As the year is nearly over, I thought I’d write up my Top 10 favourite eats of 2015. It’s been a big year with plenty of new eateries popping up. Below in descending order is a mix of oldies and newbies. Note: a lot of these don’t reopen until the New Year.

10. Locale

One of the better Italian restaurants in Canberra tucked away at the Deakin shops, Locale is a small restaurant that looks pretty suave and they’ve made good use of the small space. The authentic freshly made pizzas go straight into the wood-fired pizza oven. I love the ‘less is more’ approach to pizza toppings. There’s an assortment of entrees, pastas, desserts and wine. Great food, great atmosphere (though it does get loud) and there’s takeaway pizza available.

Locale Pizzeria Deakin woodfired pizza oven

This little gem is packed out seven nights a week so bookings are essential. It also recently opened on Saturdays for lunch.

9. Muse

In Kingston, you will find Muse – part bookstore, part wine bar and part cafe. Think fresh produce with a focus on vegetables, a regularly changing lunch menu, charcuterie, and most dietary requirements taken into consideration. There’s also a cheese souffle to die for! Book launches and other events are held at Muse to encourage discussion on books, wine and other great things.

Muse cafe Kingston breakfast cheese souffle

Muse is located next door to Joe’s Bar at the East Hotel on Giles Street in Kingston and is open seven days a week.

8. Orient Kitchen

This new Chinese restaurant at the Weston Creek shops offers yummy BBQ meats – roast duck, BBQ pork, roast crackling pork , sausages and soya chicken. I love the BBQ pork – great quality, melt-in-your-mouth tender and not fatty. Nothing on the regular menu is over $20 except for the whole serves of BBQ meats (whole roast duck for $29.80). The large fried rice at $6.20 is great value and the other dishes on the menu had decent servings with high quality and well cooked meats. It’s not often that a cheap Chinese restaurant impresses both me and J. I’ve been back 5 times in the space of 2 months and always choose one of the mouthwatering BBQ meat options.

Orient Kitchen Weston Creek BBQ pork

Orient Kitchen on Brierly Street in Weston Creek is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. (Not to be confused with Oriental Kitchen in Charnwood).

7. Two Hands Cafe

Tucked away in Fyshwick is Two Hands Cafe – a small cafe that has dine-in and takeaway options. I had never heard of this cafe until one of you readers asked me to try it out, and I’m so glad I did! The pulled pork burger (it was $13 at the time) is still one of the best in Canberra. Great quality juicy pulled pork that is lovingly made on site, yummy bread and coleslaw. Absolutely delicious. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. The milkshakes are only $6 and are enormous. Great value for money.

2 Hands Cafe Fyshwick pulled pork burger

Two Hands Cafe is open Monday to Friday only for breakfast and lunch, so some of you might need to go there on a day off. A sister cafe recently opened in Civic (near the big fountain) but I think it’s only doing coffee and snacks. You’ll need to go to the Fyshwick cafe for the burger!

6. Soju Girl

Asian fusion restaurant Soju Girl does a fantastic banquet. I am in love with the zucchini flowers stuffed with black sticky rice. I could just eat a few of those as my main meal and be completely satisfied. The food is full of flavour, great quality and super tasty. A mocktail menu makes me happy and I recommend The Healthy Option of lychee, peach, green tea syrup and peach bitters.

Soju Girl Canberra zucchini flower

Soju Girl is situated in the Melbourne building on Northbourne Avenue in Civic. It’s open Wednesday to Friday for lunch, and Tuesday to Saturday for dinner. Bookings recommended.

5. Maple and Clove

Maple and Clove in Barton offers healthy clean eating for breakfast and lunch. Their meals seem to be nutritious, filling and tasty, and there’s variety on the plate with the addition of a small side salad with most dishes. Food is free from artificial colours, flavours, preservatives and sweeteners. They also serve matcha lattes and dandelion lattes which is rare in Canberra. If you want to leave feeling good about yourself, this is a good bet.

Maple and Clove Barton corn waffles breakfast

Maple and Clove at Realm Park in Barton is open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch.

4. Joe’s Bar

If you’re looking for something light to snack on, Joe’s Bar in Kingston offers a great range of sharing plates and huge range of spirits behind its marble topped bar. They make the best house made ginger beer I’ve ever tasted. They’re also happy to make anything on the cocktail menu into a mocktail. Complimentary popcorn with house made seasoning is provided to get your taste buds flowing. I highly recommend the D’Affettati (charcuterie and antipasto), the arancini balls, and the smoked burrata cheese. Fantastic service and fantastic food.

Joe's Bar Kingston house made ginger beer

Joe’s Bar at the East Hotel in Kingston is open seven days a week from 12 noon, however the kitchen opens from 3pm.

3. Patissez

The freakshake phenomenon started at Patissez and has just skyrocketed. A second larger shop recently opened in Civic with more freakshakes added to the menu including a megafreakshake that 3-4 people can share. Apart from the freakshakes, the food is good too offering a bit of a twist to regular brunch. I liked the Pouty Pea and Get Pig’d dishes. There’s also a regularly changing hotcake on the menu and dutch pancakes if you can handle more sugar after the freakshakes.

Patissez freakshakes

You’ll find Patissez in Manuka, as well as in Civic at the bottom of Canberra House on 40 Marcus Clarke Street.

2. The Cupping Room

The food at The Cupping Room is consistently good, and I love consistency. A seasonally changing menu as well as weekly specials gives diners more options and another reason to go back. Dietary requirements are catered for those with gluten intolerances (Deeks gluten free bread available) and vegetarians. Oh and the owner of Ona Coffee, Sasa Sestic, was crowned the World’s Best Barista! Free cupping sessions are offered if you want to learn more about coffee. Staff at The Cupping Room are clearly passionate about coffee and are keen to share this passion with diners. This is an eatery that I will always show off to friends or family.

Cupping Room Canberra noodle sup

The Cupping Room is open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch. They don’t take bookings so you’ll need to either go early or join several others in the queue.

1. Pialligo Estate Farmhouse

I am voting Pialligo Estate Farmhouse the best restaurant of the year. The location and views are magnificent, set on the beautiful green Pialligo Estate.The majority of food is paddock to plate with a lot of produce grown on the estate with an orchard, olive grove and vineyard. Yes there are Pialligo Estate wines, but also olive oils and other Pialligo Estate products such as the award-winning bacon from the smokehouse. At a recent tour of the newly opened garden pavilions, I learnt that the team are using more open-fire cooking and less stove-top cooking to cook an assortment of items. The food is noticeably fresh, local and delicious. Presentation is always beautiful. The service is also excellent and attentive without being intrusive.

Pialligo Estate Farmhouse grain slaw

Pialligo Estate Farmhouse is open for lunch Thursday to Sunday, dinner Wednesday to Saturday, and breakfast on Sundays. Bookings recommended.

I can’t forget to mention these other awesome eats during the year – the Night Noodle Markets, Elemental in Braddon, Two Before Ten in Aranda, Kinn Thai in Civic, Space Kitchen in Woden, XO in Narrabundah, Milk Crate Cafe in Civic, The Hamlet in Braddon, The Forage now in Barton, and Westside Acton Park. There’s also my post on the Top 10 Dessert Destinations in Canberra.

See this post for new eateries opening up at the Kingston Foreshore from next month.

Thank you all for reading the blog and I hope to bring you more foodie adventures in 2016!

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