A foodies' guide to Canberra

As a self-confessed bon vivant with a one-track mind for food, I get excited when an opportunity to entertain interstate visitors arises.

While it's a good excuse as any to wine and dine till the visitors (and I) are bursting at the seams, I revel in the opportunity to show off my beloved Canberra and all its glorious foodie hot spots, especially when my visitors are of the Canberra-bashing type.

If you question whether Canberra has a food scene your visit to the nation's capital is obviously long overdue. It's my mission to change your mind in 48 hours.

And then comes the hard part: narrowing all the favourites down to a handful. After much deliberation, I have come up with my perfect 48-hour foodie weekend in Canberra, showcasing the very best and tastiest places our city, and the region, has to offer.


4pm: Ideally your visitors will be arriving in time to let their hair down for the weekend. Make a beeline to New Acton precinct, find a sunny spot in the A.Baker courtyard, grab a drink from the outdoor bar, pull up a deck chair and settle in with a plate of charcuterie. Anticipate visitor comments that such swank is unexpected.

A.Baker, 15 Edinburgh Avenue, New Acton, 6287 6150.

7pm: Now that you have your visitors' appetites whet, move next door to Parlour Wine Room for a lavish tapas dinner. The Eden calamari coated in squid ink will leave your guests charmed while the pork belly in PX sherry will have them begging for more. Sommelier Peter Bell is sure to leave a lasting impression on your guests with his encyclopaedic local wine knowledge and his knack for adventurous Spanish wines.

Parlour Wine Room, 16 Kendall Lane, New Acton, 6257 7325.


9.30pm: The night is still very young so why not head to Hippo Bar for an after-dinner cocktail in style and glimpse of Canberra's pulsing night life.

Hippo Bar, 17 Garema Place, Canberra City, 6257 9090.


8am: Rise and shine and time to show your visitors the best coffee in Canberra. Make a beeline to The Cupping Room, Ona Coffee's brand new and delicious venture. Impress the coffee snobs among your visitors with The Cupping Room's tasting notes cards and show them that we are serious about our coffee in this town. Impress them even more with the delicious menu which focus on big and bold Latin American flavours. Why a predictable eggs Benedict when you can have a Barbudos; a traditional Costa Rican dish of string bean fritters with roasted capsicum, corn salsa, bacon, fried egg and garlic crema. Show those visitors that Canberrans have diverse breakfast palates.

The Cupping Room, 1/13 University Ave, Canberra City, 6257 6412.

9.30am: Now that your visitors are properly caffeinated, it's time for the Capital Region Farmers Markets. Buying fresh produce might not be high on today's agenda, but no foodie's visit to a city is complete without seeing a market bustling with fresh regional produce. Make sure to introduce your visitors to the best of local producers. If they are feeling peckish go to Dream Cuisine for a rhubarb Danish or Bread Nerds for a New York-style Canberra-made bagel. And it's also the best time for your visitors to stock up on some edible souvenirs; a jar of gourmet honey from Honey Delights, a bottle of white truffle infused olive oil from Homeleigh Grove, a box of decadent hand-crafted chocolates from Robyn Rowe chocolates, a bag of artisan muesli from The Muesli Bar and a bottle of wine from Lark Hill Winery should do it.

Capital Region Farmers Market, Exhibition Park in Canberra, Mitchell.

Noon: Time to make your way to Poachers Pantry for a long lunch and a gourmet, family owned and operated, smokehouse experience. Graze over a smoked seafood platter and a smokehouse charcuterie board which showcases local regional produce and Poachers' hot and cold smoking. It's also the perfect opportunity to sample from the Wily Trout cool climate wine range and, of course, to stock up on more edible souvenirs in the way of assorted smoked goods, homemade relishes and chutneys.

Poachers Pantry, 431 Nanima Road, Hall, NSW, 6230 2487.

3pm: Time for a mid-afternoon treat. At Stripey Sundae your visitors can get acquainted with the delicious range of Frugii ice-cream, gelato and sorbet by Canberra's very own ice-cream alchemist. The mind-boggling range of flavours like cardamom, musk stick or gin and tonic are sure to intrigue even those who don't have much of a sweet tooth while the recent hits like pavlova and Tim Tam flavours are sure to please.

Stripey Sundae, 11 O'Hanlon Place, Gold Creek, 6242 0268.

