I had dinner out twice last week - once I had some tapas at Sub-Urban with the Bloke and a workmate of his, and once I went with a small group to the new Thai restaurant. I'll be going back to both of them.
Sub-Urban is the new incarnation of Bellucci's. It's half bar and half restaurant, and so far I've only eaten at the pub side. They do a decent burger and acceptable chips; the chicken caesar salad is fresh and crisp, but lacking in anchovy zing. The tapas are mostly better: good crisp szechuan-spiced squid, a little mild, but perfectly cooked. Nice dips, and the spicy meatballs were excellent. I was less impressed with the crab cakes - overcooked on the outside and bland. They have some good beers on tap - Little Creatures and James Squires.
The decor is retro, rather 30s looking to my inexpert eye. I like the 1940s and 50s style cocktail posters on the loo doors. On weeknights, and weekends during the day, it's got quite a pleasant vibe - moderately busy, a mixed bag of customers. I'd avoid it on Friday and Saturday nights, though - at those times it's packed out to screaming volume with what I can only describe as Canberra's young Westies.
We saw this on Friday night from across the road in the outside seating for the new Thai place, Little Thailand. It's where the Addis Abbaba Ethiopian used to be. It's got fairly standard modern Thai restaurant decor, pleasant in wood tones with a large Buddha painting and a few bare-breasted classical Thai ladies on the wall at the exit to the loos. The menu is all in English, with no Thai names for the dishes.
The people I was with hit on the idea of asking the waiter to get the chef to give us his six favourites. I was a bit worried that we might get the clueless westerner banquet menu out of that, but after a bit of explaining it did seem to work pretty well. We had a very tasty and crisp salt and pepper squid dotted with hot chilli slices; a pad thai with prawns; red curry chicken with plenty of vegetables; a lamb and chilli stirfry; garlic chicken salad; and crispy fish with tamarind sauce. I was especially taken with the squid, and the chicken salad.
It came to $22 per head, with the rice and corkage. It was all very good - well cooked, fresh ingredients, a medium level of spice, nicely presented. It was a tiny bit slow in service, but they were busy. I'll definitely go back to try some more.
And just for information, one of the people I was with recommended the place next door, New Asia. She said it was a simple, standard no frills Chinese place, but the food is all fresh and very well cooked.