Burgers, beers and bao pop up at the lake 

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“This pop-up has a great vibe. Music, an amazing food truck, around 50 large wooden picnic tables, loads of umbrellas and, of course, BentSpoke Brewing Co pouring those beers and wine.

Wendy Johnson.

SIZZLING summer days are all the better sitting outdoors with an icy cold beer or a glass of wine and some great food. For another week – until 14 February – you can do just that at BentSpoke Pontoon, a cool pop-up on the water’s edge at Queen Elizabeth Terrace.

An activation by the National Capital Authority, which is more and more rolling out creative events along the lake, this pop-up has a great vibe. Music, an amazing food truck, around 50 large wooden picnic tables, loads of umbrellas and, of course, BentSpoke Brewing Co pouring those beers and wine. 

The Tsuru Food Truck has a small menu, but don’t let that worry you. The dishes pack a punch on flavour and the three operators in the truck were super busy serving a steady stream of customers.

Bao and chips… hand on heart, Tsuru’s bao buns are some of the best. Photo: Wendy Johnson

We love Asian street fare and, hand on heart, Tsuru’s bao buns were some of the best we’ve ever had. Making these buns is serious business for Tsuru. We opted for the BBQ hot and spicy pork belly although we wouldn’t hesitate to give the tofu teriyaki and shitake a go (both $20 with seasoned chips). The pork was melt-in-the-mouth and the spice on the pork belly perfect.

Our chips were cold so we revisited the truck. It was apologies all round and fresh, piping-hot chips were served up ASAP. Nice one.

Food at BentSpoke Pontoon, a cool pop-up on the water’s edge.

The salt and pepper squid was sensational… little nuggets which we dipped into the creamy Kewpie mayo ($18). We shared the two dishes and they both hit the spot.

Also on the menu are two burgers – grilled cheese and a chicken schnitzel ($22 each with chips).

From BentSpoke we ordered a glass each of the Lerida Estate pinot grigio ($12 for 150 ml), always a top drop. Red lovers can enjoy a Lerida Estate shiraz and a prosecco is also on the menu (both $12). 

Some of BentSpoke’s most famous brews are on tap, available in small or large ($6-$8.50 for a small and $10-$12 for a large). BentSpoke’s sense of humour comes out with the names of its beers. The line-up included Mort’s Gold, How’s It Gosen?, Foggy and – ever so appropriate – Pontoon Pale.

BentSpoke Brewing Co is the brainchild of Champion Australian brewer Richard Watkins and Tracy Margrain, who travelled the world downing brews and drawing inspiration for their own operation here in Canberra as they did so. The pair always seem more than keen to get out and about in the community and are now a pretty famous part of the Australian beer scene. It’s great to see.

BentSpoke Pontoon is open Thursday 3pm-9pm, Friday and Saturday 12pm-10pm and Sunday 12pm-9pm, until 14 February.

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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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