Category Archives: Canberra

Hotel Realm – Canberra

I’ve managed to squeeze a weekend away to Canberra. It’s autumn, the grapes in the vineyards are ripe for the picking and it’s Harvest Festival time.
Good opportunity to try out some new digs that have hotted up the Canberra accommodation scene recently.

Hotel Realm is a new 5 star sprawling accommodation, spa and entertainment hub in the Canberra suburb of Barton just behind Parliament House.

Its cavernous entrance atrium certainly announces its cool, global vibe. And we receive a smooth, friendly and unobtrusive check-in. Full marks.

The atrium installation is several stories high…

We stayed in a one-bedroom apartment with a balcony overlooking a park and Parliament house in the distance. There are 186 rooms in total.

Really comfortable beds and linen –  although we did find the room temperature difficult to stablise – either a little too hot or too cold!

These apartments are going to be a hit with Canberra’s itinerant public servants and long-stay guests – full size kitchen with all the gadgetry including sharp knives. There was also a washing machine and dryer.

A fruit plate on arrival….
Stylish and well laid-out bathroom..

…designed with woman in mind. A good make up mirror and plenty of space for toiletries..

a good-sized bath that sadly we didn’t have time to sample..
The view from the balcony
and the fiery sky at sunset.
The Hotel Realm has three restaurants and a bar with a very uber-chic courtyard. It was hard to believe we were still in suburban Canberra.

For dinner we went for the wood-fired marguerita pizza..

… with a caprese salad. Excellently prepared with fresh ingredients. Highly recommend it.

The next morning –  less than 20 mins away –  the Lerida Estate and Lark Hill wineries beckoned…

chooks scratching amongst the vines for bugs
And a quartet playing some chilled jazz..
The Hotel Realm is going to really shake-up the Canberra scene not only for travellers but for locals who now have a very cool quarter that will put Canberra on the international map.
Saucy Onion stayed as a guest of the Hotel Realm.

Lark Hill wines

Lark Hill winery in the Canberra cool-climate wine district is creating some of Australia’s best wines.

The Carpenter family is building a steady reputation for its riesling, chardonnay and pinot noir and last year the winery was certified biodynamic by NASAA.
I recommend the 2008 riesling which possesses slate and mineral notes underscored by a steely thread of clean acidity (sounds like I know my wines but I just read that on their website)
Lark Hill has recently started serving weekend lunch in their new winery restaurant. Chef Jamie comes well-credentialled but still needs a bit of confidence to carry off his menu.
The confit of duck was a hit with our group but the ravioli was served cold and half the mussels in the pumpkin and mussel broth were unopened.

But the views across the vineyards and valleys with a stove fire warming the near-complete dining room is worth the price of admission!
Tasting cups of spinach and potato soup


Lark Hill Reserve Chardonnay

Handmade ravioli stuffed with confit pork cheek with pinenut and sage butter foam

18 hour confit duck leg with creamy mash potato, sauteed Lark Hill biodynamic spinach and beetroot relishTassie mussels cooked in Lark Hill 2008 riesling and pumpkin broth

Dessert Trio: Apple Tarte Tatin, strawberry pannacotta and mandarin coulis and mascerated fruits with mascarpone.
Cheese Plate: Goats chevre, fresh goats curd, King Island Blue and Hunter Valley cloth bound cheddar and muscatel grape raisins

Ottoman Restaurant

As you get older birthdays merge into a haze of memories. From candles and clowns to cocktails and canapes, the way we celebrate our birthdays may change but I think it’s important to mark the passing of another year with a special experience.

This year we headed off to an old favourite restaurant of ours- that Canberra institution, ‘The Ottoman’.

There’s been a spin-off in Sydney for a few years now down on the harbour at Walsh Bay. Even so, it’s still a great indulgence to brave a chilly Canberra autumn night and slip into the warm expansive glow of the Ottoman’s original main dining room with its cream suede high-back chairs and soft-dimmed overhead lights. At $100 a head the degustation menu with matching wines is great bang-for-the-buck.
Warm turkish bread with roasted Kalamata olives and olive oil and caramelised balsamic

Salmon and prawn dolma in crisp pastry with Yamba prawn, shitake mushrooms and wilted spinach.

Filo-pastry cigars filled with shredded veal and cabbage-leaf wrapped lamb mince with garlic yoghurt sauce

Lamb mince stuffed baked eggplant
Chinese cabbage salad with toasted almonds pomegranate seeds and vinaigrette
Orange, lemon and passionfruit sorbet with pistachio crumbs
Trio of dessert – baklava, custard slice and nougat ice-cream with candied fruit almond bread