Dining / Happiness is an open restaurant…

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A COUPLE of years ago I wrote about the reputation Canberra’s hospitality sector has for slamming doors shut during the holidays.

Was it true there was nowhere to eat? The answer was that it was challenging but not impossible.

Wendy Johnson.
Wendy Johnson.
As 2014 draws to an end I find myself asking if matters have improved. Have our eateries dined on the idea that residents and visitors enjoy eating out over the holidays?

I called 40 establishments in more central locations to see and report that more places are ensuring you won’t starve. Many still choose to close at obvious times, such as Christmas and New Year’s Day (hospitality deserves a break, too). Others will close as early as December 20 and re-open as late as 15 January. Don’t get me going on those that were still deciding.

Here’s a guide to some places still operating, and a big thanks to them for doing so:

Le Bistronome, a new Braddon eatery, is as French as you can get, with sensational dishes created under Clement Chauvin, who has worked in Michelin star restaurants overseas.

There’s nothing like a chilled brew in sweltering summer. Bentspoke Brewery, a Braddon microbrewery, offers 18 beers and ciders, all brewed on site.

Braddon’s Hopscotch, named after hops (beer) and scotch (more than 50 available), celebrates barbecues of the world.

Wood & Coal in the city is for those who love slow-roasted cooking on open flames. Its small plates will make your taste buds dance.

Also smokin’ is Smoque, an American barbecue restaurant in the city (its recently opened Woden location is closed from December 24 to January 6).

Smack in the city is Jamie’s Italian, part of the famous chef’s group of 30 restaurants. Decent food at decent prices and a large outdoor area.

Sammy’s Kitchen, a long-time favourite, is perfect for those in love with Chinese and Malaysian cuisine.

Tongue and Groove, with its seriously amazing fitout, invites you to sit back, relax and enjoy, as does Parlour Wine Room, a tapas and wine bar in New Acton.

Pheast in Manuka offers cheap and cheerful dishes with generous proportions.

Perched on The Lawns is Urban Pantry. Lovely fitout, lovely food, lovely coffee.

Walt and Burley, Kingston Foreshore, has an amazing location. My experience is that the food can be hit and miss, although I hear improvements have been made since my last visit.

Kingston’s Saffron Restaurant is always there for Canberrans, serving up tasty tapas with top-notch service.

Waters Edge, with its glorious lake location, remains an exquisite dining experience.

Nestled among the beautiful gardens of Pialligo plant farm, Pod Food is full of character. Dining on delicious cuisine, celebrating local and regional ingredients, is a real treat here.

The National Museum Café, with its waterfront café, offers fabulous lake views. It’s not fine dining but a great place to catch a bite if you’re near or at the museum.


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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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