3 #Canberra Beanies

Mandalay Bus (Braddon)

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The Mandalay food bus (actually a cleverly fitted out food truck in an old bus chassis) is a long-standing Canberra institution. I’ve been there and enjoyed the foods too many times to count and every foodie in Canberra has a story to tell about it, either from a recent trip or from decades ago when it first became popular.

I will come back to this post and add some stories and newsclips about how loved and admired the bus is amongst decades of clientele.

In the last couple of years the bus has experienced a classic inner-city hipster revival as food vans and trucks experience a world=wide renaissance. The bus was recently resuscitated by a group of young local chefs working with the son of the original owner.

Although the hours vary you can usually find the lights on and a small crowd milling in the adjoining carpark.

My recent experience was of a friendly and cool atmosphere with amazingly delicious food.

It wasn’t very big, but this $9 satay chicken kimchee roti from tasted like nothing else I’d had. It packed a big flavour punch and I was tempted to buy a few more… maybe another time.

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The Mandalay Bus opens most Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and the menu varies regularly – giving regulars plenty of reasons to come back for more! Three Canberra Beanies.

The Mandalay Bus on Urbanspoon

Brindabella Café (Inside the DFAT building, Barton)

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Three #Canberra Beanies

Brindabella Café in Barton is one of those classic Canberra gems that you could easily (and regularly) drive past without ever noticing what was there or what you were missing. This is what the building looks like from the outside:

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The Cafe has a web presence via facebook where the chef regularly posts details of their daily specials. As well as amazing lunchtime fare and quick service there is also an excellent coffee service with a wide selection of cakes and biscuits for those he seek sweet temptations.

I’ve always believed pictures speak louder than words. Here are a few examples of recent meals that my colleagues and I have enjoyed here;

DFAT duck

Delicious slow/cooked duck leg, potato ‎gratin, rocket/Parmesan/pear ‎salad only $10.50!

 

DFAT chicken curry

Delicious Malay-style chicken curry with potato, coconut and rice. Only $12 with a 500ml drink!

 

DFAT salads

Only $12 for 500ml sugar-free mother & a large plate of 5 tasty salads.

 

DFAT fritters

In the APH triangle there are still good affordable lunch around if you know where to look!: pumpkin, ricotta, fritters, salad, prawn spring roll and sugar-free mother all for $14

The Brindabella Café is well worth a visit. Even if you forget your lunch break you can occasionally (if you’re lucky) pick up boxed left-overs from the fridges after the café staff have started to clean and pack up. But if if you want to see why DFAT staff like their cafeteria so much, get here early for the best choice of freshly made food. In fact, its probably best to get here slightly before they do! No hesitation in giving the Brindabella Café in DFAT three #Canberra beanies.

 

 

Lunch specials at Francisco’s Mexican Cantina in Manuka

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Last week I had the pleasure of enjoying the amazingly filling (and quite delicious) $18 Burrito Bowl (just the insides of a Burrito on a plate, without the carbs of the wrap) at Francisco’s Mexican Cantina in Manuka Village Canberra.

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You can choose from a variety of filings. I chose beef and bean and loved it. In fact I would probably have been happy with a smaller size which was only $10 (the large plate is very large and filling and could easily feed two people).

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But I persevered and began to feel the early stages of a food coma after returning to work 🙂

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I will definitely return to try other variations as well as other items from the specials board.

francescos menu board

Francisco’s can also be found on twitter @FranciscosMex, Facebook and via their website.

They also serve a mean cup of coffee.

francescos coffee

If you like Mexican food and affordable lunch specials, Francisco’s is a great option, particularly amongst the high-priced restaurant in and around Manuka.

Three #Canberra Beanies!

Francisco's Mexican Cantina on Urbanspoon

Lunchtime Specials at Plumb on Tennant in Fyshwick

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There are so many hidden lunchtime gems across Canberra that it would be physically impossible for one person to try them all in a lifetime. Many places are well-hidden and can only be found by word of mouth , news stories, tips from Canberra’s many foodies, or just plain luck (Urban Spoon is another option too 🙂

One of these hidden gems has a talented team of staff who are happy and comfortable serving everything from affordable and honest lunchtime fare loved by busy tradies, to more elaborately cooked meals for business and celebratory lunches. Plumb on Tennant is located on Tennant Street in Fyshwick. They have a comprehensive lunchtime menu with lots of affordable options:

plumb on tennant menu

I enjoyed a delicious $10 grilled scotch fillet burger with a side of $3 fries!

plumb on tennant plate

The burger was tender and the toppings were well-balanced. The fries were awesome (clearly hand-cut and perhaps slightly boiled prior to frying, ensuring a crispy exterior and creamy inside – how they should be!) I asked about the bread, which seemed a bit nicer than your average burger fare and was pleasantly surprised to learn they source all their buns from Flute bakery in Fyshwick, which I had previously rated highly for their pies and sweets. It’s always good to see local businesses supporting each other and not cutting corners on locally-sourced ingredients.

plumb on tennant burger

This place is recommended if you’re ever in the area and want a quick bite or you can check out their larger menus for other tasty options for breakfast and lunch. I will definitely be back and will probably have a longer chat with the owner, who has worked in the local hospitality business for a long time and clearly has a lot of Canberra foodie stories to share. Three Canberra Beanies!

