C Dine Bar, Kingston

11 Aug

C Dine Bar is the recent winner of the AHA Award for Best Restaurant in Canberra. It has a prime location on the Kingston Foreshore, and I’ve always admired its vast outdoor seating and heard rumours of its excellent seafood.

10 minutes after arriving at the Foreshore we’ve taken advantage of the bright warming sunshine on this cool day and we’re sat outside with menus and views.

With the sun shining you can almost pretend it’s not winter

The menu is extensive, and a little on the expensive side, particularly for lunch. I’m drawn to the specials on weekday evenings (including wings!) and those intended to draw crowds of friends, like buckets of fresh prawns.

It’s en vogue to write menu descriptions where the diner has to google what you’re eating. I ask our waiter what ‘oysters rockafella’ are and he doesn’t know – but hurries away and back to tell me that it’s oysters in a rich salsa-like sauce.

There are only a few (brave) tables occupied outside, but our waiter is almost always within our view without being annoying. When the sun falls behind cloud he notices, and asks if we’d like a heater. We hesitate (because we are stupid) but thankfully he takes that as, “I’m gonna go get you that heater” and positions it right at the corner of our table so we both benefit. The table next to us also has a heater directed on them; when they leave, another waiter moves it slightly to it points directly towards us. Two heaters! Such simple gestures count for so much.

New best friend

I order three menu items (to Boyfriend’s look) and I like that we’re asked what order they should come out in. I’ve gone with the natural oysters and ask for them first, followed by the rest of the items. They do follow in that order, with the oysters quickly (which you kinda expect, being natural and all!). They’re chilled without having that freezer burn taste, and the savoury creaminess sings through. While there’s enough lemon, I’d’ve loved for some salt and pepper.

Natural oysters ($3.50 each)

Soon after, our ‘mains’ are served. I’ve ordered two entrees, and Boyfriend has chosen the failsafe nachos.

Nachos

The nachos ($18) come with a smear of avocado on the side of the bowl-plate, and plenty of beef with fresh salsa and cheese framed by the house-made chips. The dish is gobbled up.

I’ve gone for the pork duo ($18) and steak tartare ($18). They arrive together and I find it difficult to divide my time between the two visual and tasty feasts.

Pork duo – belly, croquette and a smatter of crackling

The pork belly is well caramelised with a hard crackling, but its meat and the meat of the croquette are just, just overcooked – still tasty, but just beyond juicy. The pea puree under the belly (almost hidden in the above) is light in texture but stronger in flavour, and accompanies the caramelisation of the pork sweetly.

Steak tartare

I’ve chosen my dishes based on desire rather than match, but the steak tartare refreshingly lifts the stickiness of the pork. It’s presented beautifully and I’m so enamoured with the flavours of the tartare that I forget there’s supposed to be an egg on the dish. Halfway through I poke into what I think is a croquette to learn it’s a lightly poached egg – deep fried – and a strong contender for #yolkporn.

The egg’s presentation is a genuine and pleasant surprise

It says a lot that the tartare stands on its own without the yolk, but the yolk does enhance it. It’s a terrific dish. I wish I’d ordered another!

Despite the cold (alleviated with the heaters!) it’s an experience filled with warmth – with this sort of service and great food, it can only be one of the best venues available for summer. I’m already picking out Friday afternoons once daylight savings returns!

Date: Saturday, 2 August 2014

Where: Kingston Foreshore, near Walt + Burley

Cost: $79.50 (three entrees, 3 x natural oysters, one beer and one juice)

Value for money: High (and even higher when it’s warmer, I’m sure)

Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile

Want more? Try their website.

C Dine Bar on Urbanspoon

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8 Responses to “C Dine Bar, Kingston”

  1. Erin August 11, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    I’ve always been a bit wary of C Dine Bar, because I don’t like seafood – but it’s good to know they have other options πŸ™‚

  2. John August 12, 2014 at 6:45 am #

    How can something be “high” value for money yet you mentioned it is a little on the expensive side? At least be consistent with your comments (you do this basically every review so I always take your comments with a grain of salt).

