Canberra Cafes

My little brother Steven and I have made it our mission to check out cafes in Canberra and blog about them.

Canberra Cafe: Urban Pantry, Manuka

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It’s Steven’s birthday today and we are of course heading out for birthday brunch to celebrate. But I thought it appropriate, on this day of celebration brunch, that we share our latest Canberra cafe feature – Urban Pantry in Manuka.

It was a few weeks back that Steve and I spent a Sunday afternoon sussing out the newly revamped mainstay of the Manuka cafe scene. Urban Pantry has been kicking around Manuka for a while now, but it had been a long time since either of us had visited and we were keen to check out their new digs.

Their fresh new look is just that – fresh. They’ve gone for a Hamptons inspired interior, it’s laid-back, very white and a space that you want to spend time in. My favourite addition is the new deck outside, where Steve and I were seated after a short wait. It seems we weren’t the only ones who wanted to see what had changed that day.

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The menu has had a makeover too and we were faced with a tough choice. In the end, we both went for all-day breakfast and chose the two most indulgent items we could find. I had the madeleine ricotta pancakes ($16) with green apple, fresh berries and vanilla bean yoghurt, which came out light, fluffy and just the right amount of sweet. Steven ordered the brioche French toast ($16) with maple bacon, cinnamon mascarpone and toasted pecans, and by all reports enjoyed every last bite.

But the real hero of the whole revamp, in my opinion, is their new drinks list. With a big range of juices, smoothies, chilled organic teas and house made sodas on offer, they have something refreshing for everyone this summer. Their spiced chai house made soda is my pick of the bunch – an interesting flavour for a cold soda, but if you’re into your chai tea, then you’ll be into this.

Urban Pantry is located at 5 Bougainville Street in Manuka, they are open every day of the week and do all-day breakfast on weekends. You can also find them on facebook and instagram.

Oh, and happy birthday Steve! Love you little bro.

– Bec x

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Canberra Eats: Akiba

akiba canberra

It didn’t take long for Akiba to shoot to the top of my favourite restaurant list when they opened up late last year. With a modern, fresh take on Asian cuisine, a killer drinks list and the best vibes going around, Akiba always leaves me wanting more.

A few weeks back, I found myself there once again. This time, it was a family affair to celebrate my dear Dad’s birthday. Not a family to shy away from a celebration, we ordered a round of drinks to start and then about a million dishes.

The drinks list at Akiba is exceptional. I introduced Mum to one of my favourite cocktails – the Stiletto, a simple but delicious combo of vanilla vodka, passionfruit and sparkling. The boys went for the non-alcoholic strawberry & mint “Akiba Pop”, which is made in house and comes with the option to “make it BOOM”. In this case, “BOOM” equals bourbon.

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The food at Akiba is designed to share and the dishes come out when they’re ready, even if you’re not. That night, we’d ordered so many that we were having trouble keeping up.

As the vegetarian, I made sure we had my favourites on the table – the shiitake and water chestnut dumplings with red vinegar and chilli oil ($10 for 4), the sweetcorn pancakes with chilli caramel and togarashi ($8 for 2) and, on the side, a serve of the smoky potato with dill, black garlic and mayo ($9).

From the raw menu, we ordered the oysters with ume mignonette ($10 for 4), the kingfish sashimi with coconut, nam jim and coriander ($14) and the snapper sashimi with jalapeno, yuzu and honey ($14). The pork belly buns ($8 each), the satay chicken sticks ($6 for 2) and the Japanese fried chicken ($16) kept the carnivores among us happy.

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Speaking of the Japanese fried chicken – this has got to be the favourite Akiba item among the men in my life. I once went out with three of them and they fobbed off the rest of the menu and just ordered a plate of chicken each. It comes served with lemon braised onions, parmesan and the option to go supercharged, which means a slathering of sriracha sauce for an extra $2. And yes, they always go supercharged.

Akiba’s dessert menu is pretty on point too. As if we hadn’t had enough to eat already, we ordered one of each dessert to share. There were three – the chocolate-filled steamed bun with passionfruit ($8), the lemon tofu cheesecake with anzac crumb and pandan jelly ($8) and my pick of them all, the chocolate coffee tart with shiso pickled strawberry ($9).

But it’s not just the drinks and food that keep me coming back to Akiba, it’s the pumping but relaxed vibes and consistently great service. The staff are always happy, helpful and super friendly and if you’re a fan of 90s RnB, the music will never disappoint.

If you haven’t been yet, then get yourself along to Akiba (40 Bunda Street, Civic) and check them out on facebook and instagram.

– Bec x

akiba canberra

akiba canberra

akiba canberra

akiba canberra

akiba canberra

akiba canberra

akiba canberra

akiba canberra

Canberra Cafe: Muse, Kingston

muse canberra cafe

Ever since they opened their doors in August, I’ve been very keen to try the new part-cafe, part-wine bar, part-book store located at the East Hotel in Kingston – Muse.

Despite my best efforts, I hadn’t quite made it there until last weekend when Steve and I went out for a sibling catch up date. There was a short wait for a table when we arrived, but that didn’t matter. We ordered coffees and had just enough time to look through the book store and take cute photos of each other.