Plumb on Tennant on Urbanspoon

Lunchtime Laksa at Cafe Bamboo Braddon

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After a hot tip from Laksa connoisseur @rachiperera I enjoyed an AMAZING $15 lunch at Café Bamboo on Lonsdale Street Braddon. I was once a regular at this place a few years ago when I worked in Braddon and am familiar with their popular lunchboxes and noodle soups.

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The Laksa was only $12.50  (order and pay at the counter) and there was a wide selection of well-priced drinks from the self-serve fridge. I picked up a tasty aloe vera drink for only $2.50.

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The taste and texture of the Laksa was sensational, with a generous topping of crunchy fried onion, plenty of bean curd, seafood and vegetables as well as a combination of noodles. It was the best Laksa I had ever tasted but was great value at 12.50. Café Bamboo is highly recommended and gets three #Canberra Beanies! 

Cafe Bamboo on Urbanspoon

 

Lunchtime specials at Taze Mediterannean Genge Street Canberra

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Today I enjoyed something that has been on my to-do list for a while. A few times in the past 5 years it has been there I have enjoyed lunch and dinner with friends at Taze on Genge Street in the centre of Canberra. I wouldn’t normally describe their menu as “cheap” or “highly affordable” but the service is great and atmosphere and food usually delicious. The business is run by a local family with a Turkish background and the food is authentic Mediterranean-inspired cuisine and worth a trip.

Recently I learnt that they also do $10 take-away lunch boxes so decided to try one! I started with a chicken skewer with rice and salad.

chicken skewer taze

The chicken was delicious and cooked well. The meat had been marinated in tasty garlic-infused spices still juicy inside despite the char-grilled cooking method.

I particularly enjoyed the rice, with the addition of small brown pasta in the cooked rice reminding me how mum often made it when I was growing up. My background is Lebanese but there are many similarities in the way numerous Mediterranean cuisines share cooking methods and styles.

For $10 the Taze lunch boxes are good value. They are cheaper options around Garema Place but the quality of the food and portions are good for a quick and healthy lunch.

There is an online menu available at the website here: http://www.taze.com.au/

The Taze $10 lunch specials get Three Canberra Beanies.

Taze Mediterranean Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Treehouse Lunch Specials

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The Treehouse on Northbourne Avenue (near London Circuit in the Sydney Building) is better known as a bar than one of Canberra’s hidden affordable eats. The food here is also a good example of why I prefer to say “affordable eats” rather than “cheap eats”. Although the price of their lunch specials is “cheap” the quality is far better than one would expect for a $9 meal.

Here’s the menu for the lunch specials, which only run Wednesday to Friday.

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There are other specials that run during different days and times of the week.

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On my first trip I did ask for the braised osso bucco as recommended by my friend Eileen (@TheFoodAvenue) however I had arrived a bit late in the lunch period and they had sold out. Instead I ordered the char-grilled calamari, and I was not disappointed!

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You probably noticed a near-empty beer glass in the picture above? boy was I thirsty that day 🙂 Yes, along with the $9 lunch special there is a $3 drink special and it includes some very tasty craft beers. Can you tell from the picture below which one I chose?

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The $9 lunch and $3 beer are pretty hard to beat in value. The service is great and at only $12 there is still change left over from $15 for a nice coffee after your meal as well. This place is great!

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A few days later I got a chance for a second shot with a group of friends from #Humanbrochure. Eileen had invited a bunch of us to try Treehouse for a “#Canberra Foodie First Friday affordable lunch” that we are trying to hold on a regular basis to showcase and share some of the city’s hidden gastronomic gems. Luckily each foodie ordered a different dish and we were able to take a close look at them, including the Sourdough Bread with olives and dipping oil. Naturally I ordered the Osso Bucco (as did someone else) and neither of us were disappointed. It was an outstanding meal. My only complaint was that I wanted more of it. However it’s a very healthy and reasonable portion for $9 so I didn’t! 🙂

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The good news is that although there aren’t many tables at Treehouse it was possible to book a ‘space’ upstairs for a small group where they will move some small tables and stools together. 6-8 people is about the limit though. But with great food, drink and the right company it’s always possible to have a great time. And when you have lunch with other foodies you know you will spend at least some of that time taking photos and discussing food!

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Treehouse gets three #Canberra Beanies !

Treehouse on Urbanspoon