So many plans for February were cancelled it was a bit surprising that my Canberra trip actually went ahead. Part of the trip was associated with a Board role for COSBOA, which involved an in person Board meeting and the pitch finals for the Accelerator for Enterprising Women and other part was actually to have a short break and explore Canberra and surrounds.
Part of my planning with a trip is to check out recommendations on Trip Adviser and see what gluten free options are available and well rated. For any one with specific food intolerances or preferences there are a number of filters you can choose to enable you to see what the best options are in the area. There have been quite a few closures as a result of COVID lockdowns so its usually advisable to make sure that any venues are still open and trading hours are unchanged. Usually checking out that social media is current works but if you are really keen on a place call and check. Staff shortages mean many cafes and restaurants are limiting hours or days.
First up we looked out for a few good breakfast options with bonus points for some different breakfasts. The most scenic option was a cafe called Local Press at Kingston Foreshore on Lake Burley Griffin. The best local option (close to our hotel) was Eighty Twenty. Local Press has a number of gluten free and vegan options with the ability to build your own breakfast with your preferred vegetables and protein. My choice was the LP Veggie bowl with broccolini, carrot, wild rice pilaf, sesame crusted avocado and pickled cabbage and I added some house cured salmon. The combination was the perfect breakfast fuel and had a good range of different textures.
80/20 actually has four locations in Canberra and specialises in providing a range of allergen friendly food. Whilst I usually like to load up with vegetables and protein to really give the menu a workout the buckwheat waffles were obviously the best idea. Served with pureed date, maple nut crunch and seasonal fruit plus vegan ice cream the waffles were very tasty and satisfyingly sweet. Other options included smashed avocado, various acai bowls, a big breakfast and a veggie bowl.
On this trip we revisited a few of my favourites including the wonderful Akiba where the food is Asian fusion, Tipsy Bull with a great range of gluten free options and Pillagio Estates. These were probably the pick of the dining options in fact we enjoyed the Tipsy Bull so much we went back for a second meal when out trip was extended for a few extra days.
The Tipsy Bull has a friendly up market bar vibe with both in door and garden seating. It is reknown for its excessive number of gins on its menu however it offers a full range of cocktails and more usual beverages as well. Not the reason I enjoy going, but apparently gin is very big at the moment. The food is designed around share plates with the usual recommendation being that you order three small plates, two from the garden and one large plate to share between two people. The stand out dishes for us were the tuna ceviche, the large chicken plate and the crispy squid. In terms of garden dishes its always worth ordering the cauliflower if its on the menu, however the street corn and broccolini were also interesting options.
Akiba has a coeliac friendly tasting menu which is always worth ordering, but if you are going a la carte, make sure the miso eggplant, crispy squid and the fried rice with prawns are on your list. The seafood is also excellent and the kingfish sashimi is well worth ordering. The menu is really flexible and on one occasion when I ate with a colleague who was vegetarian we did enjoy a really tasty meal, particularly the mushrooms tofu and cashew.
Pillagio Estates has an extensive range of house cured meats and salmon in its cafe and at the fine dining restaurant. We were aiming for the cafe before we went for a bushwalk and accidentally drove to the fine dining at Pavilion. Despite our hiking gear staff were very considerate and offered us the option to dine in and were so glad we did. Since we had already thought ploughman’s lunch we did a fine dining version with a selection of the farm’s produce and a few sides from the garden. There was a little too much food realistically and one of the standouts was the Heritage Carrots with Sunflower hummus. There were five large carrots which in addition to the hummus made for a very substantial side. Paired with a garden salad and the Smokehouse Charcuterie Board it was a delicious meal and very relaxing looking out over the gardens where the vegetables were harvested.
The other activity for a little bit of balance after all these meals was a few bushwalks around Canberra. The All Trails app showed a wide range of graded options but my favourite walks were at The Arboretum. We walked up Daisy Farm Hill on a hot day and enjoyed the views from the peak and then to cool down walked through a beautiful 100 year old cedar forest. The other walk that is really worthwhile is the two bridges walk which takes you in a loop around part of Lake Burley Griffin.
Christine Pope is a naturopath and nutritionist who enjoys finding lots of good food that’s gluten free. If you enjoyed this blog you might also like A tea lovers guide to the Blue Mountains and Gluten Free North Coast. Please add any other suggested restaurants in the comments section below.