cafe

Meet a #Canberra Foodie – Paul Drake

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It’s been a while since I added to the list of awesome Canberra Foodies who have graced this website over the past 12 months. It was a great adventure meeting them all last year so I’m determined to start again and hope to share at least one interview a month.

Today’s entertaining interview is with a rare man who as well as being an amazing husband ((I’m told) and musician, also publicly and proudly embraces a very long-standing passion for food and wine. Sorry ladies he’s already taken! I first met Paul through his lovely better half but unlike her his professional passions lie away from public communications. Paul Drake is the part-owner and Manager of the hidden Gem Plumb on Tennant (which I checked out for lunch last year in this earlier post). I’m not the only one who thinks this place is a hidden gem – check out Tara’s review here.

Paul Drake Plumb on Tennant

So Paul, who are you? I’m a long time Canberra boy who arrived here as a ten pound pom in 1967. My passion has always been food really, and good wine, but I’m a trained carpenter/ builder and can do most things hospitality related. I never really wanted to be anywhere but Canberra but I guess the clincher was when I met my wife Angie and we decided to make our lives here together. We now have two teenage boys and a spotty dog and my first foray into business was finding my business partner Rob and buying our first cafe Plumb on Tennant in Fyshwick back in 2011. Owning a cafe has been an interesting experience. I can’t say that we’ve done everything perfect but we put love and passion into what we do. It’s hard work and I can say that we’ve only just begun in cafe world, with many more ventures ahead of us I’m sure.

Age?  48, but don’t feel a day over 47!

Where do you live?  Fadden

How long have you been blogging?  I don’t. Well perhaps if I did blog, more people would know about our cafe. <That’s OK Paul, we’ll try and let them know!>

Other hobbies?  I love ironing (my wife is editing this for me) I play bass in a band Kartel – probably my other serious passion, we have fun and play a few gigs every month or so.

Here is evidence of Paul’s musical talent!

Paul Drake guitar

Apple or Android?  Apple

Car/bus/bike?  Love to ride my bicycle but I’m petrified of magpies. It’s grown more irrational every year.

<You’re not alone on that front!>

magpie cyclist fear

Favourite TV show?   There are many – Peaky Blinders is prob my fav right now.

Favourite devices?  I’m old fashioned, still on an iPad but it’s the first ever edition so it’s kind of retro now (are they still trendy?)

Can we take a peek at your home screen?

Paul Drake screenshot

Most-used app?  the afl game score app, and Iview

Favourite social media?   Facebook <Paul runs a small business so he is extremely busy, without much time for social media, but you can find Plumb on Tennant on Facebook here>

What’s the first thing online you check each morning?  Facebook

What do you worry about at night?  There is a lot at the moment – have been working on getting mum secured in a new aged care facility so she can be properly looked after and will Hawks win the grand final.

Most exciting recent news?   We went on our first cruise at Christmas!

Paul Drake cruise ship

Ideal career? Something involving early retirement and travelling a lot

Here is a picture of Paul as he is about to dine at la jules vern restaurant in Paris

Paul Drake preferred picture

Recent book you recommend?  The adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow

Recent online video you laughed at?  ALS ice bucket challenge by Les Claypool  http://youtu.be/Tjd_hLtaQxA

Favourite food 🙂   Bacon bits (from Pizza Hut of old are the best), grated cheese and thousand island dressing.

Do yourself a favour and try out Plumb on Tennant for breakfast or lunch (or brunch) next time you’re in Fyshwick – you won’t be disappointed!

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You can find Plumb on Tennant via their website of via Urban Pantry.

 

Lachlan Café lunch specials (Barton)

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I’m back to this blog from a short work/family-focussed hiatus. I recently changed jobs and now work in Barton most days (as opposed to the centre of Canberra City, commonly referred to as Civic). This move means that I’m more likely to have lunch around the parliamentary triangle, but after focussing on Civic for most of last year that’s probably a good thing!

Although within walking distance of Kingston and Manuka, the many office blocks in and around Barton have historically relied on a smaller variety of lunchtime food options than workplaces in larger centres such as Civic, Belconnen, Woden and Tuggeranong, with their shopping centres and numerous community clubs.

That seems to have all changed recently with the invasion of hipper eateries like Brodburger and Double Drummer, which, along with new contractors and chefs in many of the local pubs, clubs and cafes, have re-energised the local food scene.

