When Ha Ha meets ho ho

WHEN we walked into Ha Ha Bar, we thought: “Fantastic”. The lounge area looked like a cruisey place to hang out, the contemporary fitout pleasing and the outdoor deck areas, with views of Lake Ginninderra, picturesque. 

It was our first visit, but we had heard a lot about this buzzy Belconnen bar.

We chose to sit outside on one of the two main deck areas, near the water.

I’m going to put something on the table right now. There was a big Christmas party at Ha Ha Bar that Saturday afternoon.

Great to see, except it became apparent that serving this boisterous crowd was numero uno priority for staff.

Eventually, we received food menus, but had to ask – and wait – for a wine list.

We liked the all-day brunch options, including the Moorish eggs ($15), braised beans with fried eggs in a baked tortilla shell, and the Italian sausage with lentils, garlic mash potato and red wine jus ($15).

However, we were there for lunch and wondered about the daily specials. We found our waiter (again) who announced quail was the special.

“How is it cooked?,” we asked.


“Any other specials?”

“Surf and turf.”

And with that, our waiter, who we thought looked stressed, disappeared.

My friend loves quail and so went to read the specials board herself. Yumbo – crispy Cajun fried and deboned quail served with vodka and lychee mayo and micro herb salad ($17 for entrée). I decided on the pale-ale battered fish and chips ($18).

The café kindly moved us inside when it started raining and that was when the waiting game really began.

After finishing our first glass of Bourke Street chardonnay (only $7 a glass) we ordered a second and became fascinated with the lonely dish sitting under the heat lamp. I’d bet it was one of ours and was right.

That dish was the quail (only partially deboned), which was no longer crispy. The poor micro herbs (a garnish not a salad) had sadly passed away. It was a shame since the flavours were delightfully delicate. My piping hot fish and chips came with a crisp salad, light dressing and decent chips. I shared with my friend so she wouldn’t starve.

We pointed out that the dish had been sitting under the lamp for too long and were told we wouldn’t be charged for our second glasses of wine. We would have returned the quail, but we were over the experience by then.

When I went to pay, I noted we were overcharged and I waited while the bill was corrected.

Ha Ha’s website says it’s the “perfect sanctuary to mingle over a long lunch”. Look, I know it’s Christmas and it’s busy, but is that really the ultimate excuse?

Photos by Silas Brown

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