Naah, I don't actually drink VB. When you are a Cadbury's girl like me, you may as well drink really good ones for your one or two drinks. No need for bulk cheapness. But actually, this isn't about beer at all. It's about a cafe.
I have a regular lunch date with Beth, and we go somewhere on (or very near) the ANU campus. It's mostly PP or VB, or the Gods for a bit of a treat. That's either the Purple Pickle, over by the Sports Union, or Vanilla Bean, in the new John Curtin Building. VB is closer, but PP is good if the weather is nice, as there's lots of outdoor seating. They're quite similar, as you'd expect since they're run by the same family.
The Vanilla Bean is a weekday place, open from breakfast to afternoon tea. The lunch menu includes pizzas, salads, burgers, pastas and risottos, with hot dishes around the $10-15 mark. There's pre-made rolls, and muffins and cookies and slices, yum yum. They also do fresh waffles. The blackboard specials vary every day.
Today I had one of the specials - a grilled chicken breast, with sundried tomato polenta, and caramelised fennel. It was $13.50, and I would have been delighted with it had it been at a fancy restaurant for $30. It was so good - the chicken was perfectly cooked with a light spice marinade outside, and tender and juicy inside; the polenta was soft and creamy and rich; the fennel was a generous chunk nicely browned. Wow. I was very impressed. I couldn't eat it all so I'll have leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
You can't count on total excellence every day. But I don't think I've ever had a bad meal there. We keep on going back, as it's a reliably decent kind of a place. The coffee is pretty good; the chocolate brownies are a favourite of mine; the pizzas are generously sized and freshly baked on a good crust. There's always some good vegetarian choices, and there's plenty of variety to suit almost any mood. And once in a while it's amazing.