Even old and reliable food outlets like the famous Lachlan Café have been, through this newer competition, preparing and selling tastier, healthier and better value food. Food competition has been good for the workers in Barton.

My two most recent excursions to Lachlan Café have left me impressed and changed my previously created impression that this was more like a bistro diner than a café in a cosmopolitan urban centre.

A few weeks ago I enjoyed a very healthy baked fish with roasted vegetables. $11.80 for the fish and vegetables and $3.80 for a large 500ml can of drink was good value.

Lachlan Cafe grilled fish w roast vegies

Earlier this week I went back and liked the look of the chicken stir fry. For some reason I felt like having some veggies with it instead of rice – no problem! I also bought a diet ginger beer and the delicious and reasonably healthy lunch below set me back $14.

Lachlan Cafe chicken stri fry with veg

Lachlan Café is located on Brisbane Avenue near the corner of National Circuit and is a good option if your looking for fast and affordable food in the parliamentary triangle. Two #Canberra Beanies.

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.

banboocafelaksa

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

Gozleme Cafe on London Circuit Canberra

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Many Canberra connoisseurs of Turkish cuisine were delighted to see this new café open up on London Circuit in Civic recently. After decades of being spoilt by such fine establishments as Taze in Lonsdale Street, Ottoman and Mavi in Barton and Turkish Pide Houses in Jamison and Yarralumla (and other places like my favourite in Charnwood) Canberra fans of Turkish cuisine are frankly spoilt…. Not to mention the dozen or so Gozleme sellers that pop up at every national Multicultural Festival and Canberra Show!

I’ve walked past this place a few times already and noted praise from fellow Canberra foodie reviews in UrbanSpoon as well as amongst the flurry of recent cheap lunch reviews by John Griffiths in City News.

Anyway, everyone obviously LOVES their $8 Gozleme so I thought I should try something a bit different. I’m still struggling on a diet (and not progressing as well as I’d hoped, seemingly stalled after losing 4 kgs in a month and still well short of my 12 kg weightloss target). So I picked a couple of vegetarian options at the counter, paid $14 and sat down to a very impressive looking table.

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While sitting I had a sticky beak at the lunch specials menu, which is quite extensive.

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I decided I would park my strange diet brain and try the Gozleme Plate next time. A bit over my normal budget but perhaps a good reward for the end of a long hard week of salads and fruit snacks. Whilst in this daydream my lunch arrived and it looked good. The lentil paste/dip had just the right amount of peppers added to fire it up without making it too hot and the lentil crackers were very tasty. That said the main $8 plate left me hungry and I was happy I had also ordered the $6 side of bean salad. Both dishes tasted great and I would recommend them in a flash to any vegetarians looking of a good lunchtime meal. My problem was that they still left me a little bit hungry. I probably should have more than coffee and toast for breakfast!

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Gozleme Café is great. You can find more filling options or $14 in Civic but is good, healthy and fresh food served promptly and with a smile. Two #Canberra Beanies!

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Gozleme Cafe on Urbanspoon

Bad Dining? Sunrise Cafe

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The Sunrise café is worth a visit. Don’t be put off by the décor or lack of polish. It’s better value than the McDonalds up the road. My burger, chips and drink was only $7 and, as The Canberran explains below… it’s a cultural experience and window into a bygone era in our city.

The Canberran

A Canberra institution you never knew existed: Sunrise Cafe

Over the years we’ve seen a large number of venues come and go. Others appear to be dyed-in-the-wool institutions who maintain inexplicable popularity no matter how classless or banal they may be. Then there are a sacred few who, through sheer passion, hard work and the dedication of a loyal customer base, survive without many Canberrans even knowing of their existence.

It is in the spirit of this final category we’d like to introduce you to The Sunrise Cafe, the oldest friend you never knew you had.

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Laksa at Noodle Cafe in Garema Place

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Enjoyed a delicious spicy $10 Combination Laksa at the Noodle Cafe for late lunch in today.

This place is highly recommended. I recently rediscovered it after a recommendation from Eileen (@TheFoodAvenue).

What’s hard to believe is the friendly and quick service one receives for the $10 lunch specials (complimentary prawn crackers, cup with ice for your drink, table service).

Cans of drink are $2.50.

Despite the fact that I’ve blogged about this place already and awarded it two #Canberra Beanies already, I think I’ll be back on a regular basis and slowly work my way through their specials menu!

noodle cafe laksa

Noodle Cafe on Urbanspoon