Hip, hot and very, very cool

WITH digital wall art, Barcelona-inspired gardens and grass inside change rooms, these venues have taken Canberra’s dining, drinking and shopping experiences to new highs. On-trend LAURA EDWARDS discovers the new guide to Canberra cool.

Mocan and Green Grout
NewActon

Mocan and Green Grout

Mocan and Green Grout

TUCKED away on the corner of the NewActon precinct, cafe Mocan and Green Grout has quickly become a firm favourite for Canberra coffee-lovers and pedal pushers alike.

What began as a simple hole-in-the-wall espresso bar has now expanded to a hipster hangout: wood panels and pots of fresh flowers hang from the ceiling, while quirky statues of hands reach out at you on the walls.

Described as “drinking the best coffee of your life in your best friend’s kitchen”, it’s a cosy fit-out that’s on trend with the rest of the growing NewActon precinct.

Mocan and Green Grout, 19 Marcus Clarke Street

Playground
Civic

WITH a hopscotch court, colourful stools and cute, white picket fences, this trendy martini and tapas bar looks like a whole lot of fun, but co-owner Antony Arena says it has a deeper meaning.

Playground

Playground

“On one side of the bar we’ve got a white wall and black tree painted on and digital art with a bird, it’s all very conservative and responsible on that side, while the other side is very playful, with all the colours and textures of the timber,” he says.

“In a sense we’re acknowledging both sides of the adult mind, but it’s a place you come to play, not to be conservative.”

Playground, U 1/25 Garema Place, 6262 7171

Smoque
Civic

WALK past Smoque on any given lunch hour and the line will be well out the door.

But is it worth the wait?

“Oh, you forget about that once you’re in there,” gushes many a queue-waiter.

It’s exactly the type of response owners Ash Fanning and Grant Kells were after when they launched the southern American barbecue eatery in October last year.

The design of Smoque is casual but quirky, with timber floorboards and cactuses popping up in corners.

“We worked hard to reuse a lot of furniture, some of it is from Texas, it’s a bit eclectic, but it’s got the southern influence,” Ash says.

Smoque

Smoque


Smoque, Baileys Arcade, Shop 2, 131 London Circuit  6162 3350

Alice Be Curious
NewActon

IF you’re lucky enough to stumble across this hidden gem, you’ll discover what is seemingly an ordinary loft apartment is one of Canberra’s best kept shopping secrets.

Alice Be Curious

Alice Be Curious

Snugly placed in the Mews complex between the Metropolitan buildings, clothing boutique Alice Be Curious relies mainly on “word of mouth”, says owner Daniella Jukic.

“I didn’t want to be like every other store in the mall, I wanted something that could be a bit different, I was inspired by Melbourne where you walk down a laneway and see a shop you don’t expect to be there,” she says.

With faux grass in the changerooms and a secret garden out the front, Daniella says she set out to create an “Alice in Wonderland” experience for customers.

Alice be Curious, U3/1 Mews East, 6161 1544, www.alicebecurious.com

Lonsdale Street Traders
Braddon

LONSDALE Street Traders is the new one-stop shop for the trendy Canberran.

Lonsdale Street Traders

Lonsdale Street Traders

Described as “achingly cool”, the warehouse includes an organic bakery, florist, fashion stores, homewares and even a hair salon, all curated to suit an overarching aesthetic.

Creator Nick Bulum says the Traders is “a way to keep local independent stores alive.”

Offerings are unique and considered, inviting shoppers to step away from the standard mall and step outside the retail square.

Scented shoes, faux grass-covered stools and timber sunglasses are just some of the more unusual buys.

Lonsdale Street Traders, 27 Lonsdale Street.

Two before Ten
City West

TWO before Ten’s revamp in July, 2011, has swiftly taken it from a place to “grab and go” to a place to stay put.

Two Before Ten

Two Before Ten

The funky new design is reminiscent of many Melbourne cafes, with innovative graphics behind the serving counter, great lighting, a cool slate wall, and chairs made by local designers.

“Before in Canberra there seemed to be a lot of big, Sydney-style venues,” co-owner Jarrod Deaton says.

“But now with us and other places in Braddon, it’s more of a Melbourne feel, with small intimate venues – places where you can sit casually, you don’t have to get dressed up and be seen.”

Two before Ten, 40 Marcus Clarke Street, 6162 1260

Soju Girl
Civic

Energetic staff, inventive cocktails and a fusion of modern Asian food – Soju Girl is a fusion in itself – it’s a cocktail and wine bar, a restaurant, a bistro and a gallery.

Soju Girl

Soju Girl

The space is certainly cool: dimly lit, with fluorescent, lime-green graffiti on the wall, leather furniture, and a colourful cocktail bar.

Co-owner Grant Macara says it’s “a place that dares to be different. I think Canberrans are starting to look for something a little left of centre.”

Soju Girl, 41/43-45 Northbourne Avenue, 6257 5328

Honkytonks
Civic

SINCE opening in October, 2011, you’re hard-pressed to find a spare seat at this bustling bar.

Honkytonks

Honkytonks

“We don’t really have a typical crowd, we have such a diverse mix of people here. And that’s sort of what makes this place work,” co-owner Laurence Kain says.

The venue design, using recycled materials, has a “relaxed Barcelona garden” vibe, says Laurence.

“We focused a lot on making it a comfortable, cool and relaxed place to be in visually and also to actually sit in,” he says.

Honkytonks, 17 Garema Place 6251 7788

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