Whether you are a local, a seasoned traveler or a first time visitor, Canberra has something for everyone, not least of all food lovers. As Australia’s largest inland city, Canberra boasts a fascinating history, a wealth of cultural and artistic attractions and a great number of restaurants, cafés and bars. Here are some of the finest restaurants Canberra has to offer.
The Sculpture Garden Restaurant, Australia’s National Gallery
Restaurant, Australian, $$$
On the shores of Lake Burley Griffin stands Australia’s National Gallery, home to vast collections of Australian and international art, as well as the Sculpture Garden Restaurant. Describing itself as ‘intriguing and playful’, the Sculpture Garden Restaurant caters for both art connoisseurs and families alike. As its name suggests, the restaurant is located next to the museum’s sculpture garden, where works by Auguste Rodin and Henry Moore can be enjoyed over a cup of coffee or a bite to eat.
Boffins is located on the grounds the Australian National University, and boasts a sophisticated menu to match. If you are in the mood for an intimate meal, Boffins offers a warm atmosphere and stunning array of modern Australian cuisine, all artfully constructed by the well-studied Head Chef, Anshul Chandna. Chandna’s experience working for major restaurants and five star hotels around the world has led him believe that ‘being a chef is like being a creator, putting life to things that people enjoy and experience’. This taste of luxury does not come cheap, but those in search of something a little less expensive, yet just as prestigious, head over to the Fellows Café where the menu changes daily and the leafy garden can be enjoyed over a quiet drink.
This is minimalist, urban dining at its finest. For something a little edgier than average, head down to Eightysix in Braddon for an evening of deliciously slow-cooked meats, local and international wines, and shared platters amongst friends. With the menu scrawled on blackboards, and continuously re-written throughout the evening, this is a restaurant that moves fast: dishes go quickly and seats are filled upon opening. This noisy and exciting new venture is the brainchild of Gus Armstrong and Sean Royle who, with their team of waiters, work to keep a bustling atmosphere alive. Described by one reviewer as ‘the dining equivalent of social media’, this is a restaurant that promises to keep on top of new culinary trends and offers its customers scrumptious feasts of duck confit, steak tartare, ceviche, and pickled pork terrine.
For the politically inclined, the Queen’s Terrace Café in Parliament House offers visitors a chance to soak up some of Canberra’s rich national heritage. Grab a bite to eat before joining one of the free Living Heritage Tours that promise behind the scenes access to Parliament House, and the Member’s Hall where you can view 4,000 artworks. Before wandering these hallowed halls, prepare yourself with a relaxing breakfast or lunch on the outside terrace. There’s no doubt that Queen’s Terrace Café does breakfast well: fluffy vanilla pancakes with berry compote, citrus cream and butterscotch drizzle; eggs Benedict with smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce; and, banana and coconut loaf are just some of the delicious treats on offer.
Courgette Restaurant has been the focus of a lot of hype, and for good reason too. It has twice been awarded the Sydney Morning Herald’s One Hat award, given to the country’s best restaurants. Courgette continues to receive praise from diners, who relish its simplicity, finesse and luxury. The man behind the masterpiece is head chef James Mussillon, who subscribes to a simple formula of combining the freshest produce with the most creative of twists. Trained in Europe, yet born and bred in Sydney, Mussillon titillates the taste buds with a variety of finely-executed dishes including Alaskan king crab tortellini, snowy river rainbow trout, and, Wagyu beef. His dishes may sound extravagant, but the restaurant’s atmosphere is not; Courgette invites its customers to lounge in its linen chairs and dine at a relaxed pace.
Sage Restaurant offers a delightful culinary experience for the eco-warrior in us all. Nestled in the heart of Canberra, this little gem sources its produce from its very own farm. Rarely does luxury-dining taste so good or so green. With a skilled team of chefs on hand, each dish is created with care and innovation, pairing unusual and unique tastes with a wealth of delicious wines, each selected by a well versed sommelier. Try the beach bananas with salted caramel, pork belly, broccoli couscous and lamb neck; and enjoy a clear conscience whilst you eat, safe in the knowledge that the dishes are of the highest standard and that you are helping the environment.
Amongst its many accolades, Rubicon has won Best Regional Wine List (Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide Awards), the Sydney Eats award, and been tipped as ‘Canberra’s best restaurant’. Its menu does not fail to disappoint: roast duck breast, crispy skin barramundi, pink snapper, and beef cheek are just some of the delights customers can expect to enjoy here. If an intimate dinner for two is what you are looking for, Rubicon has it all. With candlelit tables in a cosy setting, the restaurant offers fantastic service as well as a number of exciting packages. You can splurge on a night of extravagance with a seven course meal, and top it off with a wine package of three bottles carefully tailored to your menu.