Sage in Gorman House has gone through a lot of evolutions but eating there on Friday night it became clear that it is now the best restaurant in Canberra, with a price tag to match.
So let’s not kid ourselves here; dinner for two, with wine, bread, pre dinner drink, and tip, was $400.
If you’re going to spend that kind of money you’ll be wanting to dress up for the occasion.
The effect is somewhat spoiled when you end up parking in Braddon’s ABC flats.
Bidding the car a fond farewell we made a short walk up Batman Street, through the raucus Friday night after work crowd in the Mint Garden Bar, and into Sage.
Fortunately we had booked, because it was packed the whole time we were there.
(Booking is a tricky process in itself. If you want to order from the menu there are limited windows in which to sit down. Otherwise you’re on the tasting menu. The tasting menu was fine with me, so at least I didn’t have to reschedule my date to fit the restaurant’s booking windows.)
The tasting menu (with matching wines of course) is a wild seven course ride through modern cuisine.
Staff re-arrange cutlery between every course, new wineglasses and wine herald the impending arrival of another dish.
The portions are delicate, small even, but we certainly weren’t hungry by the end of the meal.
Make no mistake, they’re big on the molecular gastronomy. Everyday ingredients transformed into foams, soils, sponges, gels.
And through that they really do open up new horizons of flavours and textures.
This is not food you want to eat every day, not that most of us could afford to.
As for the cost?
It helped that I’d been given a $200 voucher for christmas. But to get a dinner bill for $370, to not flinch or make faces, to not even tell my date how much it was, to just pay it and still leave a $30 tip (under 10% I know but at that price they can pay their staff properly), made me feel like a real man.
So in a way the price is part of the experience.
And the experience is sensational.
For my troubles I got a kiss on the cheek. Which, in a way, makes it an even better story.