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!
Yesterday I enjoyed a brief lunchtime escape to the City Hellenic Club. Prompted by the recent news that Helena and Vicky from My Kitchen Rules are about to descend on Canberra and turn us all into Tzatziki connoisseurs for a day I thought I should catch up on some Greek cuisine at one of my local community clubs.
I’m a member of the Hellenic Club (actually I’m a member of half a dozen Canberra Community Clubs because I think they’re mostly awesome and we’re lucky to have them in Canberra) so I strolled in without much fanfare. The first striking impression is that there doesn’t seem to be much Greek food on the menu at this club.
You can find the menu online here and I’ve reproduced it below:
Certainly no tzatziki! I’ve had some great Greek-style meals at the Hellenic Club in Woden and I’m guessing the menu here just reflects the demand from the city-based (mainly Anglo-Australian) clientele. I’ll be visiting the club in Woden next week so I might ask the management about this if I get a chance. Yes, I love Greek food enough to be that annoying. In fact there isn’t a Mediterranean cuisine I don’t devour if given the opportunity, probably because mum was such a versatile cook who taught us to appreciate good food from the whole region.
OK, what did grab my eye (and stomach) was the lunch specials! Only $10 for grilled barramundi, served with salad and chips! (and if you look closely at the menu you can see this delicious meal is usually almost twice as expensive.
Both my colleague chose the dish and we both enjoyed it. The service took a little bit longer than we expected but it was lunchtime and the bistro area got crowded pretty quickly. It was certainly good value and I would highly recommend it. I’m sure I’ll go back and try more lunch specials here. Two Canberra Beanies!
I was delighted to hear last week that Helena and Vikki, who competed in the 2014 series of the 7 Networks, My Kitchen Rules, will be honorary Canberrans for a day later this month when they host a dinner/masterclass at the Hellenic club in Woden.
The cooking sensations will talk about their Greek heritage, their inspirations and their reality TV journey. The popular TV personalities will demonstrate how to prepare and cook some of their favourite meals just for you. You may also hear about their brand new cookbook project and share a few laughs while you enjoy your three course feast.
Thanks to the geniuses marketing this special event I’m honoured to have been offered the chance to blog about it and interview these two lovely women. Like all Canberrans I was very disappointed to watch our two local representatives Andrew Hinge & Emelia Vimalasiri bundled out in the first elimination. I’ve since had the opportunity to meet Emelia through the HumanBrochure program and she is a lovely person and great cook. But the two young Greek-Australians from Melbourne stole the show as far as I was concerned. I loved their honest Mediterranean banter as well as their cuisine. There’s a lot of similarities between Greek and Lebanese cuisine, so maybe that explains part of it. I also have a habit of always barracking for the new-Australians on reality television, probably still scarred from growing up in Australian suburbia in the 70s & 80s 🙂
I’m looking forward to asking Helena and Vicki some tough questions about their cooking, the frenemies on the TV reality show, as well as their views on Canberra and it’s growing sophistication as a cultural and foodie destination. In the meantime, I have to brush up on some facts and figures about My Kitchen Rules.
When: Saturday 30 August 2014
Where: Hellenic Club, Matilda Street, Woden ACT
Cost: This is a ticketed event for the public. Tickets are $100 and include a 3 course meal and wine match, and a masterclass by Helena and Vikki.
Full menu a info: http://www.hellenicclub.com.au/events/enjoy-dinner-helena-vikki/
Enemies or Frenemies? 🙂 so where My Kitchen Rules ‘rivals’ Chloe and Kelly and Helena and Vikki frenemies or clever TV mates? You might have to come along to the dinner to find out.
Some background on Helena and Vicki:
Helena and Vikki, the “sassy twins” as they call themselves, ooze confidence. Multi-talented; Helena with a background in radio was a host with Adelaide’s FRESH FM, and Vikki employed her sharp eye for aesthetics to study graphic design. These identical twins not only look alike, but think alike – one, an extension of the other – and nothing quite represents that like their love of food. They thrive on elevating fresh, clean flavours into next level cuisine. Their passion for cooking – in particular authentic Greek food – has been an inspiring journey that has been passed down from their Mother and Grandmother.
