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The team behind Pilot. have a new Canberra restaurant with a mega wine list

The buzzy Canberra food and wine scene has got a whole lot cooler with the opening of Such and Such. The stylish city diner is from the team behind Canberra’s award-winning Pilot restaurant.

Opened in January, the all-day restaurant and wine bar offers a flexible menu of seasonal ingredients and creative flavour combinations, along with one of Canberra’s most extensive wine lists. Design and art by creative locals add to the relaxed, chilled vibe.

The facts

Diner: Christine Salins
Address: 8/220 London Circuit, Canberra ACT 2600
Date: 22 March 2023
Best for: An impressive list of 300+ wines.

Such and Such, Canberra

The Signature factor

With 300+ wines on the list, you’d be hard-pressed to find a wine list as extensive or as comprehensive anywhere in Canberra. Coupled with exquisite dishes that are designed to be shared, it’s a winning combination that is fun in approach but seriously good in its execution.

Choose the dishes that speak to you or opt for one of the set menus: a 10-course degustation for $100pp, or for those who want to be in and out quicker, the Here and There set menu for $70pp. Staff are great at recommending wines to match the dishes.

Such and Such, Canberra

The concept

Owners Ross McQuinn and Dash Rumble wanted Such and Such to feel like a big city restaurant but at the same time wanted it to be a local where people could drop in for a drink and a snack or a laid-back lunch or dinner. Unlike Pilot, which is usually booked out weeks in advance, Such and Such is open for walk-ins.

Designer Mark Brook from Mymymy Architecture has created a vibrant space that is faintly retro with bright pops of colour, curved lines, warm wood tones, velvet textures, and artworks by talented emerging artists. The drinks list also features emerging talent, focusing on lesser-known winemakers and wineries embracing sustainable practices.

First impressions

A striking kaleidoscope-looking sculpture of hand-blown glass tubes by local artist Scott Chaseling greets guests on arrival. Brook has paid homage to the city’s local arts scene with bold, dramatic paintings and pieces by ceramicist Chris Harford and furniture designer Tom Skeehan. Pink pendant lights, velvet banquette seating, textured walls and terrazzo floor tiles complete the look.

Bespoke Tasmanian blackwood tables set with cloth napkins and fine glassware add style. Each dish comes out on unique ceramic pieces and even the ceramic cutlery rests are eye-catching (one shaped like a prawn, the other like a cucumber). Cute.

On my plate and in my glass

Pilot won national acclaim for its creative, high-end approach to familiar flavours, and executive chef Malcolm Hanslow draws on a similar approach here. Working alongside head chef Nic Peterson in the open kitchen, the team turns out a polished, produce-driven menu starting with plump, briny Merimbula oysters doused in sherry vinegar mignonette.

Served with a pink-tinged Pinot Noir Cremant from Burgundy producer, Domaine Dame Jeanne Prémices, the oysters are a treat. Next, skewers of beef barbecued with miso sambal and enoki mushrooms on bright green leaves set the stage for a feast of flavours in sometimes surprising but always delicious combinations.

Our tastebuds get a workout with a bowl of school prawns coated in 666 (devil’s) spice, crunchy and salty in a fried sticky mess that calls for a pour of Little Frances Semillon from California’s Luchsinger Vineyard. Dash is justly proud of the wine list that beverage director James Dickson-Hoyle has created, speaking knowledgeably and enthusiastically about the wines as she pours them.

Such and Such, Canberra

Little Frances Semillon is elegant and soft, made by Australian winemaker Erin Frances Pooley in 2016 shortly after she began making wines in the Napa Valley (USA). Such and Such is making a concerted effort to include more women winemakers, with the aim of women representing 50% of the list.

A bowl of cucumber comes next, humble in its origins but with loads of flavour as some is fresh and some is pickled, tossed in an exquisite creamy pond of tahini miso with feta and sprigs of dill. Riffing an Italian fish stew, blue eye cod comes to the table next in a bowl of ‘crazy water’ with mussels and semi-dried tomatoes. The sourdough flat bread in garlic toum (Lebanese-style garlic sauce) used to mop up the broth is unbelievably good.

Such and Such, Canberra

The showstopper

The showstopper is duck on the crown, served with a caramel sauce made from blood plums and fish sauce. We simply can’t get enough of it despite the generous portion size. We’ve been drinking a Parley 2022 ‘Light Breaks Dawn’ Cabernet Franc produced by the Watkins family in Langhorne Creek, its violet and blackcurrant aromas giving way to spicy strawberry notes.

Coupe de Cello – a blend of limoncello sorbet, lemon curd, and ginger granita – is as good as it sounds, but it’s the Strawberry rice dessert (rice cream, barbecue strawberry, white chocolate) that delivers the biggest flavour hit.

More than 25 pages of wine are categorised according to flavour profiles, the list focusing on premium and interesting small Aussie winemakers, some international wines, and some local cult favourites. Cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks lean towards the classics. Wine by the glass is available from a shortlist of current favourites. Even if you’re a serious wine enthusiast, there’s likely to be stuff you’ve never heard of – like a whole page of wine from the Jura region of France, for example.

The service

McQuinn and Rumble are known for their polished hospitality at Pilot and the same qualities shine through at Such and Such. The team deftly works the floor, remaining ever attentive and scarcely missing a beat. Every now and then, one of the waiters stops at our table and talks about their favourite dishes. It seems they can’t get enough of it either.

If only…

… there was more space. The main dining room is compact and fills quickly. There is space at the bar and outside, but don’t expect loads of room between the indoor tables.

Where to find it

Such and Such is in the heart of the CBD, right near Canberra Theatre, making it perfect for a pre- or post-theatre drink or meal. Walk-ins are available but online bookings are recommended. Groups of up to 12 can reserve a small private dining room. Larger groups must book exclusive use of the whole restaurant.

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