Restaurant earns food guide place
A MODEST little restaurant in the heart of Gympie propelled the region on to the national foodie map this week by earning a coveted spot in the Queensland Good Food Guide.
Capelli on Duke scored an impressive 14/20 from food critics compiling the definitive authority on Australian restaurants.
The Fairfax-produced guide has been printed by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age for southern diners since the early 1980s and, while there has been a previous online version here, for the first time this year Queensland has its own guide in book form.
Food critics have spent the past six months travelling the state, sampling hundreds of meals and rating the restaurants out of 20. Those who rated 12/20 or higher made it into the guide.
Capelli on Duke scored just below Yandina's famous Spirit House, 15/20, and Noosa Heads' two berardo's restaurants, which scored 14.5/20 and 15/20.
Owned and operated from a renovated Queenslander at the corner of Duke and Alfred Sts by Melbourne-trained chef Michael Hehir and his wife Carolyn Mandersloot, Capelli earned a glowing review from Good Food Guide editor Natascha Mirosch.
Some of the region's fresh produce was given a helpful plug as well.
"Visitors to this old gold mining town might discover what locals already know, there's still gold in these hills, in the shape of an unassuming restaurant in an old corner house," the guide states.
"Take a seat on the lovely jacaranda-shaded deck and enjoy food that's pure city sophistication down to the micro herbs.
"The menu consists of tapas and more substantial raciones plates to share as well as a standard mains section.
"Chef Michael Hehir makes good use of local produce. Delicate zucchini blossoms (picked at Wilson's Pocket 5pm daily and delivered to Capellis at 6pm) still attached to pinkie-sized zucchini are stuffed with risotto, then encased in a tempura batter and served with a dill aioli, while sweet Hervey Bay scallops are simply grilled and finished with house-grown herb and garlic salsa.
"Eggplant fritters fried until crisp and sprinkled in smoked paprika and served with mint and lemon-infused labna are moreish but for something more substantial, the Kilkivan organic duck served with white figs marinated in Pedro Ximinez and a bitter Bolivian chocolate-infused jus is way too good to share."
Restaurants that achieved 15/20 are considered very good and awarded one hat; scores of 16/20 or 17/20 are awarded two hats; and a rating of 18/20 or higher gets the premier score of three hats.
"The New South Wales and Victorian Good Food Guides have become institutions within their own right, renowned for being independent - Queensland will be no different," said Ms Mirosch at the launch of the guide this week.
"Receiving a hat or even just being good enough to be included in the guide is a pretty big deal."
Some of the region's fresh produce has been given a helpful plug as well.