After being open for about a month or so, we finally had a chance to head down and try out Vitis Eatery in Braddon. Well actually, I’ve been wanting to go here since it first opened but Ouk wasn’t as interested so it took some persuading. I think there were a number of reasons why Ouk didn’t want to eat here, mainly because it was a sharing place and sharing places never leave him full and secondly because he had a soft spot for Ostratos the Greek restaurant that Vitis Eatery replaced. Apparently Ostratos had some really good, affordable Greek food so Ouk was sad to see it go. Unfortunately for some reason, I never had the chance to try out Ostratos before it closed down but Ouk had enjoyed many work lunches there!
Anyways, I’ll move it along now seeing as this post is meant to be about Vitis the fantastic food here! I normally don’t take images of decor, I just take pictures of the food and put my camera away because I find trying to take pictures of the decor a little awkward and way too obvious. This time however, I really liked how Vitis Eatery looked, so I figured I had to do it and snapped a couple of images. It took a lot of sneaky camera work to get these! The layout at Vitis hasn’t changed much from Ostratos but there is more seating area at the back that could be used for private events etc and still have walk in diners at the front. Outside of this, Vitis has completely refurbed the place, its nice, bright, modern and green! I noticed a lot of real plants around which really made the place feel lively. Okie dokie, time for food talk.
First up, I grabbed a Scallop tartare on toast with avocado wasabi ($6). We only had one of these since the rest of our dining party wasn’t really keen on seafood but you can order as many or as few of these as you like. This cute little bite sized treat was the perfect way to start off the night. The scallop was super fresh with crunchy bits of cucumber throughout it, giving it great contrasting texture. I was rather surprised at the taste of the scallop, I was expecting it to be cured and hence more citrusy but instead it was rather mild, letting the flavours of the cucumber and avocado wasabi do the talking. I normally steer clear of wasabi but here it was quite nice, it worked as an undertone to the creaminess of the avocado and gave each bite just that little bit of kick.
For our first small plate we grabbed the Chicken leg croquette with couscous and watercress puree ($18). Okay, this might be weird but I really like it when sharing places give you an even number. I know it doesn’t always work, especially if you have an odd amount of people but most of the time when I dine in, when we get an odd amount of items it’s just really difficult to share, as they’re expecting you to. I remember this one time I went to Mamasita (a sharing place) in Melbourne and got some pork belly, for two people, they give us three pieces, I know it doesn’t really mean much but the small things count too so thumbs up for Vitis!
Anyways, on to the actual dish. The chicken leg croquettes were super yummy! The meat was stringy, and came apart as you bit inside it, so you could easily tell it was real chicken that had been mashed together, rather than mince or some sort of chicken slurry. The meat was really tender, and it was all dark meat so the flavours were just fantastic. Normally, the meat portion would be the star of this dish but the complimenting couscous and watercress puree really gave the chicken croquettes a run for its money! The watercress puree was super fresh and had a creamy texture with this slightly refreshing aftertaste. It was super delicious and really brought freshness to the whole dish and also helped to cut through the heaviness of the deep fried croquettes. This was complimented with some rather unflavoured couscous which had a little crunch to them and complimented the fantastic texture of the dish and helped to ground all the strong flavours.
For our next small plate, the Pork belly with kimchi and char grilled apple ($18). Normally I like my pork belly to have crispy skin, and loads of fat! Unfortunately, Vitis doesn’t seem to have the same philosophy when it comes to pork belly. However, I’ve now grown an appreciation of all things pork belly because this tasted fantastic! The pork was really tender and soft, and sliced apart really easily, and eating it never got sickening like pork sometimes gets to be. If you ever wanted to eat pork belly, but for some insane reason felt really guilty for health reasons, well this is for you. I also really liked the kimchi, it was pretty legit stuff, flavoured just like you’d find in Korea (allegedly) and they had just enough spice to them to give some kick to the pork without me desperately needing water. The apples were also a nice touch, a nod to classic pork eating, taking the place of a traditional apple sauce, adding some sweetness and citrus to all the savoury flavours on the plate. Oh and a very generous serving from Vitis, six decent chunks of pork belly, yay for even numbers again!
