Name: Pulp Kitchen
Address: 1 Wakefield Garden, Ainslie. 2602
Ph: 02 6257 4334
Hours: Lunch: Tuesday – Friday, Noon – 2pm. Dinner: Monday – Saturday, 6pm – 9pm.
This has been an unpredictable summer. After one of the coldest and wettest Decembers on record, it seemed like the traditional hot days of summer wouldn’t come this year.
And then they did. A true summer heatwave hit right around Australia Day, right on cue. Of course, it wasn’t long before the rains returned with a vengeance, Canberra’s thankfully less than worst case present from La Nina.
But seasons change, and times move on. The droughts of the last decade have turned into the torrents of today. Things in this world change.
Or, at least, they should. In the case of Pulp Kitchen, the modern bistro in Ainslie, change seems to have stopped around three years ago.
I was always a fan of Pulp. It offered simple food, well cooked, and had an understanding of what it wanted to be. At the time finding a restaurant that delivered what it promised wasn’t easy to find in this town, and even with a worrying lack of seasonality in their menu, Pulp Kitchen was one of the most exciting joints around.
But Canberra has moved on. Places like Dieci e Mezzo and Pelagic have brought real excitement to the place, and Pulp Kitchen has not kept up.
An entrée of crisp whitebait with a salad of tomato, cucumber and garlic mayonnaise was acceptable. I would have preferred the whitebait to be crisper, and to have more of it, but in general it was ok.
However, that is the problem. With this style of food, this level of simplicity, it has to be perfect. And it isn’t.
Dry aged sirloin steak, off the specials board, is served with sautéed potatoes and snails with garlic butter. The steak tastes good, but it is a little tough. The snails, however, were delicious and tender. If everything I ate had been that impressive, I would have been ecstatic.
For dessert, an unbalanced, uninspiring trifle. There are some outstanding trifles around the country at the moment, rich, boozy and sexy. This isn’t one of them. A little too bitter, with a too thick layer of mascarpone, it simply wasn’t that nice. Thankfully I was able to wash it down with a glass of Pedro Ximenez, my favourite way to end a meal.
In fact, the drinks were all excellent. A bottle of 2007 Le Père Jules, Poire Bouché, a French perry (too often mistakenly referred to as a pear cider) was a joy, and an Italian sangiovese matched the mains very well.
The atmosphere is a let down. It’s crowded, loud, and the service is appalling. You can excuse it when the food is perfect, not when it’s merely ok.
Pulp Kitchen used to be among the best you could get in Canberra. I’m not sure if the standard has dropped or it just loses in comparison, but it really doesn’t go past just ok.
Maybe next season.