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“Caught on a Bad Night”
Review of The Hermitage Restaurant - CLOSED

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The Hermitage Restaurant
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Reviewed August 23, 2012

I took my mother out to dinner at the Hermitage before an evening at the Canberra Theatre. While we made the show on time, we ended up with pretty average food with clumsy service, at a fine dining price.

The first thing that strikes you is the prices, with entrees starting at $19 each, and main steaks around $35-$40. There are some cheaper mains, such as chicken and veal, but only marginally. I had the scallops and pea risotto for my starter, which was not a bad size. Despite the three scallops perched atop my mound of rice being bland and slightly overdone, the risotto was quite good. My mother’s salt and pepper calamari entrée was similarly lacking in flavour, but it was a decent portion and nicely cooked.

I had the eye fillet with blue cheese sauce for my main, ordered medium at the waitress’s recommendation. The first thing that struck me when it finally arrived was how tiny it was. So much so, that it was actually disappointing. The steak too was overdone, well past the medium I ordered. All in all though, it was… OK. The blue cheese sauce didn’t have the richness I’d experienced with some chicken wing tapas in Adelaide a few months earlier, but the potatoes were nice. And I finished off one of my mother’s veal medallions, which wasn’t bad, but also wasn’t as good as what she usually dishes up herself on a Sunday night.

When I called to make a reservation the week before, I was greeted with, "Hermitage" barked into my ear by way of announcement, rather than question. It's surprising what a difference a "hello" makes, or more so, the absence thereof. Nonetheless, I knew I got the right number, and to be fair, the manager asked about our theatre commitments before booking us in at the most appropriate time. While they were busy, they weren't full, but it was painfully clear that the staff were flustered in the pre-theatre rush. It took some time to get menus, and even longer to place our order. Drinks haphazardly arrived during the endless wait for our entrees, and even though the staff updated us twice on the progress of our garlic bread, none ever arrived, except on the bill. However, it was no problem for the manager to remove it when I settled up.

I find the atmosphere quite nice, although the lights under the bar are perhaps a bit bright and the furniture has a few miles on the clock. The busy dining room made for an energetic buzz though, rather than the usual assault to the ears at other places.

Based on our experience, I put it down to the Hermitage having a bad night, perhaps caught short by a waitress or two not showing for their shift. While the other dozen or so reviews below made me briefly reassess, you've got to keep in mind that hundreds of people go through there every week. It doesn't take a lot to knock a high end restaurant off balance. I've eaten there before, and both the service and food have been a lot better. Still short of the prices they're charging mind you, but a lot better.

For me, Ardeche remains my first choice for dinner before a show.

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Thank captain_beetroot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviews (19)
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7 - 11 of 19 reviews

Reviewed July 12, 2012

My lunch 'special' at Hermitage - wow - I've never been less inclined to eat anything in my life. The barramundi was slimy and overcooked. The beurre au blanc sauce had soaked the chips into soggy oblivion (chips - really - straight out of a bag???) and the undressed 'salad' was wilted and turning black. I rarely send dishes back - but this was beyond unacceptable. The owner approached our table but instead of being gracious he was aggressive and hostile. He advised me I obviously did not know what a proper beurre blanc tasted like, that since no one else had complained about the dish it was obviously my fault for incorrectly choosing it and finished off the conversation by calling me supercilious. Granted - it's hard not to get a bit haughty with someone when they won't let you finish a sentence. The only wise choice he made was to waive the bill - he obviously wanted us out of there as quickly as possible. Give this place a miss - not worth your time or money.

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2  Thank SJKOttawa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 27, 2012

My fiance splurged on lunch for our 4yr anniversary recently, we got a garlic bread entree and then both ordered the 'hermitage special' at $42 each...

The bread was the best part of our meal. The hermitage special came with a half lobster, fillet steak and a potato rosti. Steak was cooked well but cold, the rosti was foul and inedible - did not even take like potato, was soggy not hot and definitely reheated in a microwave, Lobster was ok not anything special, would have been nice with a little sauce/more flavour. We both left the whole rosti and the waiter/owner did not ask how the meal was or why there was food left.

We were both left hungry after a $90 lunch. Can see why there was only us and another table in there!! Upon paying the bill the owner talked non stop for 10 minutes about how the previous owner put him in coupon sites and the entertainment book and was losing money etc etc it was completely bizarre

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1  Thank Katy F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 11, 2012

We went for a relaxed dinner.

We were rushed out of there by 8:30 (arrived at 7:00). It would have been 8 but we made them slow down.

It seemed as if we were keeping them up yet when we booked I had made it clear we were not going to a show - just for a slow enjoyable dinner. What we got was a rushed meal with everything pushed at us - no time to relax or talk.

Go elsewhere - Canberra has plenty of other restaurants with much better service - especially for the price!

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1  Thank CanberraDyertribe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 15, 2012

My Fiance took me here for Valentine's Day dinner. Upon entering, the restaurant was 'nice' but not exactly as he had hoped it would be for a romantic dinner. The seats had stains on them, though the rest of the table and dress looked clean and tidy.
We ordered a three course meal, as part of their 'Valentine's Dinner special' and patiently waited. The entree came after about half an hour, however we then waited well over an hour for the main meal. We were seated at 7.15 and got our main meal at 9.25pm! While that would be ok in a 'romantic setting' and not on a week night, the ambience was not there, the waitress was ódd' and we were hungry by the end.
For entree I had wild mushroom risotto. My fiance had chorizo and pork ravioli. The risotto was nice, though a bit dry and gluggy. The ravioli was wonderful, though I frowned a bit upon the fact they cheated with their pasta as it was not home made. For mains we both had steak and these were, to be honest, cooked to perfection. They were very nice. Not sure about the 'çhips' that accompanied my fiance's though - I wouldn't expect chips at a fine-dining restaurant (don't get me wrong, I love them and I'm not a snob but a fine dining restaurant should do better than to serve chips).
During the evening, a foul, disgusting smell wafted out of the kitchen, which completely put us off. Initially I thought some rude person had 'let one go', until we realised the smell was coming from the kitchen. Not sure what happened in there? The dessert was very average. Brulee that was not set and runny and the berry brioche pudding that was way too sweet. Álthough being 'sweet', it left a bitter taste in my mouth becuse I had ordered key lime pie, only to be told a few minutes before dessert came out (at 9.10pm) that they had none?
Overall, great steak. Poor atmosphere, well and truly overpriced and strange staff. I'll not visit there again. Stick with Courgette, Benchmark, Lobby or the Boathouse for a real fine dining experience!

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2  Thank MissyKafoops
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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