Nothing fancy out on the patio

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OFF to the nurseries at Pialligo we trundled, initially to get some plants.

It ended up that lunch was on the menu at the rustic Tulips Café, a place that aims to make you feel comfortable with its easy-going character and home-style, down-to-earth cooking.

Nurseries are always lovely places to have lunch and pretty Pialligo has a couple of cafés, including one at Rodney’s Nursery.

I believe the oldest one is Tulips, which has been serving customers for more than two decades.

A family business, Tulips has plenty of outdoor dining to allow diners to enjoy the surrounds. Tulips has three large eating areas – two outdoors (one on an upper deck and one patio area) and a substantial dining area inside. All have their own character and none are particularly fancy, but that’s by design. We ate on the patio, surrounded by lush greenery.

The lunch menu is straightforward and compact. Steak sandwich ($17.50), chicken open grill ($14), a range of burgers served with chips (mostly $13.50), some sandwiches and a couple of salads including a healthy-sounding roasted pumpkin served with baby spinach, pesto, fetta and pine nuts ($13.50 or $16.50 with chicken).

My friend’s fish and chips were fine – not overly greasy and just the right portion for a midday meal. The dish came with a lovely salad, big on crunch.

The burger range features beef, Texas (fancied up with salsa, sour cream and avocado), veggie and tandoori. I settled on the tandoori, wanting to spice up my day a bit.

The chicken was nicely marinated and smothered in a creamy cucumber and yoghurt sauce. It was served in a big, big bun with crispy lettuce and a sweet mango chutney. It was big on taste, but my chicken wasn’t cooked all the way through, which was disappointing. I had to deconstruct it to see which bit was safe to eat and which bit had to be put aside.

The children’s menu looks fun ($5 to $7.50) and the tradie’s specials, for breakfast and lunch, are great deals (if you’re a tradie, that is).
Tulips Café has an open kitchen as you walk in – tiny as and quite busy since most things are made on site.

Perhaps “hectic” is a better description than “quite busy”, even though the place wasn’t packed when we were there. We felt anxious being served (at the counter) and it took ages for our food to come out… so long, in fact, that I didn’t have the time or patience to return my burger for one cooked right through.

Tulips Café, 6249 6118, 8am to 4pm, seven days a week.

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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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