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!
Banh Mi at Little Saigon
A few months ago observant food lovers in Civic noticed that the French-Morrocan restaurant Ardeche sadly closed its doors in Anislie Place (just near the Canberra Times fountain and main city-side entrance to the Canberra Centre. The mourning didn’t last long however when it was revealed that the replacement would be a re-incarnation of Little Saigon. Lovers of Vietnamese food would remember the earlier version of Little Saigon which once traded on Northbourne Avenue. The same family has regrouped and put their experience and love of Vietnamese food to good use with a new establishment. As well as the sit-down restaurant which serves Vietnamese favourites such as Pho Noodle Soup and Rice Paper Rolls they also operate a window for delicious Banh Mi (Pork rolls) which they sell for $6.
The Banh Mi is full of tasty ingredients.
The service is fast and friendly.
The Vietnamese menu is extensive.
I’ll come back to this post and add more pictures of a couple of other meals I have enjoyed here, including the Vietnamese classic Pho Noodle Soup.
This place is great and a welcome addition to the Canberra City Restaurant scene. Three #Canberra Beanies!
Tasty soup spread at Tosung Firewood BBQ Manuka
I’ve been using a busy job and lots of noisy kids to rationalise my lack of blogging recently. I know what the uber bloggers are thinking, pretty lame right?
Well today was one of those days that all bloggers will understand, when I stumbled upon a find that was so far up my alley that I immediately made plans to share it (and did on twitter and facebook) and spent a few minutes in the afternoon wondering if I would have time to add it to the blog later tonight. Well I am now doing exactly that (ie the kids are finally in bed!)
Today felt like a particularly cold day (even by Canberra standards) and I had a craving for soup!
I had noticed a few times in Manuka the Tosung Firewood BBQ Restaurant on the corner diagonally opposite Coles.
It’s a bit hard to miss the bright facade and the canvass banner advertising $10 lunch specials.
I was warmly greeted by the staff and invited to take a seat. Although it appeared there were no soups on the $10 specials menu I was keen to try their soups. I like Korean soup!
I ordered a bowl of spicy beef stock soup with potato noodles and waited patiently. A few minutes later I was surprised to be approached by a staff member carrying a very large tray. Not only did I get a piping hot freshly cooked soup but she also brought a bowl of rice, four small plates of condiments (including my favourite Korean side dish – kimchi!) as well as a large bottle of water.
The service is terrific for the price and beyond what I had expected. Safe to say my mind was blown by the value for money from a $15 order. the rice and condiments ensured I couldn’t finish the soup – a very unusual occurrence for me. The soup was hot and spicy and tasted divine.
I think I just found my new favourite cheap eat in Manuka and will definitely be back to try more of the menu, including the $10 lunch specials and some Korean BBQ!
Highly recommended – Three #Canberra Beanies!
If you’re ever in Sydney, check out B-Kyu blog for cheap eats ideas
One of my favourite non-Canberra food blogs is the Sydney-based street-food blog B-Kyu.
B-Kyu is “a celebration of the world’s great culinary underbelly by two Sydney-based travel nerds. They dig traditional foods, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and international supermarkets of mystery.”
They recently came to Canberra to check out our annual world-famous National Multicultural Festival and were appropriately impressed.
They also wisely set aside some time to visit a local favourite – The Burmese Curry Place.
I’ve blogged on it before here and it’s one of those classic authentic ethnic restaurants that is family run and gives you consistent value for money.
It’s great to see it get the national recognition it deserves!
Brindabella Café (Inside the DFAT building, Barton)
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:
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;
Delicious slow/cooked duck leg, potato gratin, rocket/Parmesan/pear salad only $10.50!
Delicious Malay-style chicken curry with potato, coconut and rice. Only $12 with a 500ml drink!
Only $12 for 500ml sugar-free mother & a large plate of 5 tasty salads.
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)
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.
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 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.
Lunch specials at Francisco’s Mexican Cantina in Manuka
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.
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).
But I persevered and began to feel the early stages of a food coma after returning to work 🙂
I will definitely return to try other variations as well as other items from the specials board.
Francisco’s can also be found on twitter @FranciscosMex, Facebook and via their website.
They also serve a mean cup of 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!
Lunchtime Specials at Plumb on Tennant in Fyshwick
Three #Canberra Beanies
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:
I enjoyed a delicious $10 grilled scotch fillet burger with a side of $3 fries!
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.
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!
Lunchtime special barramundi at the City Hellenic Club
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!
Lunchtime Laksa at Cafe Bamboo Braddon
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.
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.
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!