Dining / Pialligo beckons… spring into lunch!

SPRING’S here. Time for colourful flowers. Time to plant fresh herbs and veggies. Time to visit nurseries.

Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson.

That’s what we did on a sunny weekday, but we made it an outing and had lunch, too.

Rodney’s Garden Café has been open for more than two decades. These days, executive chef Nathan Kleinig is at the helm, having arrived at Pialligo after working in the kitchen at Parliament House (his most recent stint).

The café has its own vegetable and herb gardens in the nursery, so a great deal of produce is as fresh as it can possibly be. The kitchen team is committed to sourcing other produce locally also.

You can head to the café for breakfast, lunch, morning or afternoon tea. Business people gather for meetings, friends hang out having chats and mums and prams are comfortable (mums especially with the children’s menu).

We sat outside on the patio surrounded by beautiful gardens, plants and trees. The sun was shining and those sitting in the shade are welcome to pick up a blanket and cover their knees.

I have to say that the linguini with prawns was one of the best I’ve had in ages ($29). It was absolutely packed with flavour and featured a generous number of plump prawns. It was made with tangy preserved lemon, garlic, a good dose of chilli, peppery rocket and quality olive oil. The dish was finished off nicely with parmesan. I ate every bit and enjoyed every bite.

My friend was equally enamoured with the fish and chips, especially the light yoghurt batter ($24.50). The beer-battered chips were crunchy and decadent. The side salad super fresh and crisp. A perfect plate for lunch.

It’s salads galore at Rodney’s Garden Cafe. On the main lunch menu is a warm, house-smoked chicken salad ($25), a five-spiced duck salad ($28) and a salad of roasted baby beetroot ($23).

We were intrigued by several other dishes, including the corn cakes, served with bacon, rocket, Spanish onion and goat’s cheese. They’re finished with a balsamic glaze and what the kitchen calls its “famous chilli jam”. The dish is $24.50 with bacon and $22 without.

The children’s menu starts at $9 – spaghetti bolognaise, fish and chips or pizza with ham and cheese. A lunch box, which includes a sandwich, sultanas, cheese, a fruit box and a treat, is also $9.

Gluten-free bread is available and the café dishes up delights for vegetarians.

Rodney’s Garden Café, open seven days, 9am to 4pm. No split bills. BYO is $5 a bottle. Cakeage is $2 a person.

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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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