Darling diner with a difference

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IT hasn’t taken long for those in Fyshwick to sniff out a new, delightful eatery and, on my first visit, I watched a steady stream of customers, including business people, tradespeople and others, embrace The Box Diner on Tennant Street.

This small diner is attached to The Box Business Centre overlooking peaceful farmland, instead of the noisy traffic you have to put up with in some parts of this industrial area.

In the brand, spanking new — and exceptionally well-equipped kitchen — is Toby Boutland (formerly of The Lobby and Pork Barrel). The menu is extensive for the size of the place and the prices are right, especially given the commitment to “low miles from farm to plate”. I know you’re thinking that practically every cafe claims they source quality, fresh ingredients, but The Box Diner is true to its word.

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“We use fresh herbs, local eggs from happy, free-range chooks, beef from Hereford cattle, who thrive on tasty grass, and artisan breads from a local bakery made with little or no preservatives,” says Toby. “Our jams, marmalades and chutneys come from friends at Boorowa’s Walsh Country Kitchen, created with regional fruits and vegetables. And we make everything on site daily.”

Breakfast starts early and features smaller items such as thick-cut banana bread with maple syrup ($6.50) and a big breakfast for those needing massive amounts of fuel to kick-start the day ($16.60).

We visited at lunch and, although the regular menu offered many dishes we would have been happy with, we were attracted to the daily specials board. The tender duck (cooked to perfection) and blackberry tart was on the sweeter side, but I love that, and it married well with the simple spinach and ricotta salad ($15). The Methi potato curry, served with crispy pappadum and light, fluffy saffron rice, hit the spot ($17).

Most salads come as sides and mains ($3.50 to $10). Other dishes include salt-and-pepper squid with a chilli citrus salad ($14), tempura fish and chips ($15), paninis (all $9) and pasta dishes. The flame-grilled beef burger is proving to be popular ($12.90) and the coffee is great. The rice paper rolls in the display cabinet look sensational.

You order at the counter and are served at your table. The fit-out is exceptional, with warm timbers; wine-coloured, comfy bench seating; funky lighting and two booths towards the back. There’s lots of outdoor seating, too.

The Box Diner is refreshing in many ways and one thing is for sure… everyone will feel at home the minute they walk in the front door.

The Box Diner is byo. Unit 17, 65 Tennant Street, Fyshwick, open 7am to 3pm weekdays.

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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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