food

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.

mandalay

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:

Ac_dfat

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.

 

 

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.

YWCA Frugal Feast Stories & Sandwiches

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Had the pleasure of attending the Canberra YWCA Frugal Feast Recipe Book Launch at the ANU Food Co-Op this evening. In attendance were some of the amazing women who keep the wheels of this important womens advocacy group turning, as well as a couple if special guests: ACT Minister Shane Rattenbury and Canberra Times Food Editor Natasha Rudra.

The crowd was also entertained with melodies from lovely Cheeky Violets.

This book and other special YWCA events from 17-24 Nov will raise money & food for their annual Christmas appeal. Contact the YECA for more info of to make a contribution.

*I’m doing this on an iPhone so will return later to add links 🙂

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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.

buritto bowl 1

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).

buritto bowl 2

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

buritto bowl 3

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

Meet a #Canberra Foodie: Andrew Barr (@ABarrMLA)

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In a recent post I opined about “what makes a foodie?” and concluded that it is usually someone who has a passion for good food and enjoying life. Foodies can be anyone from students, to food professionals to politicians! One person I have known for a long time through work and who I know to be very passionate about food and wine and entertainment in Canberra is Andrew Barr, who also happens to be the ACT Deputy Chief Minister. As a busy politician Andrew often doesn’t have the time to pursue all his passions and is often served food he hasn’t ordered, but he only ever seems to have good things to say about the food and entertainment scene in and around Canberra.

Here’s a photo of him recently enjoying a guest appearance next to a world-famous Italian Chef at Canberra’s Capital Region Farmer’s Market.

Andrew Barr

So Andrew, unlike previous foodies you probably don’t need to tell me much about yourself. Because you’re the Deputy Chief Minister I think you may be the first Canberra Foodie I have interviewed who has their own Wikipedia page and Personal Website with a very detailed bio!

Age?  41

Where do you live?  Dickson

How long have you been blogging?  7 years of social media addiction

Other hobbies?  travel, movies, sport, wine, music

Apple or Android?  Apple

Car/bus/bike?  Walking!

Favourite TV shows?  Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Alpha House, Looking and Betas

Favourite devices?  iPad and iPhone

Can we take a peek at your home screen?

Andrew Barr screen shot

Most-used app?  Music

Favourite social media?  Facebook

What’s the first thing online you check each morning?  Email and social

I hear you’re a bit of a local wine connoisseur. Which are your favourite Canberra wines?  Helm Riesling, Eden Road Canberra Shiraz, Ravensworth Shiraz Viognier and Mount Majura Riesling.

When you can find time to sample them, which are your favourite Canberra restaurants? Monster, Morks, Taze

I have to ask you a question about music where the answer is NOT The Rolling Stones! What are favourite albums of 2014 (so far)?  Turn Blue – The Black Keys and Built on Glass – Chet Faker

Recent book you recommend?  Barracuda – Christos Tsioklas

Favourite film of 2014 (so far)?  The Grand Budapest Hotel

Favourite food? 🙂 avocado

You can follow Andrew Barr on Twitter and on Facebook and also subscribe to email updates and news at his website

 

Here are some culinary highlights from our Deputy Chief Minister’s twitter feed:

And here is his recent announcement regarding the new “Westside” pop-up project in West basin, which will feature live entertainment, streetfood and pop-up bars. It’s scheduled to kick off at the same time as Floriade in just over a month!