You are in a small well stocked and curated bookshop whiffing at the vanilla-almond like scent of old and new books. Now imagine yourself chowing down a mouth-watering spread of cuisine or sipping an array of wines.
Welcome to Muse, Canberra’s hangout joint for bibliophiles, gourmands and oenophiles. Located in the chic East Hotel and nestled between Kingston and Manuka, Muse is essentially a bookshop-café-wine bar rolled into one. The owners, Paul Eldon and Dan Sanderson, have created a platform where Canberrans can bring family and friends to mingle, hangout, drink wine and have cheerful conversation over great food. It’s also an event space where you could hear an author speak about a book or a historian discuss events.
Good books and sumptuous food are my weakness and if you are anything like me, you would surely fathom the excitement bubbling through my veins as I stepped into the restaurant. As I walked in, my adenoids were greeted by a divine aroma of all things delicious and nostalgic. I was eager to try the gastronomic delights on offer especially, the Christmas set menu for 2017.
This year’s sumptuous shared Christmas menu is designed by head chef, Steven Sweeney. It starts this Friday, 1 December 2017. The lunch or dinner, is created for a minimum of four people with a glass of 2016 Pete’s Pure Prosecco, fresh artisan bread (Three Mills Bakery) and butter, three mains, three sides and an individual dessert selection. Vegetarian or gluten free options are also available on request at the time of booking.
Speaking with Paul, I gathered that there are over 10,000 books to choose from. The place is cosy with earthy coloured rugs adding to that cushy feel. I experienced a warm mushy feeling creeping over me. The restaurant is split level—one level has bookshelves and some tables and chairs while the other has a complete dining area. The dining area has milky white walls with dusky coloured furniture, evoking a feeling of purity and elegance. With its subtle colour combinations, Muse definitely inspires you to think.
The Christmas set menu was a delightful feast! The maple glazed Balzenelli leg ham with honey mayonnaise was succulent and juicy. Each bite was a lovely balance of saltiness from the ham and sweetness from the mayo. It was my favourite dish and when I paired it with the roast chat potatoes with house made black garlic aioli, I was in divine bliss!
The roasted garlic and mustard chicken with white tarragon veloute was moist and tender, the Australian prawns served with house made cocktail sauce were tingling with flavour.
Dutch carrots with macadamia nuts and mint labneh and fresh garden peas with lemon butter and goat cheese were delicious sides that paired well with either of the mains. And before I forget, that artisan bread and butter made me purr with delight with every bite.
Choosing a favourite between the mixed berry pavlova, mango and coconut trifle or cloth wrapped Tasmanian cheddar cheese with house made lavish and quince paste for dessert was impossible! I didn’t even attempt to try.
The crispy and creamy pavlova brought a smile to everyone at the table while the trifle transported me back to Thailand for a moment, bringing back nostalgic memories of a lovely island holiday. The cheddar cheese had the right amount of sharpness and paired perfectly with the bubbling Prosecco.
Now folks, imagine you were at Muse, having a lovely lunch or dinner with family and friends. You are tossing ideas back and forth on what needs to be done in 2018 or maybe holding 2017 in retrospection. You are having interesting conversation and find a moment to walk over and look at books on offer. You purchase a few titles. You think… it’s always lovely to spend time with loved ones and Muse offers that invigorating and inspiring environment to do so.
Don’t you think it’s a great way to usher in the Christmas festivities?
Awarded Two Glasses in the Gourmet Traveller Wine Australia’s 2017 Wine List of the Year Awards, Muse incorporates food, wine and books in majority of their events, functions and concepts like the Weekend Sparkling Wine Brunch starting in 2018 with free flow sparkling wine, and not forgetting, their Prime Lamb Dinner Menu option with matching wine. Contact Muse for more information.
Text by Rosemarie of Travel and Beyond and photos by Gemstone Creative Studio. Travel and Beyond were guests of Muse. All opinions are our own.