The first of many restaurants to make their home at the promenade of the highly anticipated Kingston Foreshore, C Dine Bar has opened quietly and without any fuss on a cold but sunny Wednesday in the middle of July. A day later, and four days ahead of their official opening, we give you a snapshot of Canberra’s newest restaurant.
Entering through an alfresco dining area that is understandably under-patronized, considering the outdoor temperature and the early stage of this establishment’s life, we are greeted by a light and open space–formal to the left, more casual to the right. Running the breadth of the back of the restaurant, an open kitchen faces the formal dining area and, running from left to right, morphs into a bar at the more relaxed end of the room. With a timber cladding that leans toward the rustic, it stands juxtaposed to the rather slick palette of charcoal walls with breakouts of bold aqua. Plush chairs – embroidered gold on olive green – make a formal statement, as do immaculate settings on crisp white napiery. Smartly attired wait staff cruise across the sunny dining room, directed by co-owner and maître d’ Shann Howman, catering to the respectable number of lunchtime diners that have made their way here on the second day of trading.
From the open kitchen, co-owner and chef Dan Keogh is busy delivering modern Australian dishes with a strong emphasis on seafood (or C food, as its known on the menu) and beef. Merimbula oysters are shucked to order–classic Kilpatrick, Mornay or natural; or served with tempura, baby spinach or honey. Other starters may include prosciutto wrapped garfish or a classic clam chowder. A pork cheek croquette is served with a garlic cream, and salmon is crusted with chili and poppy seed in delicate little rounds. Whilst some Asian influences sneak in along with a smattering of Mediterranean, there is a real sense of Aussie masculinity to the offering here. A 660gram rib eye–aged 36 days in the prominently displayed meat cabinet–sits firmly in the realm of the old school businessman’s lunch, as does Beef Wellington, or a whole snapper with lemon and herbs. That said, the execution is modern and delicate with an aesthetic that transports such classics to the now.
In the bar section, high tables and stools– black and modern– move away from the elegance of the dining area, intentionally signaling a change of vibe here. Whilst the food is the main focus at C Dine, Shann imagines it has the potential to be somewhat of a go-to place for a civilized after work or even an after dinner drink, and is keen to cultivate this type of experience. Certainly the location lends itself to it, and even on this cold winter’s day, there is a sense that this waterside location will be lively.
C Dine is open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday through to Saturday, and does breakfast on weekends. At this early stage, they will be open for drinks right through on Fridays and Saturdays.