Restaurant recap: The Boat House, Canberra

I’m calling this a “recap” because I am not going to be able “review” a restaurant properly if I’ve waited an entire month to do so. (Thank goodness I took a picture of the menu, or else I wouldn’t even be able to identify the food.) That said, I do remember having an absolutely lovely time at the Boat House, a restaurant set at the edge of the water and taking full advantage of the view.

Despite the fanciness of the place, the servers didn’t bat an eye when we showed up with the kids, and even offered them kid’s menu options (so much better than what we’ve had to do at other restaurants, which is to try to cobble together something from the prix fixe menus that they’ll eat). They seated us at a table with an amazing view, and started us off with drinks and bread (sourdough from Sonoma’s) with cultured butter. We were there in October, so we got to try their spring menu.

Left: sourdough bread with butter
Right: my delicious nonalc drink whose name I’ve sadly forgotten, against our lake view

We started the meal off with the oyster platter. I usually love oysters by themselves but the bright, tangy mignonette sauce was an eye-opener.

Top: Merimbula oysters with red wine mignonette
Bottom: kid’s meal (ketchup, fries, fish sticks, and a cabbage slaw)

The options for the kids’ meals were given verbally so I forget exactly what was offered, but at least our kids were able to decide on something quickly. I appreciated the presence of the cabbage slaw, but the kids refused to touch it and even we adults found it unappetizing (way too sour).

For the adults’ first two courses, we chose the chicken and kingfish; for the next two, we had beetroot tarte tatin and lamb.

Top left: Hiramasa kingfish (rhubarb boshi, basil, daikon)
Top right: Koji crown roasted chicken (sweet corn, turnip, smoked eel)
Bottom left: Cowra lamb rump (skordalia, gem lettuce, white onion)
Bottom right: Beetroot tarte tatin (onion jam, buffalo curd, caramelized endive)

We really enjoyed everything, the wait staff was attentive without hovering, and we felt very comfortable in the beautiful space. The dishes were solid enough that we didn’t feel hungry after the second course, either.

For our dessert course, we chose the mango sorbet and the beetroot “cheesecake.” We were expecting to have to split them with the kids, but the staff surprised us by handing each child a chocolate ice cream bar.

Top: chocolate dipped ice cream bar
Bottom left: Mango sorbet (yoghurt mousse, oats, burnt white chocolate)
Bottom right: Beetroot cheesecake (raspberry sorbet, cocoa nibs, thyme)

We had a great time at the Boat House. I would definitely love to return for a date night, but if we have the kids with us, it’s nice to know they would be taken care of here as well.

(Postscript: K ended up returning to the restaurant for a work function, and was immediately recognized by our waitress and welcomed enthusiastically.)

Hello Kitty birthday

So this is how I know I’m never going to make it as a food blogger: I totally forgot to take a picture of the finished cake that I made for the the little one’s third birthday.

Circumstances meant that the cake actually turned out quite nice – she was sick on the day that we’d scheduled her party, so the cakes, baked but not yet decorated, went into the freezer until the following weekend. That’s how I learned that it’s much easier to frost a frozen cake than a fresh one. The cake is sturdier and crumbles less, so the surface for the fondant layer turned out much smoother than it had been for my previous efforts. I made a chocolate cake with strawberry frosting, with a Hello Kitty on it, because that was what the little one requested.

Well, to be honest, that’s not quite how it went. I was going to make her a Hello Kitty cake anyway, because she’s really into Hello Kitty right now, and plus I already had Hello Kitty cookie cutters that I’d bought for her birthday last year, so I figured I’d get as many uses out of them as I could. She was happy with Hello Kitty, she specified the flavors, and that was that. But then, a week prior, we were going past the cake display at Costco and she pointed at one and said, “I want that cake for my birthday!”

I may not have entirely disguised my dismay. “But I was going to make you a cake with Hello Kitty on it.”

“I want that one!” Determined pointing. Kids have no respect for your desires. This is something you learn very quickly as a parent.

Then I wised up and said, “You know, last year you wanted a Hello Kitty cake and I was worried that you would be upset when I cut into it. So I asked you if you would be okay if we cut it and you said, ‘I want to poke her in the face with a fork!’ Wasn’t that silly?”

She took the bait. “Yeah! That was silly! I want to poke her in the face again!”

“So you want me to make Hello Kitty cake again?”


Oh, two years going on three, so malleable. At five years old, the older kid is already wise to these tricks and requires more straightforward negotiation.

Anyway, my objective restored, I made marshmallow fondant (I use this recipe, recommended to me by a friend whose intensity re: baking is at levels I can only admire), kneaded up some of it with a drop or two of red dye (if you want an arm workout, may I recommend kneading fondant?) to make pink, and executed Hello Kitty cake toppers and chocolate cake. (Three batches of smitten kitchen’s “I want chocolate” cake, for two layers of 9″ round and one dozen cupcakes.) Also strawberry cream cheese frosting, because the kid wanted strawberries, and I like cream cheese.

The little one helped with the cake toppers. I used the cookie cutter twice – once for the head on the white fondant, and once for the bow with the pink fondant. (Now it’s a multitasker! j/k) Then I picked out the features with a bit of melted chocolate on the end of a toothpick. I even let her decorate a couple of the faces. Because (and I do have to keep reminding myself of this) this is for her, not for me.

in-progress Hello Kitty cupcake toppers

For the big cake, I drew Hello Kitty on the top with melted chocolate and a coffee stirrer. Pretty proud of executing a 3D ribbon with the pink fondant. And the kid was happy with it, which was, honestly, the whole point.

Then I didn’t take any pictures. Oops! Fortunately K took pictures during the actual event, so I was able to crop this one out.

sideways view of cake and cupcakes

I did finally remember to take a picture, while we were cleaning up after the party.

partly eaten cake, with cupcakes in background

Happy birthday, little one. May I always be able to fulfill your desires… in a way that pleases both of us.