The Vietnamese Down Under (Magpies City Club Canberra)
Tucked away downstairs under the Magpies City Club in Canberra is Vietnamese Down Under. This place has had a few different incarnations, most recently as “The Underground”. It’s easy to miss it unless you’re a Garema Place regular and/or you notice the bright red A-frames in Bunda Street (next to Gus’s cafe) or in Garema Place near the Magpies Club Entrance.
If like me you’re normally staring at your phone while you walk, you could be forgiven for walking straight past and not noticing the front door.
Come on inside! Don’t be put of by the 70s-style club decor of the majestic stair case. Think how much easier it is to clean after a big Saturday night!
Personally I think there are more attractive community club venues in Civic (The City Labor Club in City Walk and Hellenic Club on Mort St for example, both of which also have awesome lunch specials) but variety is the spice of life! And how many other tasty and affordable Vietnamese restaurants in Canberra also serve schooners of beer at club prices? None!
The menu on the wall reveals a large array of Vietnamese favourites at affordable prices.
I have been here a few times and can attest that the $10 pho soup is quite good. Particularly on cold wintery Canberra days when you want a warmer and quieter lunch venue well away from the wind!
The service is good and fast and I will be back for more. For taste and value the Vietnamese Down Under gets Three Canberra Beanies!
$12.90 Vegie Burger at Smoque, City Walk
I’ve been to Smoque a few times with friends and colleagues and although the food usually tastes great I have found it a bit pricey in the past. That said their lunch specials are always pretty good value and worth a try.
Today I enjoyed the Vegie Burger, which looks and tastes great. For $12.90 it is a great mushroom-based burger that includes plenty of rocket, pumpkin, zucchini and Halloumi cheese (one of my favourites). It comes in a tasty bun with a pickle on the side and I highly recommend it as a healthy variation for burger enthusiasts in civic.
Gozleme Cafe on London Circuit Canberra
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.
While sitting I had a sticky beak at the lunch specials menu, which is quite extensive.
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!
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!
Mon Thani Curry Palace, City Walk
I recently enjoyed the amazing flavours of Mon Thani (City Walk, Civic) for lunch. Inspired by an old review on the Riot ACT (which you can find on the page below) I decided to check out this quiet restaurant with the hand-written signage pasted to the windows.
This is totally no-frills. You order and pay at the counter from a limited choice of 7-8 dishes. No entrees. No deserts. But wow! tastes great!
For only $8 you eat in with your choice of two curries and a generous serving of rice. Drinks start at $2 so this is a genuine $10 nutritional meal of internationally renown cuisine (Burmese and Thai) that will leave you satisfied and happy.
Am surprised that this place is still relatively unknown but think it might have something to do with the lack of publicity. It wasn’t even listed on Urban Spoon (until I added it a few days ago, along with the link below). I now need to remember to look up the correct phone number my next chance in Garema place. Urban Spoon only lets you add restaurants if you can include their phone number. Can you tell I didn’t know it? Before you ask, yes I tried to look it up online to no avail 🙂
Here’s a link to the Riot ACT review of Mon Thani
Canberra City Labor Club lunchtime specials
The specials board outside the City Labor Club is always worth a read.
The City Labor Club doesn’t have much competition from other community clubs in the civic area. There is an outpost of the Woden-based Hellenic Club and a Magpies Club but they are both smaller and less well-known and further away from the prime position next to the Merry Go Round in the centre of town at Garema Place. For the uninitiated, Canberra’s Community Clubs are unique in Australia. They have privileged access to gaming machines in return for community funding and not-for-profit constitutions. Their boards are elected by the members and all profits are in theory reinvested into the club or the community.
They are also well-regarded for affordable food and drinks. Most adult Canberrans are members of at least two of their local clubs. On this recent Monday I paid $9.90 for a chicken Parmy and $4.50 for a welcome cold schooner of VB. Both looked & tasted great. 3 #Canberra Beanies.
I go this club regularly for lunch and am rarely disappointed. At other times I’ve had $9 meat-lovers pizza. My friends have also ordered healthy $14 salmon and avocado salad.
But I tend to go back for the parmy. The hot one is particularly good.