Family means the world Helena and Vikki, having lost their father when they were just 12, the ambitious twins matured quickly and possess and strong pull to connect with relatives in Greece as often as possible and forever strive to make their mother proud. The twins made more than just their mother proud with their recent stint on Channel Seven’s ‘My Kitchen Rules’, the audience darlings not only brought incredible food to Australian screens, but a sense of humour, fun and enviable style.
Greek culture and the sharing of food through generations play an important role in their cooking style today. “I love food, as it has been a huge part of my life since I can remember. Growing up in Adelaide; South Australia as a Greek girl I have learnt that food is your home” says Vikki. Helena shares the same sentiment “My Koula took me under her wing and taught me the essentials of Greek food, which I will carry on through generations. The best memories I have are of food bringing the family together as one”. Currently working on their debut cook book with Hachette Australia Books, the journey is far from over for Helena and Vikki; in fact this is simply the beginning of their careers in food.
Here’s a post from facebook about the event as well Elias Hallaj Facebook
Did you know there’s a world-famous foodie in Canberra with an amazingly popular blog and about 13,000 followers on twitter? Don’t feel embarrassed because until I started this blog a few months ago neither did I! What really shocked me though was that I knew her. Anna Johnston is the friendly face that many people in Canberra who attend big events at the Australian National Press Club know and love as their awesome Events Manager. I’ve recently had the good fortune to get to know Anna even better after I started subscribing to her blog AND after having the pleasure of her company at a few Canberra Human Brochure events over recent weeks.
For those of you who may not know Anna (where have you been?) here are a few of her social media details. I strongly advise that you follow them all. As well as being a very entertaining writer she has a real eye for great photos and tells a great yarn!
Hey Anna, who are you? Events Architect – Yogi – Beer Connoisseur – Coffee Tester – Chef – Boozy Foodie – Blogger
My chefing career started at the National Convention Centre where I trained as an apprentice & fell in love with function work. The thrill of running multiple events at the same time & working in big teams to bring everything in on time is, without a doubt a total buzz!
Working with a huge team of burley Chefs who managed to describe most mouth-watering, taste tantalising and exquisite dishes prefixed by a four-letter word or two was a little challenging, but loads of fun & an experience I’ll treasure forever, I think my time in the kitchens kicked the Princess right out of me & taught me all about food.
After a decade in the kitchen & a bit more study, I packed away my cheffies & followed the sweet lure of Hotel & Event Management. Cooking professionally was a great experience & it certainly opened the door to lots of fun working holidays abroad but I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it was to dress like a girl again, my love affair with hospitality & function work cranked up to the next level.
Now, as the Events Manager at the National Press Club of Australia, if I’m not spending time with clients designing their dream wedding, live broadcast or gala event, you’ll find me hanging out ‘behind the scenes’ creating stories for my website – http://www.shenannagans.com
Where do you live? I am a Kambah-ran… #SouthSidePride
How long have you been blogging? This time around I’ve been blogging for 4 months, but on my old site The Hospitality Guru, a site that was very much food centric, about 3 years. With shenANNAgans I decided to move away from the strong focus on food and share more of my passions in the events arena. It is my brag book, my journal, my (occasional) ranting space and my creative corner of the interwebs.
Other hobbies? Bikram Yoga
Apple or Android? Apple
Car/bus/bike? Car – I own a mini, super fun and zippy.
Favourite TV show? Mood pending – How I met your Mother, Sons of Anarchy, Chicago Fire, Pretty Little Liars, Smash, Suits, Gilmore Girls, Sex in the City…. The list goes on. Currently I’m watching Vampire Diaries.
Favourite devices? IPhone & MacBook Air
Can we take a peek at your home screen?
Favourite social media? Facebook & Instagram
What’s the first thing online you check each morning? I have this weird ritual, in this order I check my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Email & then watch my fav YouTubers to kick off my day.
