That's Graham, a twinkle eyed foodie with a sharpness, an intelligence and a style that is reflected in every aspect of this beloved Kingston haunt, which is the brainchild of he and his wife, Leanne, who is pretty much the Albert Einstein of Baking. Graham is exactly my idea of a true foodie, easy to like, discerning, gentle, politely warm, passionate about quality and generous. It never ceases to amaze me how many lamentable souls you come across in the food industry. I have met quite a few cafe/restaurant owners and cooks who wouldn't be out of place in the ranks of the Gestapo. There's a kindness in Graham and in this place that tells me that he has a good sensibility about people and enjoys sharing wonderful food with them. Having someone like that at the helm always seems to be what separates the good places to eat from the really great ones. Candice, Yoni, Paul, Ben, Rowan (you should know the Canberra crew by now!), they all go gaga over the pastry pyrotechnics that occur in this wonderful kitchen, five formidable days of the delicious week.
You've heard about good carbs and bad carbs, oui? Well, at Silo there is no such thing as a bad carb, per se. They're all pretty damn amazing. I am sure Miss Cindy will have something to say about it, being my swiss-tart-nazi and all, but this place is turning out the most divine tarts you can probably find from a commercial kitchen. Beautifully rustic and simultaneously wholesome and decadent to behold. Generous slices of sweet somethings burgeoning with perfumed fruit, of spice and of sugar, make seductive eyes at you through a taunting glass display window. All of these beautiful creations look like the product of some provincial housewife's sunday afternoon, left to cool on an earthen window sill. This is my idea of 'Cake' in its Platonic form. These are seriously spunky sweets.
Lucky Candice told me about a recent visit where it was suggested by Graham that a quince tart would be the perfect completion to her meal, when a man like Graham makes that kind of post meal proposition to you, you do what you're told. She was at a loss to describe the taste to me, she has a PhD in English Literature and Philosophy, as well as a ready passion for great food, for her to have literally run out of words is really saying something. Easily the best tart she has ever had. If quince is a tad too Eden-before-the-fall for you, then go for the Chocolate and Prune Tart. Every day these ovens fire up fresh batches of the best tarts, pastries and croissants you can find, and every day they sell out.
Breakfast and Lunch are seasonal interpretations of Mediterranean and European flavours. The wonderful sourdough and pastry weaves itself through a menu that does not shy away from doing its own thing, and doing it with some of the most exceptional produce, meats and cheeses you can find. A little bowl of sharp olives distracted us until a beautiful lunch of pizza with eggplant and labna came along. The cheeses featured in the menu are straight from the impressive cheese room which is tucked into the back of the restaurant like a wonderful punctuation mark on the end of an edible sentence. There are beautiful options on the menu for more casual plates of antipasto and cheese, sandwiches, or more elaborate pizza and salads.
I have added Breakfast At Silo to my shrinking list of things to do before I die. There are so many things on the menu I would like to try. Autumn and Winter apparently usher in the serving of some impeccable soups, which pretty much sets in a stone at least one trip to Canberra when things start to freeze up. There is also a mushroom pizza with salsa di noci and blue cheese which I have no intention of shunning. I had a lovely, not too spicy chai with the meal, the milk coming in that little bottle which is just about the most adorable thing i've ever laid eyes on. Cosmorex is the coffee brew, and it's universally raved about, strong without bitterness. What more could you want (besides a Sydney outpost)? This place, sadly, has no Sydney equivalent. Booking for lunch is a very good idea, with breakfast though, you'll have to take your chances. Cheese. Wine. Tarts. Brioche. Sourdough. Olives. Tea. Coffee. Pizza. And all of it exceptional. A high ceiling crowns a busy, slightly shadowy atmosphere, with all of the beautiful commotion of a bakery, a kitchen and an eatery. The place feels bustling and private all at once. I could easily enjoy a big, loud, rollicking lunch here with lots of wine and laughter or a quiet romantic tryst...heh, if only Silo served freshly baked boyfriends to make the latter possible! It's an epic shame Dionysis never really existed, this place was positively made for him.
This place doesn't justify the drive to Canberra, it justifies the walk.
At: 36 Giles Street, Kingston, Canberra.
Ph: (02) 6260 6060
Tues - Sat: 7am til 4pm