6pm: Time for a pre-dinner cocktail or two. Soak up the last rays of sunshine while enjoying some water views at Kingston Foreshore's new boutique watering hole, The Rum Bar. Your visitors are sure to be dazzled by the hundreds of rums on offer at this stylish bar. Fear not for those non-rum drinkers as the experienced bar staff will fix you a drink to suit your mood and palate in no time.

The Rum Bar, 6/2 Trevillian Quay, Kingston, 6162 1256.

7.30pm: Time for the all-important Saturday night dinner to impress your visitors and seal the deal that Canberra's food scene is one not to be questioned. Here's where I really struggle to make a decision as I have a favourite fine dining restaurant to suit my every mood and whim so the choice of dinner venue should depend on your visitor's dispositions. If your visitors are of the hat-counting type look no further than Aubergine for a memorable meal of the finest kind. If your visitors are likely to appreciate fine dining in a setting of understated elegance, The Artisan is the place to be. If an innovative French menu in modern surrounds is likely to appeal, Sage Dining Rooms is where you should be heading. A meal at any one of these three establishments is sure to impress your visitors with the very best of Canberra's fine dining that showcases seasonal and regional produce so there really is no wrong decision here.

Aubergine, 18 Barker Street, Griffith, 6260 8666.

The Artisan, 16 Iluka Street, Narrabundah, 6232 6482.

Sage Dining Rooms, Gorman House Art Centre, Braddon, 6249 6050.

11pm: It might feel late but it's also Saturday night and there is plenty more to be done. If you have taken your visitors to dine at Aubergine or The Artisan, then you are only a hop, skip and a jump away from the perfect nightcap venue that is Polit Bar. Whether it's a quality whisky or a grown-up cocktail your visitors are after, Polit Bar keep you going well into early hours of the morning. If you just finished dinner at Sage, then Knightsbridge Penthouse is the place to head for a night cap or a little dance floor action to burn off a day of indulgences.

Polit Bar, 8 on Franklin, Manuka Village, Manuka, 6162 2947.

Knightsbridge, 1/34 Mort Street, Braddon, 6262 6221.


10am: Let your visitors have a sleep in to digest previous night's indulgences or rest their sore heads if they happen to have over indulged just that little extra. Chances are a light breakfast and a hearty hit of caffeine is needed to start the day so head to Canberra's little vintage darling/south-side's hipster revolution that is Penny University. A healthy board of muesli, yoghurt, stewed fruit and a shot of green juice or a summer breakfast pudding of black sticky rice and grilled mango should do the trick this morning. Wash it down with a coffee roasted in house or an earl grey iced tea and your visitors should have plenty of beans for their last day of foodie good times in Canberra.

Penny University, 15 Kennedy Street, Kingston, 6162 1500.

Noon: Time to head to Old Bus Depot Markets for a wander among "Canberra's Sunday Best". There are plenty of hand-crafted wares and arts and crafts to keep your visitors busy for a few hours but then there's all the food of course. Grab a cup of fresh orange juice from Jo's Juice then start the rounds of tastings. Everything from stuffed olives, roasted nuts, handmade fudge to homemade jams and relishes are all under one atmospheric roof and chances are you'll have to drag your visitors kicking and screaming to take them to lunch, and the final stop in the 48-hour foodie weekend in Canberra.

OBDM, 21 Wentworth Avenue, Kingston, 6295 3331.

2pm: A visit to Canberra wouldn't be complete without a visit to Brodburger, one of Canberra's iconic foodie institutions. The new location may not have the same rustic charm as the days of the red gypsy caravan by the lake but in the comfortable surrounds within the historic Glassworks building the quality of burgers remain very much the same - mouth-wateringly delicious. Introduce your visitors to the best burger in the east coast; the flame grilled Brodburger with blue cheese should have them walk away appreciating our refined palate for burgers.

Brodburger, 11 Wentworth Avenue, Kingston, 6162 0793.

4pm: Finish the weekend off feeling virtuous and burn off some calories with a walk around the lake. Take it nice and slow and discuss the weekend. What was their favourite spot? Will they come back? Hopefully you've thoroughly convinced them that the nation's capital features so much more than about roundabouts and politicians.

Rachi Perera is a Canberra optometrist and food blogger at le-bonvivant.com