Močan and Green Grout does dinner

by Barrister Barista

Ever tried to find a restaurant open Monday nights in Canberra? It’s difficult, or at least it was. Plugging a hole in the market, New Acton hole-in-the-wall Močan and Green Grout are staying open for supper, on top of their regular seven day breakfast/lunch trade.

There are four unique things about the Močan evening experience.  First, the horse’s mouth tells us that dinner is served only on Monday to Wednesdays, from 6pm to 10pm.  But why those days?  ‘It’s something different’, we learn.  It sure is, we think.  We reflect that staff probably don’t mind having Friday and Saturday nights free, either.  As it is, the relaxed late-nightish trade made our weekdays feel like weekends. New Acton, tastefully lit, is starting to feel like Canberra’s Southbank or Rundle St or Latin Quarter (okay, so that’s a big call).

Second in uniqueness is their ‘no booking’ policy, which makes sense when you see the space they’re working with.  We’ve described Močan before as a ‘treehouse’, and with bottle-shaped light fittings hanging in the windows and a green glow throughout, it takes us to the closing scene of Star Wars – the Ewok party on Endor.  Not that staff are furry, short or squat.  On the contrary, they’re tall, reserved and citified.  At the moment, it feels great to weave through the assymetrical dining space and perch on any available cushion.  In a few weeks and some warmer weather, we predict waiting lists and crowds like a Saturday at Silo.  Will Močan cave to bookings on request? (it’s her Birthday…)

Point of difference three: Močan and GG are currently licensed but BYO-only.  We expect that this is temporary, and may even have been told that a wine list is in workshop phase, and a bathroom is being built?  Either way, you can generally buy wine at restaurant prices from next-door Urban Food Store, and Močan staff will provide wine glasses.   We recommend a Pikes Riesling, because you’ll inevitably end up ordering fish. Wine-list-wise, we’re hoping for Helm and Clonakilla and Tassie champagne, aperol and gin fizz. We’re less keen for Spanish reds and grassy whites, and cocktails with burnt orange peel.

This brings us to fourth novel element – a menu that changes every day.  We’ve none-too-subtly snapped two pages of the date-stamped dinner list, leaving no secrets about when we popped in.  Not only does the menu change, but the style of food changes – the first time it was euro-inspired tapas (steak tartare, mussels in buttery broth, a roving staff member with a bread basket) and the second time it was south-east Asian inspired tapas (som tam, soft shell crab, fish collar and curry, side servings of rice and ‘would you like it South Asian street spicy, or New Acton cafe spicy?’).  Visit one, we used bread for cutlery. Visit two, we thought about asking for chopsticks.  Even the two nightly desserts morphed. ‘Soft chocolate’ (almost mousse) came with meringue then with tapioca.  Earl grey ‘crema’ (almost custard) was replaced by black sticky rice pudding with grilled mango.   If you’re after vegetarian, or dining certainty, the flexibility may flabbergast, but we like it.

Other features that are perhaps not unique, but certainly distinguish Močan: the ability to order a post-prandial coffee and expect it to be made with love, and the ability to get gluten-free food. We had one false start with an overrun mahogany latte, but it was remade for us. Next time, the coffee was less “strong”, and was poured with panache. We had also had one false start with a crumb-topped soft chocolate, and sadly, it wasn’t remade for us, or improvised for our Coeliac friend.  It’s the kind of place where you would expect a personalised dessert and a hand-written apology. After all, you can sit at the expensive marble benchtop and watch your dinner being prepared, with a pinch here and there from bowls that the partner’s partner made herself.

Is this a Canberrevolution in the making? We’re looking forward to eating and writing much more about this place, and we’re looking forward to hearing your thoughts, too. 

Mocan & Green Grout
19 Marcus Clarke Street
New Acton
0486 525 229

Mon – Wed: 7.00am to 10.00am
Thurs – Sat: 7.00am to 6.00pm
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