Join Lorraine Elliott, the founder and publisher of Not Quite Nigella as she shows us the best places to indulge in Canberra. A full time blogger for over 9 years and published author, she travels the world looking high and low for the best food and travel experiences.
The Cupping Room
Come weekends, be prepared to queue for a spot at The Cupping Room on University Avenue. Cupping refers to the art of coffee judging and they take it very seriously here with several kinds on offer. But as we know, coffee is best paired with great food. The food here is pretty as a picture (perfect for Instagram) but even more importantly - it tastes fantastic. There are options like soy confit salmon, radicchio, wakame, cucumber, teriyaki crema, miso essence & black rice cracker or for something sweet try the brioche French toast with citrus textures, chocolate sauce, whipped mascarpone & ginger crumble. The Jamon was my favourite with Serrano jamon, burrata, beetroot cream, pink peppercorn vinaigrette, caramelized fig & crouton slices.
Mocan & Green Grout
The queues aren't any better at Mocan and Green Grout (pronounced mo-chen) but once you sit down, the wait is never that long. Located in the New Acton precinct your best bet is to arrive very early or try going on a week day. It is a small cafe and bike shop and the food ranges from Cotechino sausage, poached eggs, lentils, peas and mint to something a bit more sporty like lime chia pudding, coconut yogurt, mango and passionfruit.
Let's do a weather check. If you're blessed with a sunny day then one of the best places you can be positioned in is at a place at a long table in a Garden Pavilion at Pialligo Estate. Located just near Canberra airport (and the new Vibe Canberra Airport hotel), the garden pavilions are a relatively new addition to the sprawling Pialligo Estate property. The share menu is designed to be eaten family style and features items like hay-baked lamb rack with bell pepper compote or slow smoked pork belly with leeks, radishes and mushrooms. Lunch is a set menu with 2 courses for $48.00 (including main course) or 3 courses at $60.00. And you may by now have heard of the Pialligo Estate Smokehouse bacon, voted the best bacon in the country. Grab a pack of this along with farm produce from the store alongside the pavilions.
In Canberra with a group of friends and everyone wants something different? The Hamlet in Braddon is a collective of food trucks with something for everyone. April's Caravan makes milkshakes in flavours like deluxe apple pie made with their own house made syrup. While Brod Dogs makes hot dogs with endless varieties of combinations. Mr Papa is Peruvian street food with Chanchito, a soft pork belly filled roll with sweet potato, fresh salsa criolla and Huancaina, a spicy cheese sauce. The list goes on and there are also artisan shop holders inside that sell unique fashion pieces.
Want to do a bit of shopping with your lunch? At Poachers Pantry, located at Hall (about 20 minutes from the centre) you can try their wines and smallgoods before purchasing. If you would rather sit down and partake of their range over lunch there is a great tasting platter as well as more substantial mains including their divine Poachers Pantry smoked lamb cutlets with lamb bacon, green pea purée, beetroot, confit cherry tomatoes and rosemary jus or the macadamia crusted John Dory, cauliflower & vanilla, spring onions, shiitake mushrooms, golden carrots and lime curry velouté.
Italian & Sons
Italian & Sons is what you want Italian food to be. Hearty with friendly service but also great quality food too. There's pizza, pasta and a plate of the day featuring a meat. Pastas include hand rolled pici with duck, sage and marsala ragu and pizza toppings are mercifully simple and can come as pizza bianca or pizza rosa. Service is gregarious and fun.
Feel like a little drive a bit further out? Grazing in Gundaroo is worth a trip. Located around 30 minutes away from Canberra centre Grazing is in an 1830's stone building with original fireplaces. Choose from dishes like 18 hour slow cooked belly of pork served with fermented barley grain, white carrot crème and caper tuile or local rump of lamb with sticky glazed rib, kohlrabi, artichoke, cauliflower and eggplant. There is a whole vegetarian menu available too. And come truffle season in Winter, there will be truffles on the menu.