Dining / Cafes come and go, but Caphs rolls on

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The sirloin steak at Caphs… they certainly got the protein right, not so the veggies and fries. Photo by Wendy Johnson

DOZENS of eateries in Manuka have opened and then closed; some after a short stint and some after a long stretch.

Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson.

Caphs, on the other hand, is still going strong after 45 years, or 92 years depending on how you interpret the story.

The Caphs building – re-constructed in 1926 and now heritage listed – opened as the Liberty Café in 1926. After several ownership changes, Caphs was born with the name representing the initials of each partner (Chris, Anthony, Philip, Helen and Steve). In 1990, the business was sold to the Notaras family.

Caphs is the first restaurant I dined in when moving to Canberra many moons ago. I had a steak and thought it would be a hoot to pop by for a steak a couple of decades later.

Caphs’ menu has something for everyone. Entrees include salt and pepper calamari ($19), bruschetta ($16) and a Spanish tapas plate ($16). Mains include pastas ($20 to $28) and the usual suspects such as schnitzel ($24), parmigiana ($26) and fish and chips ($26).

I didn’t have a hope of finishing the sirloin because it was a whopping 400 grams ($36). It was thick, juicy and cooked just as a I love it. The steak comes with steamed vegetables and potatoes or mash or fries. I was keen on fries and salad but that wasn’t an option – well the fries were, but the salad commanded an additional charge. I adored my white wine and garlic cream.

Grilled barramundi fillet with lemon, parsley garlic sauce… cooked to perfection and looked delish on the plate. Photo by Wendy Johnson

My friend ordered from the specials menu – grilled barramundi fillet with lemon, parsley garlic sauce ($32). It was also cooked to perfection and looked delish on the plate.

Caphs certainly got the protein right. We couldn’t say the same with the veggies and fries that accompanied both dishes. The veggies were stone cold and the fries not far behind. Staff dealt with the problem promptly (replacements were hot).

The wine list is reasonably priced. Whites start at $7 and top off at $9 and are sourced from quality wine regions such as Margaret River, Yarra Valley and Clare Valley. Reds range from $7.50 to $10 and hail from areas such as the Barossa, Coonawarra and McLaren Vale. We couldn’t spot any local wines on the menu.

The staff are super eager at Caphs. We were asked three times if we knew what we wanted before barely settling in. And, despite the glitch with our dishes, no one stopped during our meal to ask if everything was okay. We also had to flag someone down when finished to get the bill. Sigh.

Caphs, Franklin Street, Manuka. Open seven days, 8am until late. Call 6295 9783.

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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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