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The Demise of an Culinary Institution – A restaurant review

imarty 18 January 2010 43

Having heard all about this establishment, I gave my wife Chairman and Yip as one of three restaurants I’d like to go to for my birthday and for her to surprise me.

Well surprised we were.

Menus pasted in dog eared art magazines, wine list in a year eight style bound, damaged folder, in landscape,? with no beer listing, with NA written in biro against non avilable wines?

Didn’t augur well for what was supposed to be one of Canberra’s premier restaurants.

Well the confit pork belly was luke warm deep fried pieces of belly with a salad of shredded iceberg lettuce, cucumber,carrot & red cabbage. It was sent back. My wife’s fishcakes were slightly better but still accompanied with the same foodcourt style salad.

The Shantung style Lamb main was deepfried (again!) lamb flap, possibly the cheapest cut of lamb possible. Tasty yes but after about 3 pieces way too much in terms of deep fried meat (after the pork).

My wife’s salmon with carrot & tomato puree was well executed but nothing special or exciting.

Service was polite but it was obvious there is no experience nor knowledge there. When questioned on some menu items, the wait staff description did not elaborate more than one ingredient beyond the menu description and when pressed we were met with a polite blank stare!

In hindsight we thought that maybe our menu choices were not necessarily appropriate nor matched but should not that also be the role of a good waiter when making a menu selection, especially when they are engaged in discussing the menu and the customer is choosing dishes to share?

Overall an extremely disappointing meal.

[ED – Without being able to speak to the rest of the meal Shantung lamb is supposed to be as you described.]

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43 Responses to The Demise of an Culinary Institution – A restaurant review
Pandy Pandy 12:30 am 16 Apr 10

So I guess senso does chips?

season season 7:43 pm 15 Apr 10

senso restaurant is open to the public, Thurs to Sat lunch and dinner!

imarty imarty 10:08 pm 21 Jan 10

Having started this thread and in true RA style, see it evolve into a discussion not necessarily with regard to the original topic, I thought I might contribute my opinion on other Canberra dining experiences I’ve had recently in relation to other comments.
Rama’s – Good but not great, very much same same between dishes
Jehanghir – Very good food but not great value for money, very small dishes
Grazing – Gone downhill slightly since the brother & sister team went to On Red but still very good
Rubicon – Again quite good, well executed dishes and knowledgeable, competent service
Austrian Club – Back to simple authentic food done well. Recommended
Statesman Hotel – They didn’t have the roast of the day at 12.30pm and I spent a lot of the rest of the day with an upset guts after sampling the steak burger with chips & gravy

imarty imarty 6:34 pm 21 Jan 10

loosebrown? loosebrown, you there???

astrojax astrojax 4:48 pm 21 Jan 10

must try this blu ginger – and get back to swinger hill (ta, helen) some time soon. someone ought to organise a riotious indian-off where we have four or five course in a travelling caravan at some of the ‘best’ places…

Helen Helen 12:40 pm 21 Jan 10

astrojax said :

…does anyone know of jehangir [sp?] at swinger hill – is it still going? was stunning, but has been a while…

I had takeaway from Jehangir last year and it was fantastic. I also ate there quite a few years ago when I was vego and the service was great – I didn’t know what to order so when the rest of the table settled on a meaty banquet, the waiter chose my meals for me and gave me my own little vego banquet. It was so good, I’m drooling just thinking about it…

+1 for Blu Ginger – best samosas I’ve ever had.

And for northsiders who love Indian food – Mirchi at the platypus Ngunnawal shops is really good. I would go as far as to say it’s the best Indian in the Belco/Gungahlin area.

I-filed I-filed 12:37 pm 21 Jan 10

The standard of restaurant food in canberra is abysmal compared to Melbourne. C&Y gave me the worst meal I’ve had in ages last year. It was unfortunate as it spoilt our evening. Poor food, poor service, dirty cutlery. One of the dishes was so bad we sent it back – and they still charged. They gauge when a customer won’t embarrass their guest by quibbling over a bill. 1 out of 10 for Chairman and Yip. Added to the poor food and service, the carpet was grubby, and the air was fuggy and smelly.

Danman Danman 8:53 am 21 Jan 10


Tooks Tooks 8:42 am 21 Jan 10

Listers_Cat said :

Generally speaking, the food served up in Canberra restaurants is of extremely poor quality and is very overpriced. Also, most restaurants in Canberra seem to have very rude staff… I have no specific comment on C&Y.

So why don’t you name a few good restaurants you’ve been to that serve extremely poor quality food? Or are you just trolling?

