The restaurant, On Red, is atop Red Hill on the top floor of its shared space with sister restaurant (or brother restaurant) Little Brother. The building that both restaurants occupy is circular and looks space-age like, very different to the other buildings in Canberra. Its large protruding windows provide diners with an almost 360 degree view of Canberra. If you’ve ever been to Red Hill, you’ll know that the view is pretty amazing. The view from up top at On Red is even better. Some friends and I booked in for a 5 course degustation dinner on a Friday night.
Inside, the plush black carpet is a nice contrast to the white furniture. Tables are covered in white linen with wine glasses and linen napkins at the ready. We’re asked by staff whether we would like to start off with a drink but seeing as none in the group drinks alcohol, water was fine. Don’t worry, there’s an array of wine bottles on the shelf for you vino lovers.
Course 1 – roast tomato soup with crostini and truffled pecorino. I’m not a huge fan of tomato soup due to its acidity but I really enjoyed this light winter warmer. Best of all, the tomato wasn’t too acidic. It was light, well seasoned and a great start to the degustation. The crostini was a nice touch but had gotten soggy by the time I got to it. I was wishing that it had been provided on the side instead.
Course 2 – seared scallops with corn, cauliflower and prosciutto. The scallops were perfectly cooked, soft and juicy. The cauliflower puree is a brilliant accompaniment to the scallops and doesn’t take away the pureness of the scallop. The prosciutto is chopped up and mixed in with fried shallots to provide the crunchy and salty elements to the dish. The corn kernels added some extra juicy sweetness.
Course 3 – Pork belly with pear, salted caramel and chilli jam. The two chunks of pork belly should please most and yes there’s crackling. The pork belly didn’t have too much fat in them and this is probably the reason why I found the pork quite dry. The diced sweet pear just enhances the pork’s flavour and assisted in combating its dryness. I personally didn’t particularly like the salted caramel sauce with the pork. I didn’t think it was necessary and would prefer a yummy jus, but that’s just me. I didn’t get a chilli hit or any kind of heat but I did like the mild sweetness coming from the jam.
Course 4 – Black Angus sirloin with paris mash, dutch carrots, bone marrow and jus. This was one of my favourite dishes of the night. Perfectly cooked sirloin with a gorgeous shade of pink in the middle made this extremely easy to cut through and eat. Together with the bed of mash and carrots, this is a steak lovers dream. I’m sure the bone marrow, which was probably melted over the steak and into the jus, enriched the beef’s natural flavour and juiciness. I was impressed with the portion size (three large chunks of sirloin) for a degustation. I seriously would love another plate of this. YUM!
Course 5 – Banana doughnuts with Italian meringue and toasted coconut. I’d have to say this was my favourite dish of the night. As the dish was placed in front of me, it smelled hot, sugary and delicious, and I wanted to get that in my belly. Three medium sized deep fried doughnuts that were fluffy and still hot from the fryer sitting on a sweet banana jam. I don’t know if jam is the right word to describe it, but it’s the closest thing that comes to mind. Except this banana jam was warm, making this dessert reminiscent of eating a deep fried banana minus the whole banana. You know how you get that awesome warm banana taste? This was exactly it but a bit more sugary. The Italian meringue was completely soft and sweet, akin to whipped cream, and had been warmed slightly sitting next to the doughnuts. Foodgasm, yes! This was a blissful union of all elements and flavours. I’m salivating just thinking about it again.
The gluten intolerant duo were provided with orange panna cotta for dessert instead which they enjoyed.Service is polite with water jugs refilled frequently and fresh cutlery provided after each course without being intrusive. The presentation of dishes have been well thought out and I did enjoy the food here, particularly the sirloin and dessert. Allergies to gluten were easily catered for with advance notice. The view is gorgeous and it would be lovely to see the views transition from dusk to night during summer when we have more daylight hours. Overall, this was a pleasant experience with low key and quiet ambiance, good food and the twinkling lights of Canberra.
The 4 course tasting menu is $82 per person, and the 5 course tasting menu is $94 per person.
On Red is open Friday for lunch, and Tuesday to Saturday for dinner.
Value for money 7.5/10
FPJ score 22.5/30
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