Combo cafe with a lot in store

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Handmade spaghetti alla chitarra… with Spanish Olasagasti anchovies, parsley and loads of pangrattato. Photo: Wendy Johnson

“Braddon Merchant is a combo café, deli and grocer. The decor has a European feel and the menu celebrates fresh, tasty Mediterranean dishes made with artisan products and fresh deli offerings,” writes dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON.

WHEN we arrived at Braddon Merchant we were greeted by a perky whole lemon sitting pretty on a plate at our table. A lovely decorative touch, but the lemons are there for diners to enjoy. 

The perky whole lemon sitting pretty on a plate… a decorative touch, but the lemons are there for diners to enjoy. Photo: Wendy Johnson

We promptly cut some slices and plunked them into our water glasses. Super refreshing on a frightfully hot day.

Braddon Merchant is a combo café, deli and grocer. The internal dining area flows seamlessly from the lobby of the Midnight precinct. The decor has a European feel and the menu celebrates fresh, tasty Mediterranean dishes made with artisan products and fresh deli offerings. We opted to dine in the courtyard outside, with plenty of umbrellas offering welcoming shade.

The zucchini flowers… created with thinly sliced red onion, fresh mint, smooth labneh and crunchy pangrattato. Photo: Wendy Johnson

The zucchini flowers were perfect for sharing and we could have happily ordered more. The dish ($16) was created with thinly sliced red onion, fresh mint, smooth labneh and flavoursome and crunchy pangrattato.

The winning main was the handmade spaghetti alla chitarra with Spanish Olasagasti anchovies, parsley and loads of that tasty pangrattato ($28). It was a massive serve and packed with flavour, which is no wonder with those famous anchovies from the Cantabrian Sea, packed in a divine olive oil brine (we have an incredible weakness for them). 

We labelled the spaghetti a destination dish, and thought we’d be back for more but the menu changed a day or so after our visit (evolving as menus often do with establishments still working their way through what is popular and what is not) and the dish no longer makes an appearance. Oh, well. 

The kingfish… moist and topped with salty caper butter, it came with “three fries’’. Photo: Wendy Johnson

I opted for the kingfish, which managed to find its way to Canberra from Narooma despite the bushfires, which are already having a profound effect on the food chain. The kingfish was moist and topped with salty caper butter ($32). The dish came with “three fries’’. The stack of thick wedges – one layer created with potato, one with corn and one with pea – a refreshing departure from the norm.

We were keen on the side salad featuring Nelligrow greens (from Nelligan on the south coast), made simply with hazelnut oil and sunflower seeds but they weren’t available because of the bushfires. Fair enough, we were just as happy with the spring beans, seared and tossed in quality olive oil and all the more special with shaved Bredbo black garlic. 

The wine list is extensive and super interesting, with local labels scattered about. We adored the Clonakilla Viognier Nouveau 2019.

After lunch, we shopped for goodies, delighted with the wide selection made with love by small producers and local and regional labels. Products include smokey chipotle honey, verjuice, organic olives, tomato black garlic sauce, those stunning Spanish olives, truffle salt and, of course, a wide range of cheeses and deli products.

Braddon Merchant, 1 Elouera Street, Braddon.

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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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