Last Sunday I went off to Gunning with B1 & M, for an afternoon in the country. M was singing in a concert: the Oriana Chorale's "Choral Cabaret" at the Gunning Courthouse. We had lunch and wandered the streets looking at the antique shops and art galleries - like many country towns, they do aim for the tourist trade. Then off to the Courthouse for the concert, a quick beer at the pub, and home.
We had lunch at the Merino cafe, one of the two cafes on the main street. It's the one that doesn't serve chiko rolls... Yes, these sheep sculptures are out front. Their menu is quite modern city cafe in style, but with some excellent country touches. I had a mediterranean salad ($14.50) for lunch, since I had a big meat feast planned for dinner. It was a good one - plenty of marinated eggplant and fetta and a swirl of pesto, with nice fresh greens.
We were sitting under a shade sail in this lovely back garden full of roses, with the interesting corrugated iron fence decor. It looks like a Rosalie Gascoigne art installation. Up the back, a garden bed featured a flourishing stand of silverbeet.
The burgers ($8) looked very tempting - they have several varieties on offer, including a couple based on lamb rather than beef. I saw some being made, and they were based on huge sesame seeded rolls, with lots of fresh salad, and served just so, with no chips. B1 and M took advantage of the all day breakfast menu, and reported that their food was good. There's a good range from toast on up to the "Shearer's Breakfast" - for $17.50 you get egg, bacon, sausage, lamb chop, onion, tomato, spinach, tomato relish and toast.
I also liked the look of the cakes and slices. I had a florentine ($3), of the inelegant but satisfyingly thick peanut and cornflake style. Yummy. There was also an unusual meringue-topped jam slice, and some other things that looked homemade. Or at least, not made by the same kitchen that supplies half of Canberra's cafes. I didn't have a coffee, but B1 that said hers was surprisingly weak. It might be worth trying a double shot - I find weak coffees to be a very common feature of country cafes.
By the way, I don't much recommend the pub: gentrification and the tourist trade have passed it by. It's totally old-school, both in decor and in stock. There's Reschs & Tooheys & Hahn light on tap, with no fancy boutique beers, or even premium beers. Not even in bottles - not a James Squires or a Cooper's to be had. There's also a barren and depressing "beer garden" out the back. The tables out the front verandah on the street were much more pleasant, so that's where we sat with our downmarket beer, wine & G&T.