It’s not often you can say that you felt like a celebrity (unless you actually are one) but for some reason that’s how I felt when I entered the revolving door and was greeted by security as I turned the corner, walked down the gorgeous set of stairs and stepped onto the large, red carpet at Casino Canberra. The giant, sparkling chandelier that sat above the marbled bar at the end of the red carpet might have added to the feeling. Everything felt expensive and glamorous!
Now I must admit, prior to this visit I had only glanced briefly inside the Casino as I joined one of my girlfriends on her hunt to get a glimpse of her crush NRL player Benji Marshal when he was in town a few years go. Mr Eat Canberra had been once or twice before the transformation and he said it was a very impressive improvement.
Natural 9 is the new restaurant as part of the renovations and sits at the back of the Casino in an intimate space. We were seated promptly and presented with the menu on arrival and the Director of Food & Beverage, Chad Ogden came out to greet us.
Chad grew up near San Francisco and worked for the Lark Creek restaurant group before going on to the Culinary Institute of America in New York. He worked under Charlie Trotter in Chicago and after he graduated he worked at some of New York City’s best restaurants including Restaurant Daniel, before moving to Japan. He spent a year working in Tokyo at a private members club before moving over to the Hyatt group in Kyoto. After working in Japan for 4 years he moved to Macau and was in the opening team for MGM and worked as the Chef de Cuisine at Rossio Restaurant before taking up the Executive Chef Job at Sands Macau.
With a wealth of knowledge and experience his journey led him across the pacific to Canberra, Australia and we’re very lucky to have him here.
Chad has worked with local Executive Chef, David Black to create a menu they describe as Modern Australian with Asian Influence
“We are trying to change the dynamics of a casino dining experience in Canberra by adding Natural 9 as a signature restaurant.
“Natural 9 restaurant will provide a gastronomic experience for our casino customers and visiting cliental and it will serve Modern Australian Cuisine with a touch Asian throughout the menu,” Chad said.
Now onto the food!
A little cup of creamy, velvety cauliflower and truffle soup arrived with hot, fresh bread. It was so delicious and was a delightful way to start the night. We wanted to try as much as we could from the menu and started with a glass of champagne and the oysters with sparkling wine granita with lemon and black pepper pearl. They looked spectacular and were so fresh and creamy. I’ve never had oysters like this before so it was a pleasant surprise with the icy granita and the subtle flavours of the sparkling wine. The pearl on top was something special and dissolved in my mouth as I enjoyed the oysters.
Mr. Eat Canberra chose the blue fin tuna with yuzu, buddha hand and wasabi tobiko. This dish looked very seductive and was covered with a squid ink net that added to the elegant plating. This dish was fresh with subtle flavours and a hint of wasabi.
Chad recommended the milk poached seared free-range chicken with foie gras mousse, pomegranate jus and mushroom puree so I went with his recommendation. I’m so glad I did because the chicken was perfectly cooked and so soft. I’ve never had chicken like this before and the combination of all the flavours worked perfectly together.
We also tried the sake citrus cured salmon, cucumber and lime sauce, sake and rose jelly, crème fraiche and grilled baguette. This was another dish that Chad recommended and we understood why as soon as it arrived. It’s absolutely stunning to look at and the salmon is perfectly cured. It’s light, fresh and a beautiful dish to enjoy in the warmer months.
Our dishes were matched with local wines that the waiter had recommended. His knowledge of the wine was exceptional.
Time for our main meals! You might already know about my love of duck but if not, it’s one of my favourite things to order when I go out. I cook a lot at home but I’ve only ever cooked with duck a few times so it’s a nice treat when I order it. I was warned when I ordered the grimaud duck breast with sichuan pepper and honey glazed sweetbreads, brandy stewed blood orange preserve, sugar snap peas and pistachios, that it was cooked rare but I went ahead and ordered it anyway. It arrived and it was definitely on the rare side. I’ve never eaten duck cooked this way so it was a different experience but the flavours and textures of the dish matched together nicely.
Wagyu is one of my favourite types of beef. We were spoilt when we went to Japan earlier this year and ate the most delicious wagyu we’ve ever eaten. As soon as I saw the grilled beef wagyu fillet 7 grade with dried cherry jus, dutch cream potato puree, blue cheese and crispy onions on the menu, I knew what Mr Eat Canberra would be ordering for his main. It arrived at the table and put a smile on his face. It looked great and it tasted even better. Of course I tried it – I taste everything! The wagyu fillet so tender and the richness of the jus with the creamy potatoes and crispy onions made it a 10/10 dish.
Do we have room for dessert? I must admit I was getting REALLY full. But for some reason, there’s ALWAYS room for dessert.
The white chocolate & chilli bread pudding with vanilla ice cream intrigued us and we were excited to try it. The chilli definitely gave the dish a kick but it worked well with the sweetness of the white chocolate and the creamy ice cream.
We finished with a glass of Japanese Whisky and left the restaurant feeling full and very satisfied.
The service was fantastic and the staff were very knowledgeable about the food and the wine. I highly recommend to check out Natural 9 for a night of indulgence. Natural 9, located inside the Casino Canberra open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner and you can book your table today on 02 6257 7074 to sample the menu.