Bicicletta at the Peppers Gallery Hotel (formerly the Acton Hotel) offers groups of 12 or more, a banquet option.
Entrée and Main courses cost $50 per person and you can add a dessert course and coffee for an extra $10 per person.
The main advantage of choosing the banquet is that you can share and sample a wide range of dishes on the menu (14 in all).
However, while overall there is plenty of food for even larger appetites, and the entrée dishes are generous, the main and dessert dishes are served in much smaller sizes (e.g. 3-4 pieces only) . This makes sharing very difficult between people in a large group unless you bring a sharp knife and cut them up into small pieces.
So while it’s a great opportunity to try lots of great dishes on the menu, you need to be happy with some small samples.
The banquet for 15 includes:
Fritto di Calamari – fried baby squid with crispy jalapeno and tartare sauce – (delicious) – two plates for 15 people
Pizza Bread – freshly cooked pizza bread with garlic, chilli and extra virgin oil – ( very good) – two plates for 15 people
Caprese – classic Italian salad, fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, oregano and basil, heirloom and “rose verace” tomatoes and extra virgin oil (excellent) – 3 bowls for 15 people
Antipasto Dello chef – selection of arancini, cured meats with crispy marinated olives and sundried tomatoes – two platters for 15 people
The entrees are plentiful and include one arancini per person. The calamari and caprese salad are especially good and the pizza bread is a good tasty nibble.
The antipasto meats probably lack some appeal unless there are larger, hungrier appetites to fill.
Fusilli alla Bolognese – traditional pasta with Nonna’s 3 meat bolognaise sauce (surprisingly very lovely flavours, two plates for 15 people)
Tortellini di Zucca – homemade tortellini stuffed with roasted pumpkin in a creamy gorgonzola sauce finished with pine nuts and parmesan ( nice, but not as tasty as it sounds, two plates for 15 people)
Guanciale di Maiale – pork belly braised in balsamic and herbs, apple & rhubarb mousse with a sweet balsamic reduction (flavoursome, but quite fatty and only three pieces to share between 15)
Pesce Frescio – Fish of the day ( the salmon is very nice and served with a pesto, but again, only three pieces for 15 people)
Steamed green vegetables – three bowls for 15 people
Salad with rocket, parmesan and beetroot crisps – two bowls for 15 people
Suprema di pollo e prosciutto – pan tossed chicken breast stuufed with basil taleggio, wrapped with prosciutto served with Tuscan style rosemary cream potato on an avocado paste (the pick of the mains, but only three serves to share between 15 people)
The main courses are also good, especially the chicken and surprising the bolognaise pasta (great for plainer eaters). However, while there are two bowls of pasta and this is easy to share, it’s very tricky to share the pork belly, salmon and chicken.
Dessert & coffee:
Tiramisu (nice, but not the best pick, and only three serves to share between 15)
Millefoglie – puff pastry filled with strawberry and lemon custard, mascarpone and vincotto mousse (pleasant but not as flavoursome as it sounds and only four pieces to share)
Vanilla Pannacotta – creamy vanilla bean milk custard with orange zest and chilli orange glaze (very delicious, the pick of the desserts, but again, only four to share).
The first two courses are plenty of flavour variety and quantity to satisfy. Dessert is not really necessary and it is tricky to share the small number of serves between a large group.
Also, while it’s good to try several of menu options, it’s really the Pannacotta that is outstanding.
Overall, the food is delicious and it’s a fun and interesting experience to sample such a wide range on the menu.
However it is possibly more food than you need if you want to leave still feeling comfortable (especially the three course option) and the serve sizes can be very difficult to share so that everyone gets a taste.
Generously there’s a 25 % discount up to $40 for Canberra Entertainment Card holders (even on the banquet price) and up to three cards are accepted happily.
An alternate option is to design and order your own banquet. This gives you more flexibility and allows you to keep costs down and meal sizes comfortable. You can also go for dishes that are easier to share in a group.
A suggested menu for 6 people could include:
1 serve pizza bread as a starter (this normally includes 8 pieces for $13)
1 pizza cut into six ( the formaggi – mozzarella, Italian cacio di bufala, Italian parmigiano and pecorino served with fresh rocket $22 is very good if available)
2 Caprese salad – classic Italian salad, fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, oregano and basil, heirloom and “rose verace” tomatoes and extra virgin oil $16 each)
2 Pasta dishes – e.g. the Fusilli alla Bolognese – traditional pasta with Nonna’s 3 meat bolognaise sauce $23 each
Gelati $4 per scoop Pistachio and Chocolate if available.
Total per person $23 ($17 with the Entertainment Card Discount)
Not BYO but wine starts at $8 per glass and bottles start at $37 for the Bicicletta Pinot Grigio