Pialligo Estate in Canberra serves up modern Australian cuisine in a luxe casual setting. Sunday lunches feature a two course menu for $65 or three courses for $80 with standout dishes like Higgins Creek suckling pork, young carrots, gingerbread, vadouvan and golden raisins or Fraser Island spanner crab, globe artichoke, watermelon, almond and lemon verbena. Set aside several hours and take along some food loving friends here.
It was our final day in Canberra, a lazy warm Sunday and one that started off at a leisurely pace. For a change. Usually we will have risen early and hit a place or two for breakfast but mindful of the long lunch that we were about to have with Rebecca and Big J, we keep the space in our stomachs vacant for Pialligo Estate, a restaurant set on acreage close by to Canberra airport (as the crow flies).
Located on the drive out from Canberra to Sydney, Pialligo Estate's farmhouse restaurant has been open since the beginning of January 2015. Everything looks very new here and the colder seasons have already cemented their place here with enormous pumpkins and yellow tinted leaves across its 86 acres. The restaurant is open for dinner from Wednesday to Saturday and for lunch Thursday - Sunday and it is also a wedding venue. The property is also a vineyard, orchard and olive grove. And although it is close to the airport, it never really appears that way. The chef de cuisine here is Brendan Walsh.
The menu has two course for $65 or three for $80 and you can decide after the mains whether you'd like a third course or not. We are sharing a long table with another group of four but there's enough space so that it doesn't feel like we are on each other's laps. The amuse bouche is brought out and it is a salmon sabayon, all light as air etherealness with pieces of their kiln smoked salmon, salmon roe, seaweed powder and airy sabayon.
The bread comes next and it's accompanied by a ball of butter. Although I had advised that Rebecca was gluten free when I booked, there wasn't any bread brought out for her but she doesn't seem particularly fussed about it. Our waiter is kindly and soft spoken and when we look at a bowl of figs he asks us to help ourselves to freshly picked figs. However he is quite busy and at times, he walks away while we are talking to him because he is so busy.
Fraser Island Spanner Crab, globe artichoke, watermelon, almond and lemon verbena
The delicate Fraser Island spanner crab is my favourite of the entrees. It's all about subtle sweetness and richness and there's a spanner crab mousse cylinder, a ball of spanner crab emulsion and slivers of globe artichokes, pieces of watermelon with dabs of almond and lemon verbena cream.
Cured Blackmore Wagyu, Sourdough, Heirloom Beetroot, Watercress & Brown Butter
The favourite for Rebecca and Big J is the Blackmore wagyu in thin, crispy cured shards and a coarsely ground seasoned raw wagyu. It comes with heirloom golden and purple beetroots, watercress and a drizzle of browned butter. I particularly like the textures in this dish.
Line-caught hiramasa kingfish, green apple, yuzu, garden radish, cucumber and dried shiso
A refreshing and pretty dish is the line caught hiramasa kingfish served in sashimi style pieces with green apple, yuzu, thinly sliced radish, cucumber and dried shiso powder. It's subtle and refreshing.
Heritage Tomatoes, Burrata, Lemon Verbena, Grilled Peach & Young Herbs
The sweet heritage tomatoes go beautifully with the torn pieces of creamy burrata cheese with thinly sliced fennel, segments of grilled peach, young herbs and lemon verbena.
Butter-Poached Blue Eye Trevalla, Jerusalem Artichokes, Tarragon & Hazelnut Dressing
The mains are next and the prettiest dish is the butter poached blue eye trevalla which has a soft, yielding texture and is accompanied with batons of Jerusalem artichoke and a smear of tarragon and hazelnut emulsion.
Jumjum Duck, Tokyo Turnips, Grilled Sweet Corn, Blood Plum
The Jumjum Farm muscovy duck has a wonderfully juicy, tender texture with the centre pink. It comes with charred corn, small Tokyo turnip quarters and a blood plum gel.
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Higgins Creek Suckling Pork, young carrots, gingerbread, vadouvan and golden raisins
Sweet, crispy and aromatic the pork is my favourite dish. The crackling is crunchy yet the meat underneath soft and jellied and there are also two round sirloin pieces. The young carrots, golden raisins and gingerbread go perfectly with the unctuous meat and the vadouvan or curry spices add aroma. I looked to see if Mr NQN had finished his to see if he would trade but alas it was all gone.
O’Connor Black Angus Sirloin, Summer Beans, Mushrooms & Roasted Shallots
The final main is the O'Connor Black Angus sirloin, a succulent piece of sirloin cooked medium so that it is juicy and flavoursome. It is paired with summer beans, king mushroom and leaves of roasted shallots.
Kipfler Potatoes, Herbs & Lemon
The kipfler potatoes are strong in lemon and an excellent olive oil and even though I'm full, I take pieces of bread to dip in the lemony olive oil.
Mille feuille of William pear, dulcey chocolate cream, lemon verbena and kalamansi citrus
The desserts are mostly of the light and fruity kind with one chocolate dessert. I prefer fruit based desserts, particularly after a large meal and this mille feuille with paper thin filo pastry rectangles filled with Valrhona Dulcey white chocolate cream bursts and lemon verbean and kalamansi citrus is light, creamy and crisp.
Blueberry, sheeps yogurt, pistachio elderflower and lime
Rebecca and Mr NQN's favourite item is the pretty semi circle with sheep's milk yogurt panna cotta, blueberry caviar, pistachio, elderflower and lime cake and crumbs and a sheep's milk wafer.
Nashi pear from the orchard, ginger and white tea
I loved the crisp, compressed nashi pear with its perfect level of sweetness. This is paired with ginger and white tea sorbets and jelly discs.
Valrhona Jivara chocolate, passionfruit, dulce de leche and salted hazelnut
I finish with the richest dessert - a Valrhona Jivara chocolate delice with the most glisteningly perfect mirror chocolate icing. It comes with dabs of passionfruit gel and dulce de leche and crisp roasted salted hazelnuts.
A tray of delightful petit fours appears with or without tea which is a nice touch because often they only come with drinks. There are divine strawberry marshmallows, crunchy honey chocolates and a delectable salted caramel toffees.
There are a couple of tables left but we have to go as the drive back home awaits. Alas they are out of their streaky bacon but it sounds like a good excuse for a revisit if any. And when we check the time, we realise that it has been an almost five hour lunch!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you like long lunches on weekends? Do you ever do them on weekdays? And do you ever just order tea or coffee to get the petit fours? Or is that just me? ;)
This meal was independently paid for.
18 Kallaroo Road, Pialligo ACT 2609
Phone:(02) 6247 6060
Open for lunch from 12pm Wednesday to Sunday
Dinner from 6pm Thursday to Saturday