A. Baker restaurant
Tucked away in a hidden pavilion in the New Acton district, with views of the impressive Nishi building on one side and a garden courtyard on the other, A. Baker is a must-visit, informal Canberra eatery that showcases fine local produce.
We started with breakfast and found it so good that we returned for dinner.
The daytime menu runs from opening until 2.30pm, which means you’re not limited to ordering standard items for breakfast. That’s how my ten-year-old ended up with ‘Udon Noodle Broth, smoked pork, slow egg, black garlic and chilli oil’ to start her day (though I must confess, minus the egg). It was a spectacular dish; rich, nourishing and warming. The pork was slightly caramelised on the outside and moist and juicy in the middle. The rest of us had supreme food envy.
The other members of my party ordered more standard breakfast fare, paired with excellent sourdough bread, toasted nice and dark. The thick-cut local bacon is worth returning for alone.
I chose the ‘Broken rice pudding, served cold, with chia, cinnamon, honey, hazelnuts and halva’. It was inventive, satisfying and comforting, with surprising balanced sweetness. I would order it again in a flash.
The only thing letting the meal down was the coffee, which was disappointingly weak (an unfortunate trend in Canberra). Though ordering a double shot would be a simple remedy.
The main lure to return for dinner was the excellent selection of local wines by-the-glass. There were sixteen to choose from ($9-$14/glass), more than any other Canberra restaurant I found. In total, there were thirty local drops by the bottle, including the most excellent, and hard to find, 2013 Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier.
There was plenty of charcuterie on offer, however, we opted instead for a mix of small and large share plates from the main menu. Each dish had a suggested wine match, though we chose to fly solo.
It was refreshing to see vegetables served as an integral part of the large plates, rather than mere slabs of protein. Salads were available as sides.
We drank red wine all evening, the highlight being the 2013 Nick O’Leary Seven Gates Tempranillo which had great concentration and structure. I managed to pick up a couple of bottles at Jim Murphy’s Airport Cellars the following day.
We all loved the ‘Tomato saffron broth, NZ Hake, Israeli couscous and charred bread’. But the real hit was the ‘Linguini with braised rabbit, hazelnuts, smoked butter and tarragon’, which was devoured in seconds.
The ‘Charred Wagyu inside skirt with local red onion and roasted scape’ was tender, innovative and flavoursome. As was the fish of the day, with ‘ever-evolving garnishes’ (ours was salmon with wilted cos and turnips). Throughout the menu, the focus on local and greater NSW ingredients was impressive, with the ‘Dutton Park duck breast, carrots and roasted local beetroot’ illustrating this nicely.
For dessert, the kids ordered the doughnuts with hazelnut ice-cream, which were steaming and sugary (well OK, maybe the adults had some too).
- Address: Unit 2, New Acton Pavilion 15 Edinburgh Ave, Canberra ACT 2601
- Phone: +61 2 6287 6150
- Website: abaker.com.au
- Open: Monday to Friday 7 am – 10 pm; Saturday 8 am – 10 pm; Sunday 8 am – 9 pm
- Price: Breakfast and All Day Dining: $8 – $24; Lunch mains $18 – $25; Dinner: Small plates $21-$21; Large plates $29-$34. Sides $9. Five-course chef’s tasting menu $67 + $33 for matching wine.