Review: Autolyse (Canberra, ACT)

21 Lonsdale Street
Braddon ACT 2612
+61 2 8074 9458
http://autolyse.com.au/

I ended up on Lonsdale Street on Braddon for lunch last Friday afternoon. A far cry from the bustling Melbourne thoroughfare of the same name, Canberra’s Lonsdale Street is peacefully quiet. You can jaywalk during ‘busy’ traffic periods and every few minutes, you may even see some form of human life.

This is one of Canberra’s busiest streets.

Jokes aside, it also houses some of Canberra’s nicest foodie haunts. I can’t remember how I ended up at Autolyse, a French bakery and bistro in one where ‘nothing is over $20.’ I doubt it was MVB’s ringing endorsement that got me in (‘they used to have a branch in Sydney but they shut down’) – rather, I was most likely drawn in by the promise of handmade breads all made using natural ingredients.

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It was a lovely day outside (21 degrees with plenty of clean, fresh air as an added bonus) but I chose to sit inside – as far as my hierarchy of needs go on weekdays, Wi-Fi sits on top of nice weather. In hindsight though, I probably should have just gone outside – it felt a bit sterile inside, probably due to the ‘medical surgical lights’ (quote from their website) scattered across the spacious open kitchen.

Fougasse ($9.50)
Fougasse ($9.50)

Autolyse’s fougasse sounded interesting and because I’d never had one before, I decided to order that. With the oven-baked dough shaped into a stretched-out Sherrin footy and filled with ham, tomato, basil and cheese, I likened it to the French version of a calzone.

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My first impression of it was that it was as hard as a rock. But because I’d never had a fougasse before, I wasn’t sure whether it was meant to be hard or not. Nevertheless, the butter knife they gave me to cut the bread up couldn’t even create a minor dent in the dough. Pretty soon, I gave up and just started picking the filling out of the bread. Sigh.

The fougasse left a bad impression but that (and well, gluttony) didn’t stop me from ordering a slice of chocolate, apple, walnut and cinnamon cake to take with me. I didn’t get to take a photo of the cake but it was actually really good; it had lovely well-balanced texture and the flavours blended effortlessly well together. I liked the crunchy bits of dark chocolates scattered within, too. I liked it so much that I would have gone to Autolyse the next morning if we weren’t pushed for time.

Although my visit to Autolyse was a mixed bag (‘and maybe the hard bread was the reason why they didn’t last in Sydney’ tittered MVB), I won’t rule out another visit. I’ll avoid that ghastly fougasse like the plague but if that chocolate cake is on display, I’d be sure to take two slices home.

I eat too much.

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