Danman Danman 7:54 am 21 Jan 10

Troll-sniffer – I do believe you talk of “Blue Ginge”

Listers_Cat Listers_Cat 12:14 am 21 Jan 10

Generally speaking, the food served up in Canberra restaurants is of extremely poor quality and is very overpriced. Also, most restaurants in Canberra seem to have very rude staff… I have no specific comment on C&Y.

troll-sniffer troll-sniffer 10:13 pm 20 Jan 10

I rarely jump on to threads like this with an observation but I went to an new Indian place last week and was mightily impressed. Can’t remember the name but it’s next door to Tongue and Groove in the city, in the building on the site of the old Griffin Centre. Only a dollar more than the cheaper Indian eateries with good service and top food. I’ll be going back until they lose that early urge to please!

astrojax astrojax 8:54 pm 20 Jan 10

not sure i’d rate the boathouse food as ‘excellent’, nor their prices for what you get. and i have had some poor experiences at ottoman and won’t bother going back again. lanterne rooms (with an ‘e’, people!), though, is fantastic and is quickly close to one of my faves in sunny canberra… rubicon is another. there is also a small thai place in manuka, near ali baba, whose name eludes me at the minute, always delicious food. portia’s place at kingston another gem.

rama’s is brilliant – does anyone know of jehangir [sp?] at swinger hill – is it still going? was stunning, but has been a while. sammy’s of course, is great value – ya have to have the shantung chicken! and marinetti’s is usually a good bet if you can get in. and for low rent stand-by, tak kee in woolley st dickson is my second kitchen!

i keep hearing of this ‘flint’, but it may be a while now i have astro-junior on the scene. and has anyone tried the ‘crust’ pizza place in braddon? worth a bash?

anonymoose anonymoose 7:58 pm 20 Jan 10

Sirocco – was going to take up your suggestion on Boathouse but they’re closed until Feb!

sirocco sirocco 12:13 pm 20 Jan 10

Shame that C&Y sound like they are sliding – amongst other things, first impressions matter and they should fix their tatty menus (it probably would have started Imarty thinking in negative terms)

Canberra isn’t really great for “hatted” venues but it does have some absolute gems:

the Asian Noodle Houses mentioned are top-notch for low-key, quality South Asian food on a budget – only had better laksa in Singapore (although they are different things).

Rama’s is fantastic for what it is: Australian Indian-Fijian food with wonderfully friendly service – but it isn’t what I would call really traditional Indian food – and on the several occassions I had eaten there I have not been able to get food spicy enough. Still very tasty.

Cozy venues with interesting menus a bit further afield include Green Herring in Fedration Square, Le Tres Bon in Bungendore and Grazing in Gundaroo(?Gunning?).

Went to the Ottoman for the first time the other week and although the food was fantastic, we booked two months in advance for an 8pm table they had made back-to-back bookings and because the 6pm booking weren’t done we waited for 25mins in the foyer. After the first 15mins we were shown a seat near the front desk and given complimentary champers (which was nice) and then after all of that the other booking didn’t leave at all and we were shown to a little side room (with a function already in it) for our meal – really poorly managed… For the same kind of atmosphere and almost the same quality food we could have gone to either Mavi at the Realm or The Harem in Kingston and paid half the amount for friendlier service

Lantern Rooms in Campbell is very good for interesting degustation (a bit more expensive but worth it)

No one ever mentions the Boathouse anymore – still a great spot with excellent food

there are my 2c…

anonymoose anonymoose 10:15 pm 19 Jan 10

Thanks for the responses Postalgeek, Realityskin and Grail – I’ll see what I can find.

Woody Mann-Caruso Woody Mann-Caruso 8:14 pm 19 Jan 10

The China Tea House? No thank you.

Yay, shorter wait for me.

(Seriously, though, why does anybody go to Charred Man and Yap when Civic has Sammy’s and Happy’s?)

Postalgeek Postalgeek 6:27 pm 19 Jan 10

anonymoose said :

Out of interest, what were your other two suggestions to your wife?

On another note, is there any restaurant guide website/newsletter that people would recommend? Interested in eating out a little more in this great territory of ours.

A site I find very useful and have bookmarked is

It does searches by culinary genre and area, provides features and profiles, provides menu pdfs, and will allow you to make reservations online. And that’s just dining. It also provides info about bars, nightclubs, wineries etc as well as what’s on at any time.

edlang edlang 3:25 pm 19 Jan 10

youami said :

Out of curiosity what were the other 2 restaurants you had on your list? My picks, if I had to choose three, would be Axis, Ginger Room, and Senso aka ex-Flavours (although this restaurant is not public).

senso is great. it also looked fairly public when I was last there…

Electra Electra 10:49 am 19 Jan 10

That is a real shame that you had a bad experience at Chirman and Yip as most times I have been there it’s been pretty enjoyable.
Interestingly enough, the same poeple (I am pretty sure) opened a new restaurant called Latern Rooms mid last year. It seems to be more seafood based than the Chairman however the atmosphere is very relaxing and not as bustling as Chairman can be on a busy night.

Another resturant, while not in the same league as the other resturants mentioned above, that is always rock solid is Cream on Bunda Street. As I said, not fine dining however the staff are always pleasant, the food is consistently good and the wine list features both Canberra and interstate wines. Anyway, it’s not whether a restaurant is fine dining or not that determines the night you have, its the people who you dine with!

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