Dining: Sage Dining Rooms

by The Editor

It’s been a while since we’d visited Sage.  Back then, in the heady days of late 2009 we had a delicious (if not exceptional meal) while discussing the future of a newly-hung Parliament and wondering if Katy Perry would ever do more than kiss a girl.  While the jury may be out on both these issues, Sage has come along in leaps and bounds.  With the restaurant now the talk of the town, it was time to grab a pair of heels, a jacket and head back to historic Gorman House.

As one of the remaining fine dining restaurants in Canberra (along with – in our opinion – Musillon’s Courgette and Water’s Edge, along with Rubicon and Aubergine) Sage seems to be flying in the face of the broader dining trend where more relaxed, brasserie style food is becoming de rigueur.

The menu is divided into four sections, with the first three constituting fish, meat and vegetarian options, while the fourth is simply all about desserts.  Diners order either two ($60), three ($70) or four courses ($80) selecting one item from each section.  We went with three courses knowing the addition of a cheese platter (listed outside of the dessert group) would constitute a fine meal.

Settling into the venue the ambience hums, with almost perfect restaurant ‘buzz’.  With carpet on the floor and a wide variety of fabrics throughout the interior, the atmosphere is spot on – a technique routinely missed around Canberra and one of our greatest bugbears.  It’s worth noting all the fine-dining restaurants listed above also have this notion down to a ‘T’.

Take our word for it, the food is stunning. Avoiding the typical blow-by-blow review that requires photographs of our various courses, all we can suggest is you trust in the skills of chef Clement Chauvin.  He’s an absolute gift to the the local dining scene.  While course one was the extraordinarily delicate Foie Gras Creme Bruleee, served with moss flowers in a glass bowl, our Eye Fillet (course three) was delectable.  The parsley puree added the perfect amount of tang to a steak which had the texture of Turkish Delight.  The whole dish was a delight for the senses.

With Michael and Peter Harrington running a tight ship, there is no doubt Sage Dining Rooms is setting the standard for Canberra Dining.  The lovely Mint Bar takes advantage the Gorman House grounds, and we certainly look forward to the boy’s plans for 2012-13 involving a revitalised balcony covering more of the space to allow year-round use.  Even better news is the development of a tract of land on Majura Road capable of holding around 200 cattle, an abbatoir and 1,000 square metres of organic garden.  It looks as though the focus will remain strongly on local produce, a style borne out in the wine list which offers some of the better endeavours from an increasingly sophisticated local industry.

At the top of the menu sits a degustation with wine for $170.  Should future plans for the ex-pastry chef from Bilson’s to come on board, there is every reason to take on Sage without hesitation.  However, be it two courses or seven, we certainly encourage all those with an eye to surprising, creative and uncompromising local food to investigate this exciting venue.

Contact Details:

Address: Gorman House, Batman St Barton ACT 2612

Phone: (02) 6249 605

Web: www.sagerestaurant.net.au

Opening Times:  Tuesday to Saturday –  1200 to midnight

All images via www.sagerestaurant.net.au