioli ($10) was delicious. These weren’t your typical small calamari rings but tubes of squid cooked perfectly (none of that rubbery stuff). And yes, they were crispy on the outside. I couldn’t taste the smokiness in the aioli, but it was a good accompaniment to the squid. Best starter of the night.

I couldn’t pass up trying out the charcuterie ($15) consisting of bresola, serano, smoked chorizo, duck live pate with mixed olives, condiments and bread. The mixed olives were missing, but when we asked our waitress about this she promptly provided us with some. The duck liver pate and quince jelly tasted fabulous on the ‘bread’ crackers.

We ordered another serve of olives ($5) and smoked almonds with rosemary salt ($5). The almonds had a bit of dried chilli sprinkled on them giving an unexpected spicy hit. Not bad.

Mocktails aren’t on the menu but bar staff are happy to mix something for you. I chose a berry-like concoction with juices ($6). Matilda Bay beers on tap on the night included Dirty Granny, Fat Yak and Minimum Chips. Other drinks from memory are the Canadian Club and Dry, and Kosciuszko Pale Ale plus a heap more. A pint of beer will set you back $11.

By this stage, we were getting full and decided to share a main of smoked pork ribs with baked beans, hand cut chips and condiments ($26). Again for the amount of food received, this was good value for money. The sauce on the ribs was smokey, sticky and tasty. The pork was so soft, the meat just fell off the bone. Unfortunately, the meat itself was a tad dry so I didn’t enjoy it as much as my eyes did. The chips were thick and chunky but a little dry as well. I was impressed with the simple crunchy slaw that was mixed with red onion providing some natural spiciness to it. Best of all, it wasn’t drowned in mayonnaise!

I’d been looking forward to dessert after seeing a photo in the Canberra Times review. The chocolate brownie with dark chocolate ganache and salted peanut ice cream ($12) was the last dish of the night. The below photo was taken after I’d had a bite. Oops. This is everything a brownie should be. Warm, chocolatey, gooey in the middle and slightly crisp edges that get stuck in your teeth after chewing. YUM! I liked the peanut ice cream too (chocolate+peanuts=love and snickers), though this took a backseat to the chocolatey goodness.

We’d been sitting inside for a while now taking everything in. I noticed that several textural elements have been used in the interior with different types of timber, metals, fire and stone. Not to mention water from the lake (good feng shui?) I learned that the fit out was originally designed to look like a Scandinavian lake house and that comfort was an important factor.

The process of smoking meats is quite fascinating. Certain wood, when smoked, can be too dominant trapping pungent flavours to meat. General Manager of Walt & Burley, Bill, says that a lot of time was spent finding the right type of wood. Hickory, pecan and cherry woods have been specifically sourced to smoke the meats onsite. The brining of meats is important to reduce moisture loss (providing juicier meat) before being rubbed, smoked and then placed in the oven. We mentioned the slightly dry ribs and are told ribs are the hardest to smoke correctly and some more work would be done to get them perfect.

With prime position on the Foreshore and aptly named for the lake it looks out upon, Walt & Burley is a welcome addition to the bar scene. Though the other bars such as The Rum Bar and C Dine Bar provide some top notch food and drinks, fellow Kingstonites agree that another bar is required. I think Walt & Burley has succeeded in providing great food, great prices and all in a comfortable cosy setting.

I can’t wait to go back and try more. I really liked the menu and it was so hard to choose what to have! Staff mentioned the crispy chicken wings and pea risotto may be the favourites. The ‘Beast of Burley’ for $50 sounds interesting with a range of smokehouse meats, a selection of sides and condiments.

Staff are still learning the ropes but that can be expected. Service is very friendly and staff are happy to answer questions about the menu and restaurant. The menu is available on the website.

Walt & Burley will be open 7 days from 11am to at least 10pm. There is currently no happy hour drinks special on offer but the restaurant will consider it in the near future. A breakfast menu is planned in the next few weeks.

Plenty of tables on both sides of the restaurant

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Foodgasm 7.5/10

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