Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Canberra Weekend Getaway

We've been saying we want to get out of Sydney for a while. Never got to decide where to go, who to go with and it was such a hassle to try to organise something with more than 2 people - these 2 have to work on weekend, that 2 can't take leave on those days etc etc. So in the end we just thought forget it, we'll just make a short trip on our own and enjoy some good food. So here we were, ended up in Canberra for a weekend. Left Sydney on Saturday morning, arrived at Canberra around lunch time. Robin actually booked a table for lunch at this busy little bakery called Silo Bakery. He was actually thinking of bringing me there for the desserts which looked awesome on their website, but unfortunately by the time we got there they sold out of ALL their sweets. So we just had lunch there.

I ordered Vegetarian Pates - $12 which came with some sourdough.
The pates came in 3 different flavours: (Clockwise from top left) Pumpkin & walnut, mushroom & almond, pimento & hazelnut. My favourite was the pimento & hazelnut which was a bit like the crunchy chilli and tomato dip. Little bit spicy with the crunchy hazelnut on the freshly baked soft bread.. yummmm.. Can't have the real pate, I really wouldn't mind having these vegetarian pates instead. 2nd flavour that I liked was the mushroom & almond. The only problem with the pumpkin flavour was that it was sweet. Almost like a dessert. Still good, but just a bit weird with the sweetness in there.

Robin ordered the Oyster blade beef braised in beer & onions - $24. It was good too! I ate almost all the bread with my pate, so Robin only had a bit of the bread to go with his nice gravy. Should've ordered more bread. It was still very good though, tender beef with soft potatoes at the bottom soaking up all the yummy gravy.

So that's it for our lunch. It was a pity that we didn't get to eat any of the sweet pastries and stuff. Oh well, maybe another trip.

After lunch we went to the Questacon just to do some touristy thing when we were there :) Drove the mini blimp through a hoop, went into a pitch black dark tent to see the star lab, just basically being a kid again haha.. It was fun. I used to really like to visit all these science centres. Lots of cool things to play with.

Anyway, after that we went to our hotel and checked ourselves in. Had a bit of rest there before heading out to dinner. We were lucky that in our room there was this book. Can't remember what it's called now, but it's basically a where-to-eat-in-Canberra book. So we picked 1 of the restaurants in the book and guess what? It was at the same block as the Silo bakery that we went for lunch. The restaurant that we picked was the Kennedy Room. It's half restaurant and half pub. So the restaurant half had tables and chairs set up, the other half was the bar with some tall tables and stools and plenty of space for people to hang around and chat.

For entree to share, we ordered the Caramelised roast pork belly with chilli & coconut vinegar - $16. The meat was really tender, it was nice to go with the sweet and sour dressing. The only thing missing for me was the crunchy crackling. It would be so much nicer if it had the crackling at well.

Initially we only ordered 1 entree. Then we saw our next table ordered this and it looked really good! So we ordered 1 for ourselves as well - Fried calamari spiced with sumac & black pepper. It was really good too! Cooked just nice, very crispy outside, soft and tender inside. With a bit of lemon juice over it, it's easily 1 of the best fried calamari I've had.

We thought we should be 'healthy' and ordered some greens, but we ended up didn't finish it anyway :p I had to save some space for dessert and Robin's main came with some greens too.

I had the Almond & sesame seed crusted barramundi fillets with Ver Jus - $32. The fish was nice, it wasn't overcooked or anything, I just didn't really like the crust. It was like the dukkah that could be bought in some deli, which I thought the smell of herbs was a bit too strong for the fish. I probably would enjoy it more if it had just a layer of crispy skin. The potatoes with the creamy sauce were really nice though.

Poor Robin had to wait extra long for his Ribeye steak (400g) w beer battered chips, green peppercorn sauce & steamed vegetables - $36. The waitress took our order, even asked him how he would like the steak done, but when she got to the computer or something she just keyed in barramundi twice. So they made us 2 barramundi and didn't make the steak. So I just ate my fish first while Robin waited for his steak to be made. Apparently not worth the wait though. I didn't really try the steak but Robin said it wasnt' as good as expected. The best part of the dish was the chips. Sauce was good too. Just the meat not as tender as Robin thought it should be.

