MONSTER KITCHEN & BAR - Nouvelle Vegetarian Winter Menu To Admire

We do have a penchant for meat however, we always have an open mind when it comes to food and Monster Kitchen & Bar is the perfect vehicle for you to reassess how delightful vegetarian food can be! mylifestylenews writes.

It is not often that we think about vegetarian food when dining out. Don’t get us wrong, we eat lots of leafy greens and never shy away from menu items that focus on the beloved vegetable. Canberra has been blessed with some interesting boutique hotels in recent years, but none have also established a strong reputation as much as the Ovolo Nishi has, with its stunning interior design heavily based on recycled materials.

The interior design of the whole hotel is very striking, but the arrival staircase from one side of the building is unforgettable, made out of recycled basketball floorboards. Once you have stopped gawking at such a beautiful entrance, you arrive in the main lobby area and note some key artworks that are diverse and then a left turn into the restaurant proper and you feel like you are entering a private premise, yet warm and welcoming.

With dim lighting, a huge fire pit makes the centre piece to warm up the room on a cold winter evening and some striking touches that show a quirky sense of style: inlaid stone floors, fabulous illuminated mirror wall lights that have a dazzling eclectic look and some old master style portraits on another wall that add a humorous ‘gravitas’.

It is pretty much full on yet has an ample space sectionized in the entire lounge area which is a series of nested spaces made of woven rough formed concrete structural lintels. The main dining Mosaic room houses giant original quirky yet arty artworks and together with the Salon tells a story of Australian immigration. It certainly has a lot to admire and to get inspired.

We could go on about this sense of style, but we were in attendance to sample their new winter set menu with a premium wine pairing and the stakes were high, as it has been a long time since we dined in a vegetarian restaurant. Monster Kitchen & Bar has established a reputation second to none and is widely talked about, but it is not just the food that is the focus.

Creating a restaurant buzz by going completely vegetarian, it was a leap of faith about two years ago to go plant based and they haven’t looked back. Each dish centres on a particular vegetable with local and seasonal produce prepared for sharing and some help from add on ingredients that add spice, brevity or texture and it all looks incredibly appetizing on the printed page. For those non-vegetarians, who knew it could sound so appetizing? Bring it on!

Ton, the restaurant supervisor took his liberty to organize us two signature cocktails from the bar and set the wildfire on flame when it was presented to the table came with Larios Gin, fresh pineapple, honey, coffee liquer, Campari, lime, Togarashi chilli, nutmeg and anise that may sound like too much complexity on palate with such an concoction, but it does work quite well to quench your thirst with the peppery chili kicking in gently.

The second cocktail came with Larios Gin, fresh pear, vanilla bean, Fino Sherry, lime, mint, pomegranate, sparkling blanc de blanc and bitters and it may well appear to some who favours their classic cosmopolitan and this would be your deluxe version by enjoying so.

<Monster’s Bao Bun>
This classic spongy half folded bun is filled with spiced cauliflower, siracha and pickles. The rich flavours are anchored by the cauliflower which has a charred flavour and it is deliciously appetizing and well paired with the classic and elegant NV Billecarte-Salmon French champagne.

<Beetroot Tartare>
Juicy and moist! This is a beautifully balanced dish with a combination of sheep’s yoghurt, pickled shallots and bronze fennel. It has a crunchiness to it, as the beetroot is not too soft and the shallots of fennel added another dimension. You've got to love beetroots to enjoy such a good beetroot dish. Paired with a glass of refreshing, half dry and somewhat fruity and sweet finishing 2016 German Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling, it is simply sensually yours to enjoy fullest.

<Celeriac & Fable “Meat” Wontons>
Wontons are a popular choice on any menu and these looked great, sitting in a broth of master stock, garnished with goji berries and a full bed of chives. It was the most perfect presentation and the master stock had a great aroma yet rather too sweet on the palate. The wontons were so crispy and the melange of flavours was very pleasant with a chosen pairing of the 2017 Tasmania Pressing Matters Pinot Noir for its cherry and plum flavours that is balanced by long lines of acidity and tannins.

<Hokkaido Pumpkin>
A heart-warming dish that has the added flavours of smoked almond veloute, Comte cheese and roasted seeds. Presented on a halfmoon shape, the glutinous Japanese pumpkin was delicious and has it own very redolent flavour, the other accompanying ingredients were not a standout, but delicious nonetheless.  Paired with an artisan medium body 2020 French Jean Paul Dubost Gamay Beaujolais with its dark red fruits and savoury notes.

<Oyster & Shitake Mushrooms>
This was simply sensational and was accompanied with miso butter, smoked salsa verde, a sous vide egg cooked at 63 degrees and sourdough crackers. A superb combination that was delicious, unctuous and above all, just a perfect blend of flavours that danced on the tongue, with the flavours to die for! It is a rich main course dish with a depth of flavour that was totally unexpected, including the chimichurri dressing that was so piquant. It is totally worth it for an encore!

<Rhubarb & Custard >
This beautiful pre-dessert that really is a first dessert and with the addition of lavender, honey and rhubarb sorbet. The vanilla custard was silky smooth and creamy and the crunchy honey quenelles are simply fabulous, not only visionary stunning yet pleasing the palate entirely. It is a real stand out and a sensational dish!

<Pandan Ice Cream>
This dessert is also a worthy front runner for this evening. The ice cream also has pistachio cake, yoghurt, soft orange blossom meringue and coconut. This dessert has so many layers and no flavour is overly dominating, a well-balanced act but you have to let each flavour speak to you. The ingredients are subtle and create a lovely texture overall that is to be savoured until the last morsel. It is a fabulous dessert that shows excellence in culinary skill to understand flavours. A triumph!

A flight of four premium grade wines and one champagne were selected and served to match each course and we can think of no better way to enjoy the food than with perfectly matched wines. Each was a revelation to us, except for the Frogmore Creek Ice Riesling which we found too boring – something with a little more bite and less sweetness would be perfect. You will be pleasantly surprised how much plant-based cuisine can be elevated by the chosen wines, thanks to the culinary team putting those extra efforts by bringing multiple level of taste and personalities on the well-crafted new winter menu.

Our dedicated table host was Fiola and what a treasure she is. We had an incredible evening thanks to her attention to detail and engaging personality. In addition to her intimate knowledge about each course, she also has an in-depth knowledge about every wine pairing that is to be admired, so an all-rounder. Additionally, Ton was a gracious host and went out of his way to introduce us to the whole concept as well as ensured that our welcome and departure was perfect.

On a chilly winters evening, you will not find a warmer atmosphere to kick back and relax under the trusted hands of this culinary and front of house teams. All those naysayers out there that think vegetarian food doesn’t cut it need to hot foot it to Monster Bar & Kitchen and immerse yourselves in plant-based cuisine that really envelops your palate just as much as any other restaurant can. You truly do have something very special to look forward to!

Tried & Tested:
Location: 4.5/5
Design & Decor: 4.5/5
Food & Beverage: 4.5/5
Service: 4.5/5
Value For Money: 4.5/5
Experience: 5/5
25 Edingburgh Avenue
Canberra ACT
Tel: +61 2 6287 6192

Reviews are based on actual day of visit and experience. mylifestylenews reserves the right of final decision in case of any disputes. All images are photographed by mylifestylenews team without any photoshop enhancement and are the property owned by mylifestylenews unless otherwise stated.

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