I tried two new places yesterday.
It was a pleasant day in the city. After a morning of assorted faffing about on the web and running errands, I met up with my friend Beth for an afternoon movie at the Dendy Premium. After that, I did a little pottering around bookshops, and Impact Comics' new Garema Place shop (yay!), and then I met the Bloke at the Wig and Pen for a couple of beers. We then moved on to Hippo for a couple of cocktails. And since we weren't hungry enough for a proper dinner out, we grabbed some fast food at Zambrero, and went home for glasses of water and a Thin Man movie. I recommend all of these places...
Dendy Premium: This was new to me, and it was a lot of fun. You get a big squishy recliner chair, and you get waited on. There's a semi-private lounge and bar while you wait. The menu features a small but nice range of beers and wines by the glass, as well as the usual bar spirits, and espresso coffees and soft drinks. The waiters will fetch you candybar goodies if the menu nibbles don't appeal. Beth and I had a glass of wine each, and shared a substantial cheese plate, and I had a summer pudding as well. The food and wine bill came to $38. The food is in the $10-20 range, and pretty much all from the classy nibbles food group - gourmet vegetable pizza, mini meat pies, risotto balls. And there were about 3 desserts if you're more in the coffee and cake mood. You can specify when you want the food to arrive at your seat - immediately, an hour in, or whatever. And there's a call button in the table if you need an extra drink.
I recommend it cautiously. For a week day, the price is only $20, but that shoots up to $35 for a weekend evening. And that's a lot to pay for a movie, even with a very comfy chair and in-chair service. But it's great for a little luxury weekday lunch. Shift workers and part-timers, go for it!
For the rest,
Wig & Pen:Beer. For beer lovers. Canberra's microbrewery pub, they serve a fantastic variety of their own beers. There's a regularly changing blackboard of seasonals, as well as old favourites. The bar is decorated with garlands of hops, the walls are covered with their prize winning certificates, and the ceiling features fake Olde Engliysshe oaken beams. Probably plastic. Whatever. Drink beer.
There's other beers in the fridge, and they also stock wine and spirits and stuff, which I suppose is handy if you have a friend who doesn't drink beer. And there's pub grub - wedges, burgers, simple curries. The IPA is wonderful, and the Velvet Cream stout is magic. It's a place for beer.
Hippo: Hippo is quite hip. It's upstairs overlooking Garema Place, so you can sip your cocktails while watching the world go by. Spot Canberra's Goths - all three of them. Watch children climb the weird statue in the dry fountain. Check out the trick cyclists and skateboarders in the chess pit, before they get moved on. Inside the music is a bit on the loud side for a lounge bar, and the staff are a bit snotty about non-alcoholic drinks for the drivers. They totally lack a mocktails list. But the cocktails are good, an interesting selection of creative new ones and the classics. And the dark red walls and chandeliers and red vinyl pouffe seating are nicely atmospheric. They have live jazz on regularly, too.
Zambrero: This is a new fast food place in the city, although it was going in Braddon for a while. I highly recommend it. It's a fast food joint, brightly lit, with metal tubs of salad behind the counter. The style is Mexican: they offer nachos, tacos, burritos and variants thereon. The menu is pick'n'mix - choose your meat or beans, salsa, and sauce from various choices. The salads and salsas are fresh made on the premises - we watched someone chopping red onions and coriander, and refresh the tubs, all nice and hygienic in latex gloves.
The food was delicious - very fresh salads, and the stewed meats were tender and tasty. They seem relatively authentic to me, though my knowledge of Mexican isn't vast. It's not TexMex - don't expect meat and bean combos, or huge slathers of sour cream and cheese. The heat comes mostly from your chosen salsa, but the hottest choice, the Salsa Verde, was not above pleasantly warm. Next time I'll ask for extra jalapenos. But anyway, if you're bored with kebabs, go for a burrito or a pair of tacos instead!
Home: This cluttered, but comfortable, setting includes big squishy red couches, and soda on tap - an excellent choice after a night out. The bar is well stocked with a wide range of spirits and unusual softdrinks. Guests may also choose to lounge in the bar, with its red walls, old leather couches, and burlesque photography display. Or the outdoor spa may appeal - plastic glasses only please, and bring your own bathers and towel. (See ya Sunday!)