I ordered my dessert while Robin was eating his steak - Lime & coconut pannacotta with oven-dried pineapple - $13. When I took the first bite of the pineapple, it felt almost like I've discovered a new continent! I love everything pineapple - fresh pineapple, can pineapple, even (fake) pineapple flavoured gummi! So being introduced to this oven-dried pineapple was like "I've found a new way to eat pineapple!!" It was sooo good. The pannacotta on its own was very sweet, but together with the slight tartness of the pineapple they were like the perfect match. Wobbly + crispy; sweet + sour... Just made so much sense when put together. The only watchout was - the pineapple tend to stuck to the teeth hehee.. I didn't mind it at all, but I know it could be annoying at times :p

After dinner we just went up to the Mount Ainsley lookout. Wanted to take some star trails photos, but sky was too bright from the city lights and the big bright moon. Also, it was only 3 degrees at that time. So we didn't stay long there.

Next morning we woke up around 10am. As we were packing up, got a phone call from the reception to say that check out time was supposed to be 10 and it was almost 11 already haha. I thought I requested for late check out when I booked the room online, but I guess they didn't see my comment (or they ignored it). Anyway, so breakfast was skipped and we consulted our 'bible' of the trip again. Felt like having a Thai lunch, so we picked 1 of the Thai restaurants in the book. Guess what? It's located at the same block as Silo and Kennedy Room! haha.. I guess that block of shops at Kingston got plenty of good restaurants. Got there, restaurant was closed. So Robin suggested we go to the other suburb which he knew had plenty of nice restaurants too which was Manuka. So we went there and we saw another Thai restaurant which I remember was in the book too. It was the Bann Latsamy Thai Restaurant. By the way, sorry for not being able to provide prices for the dishes here. I took a copy of their menu, but couldn't find it now :p

For entree, we had the Rice paper prawn rolls. It was very similar to those that we get in Vietnamese restaurant. Refreshing sort of entree with fresh cucumber, some sprouts, cooked prawns and some rice noodle wrapped in rice paper.

There were a few options for rice on the menu and we picked the 1 that we never tried before: Saffron rice. It was bright orange in colour. Taste wise, I actually couldn't taste anything special. Robin said it taste like coconut rice, but I had a feeling the coconut taste came from the red curry, not the rice itself.

This was the Duck & lychee red curry which I thoguht contributed to the coconut taste in the rice when ate together with rice. It was very tasty, rich and full of coconut flavour. Generous servings too! Another thing that I liked was that all the duck meat was deboned :D Usually when order duck curry in Thai restaurants, I find that they give very little duck meat, just lots of vege. This was the opposite. Lots of meat, lots of big juicy lychees, very very good.

Another main that we ordered to go with our saffron rice - Stir fried tofu with cashew nuts. It wasn't too bad when eat with the rice, just a bit too sweet with the sauce. I would soak my rice with the red curry sauce but I wouldn't do the same with this. This plate of tofu + vege was really big too. We ended up asking for 2 takeaway boxes and packed ourselves 2 boxes full of lunch to bring to work the next day. Too full from these entree and mains. Didn't have any room for dessert :(  I would get the mango sticky rice if I had room in my stomach.

Overall, it was a very relaxing trip. Very happy with all the food there. Did some touristy thingy like visit the questacon & the parliament as well. Experimented with making timelapse video too which you can see here. At first we thought what are we gonna do in Canberra for 2 days, but when we got there, there were actually more things that we wanted to do than we had time for. Not a bad place for a short trip at all :)

Silo bakery
36 Giles Street
Kingston ACT 2604
(02) 6260 6060

The Kennedy Room
25 Kennedy Street
(02) 6162 2318

Bann Latsamy Thai Restaurant
M Centre
Shop 9, Flinders Way
Manuka ACT 2603

(02) 6295 0426


  1. Ohh sounds like you had a good trip. Last time I went to Canberra, all I can remember was the bad food... I couldn't find any good restaurants there =_= sounds like you managed to find some though! :D

  2. haha.. Robin had to work there for a bit before, so he sort of had some ideas where to get nice food.. basically we just went Kingston n Manuka.. most of the restaurants in that Canberra 'food bible' are in these 2 suburbs anyway.. :)

  3. Vegetarian pates sound good - I'll try making some at home. I think we're out of sherry though...

  4. The calamari looks very very tasty!!