    • inthetaratory August 12, 2014 at 7:32 am #

      Thanks for your feedback, John. I genuinely think ‘Was this worth the $ price tag?’ If I feel the quality of the ingredients, the presentation and the taste more than match the price tag, I will rate it as high value for money. Looking at the menu, yep these ARE on the more expensive side for entrees (I spend a lot of time looking at menus as you might have guessed!) but did it prove value for money – or great value for money? Yes. Something can be a little higher on the price tag than I’d normally expect but ultimately great value for money – the categories aren’t mutually exclusive. I take the final part of any review very seriously – I treat it like a family member or friend asking me if I’d go back again and was it worth the price tag I paid. I don’t blanket say ‘high’ for everything. Saying something is high value for money or highly worthwhile is as serious as me saying it’s not worthwhile. The categories are simple but meaningful. I hope that clarifies my thought processes for you.

      • John August 13, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

        If I took that final section as being whether you would recommend it to friends or not then basically there are only 5 places in the whole of Canberra that you would not recommend. Considering dining out is really a hit-and-miss affair (I’d personally say 50/50 and that is being generous) then I have to question why you recommend almost every place you go to…

        Of course, I know you don’t like confrontation, so I can understand in that situation why you are going to avoid negative reviews as much as possible. Only problem with this is that it means you aren’t really covering good and bad places and makes your reviews less credible than they should be.

      • inthetaratory August 13, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

        Thanks John. There are places I go out of my way to return to or recommend – these get highly worthwhile, and you’ll often see me frequent these places. Worthwhile is I’d happily go back, but it might not necessarily jump to mind if a friend asked me for recommendations. Not worthwhile – something seriously has to have gone wrong. I am really sorry if you have had more than 50% experiences you’d similarly characterise as ‘not worthwhile’ – that surprises me given I think the standard in Canberra is getting higher and higher. Perhaps you need to go to more of my recommendations? πŸ™‚ If you are looking for blogs which only cover experiences that they thoroughly enjoyed, there are a number of these in existence in Canberra and might suit what you’re after better.

  3. whisperinggums August 17, 2014 at 1:45 am #

    Interesting discussion here, but John, there’s no way I’d want to spend 50% of my time eating at “bad” places (or in my blog’s case reading “bad” books). I try to choose books to read and restaurants to eat at that I expect I’ll like. After all, I’m spending my money and/or time. If dining is that much “miss”, I don’t imagine I’d be doing it as much as I do.

    Now, that said, I’ve only been to C-Dine once and our experience was OK but we haven’t hurried back. We were there for lunch – early last summer – and my husband said he’d have the special – it was fish of some sort. He didn’t ask the price, but when we got the bill we were astonished to find it priced into the $40s. I’ve forgotten exactly how much now as it was many months ago. It was quite out of proportion to the other items on the menu, so we weren’t expecting it. My dish was in the $20s range. I think it was tasty enough but my husband wasn’t expecting to spend that much on a casual lunch. (We do spend quite a bit eating out but we like to choose what we are spending when if that makes sense). Besides this the outside bench seating was incredibly low for the table. I’m average female height and the table was at my chest. I’ve sat at low seats before but that was ridiculous.

    So, I will go back … but we will make sure our seating is comfortable and that we know the prices of what we order before we order! I do like the sound of that service you got – you comment about your demurring about the heating made me laugh.

    • inthetaratory August 19, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

      That’s a really good point – there’s a certain amount of research put in before I go to a place, particularly if it’s existed for a while. I don’t usually just roll in to a place for no reason – I may have asked friends or colleagues if they’ve been, or looked at the menu online to see if the menu stands out to me. By making a conscious and somewhat informed decision to eat there (in most places) it’s probably because it’s somewhat good (and thus ends up being at least quite good if not amazing). I don’t go out of my way to review dives.

      • whisperinggums August 19, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

        Exactly, so our respective reviews tend to the positive end!

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