“Bambusa in Manuka is a welcome addition to a dining scene that has chopped and changed too much of late,” writes dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON
IF Braddon developer Nik Bulum does anything in Canberra, he pushes boundaries and changes landscapes.
He also takes full advantage of development sites he has bought before development actually begins – as Nik has with the old Canberra City Bowls Club in Ainslie, which he will eventually transform into a new precinct.
In the meantime, the space has gone bonkers with a pop-up café and bar by the same name, an initiative with Brodburger owners Joelle Bao-Jaoude and Sascha Brodbeck.
Bonkers is quirky, playful – indeed, a bit crazy – and a throwback to the best of the ’80s.
The menu is loaded with carbs and some dishes have kooky names such as “Schnit Face”, “Fries Out Loud Pizza” and the “Get Bonked Caesar”. Expect dishes such as meatballs, pizza, lasagne, steak, burgers and a classic bacon, lettuce and tomato.
I’ve been a couple of times and Bonkers can’t be accused of not loading up plates with grub. That includes the tower (and do think “tower”) of veggie nachos.
On my first visit, I was overwhelmed by my fish and chips – three massive pieces of fish and loads of thick, chunky chips dished up in a silver basket ($20). The idea of emperor fish attracted me, as did the champagne batter, although two pieces were far too overcooked for my liking.
Be prepared if you order the big daddy hotdog ($28). We’re talkin’ a 30-centimetre dog loaded with coleslaw, bacon, cheese, onions and chips. It’s not for the faint hearted.
The jaffle bar is pretty cool. You choose three ingredients from an impressive line-up of 20-plus options ($8). A lovely lunch option if you don’t want to get stuffed.
And desserts? Banana fritter mixed with a banana split (moment on the lips, lifetime on the hips), chocolate sundae or waffles with the lot.
The operation at Bonkers is simple. Order and pay at the bar. Grab a seat and take it from there.
The structure of the old Bowls Club hasn’t really been altered, although the pokie machines and tired carpet have been ditched. The transformed décor primarily features odds ‘n’ sods furniture, chandeliers, tableware and cutlery – not much matches, but that’s part of the mischievous personality that is Bonkers.
One wall is loaded with vintage plates, some no doubt gathered from trips to op shops, and you can write your own thoughts on them if you’re in the mood to entertain yourself. Or perhaps you’d prefer to pinpoint where you were born on the six-metre map of the world.
At certain times, Bonkers is set up so you can dine on the bowls lawn, on a picnic rug, enjoying the beautiful sunsets.
Bonkers, Elder Street, Braddon. Call 0407 283218. Open Wednesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner. Breakfast on Saturday. High tea Sunday.