Guest blogger Sally Hammond votes number one for Canberra's newest hotel - East Hotel.
An amazing set of coincidences and a love story meant that last week we were chatting to Italian-born Chef Francesco Balestrieri at East Hotel in Canberra.
You could be forgiven for thinking that Canberra has enough hotels, but Singapore Airlines has recently launched direct flights to Canberra. Now that the city is much more accessible to international visitors, a good hotel such as East Hotel (part of Bisa Hotels) is an important addition to the capital's dining and accommodation scene. Its central location, ten minutes from the City of Canberra, close to Parliament House and the National Gallery of Australia, as well as the vibrant hubs of Manuka and Kingston with their cafes, restaurants, bars and markets, adds to its value for overseas visitors.
Our accommodation in a Luxe One BR suite had all that we needed right at hand. Ideal for either business people or couples, there were all the extras that frequent travellers like: robes, slippers, kitchen, coffee machine, laundry, bath and shower, plus parking underneath the hotel.
Joe's Bar, the hotel's bar-restaurant, located just off the lobby is fast becoming a drawcard in its own right and, as an added lure for locals, it also opens on to the street. The night we dined, we could see this was a selling point, especially as the moody bar area serves as a perfect backdrop to the wide range of wines and cocktails served here.
At Joe’s the underlying principle is that locally sourced produce is best served in season and as fresh as possible and the menu is following the current trend of shareable plates and platters.
Before dinner, Chef Francesco sat and talked to us for some time and we asked him some questions.
We discovered that an amazing quirk of fate – a lucky career break – brought him to Australia a few years ago, and this led to him meeting his future wife. Now very settled in Australia, his Italian background makes him most comfortable serving quintessentially Italian dishes, with some smart and savvy twists.
But when we ask what he likes to cook, his eyes light up and, like any true Italian, he answers: 'pasta'!
East Hotel, 69 Canberra Avenue, Kingston, ACT, www.easthotel.com.au. Phone: +612 6295 6925.
(also Muse cafe and Joe's Bar, restaurant and bar)
Sally & Gordon Hammond stayed as guests of East Hotel.
Food & Travel: http://www.foodandtravel.com.au the first place to come for authoratitive information on food and travel worldwide.