Dave Young is the owner and chef at Temporada, an established Canberra restaurant on the fringe of the city. Dave’s background is in fine dining – he previously headed up Aubergine for a while, and also worked for Neil Perry’s Rockpool Group in Sydney – but he says that the food at Temporada is a little more casual, emphasising flavour and produce over presentation.
“We want people to come back because it’s a good product that’s been cooked well and it tastes great. They don’t care about dots on a plate or swooshes or micro herbs,” he told Region.
“The menu is flavour driven … you have to start with good produce and then I just try to do the least amount with it.”
The menu at Temporada is designed to share, with a selection of snacks, small and large plates. There is the choice for a set chef’s menu, but we’ve taken a shine to some of the other options on the a la carte menu.
We start with Ortiz anchovies and pistachio paste on small discs of arepa (a kind of corn bread). There’s umami in every direction and it’s immensely satisfying. The spiced duck rillettes are similarly rich, with the pickled enoki mushrooms adding just the right kick of acid to cut through the fattiness of the duck.
Temporada is the Spanish word for seasons and while the menu is thoroughly seasonal it’s definitely not Spanish. Charred winter mandarins adorn slices of cured Hiramasa kingfish seasoned with togarashi and yuzu kosho dressing, both Japanese condiments that add a combination of citrus, spice and nutty sesame to the dish.
We thoroughly enjoy the duck liver parfait served with pear and ginger jam and a side of cute buttermilk waffles. The waffles were fun but I preferred to load the parfait onto the delicious house-made sourdough, complete with a solid spread of beautiful cultured butter, also made in-house. You can even purchase a block of butter and a loaf of bread to take home.
Despite the fact that we’ve chosen a selection of a la carte dishes, our server gives some thought to which flavours will work best together. So even though we’ve picked a random selection, the experience has the same feel as a planned menu where each dish accompanies the next perfectly.
Charred broccolini is a lighter accompaniment to the sticky, sweet, citrus-glazed pork jowl. It’s not much to look at – Dave wasn’t kidding about the lack of micro greens and aesthetic flourishes – but it’s properly tasty, which is all it needs to be.
A plate of sourdough tortellini filled with goat’s curd and Roquefort comes heaving with shaved black truffle from local producers Terra Preta. It goes well with the side dish of braised cabbage and Jerusalem artichoke gratin, which manages to feel homely and refined all at once.
To drink we each started with a cocktail – I highly recommend the house Negroni or the ‘pear-fect’ Martini– and I also enjoyed a Yarra Valley Malbec, a big red that stands up to the richness of the larger dishes.
The three of us are thoroughly full but can’t quite resist a taste of the chestnut and walnut meringue. A crackle on the exterior gives way to a chewy inside, which we all agree is a universally satisfying texture, and the accompanying quince, pear sorbet and dark chocolate round out the not-too-sweet sweetness nicely.
The food is superb and the service is spot on: friendly, attentive and prompt without hovering or intruding.
Canberra’s hospitality industry seems to be in a constant state of flux with new venues opening and closing at a rapid-fire rate, but Temporada remains a consistently high performer. They’re very good at what they do because they have years of experience backing them so as a guest you can simply relax, safe in the knowledge that you’re in good hands.
Dave says that even after all his time in the industry, he’s still drawn to the instant gratification of serving customers.
“I’ve tried working in an office and I couldn’t stand it. In the kitchen we can make up a dish in the afternoon and serve it to someone that night and get feedback. Did they like it? What didn’t they like? What can we change? That’s definitely what spurs me on,” he explained.
“It’s absolutely satisfying and entirely consuming.”
Temporada is located at 15 Moore Street, Canberra City. Nearby parking options are available on their website or they are a five-minute walk from the light rail.
They are open for dinner and drinks from 5 pm Monday through Saturday and have recently reopened for Friday lunches from 12 pm until 3 pm. There is an express menu available at lunch and for early dinner from 5 pm to 5:45 pm.