What do you worry about at night? I often think about what I’m going to wear or eat, or who I might meet tomorrow, or great blog post ideas. For the most part I’m not really big on worrying, I figure the problem will still be there tomorrow, so might as well get a good nights rest and deal with any issues with fresh eyes.
Most exciting recent news? So much awesome-ness happening in my world at the moment! Work wise, we won Best Event/Conference Venue at the ClubsACT Awards, and we are up for Best Wedding Venue at the Restaurant & Catering Awards on Monday.
I am one of the lucky locals to participate in the Human Brochure, I’ve been named as a ‘Champion’ for the St Vincent de Paul Community Sleep Out, and I’ve booked an amazing month long holiday abroad over the Christmas / New Year period. Life’s Good!
Ideal career? Right now, I am working in it, I am involved in some pretty spectacular events, it is seriously the coolest job. Just last week I met both John Howard and Bob Hawke, I’ve assisted in planning massive gigs like the Bill Gates Press Club Address, had a cup of tea with Ita Buttrose, I get to eat some of the most amazing foods, try wines from all over the globe and work with the best team. Not only am I spoilt with all that, I get to meet great people like you. <She is sooo nice! 🙂 >
Recent book you recommend? Haven’t read a book in yonks, but one that has stuck in my mind, Born to Run. It’s about a small group of the world’s top ultra-runners (and the awe-inspiring author) who make the treacherous journey into the canyons to try to learn about the secrets of the mysterious tribe of Mexican Indians, the Tarahumara, and then take them over a course 50 miles long.
Recent online video you laughed at? Dear Kitten – Adorable and funny too.
Favourite Food? Whhhaaaatttt??? How the heck do I answer that question…. I love food!
A stand out meal this week was the La Ionica chicken breast with cauliflower puree, seared Hervey Bay scallops, sugar cured speck and fermented black garlic. Followed by a Saffron Brulee, citrus segments, Aperol (A blood orange Aperitif) sorbet. Spectacular! The Chefs at the Press Club are some of the most talented and clever cooks I have ever met, every meal served is a culinary masterpiece, I am utterly spoilt, they often make an extra plate for me so I know exactly what I am selling. Brilliant right?!
She’s cool and she’s one of many wonderful Canberra foodies. Follow her now 🙂
Also, Anna forgot to mention an important upcoming event at the national Press Club, BUT I WON’T … attention foodies!
National Press Club Annual Wine and Food Spectacular!
Meet the makers, sample the wares and order direct!
Friday 11 July 2014 5.30pm – 9.00pm
Our famous Wine and Food Spectacular returns on FRIDAY JULY 11, 2014! 20 plus stalls of fabulous beverages and fine foods for you to sample, and you can order direct! Meet the merchants, sample their wares and order some for home.
Just $15.00 for members and $25.00 for your guests.
If you’re looking for a cheap meal on a Monday evening or a Tuesday evening in Civic or just can’t be bothered cooking at home before or after some shopping on the way home from the office, here’s a couple of options:
1) Monday nights: $4 Burgers at the Uni Pub. Pretty hard to beat. Particularly if you live the life I lived while I was studying engineering at uni… i.e. spending most Monday nights at the Uni Pub (different uni though 🙂
Anyways, I tried one of their burgers a while back (check it out here) and it was quite ok. Beer was cold too!
2) Tuesday nights: $7.90 Chicken Schnitty (with chips & salad) OR Battered Fish & Chips (with salad) at the City Labor Club. They might charge you a bit extra for sauce but you’ll walk away full and satisfied. They also have a Movie Meal Deal with Dendy that includes a main meal and a movie ticket at the nearby cinema for only $15. Bargain!
Came across this interesting blog recently. One of the reviews is for one of my favourite lunch spots in Civic, the City Labor Club.
I think the price may have gone up slightly since this review was written a couple of years ago. That said, they’re still hard to beat for value and taste.
I’ll have to go back and find the photo of my last schnitzel there 🙂
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.