The entire menu was pretty tempting, but I couldn’t go past the “French Breakfast” – goats cheese, baguette, butter and jam, a choice of pastry, freshly squeezed orange juice and a little coffee. I went for the chocolate croissant as my pastry and was officially in French breakfast heaven. This is the perfect choice for people who like to graze when they eat – you can nibble on some baguette with cheese, have a corner of your pastry, sip on some OJ and then go back for more cheese. And for $20, it’s damn good value too.

muse canberra cafe

Steve was also pretty chuffed with his choice. He went for something a little sweeter and ordered the buckwheat and coconut waffles with banana, nut crumble and dulce de leche ($16). The banana came in ice cream form and was all kinds of delicious, tying the rest of the ingredients together in a breakfast that could almost be dessert. And let’s face it, who doesn’t like dessert for breakfast?

Muse effortlessly throws together food, wine and books in a way that works, and works well. I particularly love their attention to detail and their commitment to local and seasonal food. Their lunch menu changes daily to keep things fresh and they use locally-roasted coffee from Red Brick Espresso, one of my favourites. With different events scheduled regularly (think book launches and wine nights), Muse has you covered not only when it comes to good food, but arts and culture too. 

Muse is located at the East Hotel (69 Canberra Avenue, Kingston), and can also be found online and on facebook and instagram.

– Bec x

muse canberra cafe

muse canberra cafe

muse canberra cafe

muse canberra cafe

muse canberra cafe

Canberra Coffee: Two Before Ten

canberra coffee two before ten

With so many great cafes and some pretty top notch coffee roasters, there really is no excuse for bad coffee in this town.

If you follow me on instagram, you might’ve seen that I attended the 2015 Eat Drink Blog Conference the week before last. It was a weekend full of new friends, blogging tips and tricks, and all of the food, showing off some of the best in Canberra’s cafe, restaurant and bar scene.

Our final activity on the Sunday landed me at Two Before Ten in Aranda for a coffee roasting experience and some lunch. Two Before Ten is one of those top notch coffee roasters doing great things for Canberra’s coffee culture.

We met Jake, the in-house roaster at Two Before Ten, and he took us through the process of roasting coffee. Through the small glass window of the machine, we watched on as the beans went from pale green to that delicious coffee colour and Jake gave us the low down on how it all works.

The Two Before Ten premises in Aranda, however, are not only for roasting. They also have a great cafe that serves up a pretty mean toastie. After the coffee roast was complete, we were treated to lunch and gifted a bag of the freshly roasted beans to take home. As a result, my home brewed coffee game has been seriously good this week.

Whether you’re after coffee made by a barista or your own to take home and brew yourself, Two Before Ten has you covered.

Located at the Aranda shops (68 Bandjalong Crescent, Aranda), you can also drink their coffee at these local establishments or find them on facebook and instagram.

– Bec x

canberra coffee two before ten

canberra coffee two before ten

canberra coffee two before ten

canberra coffee two before ten

canberra coffee two before ten

canberra coffee two before ten

canberra coffee two before ten

canberra coffee two before ten

canberra coffee two before ten

canberra coffee two before ten

canberra coffee two before ten

Canberra Cafe: Milk Crate, Civic

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If you’re like me and you follow closely whenever a new cafe opens up in town, you might have noticed that a new little spot called Milk Crate opened up just a few weeks ago. These last few weeks my instagram feed has been filled with photos of delicious looking pastries and cute blue coffee cups.

Last week, I finally got to see if it’s as good as the instagram hype. Steven and I ordered a couple of coffees to start and settled in for a mid-morning breakfast bonanza.

First impressions are everything and this place hits the mark in every way. With their on trend industrial interior, exposed brick counter and milk crates scattered out the front, this small cafe oozes cool vibes. As the weather warms up, I can see their outdoor space heating up too.

For breakfast, I ordered the avocado, tomato and smashed Persian feta ($8.50) and was pretty surprised when it came out as a toastie. This different take on the very trendy avo smash that seems to be everywhere at the moment was really good.

Steven was even more impressed with his breakfast. He got the Istanbul roll ($9.50) with sucuk, poached eggs, grilled haloumi and homemade tomato relish. The sucuk is a delicious chorizo-like beef creation that Steve believes everyone should get around – your taste buds will thank you.

We were also keen to try their homemade bagels with cream cheese ($6.50), so we ordered one to share on the side and it did not disappoint. It was deliciously garlic and was smothered in just the right amount of cream cheese.

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To finish, we had another round of coffee and just couldn’t go past one of their homemade nutella muffins that were still warm from the oven. Need I say more?

As we sat and enjoyed our breakfast, we couldn’t help but notice the constant stream of people coming in for their morning coffee. Being in the city, this is a place for everyone – young, old, hip or not. If you’re into good coffee, chilled vibes and delicious food, then Milk Crate will suit you just fine.

Find this cute little cafe at Shop 6, 12 Moore Street in Civic. It’s open 6.30am to 4.00pm. They’re also on facebook and instagram.

– Bec x

Note: This article was originally published on the RiotACT as part of their Weekend Cafe Hot Spot series (see here).

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