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Peli-please-can I go again? Pelican Place is Gungahlin’s hidden gem

Max O'Driscoll13 November 2021
Corn, chips, slaw and chicken

The jerk-spiced half-chicken. Photos: Max O’Driscoll.

I always get a little nervous when I look at a menu and see that they’re doing a lot.

It’s become a new wave of sorts. Rather than the more traditional culturally styled restaurants, more and more seem to open today with a diverse array of offerings.

So when I arrived at Pelican Place Gungahlin on Saturday night and saw that you could eat a Mexican hot dog, a grilled French taco, prawn linguine and slow-cooked beef ribs all under the same roof, the initial feeling was one of genuine hesitation.

Generally, when met by menus like this, the question is, why have they spread their eggs over so many baskets? Are they good at everything? Or are they good at nothing?

Settling on the Szechuan squid as a starter, initial hesitation was swiftly withdrawn.

Perhaps the highlight of the night, the squid was bursting with flavour, soft and tender, not rubbery. It was crunchy on the outside but without tasting over-battered or oily, while the lime aioli served admirably as its running mate. Paired with a fresh garden salad, it made for the perfect entree for a balmy November night in Canberra.

A good start to say the least.

Szechuan squid

The Szechuan squid with garden greens and lime aioli.

For the mains, attention turned to the potato gnocchi and ‘The Pelican Signature’, the jerk-spiced half-chicken.

A long way from traditional gnocchi, their pesto-based gnocchi was served with edamame, broad beans, pea puree, kale, vegan parmesan and pistachio crumbs. The somewhat surprising mix brought a unique freshness to the dish. The gnocchi itself was soft and seasoned supremely, enabling it to remain the centrepiece of the dish while engaging with the many complementary components that accompanied it.

Gnocchi

Pesto-based? Don’t gnocchi until you try it.

The jerk-spiced half-chicken arrived and after shovelling squid only moments prior, I quickly realised I was in no danger of going hungry.

One of those real bang-for-your-buck dishes, the half-chicken was accompanied by char-grilled corn, chips and what looked like a mountain of fresh slaw to create a plate overflowing in stature and flavour.

The jerk spices were tasty and vibrant, combining particularly well with the fresh slaw. The char-grilled corn was buttery and juicy, with a subtle charcoal undertone. The traditional pub-style chips left me with no complaints.

The three dishes came to $63 – a bargain considering the quality (and quantity) of the food delivered.

And if you need any further incentive, it’s BYO! (The Schezuan squid pairs quite well with a Suntory -196.)

The Pelican Place is located at 108/43 Hibberson St in Gungahlin (in Gungahlin Square). It’s open seven days a week from 7:30 am – 9:30 pm.

Original Article published by Max O’Driscoll on The RiotACT.

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