CIT Restaurant Reid – A Review

Duke 4 September 2008 15

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.


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15 Responses to CIT Restaurant Reid – A Review
AG Canberra AG Canberra 3:11 pm 05 Sep 08

The food may have been prepared by hospitality students – not apprentices. Having completed the two year hospitality Assoc Dip there back in 92-93 I can honestly say that most of the stuff I learnt there has been of assistance even working out of hospitality.

Ah I remember my first struggle with a waiters friend and a dry cork, doing crepe suzette cooked at the table, carrying four plates with coffee on them to see if we spilt any and creating new cocktails and then turning up to cook for the restaurant half pissed.

The sense of customer service, teamwork and pride in your work that the course instilled was one of the best parts of it for me.

A long time teacher there – Jerome De Rose – recieved an award a couple of weeks ago for his services to hospitality in the ACT – which was well deserved.

Our restaurnat staples were barramundi or sliced beef sirloin – and I do remember when one dopey kid managed to put half a kilo of salt into the whipped cream – luckily someone caught it before it went out on the desserts!

OzChick OzChick 1:27 pm 05 Sep 08

I did the food and beverage course there when I was in college.

I thought the food was pretty decent…

Overheard Overheard 10:53 am 05 Sep 08

I did a bar course there and it was excellent. Good skills and that much-needed bit of paper (RSA). Beer-pouring and barista stuff was good, and the car definitely stayed at home for the cocktail night. Cream, advocaat and umbrellas just aren’t my thing, but the whisky sours, martinis and rusty nails somehow I needed to have a few cracks at to get right! Damn.

tylersmayhem tylersmayhem 10:32 am 05 Sep 08

I never really picked my nose there in first year, but I did get in trouble one for scratching my bum in the kitchen. It was above my black and whites at least 😉

Mr_Shab Mr_Shab 10:19 am 05 Sep 08

I don’t think the menu ever changes very much over at the CIT restaurant. I’d say its been the same range of dishes (rotated over 10 weeks) since the time immemorial. I seem to recall banging out that menu at some point in first year. It’s basic stuff because it’s produced by a group of (primarily) nose-picking 16-18 year old apprentices who didn’t do a whole lot of cooking before starting their apprenticeship.

Anyone know if the third years still trot out the hot and cold buffet stuff? It’s worth the price of admission to see the chaudfroid work, tallow sculptures and veggie carving – hysterical. You just don’t see that kind of nonsense anymore (more’s the pity 😉

Overheard Overheard 10:01 am 05 Sep 08

I went there a couple of times when I was a herbivore and never had a problem.

Not sure how they deal with ‘fussy eaters’ (picturing that scene from ‘When Harry Met Sally’ here) or those who don’t have a choice in the matter and have special dietary requirements. A lot of places these days cater for coel.. cial.. I can never remember how it’s spelt, but I believe a Melbourne eatery that caters for such requirements gets around the problem by calling themselves ‘Silly Yak’.

tylersmayhem tylersmayhem 9:51 am 05 Sep 08

I agree SheepGroper. When I was a student there, was always had veggie options without exception. As for fussy eaters – where the hell do you take them to eat anyway? Generally somewhere that sells fast food I would expect.

SheepGroper SheepGroper 9:43 am 05 Sep 08

Vegetarians and other fussy eaters need not make reservations.

How do you know? I was there in the early 90s and when I told the waiter I’d have to skip the main as I was a vego they arranged a vegetarian alternative for me which was very nice.

Duke Duke 9:31 am 05 Sep 08

@Danman – I really was loathe to criticise any of the food but if I didn’t give my honest opinion it would have been a false review. Though as I have only been there the once it is possible we got there on an off night.

All our party loved the entrees and desserts and though the mains were disappointing we left with our bellies full and wallets only slightly lighter.

We had a great time and were very impressed with the service and attention we received.

Danman Danman 9:22 am 05 Sep 08

Nope – this guy was mid 30’s well presented and sober as a judge.

tylersmayhem tylersmayhem 9:07 am 05 Sep 08

Was the dude from Southern Cross Club the one who was middle aged with grey hair and beard with an accent and regularly came to teach classes drunk? I clearly remember the entire class being a little concerned one day when he was cutting chicken (to make the broiled chicken mentioned on the OP), and he kept cutting his hands because he was so wasted. One of us got the courage up to raise concerns with all the blood he was letting all over the raw chicken. His response in a think and angry accent “it is raw bloody chicken which has blood itself, it will cook off the same”!


Danman Danman 8:48 am 05 Sep 08

ahh Milan – never had the pleasure but his classes ran concurrently to mine.

I had Roger Halsey for most of my prac – with Steve Something-or-other for another prac (Was head chef at Southern Cross Club). He offered me a job on the proviso I got a haircut – needless to say I didnt get the job

tylersmayhem tylersmayhem 8:40 am 05 Sep 08

It’s good to read that the prices are still very reasonable, but not so great to hear that the food they are serving are the exact courses I was preparing there as a student back in 1997. I would have hoped that the text books and training had kept up with the times a little. I distinctly remember preparing both of those mains, which went on the same menu back then!

Prior to becoming a student at Reid, my family often went to the restaurant for family events etc, and we’ve never been disappointed.

Glad to hear it’s still running, and I might drop by for a meal some time soon, and hopefully bump into the most triumphant of tutors Milan Rajic. He was the restaurant tutor and was one of the most incredibly experienced and patient restaurant mentors. We always joked how much like Napoleon he looked, and dressed.

Danman Danman 8:13 am 05 Sep 08

Should read “premier off the job training facility”

Danman Danman 7:30 am 05 Sep 08

Go easy on the food being churned out of the kitchen – It is being prepared by apprentice chefs. Everything is made on premises – including bread and cakes.

The reason for the price is to reflect that sure there may be good nights for kitchen and floor, but as CIT restaurant is essentially a learning facility trying to make some dosh back, there will inevitably be bad nights as well.

The reason for the over the top pomp on the floor is to properly equip staff wit a broad range of skills so they can slot into any genre of the industry concurrently with or post CIT studies.

Wanting to move about Australia when I was an apprentice (Some 7 years ago) I can vouch that back then CIT was probably the pre,ier off the job training facility for chefs in Australia. Just sad that we do not have a hospitality industry here like VIC or NSW.

Also if you are after some cheap take away that can also be a bit hit and miss (More hit than miss) CIT has a shop downstairs where you can purchase things made by all apprentices attending CIT – this includes bakers and pastry chefs as well.

In all I have had dinner there a few times post attending the CIT and- though there have been a few hiccups now and then – I have never left thinking I got ripped off.

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