Where: Ainslie Shops
Cost: $50 (exc booze)
Phone: 6247 4437
Date Reviewed: 12-AUG-05
Some Canberrans are “2602 people”, and some aren’t. Those of us who are can have moved house many times and still need to have it carefully explained to us that there are actually other post codes in Canberra. In my experience “2602 people” are an unusual mix of brilliance and frailties (as opposed to our superficially similar, but closer to perfect, cousins south of the lake). So perhaps it’s fitting that the restaurant named after the post-code should be a similarly mixed bag.
You can find 2602 in the spot at the end of the shops which has seen a string of moderately successful restaurants come and go. The decor is the tasteful modernity that I can only guess you can call someone up and get delivered. Making it unusual is the series of large and charming (if garish) murals of sub-urban life in the shadow of Mount’s Majura and Ainslie. “2602 people” will get it, others might not.
The food is firmly “Australian Modern” with a seafood bias.
Unasked for, but much appreciated, we had an appetiser of a single scallop, on shell, grilled with a blue cheese sauce, it was very, very tasty. For the entree I had an amazing serve of prawns crusted in sesame seeds and then fried to perfection (so crisp it’s like biting into a finger!). For the main I had fantastic cajun lamb pieces on a greek salad.
The coffee came with a serve of mini sized smarties filling the teaspoon. The clever thing being the colours of the sugar coatings cunningly matched the murals on the wall.
Ok, so there’s the some real flashes of brilliance. Where, I hear you ask, are the frailties?
Well I haven’t talked about the service yet have I?
Firstly it was certainly friendly, unbelievably friendly, after a point almost wearingly friendly. I mean it’s one thing for everyone at the table to say thank you when our food arrives but perhaps the waitress can leave the bubbly “your welcome” until everyone’s done?
I could launch into a lengthy critique, but I won’t. Rather lets just say I had to open the wine myself, my steak knife was on the wrong side, and she couldn’t help with questions about the menu.
Average service seems to be a common trap for suburban restaurants and it’s a shame because it stops them becoming the go-to destinations for the rest of the City that they really want and need to be at the prices they want to charge.
Rocksalt in Hawker isn’t that much bigger, but the service is invariably immaculate. As a result I’m as likely to drive as I am to a restaurant in Manuka.
So If you live close and don’t mind having to help out the waitress then 2602 will be good fun. But if you’re going to need more than 1 beer to last you the walk I personally suggest you look elsewhere.