Canberra. My hometown, and also home of some great cafes and restaurants, but only in certain areas around the city and inner suburbs. Those of us who reside or visit the outer suburbs have often been left to venture in to get decent coffee or food. Not anymore! A renaissance is occurring at the local shops in Canberra!
Lyneham with Tilley’s, O’Connor with All Bar Nun and Flat Heads, Bernadette’s at Ainslie, the hubs of Dickson, with it’s huge array of choices, but widely known as Canberra’s answer to Chinatown, Kingston and Manuka..all offer a huge range of options, but sadly not that useful to those living in the further suburbs, apart from places that I know of, such as Rama’s at Pearce shops, and the Noodle House at Tuggeranong, that’s really it! But this past weekend on a brief visit to visit family, everyone was talking about the gem at Chifley Shops: A Bite to Eat.
I was cynical. Chifley shops? There’s been nothing there but a hairdresser and the local mini mart for years! Too close to a monolith of a shopping centre, so couldn’t compete. But I was proven wrong.
My first attempt to visit on Saturday for lunch was dashed. Closed for a wedding reception. Odd, but a good sign nonetheless, especially in Canberra when there are a couple of very good reception venues such as the Hyatt where these types of events normally occur.
So, I tried again the next morning with my Mum in tow. Success! 9am we rocked up, both hungry! We quickly found a seat amongst masses of tables with reserved signs on them. Unlike Sydney, this restaurant happily accepts bookings.
Although it appeared quite empty on arrival, there was a steady stream of patrons filing in, so by the time we left, it was quite full.
As is obvious from the pics, a Bite to Eat has gone with a cool, retro vintage style with a mish mash of furnishings and serving ware throughout. My favourite touch, was pots of herbs as table centrepieces, with basil and thyme being the two I spot first. I also loved a strange little moose head clock on the wall…
But on to the food! This is a breakfast menu with a twist. yes, there’s bacon and eggs, but their version is done with either a basic b & e combo on toast or at the other end of the scale, the most amusingly named Fatty Boom Ba: bacon, eggs, herb & garlic mushrooms, lamb chipolatas, roasted chats, avocado and caramelised onion! oh, and don’t forget the toast! Now we didn’t order this, but next time, maybe…what we did order is their south of the border inspired tortilla and fritters.
I went with the roasted capsicum, mozzarella cheese and coriander tortillas with herbed jalapeños scrambled eggs and dressed rocket…
Yum, Yum, yum! these were fantastic, and such a different twist on boring old breakfast…The tortilla was lovely and crisp and didn’t feel like it was fried (maybe baked instead?), and had enough innards to satisfy. The eggs were good, though the herby flavouring (no jalapeno I could detect, wasn’t hot) wasn’t my favourite…I perhaps would have put some jalapeno in the tortilla instead and left the eggs plain…the rocket salad on the side was great and made me feel very virtuous, and thankfully wasn’t overdressed, as many plated salads are these days…I really, really liked the tortilla and will try this at home!
Mum wanted to have what I was having but insisted that she order something different! She (or I) chose the sweet corn and polenta fritters with rocket, guacamole, and a tomato, chilli and coriander jam:
Now, these fritters aren’t as food porn like as Bill’s but they are gorgeous, soft and tasty, the avocado was super tasty but the tomato, chilli and coriander jam was a standout, great punchy, sweet but tart flavour with just the right amount of heat.
The coffee was great, and contrary to other reviews I found trawling the net, was really good. Good crema, not burnt or bitter..apparently they use locally roasted Cosmorex…
On our way out, mum was keen to purchase some of their muffins. We grabbed a couple of apple and mixed berry muffins, still warm from the oven. They were normal size, as opposed to the mass produced cafe muffins, and they were obviously homemade. I’m sorry, no pic! But highly recommended.
They are also baking a range of Christmas puddings for local gourmands including a plum and sago, and a Mexican chocolate! Sounds intriguing and tasty!
The thing that stands out about this place, apart from it’s location, is it’s double life as a bar! I reckon this would be a great place to hang out, and will definitely try dinner next time I’m in town.
A Bite To Eat
Shop 8, Chifley Shops
02 6260 3703