Monster, Canberra

Author: Pat Nourse
Photography: Jason Loucas

One of the most hotly anticipated restaurants in Canberra finally offers its full menu today. Monster, the lobby restaurant at Hotel Hotel in Acton, has been serving breakfast and bits and pieces from its bar menu since Christmas but, after a couple of delays, Sean McConnell and his team are now stepping up to the plate for real. The chef, who is best known in Canberra for his work at Mocan & Green Grout, is the younger brother of noted Melbourne chefs Andrew (Cutler & Co , Cumulus Inc) and Matt McConnell (Bar Lourinhã, Casa Ciuccio), and it's tempting to try to discern a family likeness in his menu of shared plates.

Certainly the all-day menu wouldn't be out of place in Fitzroy or on Flinders Lane, running from Barcelona-style "bikini" tostadas of jamón and Manchego at breakfast to the likes of pulled lamb shoulder with pomegranate, pistachio, vine leaves and yoghurt, and buns stuffed with slow-cooked pork neck and kimchi after noon. McConnell likes to support local producers, and they're here in force, whether it's Boxgum Grazing beef served raw, Lebanese-style with pickles and flatbread, or Murray cod from Goulburn teamed with sea lettuce, celery and dashi.

Other bold ideas include yabby jaffles with crème fraîche and horseradish, and celeriac baked in salt, served with local black truffle and Jersey milk curd - both options well suited to putting the eclectic but nicely edited wine list through its paces. And should the thought of Canberra winter in June prove frightening, there's always the prospect of crema Catalana with spiced quince to cuddle up to at the end of the meal.

Monster, Hotel Hotel, New Acton Nishi, 25 Edinburgh Ave, Canberra, (02) 6287 6287.





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