For those unfamiliar with the purpose of the CIT Restaurant, it serves as a training ground where cooking and hospitality students showcase their skills to the public in a real-life restaurant environment.
Vegetarians and other fussy eaters need not make reservations. The CIT Restaurant has a basic three-course menu with limited options and a set price of around $27 for each guest. How often the menu changes I am unsure.
For Entrees there was the choice of salmon rolls served with a light salad and dressing or a mushroom soup with parmesan bread. Both were excellent.
The red salmon was simply and artfully displayed and moist and tender as it should be.
Mushroom soup tends to be one of those dishes some people like to avoid, including me, but I was not disappointed – thick and hearty soup, well proportioned and perfect for a chilly Canberra evening. The parmesan bread was a little tough but the fresh crusty rolls delivered to our table upon arrival complimented the dish nicely.
The Main courses were the big disappointment of the night – not because we didn’t enjoy the taste but because after such excellent Entrees we were expecting more.
The two choices were broiled chicken served with a light gravy and mashed potato and red curry prawns with rice. Both mains were of a good size but uninspired and nothing you couldn’t whip up yourself at home without too much effort.
The chicken was tender but lacked any kind of spice while the mashed potato felt very heavy and starchy, unlike the light and fluffy garlic mash you get in so many other places.
The red curry prawns with rice was a competent dish but was too hot for most of the table to handle. Having returned recently from Thailand I am used to spicy dishes but those with a low tolerance for heat might find this dish inedible.
Again the red curry dish could quite easily be made at home with both Mains requiring only the most basic of ingredients.
For Dessert we were offered baked cheese cake and a mixed cheese platter. I’m not sure if they bake their own cheese cake on the CIT premises but what arrived at the table was beautifully presented and more importantly, delicious!
The cheese platter too received warm reviews from all concerned.
In summing up the food, the night started so well with prompt, imaginative and tasty Entrees that were let down by boring and forgettable Mains. Good wine, Dessert and coffee sent us home on a high.
The service at CIT Restaurant is all part of the unintentional entertainment. The staff are clearly being assessed on their efforts so watching them fumble with bread tongs, corkscrews and a myriad of cutlery while trying to take orders never got boring.
It was a tough gig for these guys. The CIT Restaurant is a full silver service dining experience with the multiple utensils for each diner and an overkill of pomp on most service levels.
I’ve complained before on this site about crappy service in restaurants but despite a few hiccups these people did great – mostly because they actually care about the customer – the important lesson being that thoughtful staff can be forgiven their small errors.
Well done to all the staff at CIT Restaurant. Get the Mains sorted and your three-course meals will be unbeatable in the City for taste and value.