TOP 100 QUEST: MONSTER KITCHEN AND BAR, Canberra
Monster is the second of two Top 100 restaurants in Canberra that I went to. It’s located in the enormous lobby space of the ‘Hotel Hotel’. It’s a fab looking hotel – contemporary and edgy and I would have loved to have booked my accommodation there for the trip!
The man responsible for the food at Monster is Sean McConnell – the brother of my hero Andrew. The McConnell boys sure know their food! The restaurant menu is simply brilliant. It’s concise, it’s interesting, and downright exciting. It’s split between Bar Menu food and Shared Plates and the prices are really good. There is also the ‘Monster Light Lunch’ board which is the more casual food.
My experience this day was an interesting one because I had one of the best dishes I’ve ever had followed by one that was really disappointing – but I think it was a simple case of ordering the wrong thing for my second dish. I’ll talk about that disappointing dish first – I’m a sucker for a good Spaghetti Vongole and when I saw it on the ‘Monster Light Lunch’ board I really wanted it. It’s usually one of my favourite dishes and I had plate after plate of it on my recent trip to Italy. However, I’m sorry to say that the pasta was overcooked and way too soft, and it was sitting in a pool of butter. Not usually one to complain, I felt compelled to mention this to the waiter when he came and asked if everything was okay, but he simply laughed nervously before running away, not knowing what to do. I should have stuck to the restaurant menu.
But enough about that – let’s focus on the positives! My first course was simply stunning, and it definitely earned a place on my ‘most memorable dishes’ list. My eyes locked onto this dish within seconds of looking at the menu. All of the key words were there in one spot. Roasted Moreton Bay bug tails, brussels sprouts, toasted nori, crustacean oil, yuzu and house togarashi. How insanely good is that combo?! And it WAS insanely good. I was so happy I wanted to cry. The crispness of the brussels sprouts, the sweetness of the nori and the heat of the chilli – a perfect combination, and not short on bug meat either!
My fellow diners were also impressed with their food, which you can check out below. Pulled lamb shoulder meat was hidden under pieces of brik pastry and crispy vine leaves with pistachio and pomegranate. The Wagyu rump looked stunning! There were also appreciative noises being made over the desserts which included a Crema Catalana with Pedro Ximinez and spiced pear.
If I found myself in Canberra again, I’d definitely head back to Monster – I’d love to try some of the other dishes.