Next up, the Lamb ribs with grain salad with honey yoghurt ($17.50). This was probably my favourite small plate, the rest was delicious as well but this was just fantastic. The meat literally fell off the bone, I cannot stress this enough, it fell off the bone. Lamb is traditionally a really flavoursome, fatty meat and this was absolutely no different, herbed and spiced to hell this just tasted amazing and pulling the entire bone out took no effort at all, so this was definitely up there in terms of pleasant experiences dealing with ribs. The grain salad added so much to the dish, it was like a savoury nut muesli full of flavour and crunchiness. And to top it all off, some honey yoghurt which brought some sweetness and a lot of creaminess to the dish. I found that the grain salad and yoghurt really worked here, it helped balanced the flavour of the meat but also to bring it some new ones and also broke up the texture too.
For our final small plate we grabbed the Prawn risotto with orange and chervil ($19). This was really nice. I haven’t had many risottos in my life time, to be exact I’ve only ever had two but after having this and enjoying my first one quite a bit, I really should start ordering risottos more often. Its like a super flavoursome congee. This one was super creamy and I’m pretty sure I could taste mushroom as well. They used a foam to add moistness to this dish which was different to your standard risotto and it added that gastronomy wow factor, its a bit novel but I love things like that. I also noticed that there were two shades to the foam. The first one way orangey and tasted really creamy and delicious. The second foam was darker and more brownish and I swear this was mushroom which added some great earthiness to the dish. Vitis was very generous with the prawns and I felt there was a bigger prawn ratio to rice here, which meant a lot of savouriness and flavour. I also enjoyed the orange bits here and there which broke through the strong flavours of the prawns and also helped balanced out the saltiness.
Lastly for our savoury plates, we grabbed one large plate, the Lamb shanks with smashed potato, brussels and bacon ($28). Another great dish! Something about lamb tonight, I don’t think we’e ever had this much lamb at a dinner before but Vitis really does their lambs well, even their special was lamb that night. The meat here was was amazingly tender, much like you’d expect from a lamb shank. It wasn’t flavoured too heavily, just let the sauce do most of the talking, but it was a lovely fatty shank that also fell off the bone really easily (not as much as the ribs though). Something that I really appreciated with these shanks, which I’m honestly not sure if Vitis had any control over, was the fact that there was a lot of marrow in this bone that I lovingly sucked out. It was fantastic, but I’ve never had marrow that wasn’t. To top off the delicious meat, the mash was fantastic. It was a crunchy mash with bacons bits throughout it and cooked brussels sprouts as well. The salad was super creamy and had mustard seeds through it, giving it some great flavour. The sprouts were soft and mild, adding freshness to the dish and the bacon brought savouriness and bacony goodness.
Finally, something sweet to finish off the night, a Yoghurt ganache with berries and pistachio ($16). When we were picking our savoury dishes, I was already eyeing the desserts but at the time I actually had no idea what to get, I liked the sound of a couple of them but nothing really jumped out at me. Then I saw another table get this and it looked awesome! So I ordered it. I’ve never had a yoghurt ganache before, I never even knew such a thing existed. I’ve only heard of and made chocolate ganache and its quiet different to what you see here. Ganache is normally a runny sauce used as icing or toppings for baked goods, maybe here ganache referred to a yoghurt and cream concoction because that would totally explain why this dessert was so delicious and creamy but with this tanginess to round it all off. The creaminess of the yoghurt ganache was balanced and sweeten by the flavourful berries and the sweet cubes of jelly.
We really enjoyed our dinner at Vitis, its nice to see a sharing place with some good portions open up in Canberra, not that all the other sharing places in Canberra have bad portion sizes but it doesn’t hurt to have more! We started pretty sceptical but everyone came out pretty full and happy. Also, I noticed there was a sign outside that said that Vitis was now open for lunch, yeppee to another awesome food place opening up so close to work.