One of Canberra’s best for a catch up

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Potato fries, frankfurter and steamed bao bun with crispy Szechuan chicken, pickled cucumber and kewpie got the taste buds dancing. Photo: Wendy Johnson.

“It’s a new venture – a large, open-sided marquee pop-up with festive lights, live music and a bar menu created by the talented team in the kitchen at the Boat House,” writes dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON.

ARMADA Outdoor Bar at the Boat House has pretty specky views and some pretty spesh food, wine and cocktails. There’s no doubt this is one of the best spots in Canberra to catch up with friends.

Wendy Johnson.

It’s a new venture – a large, open-sided marquee pop-up with festive lights, live music and a bar menu created by the talented team in the kitchen at the Boat House. Armada is only open Friday to Sunday afternoons, from 3pm until late, so it’s best to book (online only). Limited seating is available for walk-ins and for those with reservations at the Boat House who might want a pre- or post-dinner experience.

The menu is divided into three sections – herbivore, carnivore and something sweet. It’s a minimum spend of $40 per person and you can only book for a two-hour period. 

We shared a selection of herbivore and carnivore and found several dishes intriguing. A Smartphone is needed to attend the bar, and all food is ordered online at the table. If sharing, it might help to work out how to manage the money matters in advance, to avoid confusion. 

Wagyu bresaola… looked as amazing as it tasted. Photo: Wendy Johnson.

One of our fave dishes was the Wagyu bresaola, which looked as amazing as it tasted. The beef was beautifully presented on one side of the dish, with horseradish, goats curd and tarragon on the other ($18). Stunning.

The steamed bao bun, crispy Szechuan chicken, pickled cucumber and kewpie (two for $13) got the taste buds dancing and vegetarians will appreciate the eggplant option. 

Spicy chorizo… super fun, although we personally found the Pedro Ximénez glaze a tad too sweet. Photo: Wendy Johnson.

Super fun were the potato fries, taken to the next level with shallots, parmesan and Sriracha salt ($12 for a generous serve). So too was the chorizo dish, although we personally found the Pedro Ximénez glaze a tad too sweet. 

Charcuterie plate… with quality meats and tangy pickles. Photo: Wendy Johnson.

The charcuterie plate with quality meats and tangy pickles ($28) was easy to share, as were the manchego and jamon fritters ($16).

Bubbles include Mount Majura’s the Silurian ($19 glass and $75 bottle) and you can indulge in Pol Roger at $173 a bottle.

The wine list, which includes local drops, is compact but delightful. Prices by the glass range from $11 to $14 and bottles around $46 to $59. Cocktails are $20 except for the Golden Armada ($24). Beers are $8 to $13, with Bentspoke heavily featured.

Our only feedback for Armada Bar is the cleaning of tables. Our dirty plates hung about far too long and while we appreciate Friday nights are busy, the bar wasn’t 100 per cent packed out. Eventually we took the initiative to move some of the dishes to an empty table nearby so they were sight unseen.

Armada Outdoor Bar requires a credit card booking guarantee per 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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