Lunch at Canberra’s Arboretum Restaurant
At the beginning of this month, my friend Jon and I went to lunch at a restaurant I had not been to. Other friends had been and recommended it for breakfast but we thought we would try its lunch menu. The restaurant is located at the National Arboretum and features ninety-four forests of rare, endangered and symbolic trees from around Australia and the world as well as a cafe and restaurant. The Arboretum’s website says that many of the trees are still young but two of the forests are nearly one-hundred years old. Over 44,000 trees from over 100 countries are growing across the 250 hectare site, making it one of the world’s largest living collections of rare, endangered and significant trees. (I did not know that!)Prior to the early 2000 Canberra bushfires, the Arboretum site was mostly covered in pine plantations and after those fires the local government consulted extensively with the community and experts about the best use of the large areas of land occupied by burnt-out pine plantations resulting in the Arboretum…Both the cafe and restaurant are located inside the main building and we had booked the restaurant which has wonderful views of the local area and parts of Lake Burley Griffin.The restaurant is very much open plan and has a small menu which did come along with a specials page. We decided on sharing some thick sourdough bread and butter and my staple; a bowl of fries – must say these were delicious so I probably ate too many.Jon decided to order from the specials page. He had the chargrilled lamb backstop on a mushroom risotto with a lemon thyme jus followed by Eton mess with brown sugar meringue, whipped coconut and raspberry compote. Both dishes looked really good and Jon said they were very tasty- he hadn’t tried Eton mess before so enjoyed something new.I chose from the regular menu and was a touch disappointed; actually rather disappointed! I chose the vegan tasting platter and I thought I would see a plate with all different types of vegan bites, but it was nothing like that – it really was just a large plate of vegetables with a little bit of tomato salsa on top. I mean I enjoyed the snow peas and fennel and the broccolini but must say it was a little tasteless. Anyway I ate about half of the vegetables and some more fries!!
The dessert I ordered was from the specials page; chocolate passionfruit tart with a sesame crumb and milk ice cream. Was ok! I think I found my meals to be a little bit more ‘cafe’ rather than ‘restaurant’ but still it was an enjoyable couple of hours chatting with Jon who was departing for Cyprus to undertake some volunteering with a group of archaeologists…something he has wanted to do for years.About half way through our meal, a group arrived for High Tea which when served looked great, so I think if I had any visitors to Canberra I would return for the High Tea rather than the restaurant meals.