Tiptoeing into a new menu

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OUR visit to The Duxton, at O’Connor shops, was almost short lived.

We walked through the main door, on Sargood and Macpherson Streets, into what was obviously a bar area. But it was empty; not even a staff member milling about. It was a chilly introduction – as chilly as the weather – and we decided the place wasn’t open for Saturday lunch.

Then we spotted another room, tiptoed down the hall and found a second bar, the kitchen, a lounge area, high bench tables and a big-screen TV. So the place was open.

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The Duxton has just introduced a new menu with greater emphasis on food that is “good for you”.

The most interesting breakfast item for my tastebuds was pork and beans on brioche with corn fritters ($15.90). Starving diners can dive into the king-size breakfast ($19.90) and those concerned about living for a long time, the granola ($8.90).

Beyond breakfast, dishes include pot pies, including steak and Guinness, and chilli beef. Pizzas ($14 to $19) include the double cheese burger (huh?), Porky pine, and spicy buffalo – hot sauce, mozzarella, boned chicken wings, jalapenos, sour cream and blue cheese. Sounds intriguing. Also intriguing is The Duxton logo of a manic-looking squirrel holding an acorn for dear life.

We ordered at the bar from the specials board and received a buzzer. At The Duxton, you pick up your own food when the buzzer goes mental (at least a numbering system makes you feel a “bit special”).

The double cheeseburger (not the pizza variety mentioned earlier) was made with Wagyu beef patties cooked medium with sharp cheddar ($19) and a smokey homemade tomato sauce (now a permanent addition to the menu, as are other gourmet-style burgers. The smoked hickory pork ribs (400 to 500 grams) were as tender as ($26), but the tangy sauce was a bit too acidic for my liking. Special thanks to the friendly staff who brought me a finger bowl, noticing I was getting covered in sauce.

The new menu has healthy, meal-size salads, including several vegetarian options and new platter dishes (for two).

I asked for the wine list, but there wasn’t one. I was encouraged to choose from the bottles lined up in the fridge. I couldn’t read the labels from my side of the bar, so was a bit lost. The selection is small – more work to be done here.

At the bottom end of the experience were the backless stools we sat on. Very wobbly seats and a bit disconcerting. Kids would love playing on them, however I couldn’t find the kid in me the day I was there.

The Duxton holds events, has live music on Sundays ($5 Coronas and $5 basic spirits) and a Wednesday trivia night, the top prize for which is a keg of beer.

The Duxton, O’Connor shops. Call 6162 0799. Open seven days.

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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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