Archive for July, 2010

A bite to eat (a drink as well)

July 30, 2010

A bite to eat, tucked away in the residential southside suburb of Chifley, has an alternative vibe that’s otherwise difficult to find in Canberra. But it’s not just the atmosphere that keeps the regulars coming back. The food and drink are also top notch, a fact confirmed by the cafe being twice voted ACT’s best cafe in the delicious. magazine cafe awards.

No matter what the time of day, A bite to eat’s fare is fresh, tasty and inventive. The seasonally changing menu has an emphasis on vegetarian cooking, with influences widely varied: English, Asian, Middle Eastern and Italian to name a few. Whether you enjoy a lazy breakfast, a working lunch or just pop in for an exceptional coffee and a slice of freshly baked lemon and rosemary cake, the food is sure to satisfy. Open every day except Tuesday, breakfast is served all day on weekends and until noon on weekdays. Dinner is available Wednesday – Friday, and the cafe is fully licensed so diners can enjoy a quiet drink at any time of day. Bookings are usually a good idea.

While you’re waiting for your order to arrive, take the opportunity to absorb the cafe’s eclectic decor. From the first step inside the door, it’s clear that this cafe is unlike any other in the city. Think retro furniture, mismatched vintage crockery, touches of modern design, and a collection of old snow domes. A large pinboard adorns one wall, sporting postcards, comics, thankyou letters and photos. My favourite parts are the huge front window with its collection of comfy-looking cushions, and the many different lampshades. But alternative though it may be, A bite to eat is not reserved just for hippies and art students—on any day customers can include young families, besuited executives, elderly couples and groups of bright young things. I’ve been there with my husband, with my best friend, and with my parents; I’ve even attended a baby shower there. Though upbeat, the cafe is as welcoming as your nanna’s kitchen, with the added bonus of much superior coffee.

On a bright Saturday morning in May, Phil and I visited for a much-anticipated breakfast. There are many aficionados who’d say A bite to eat makes one of the best, if not the very best, breakfasts in Canberra. I would definitely agree. On this morning the menu included sourdough fruit toast, banana pizza, and a smoked salmon and potato creation. While the choice was difficult, we had plenty of time to mull over our selections whilst standing in the long line waiting to order. Weekend breakfasts are popular here.

Coffee was definitely going to feature, and our flat whites were perfectly made.

At peak times the wait on food can be as much as half an hour, but this doesn’t seem unreasonable given the cafe’s huge capacity (a large L-shaped room inside, a courtyard out the back, and tables on the footpath). In any case the drinks are usually fairly prompt. And between admiring the interior, the conversation of your companion, people-watching, examining your vintage cutlery and deciding which of the condiments to use when your food arrives, there is plenty to keep you occupied.

On this morning I’d ordered roasted mushrooms on sourdough with spinach, cheese and broccoli pesto, which was absolutely divine. Although I’m not a vegetarian I just can’t stomach meat at breakfast time; my idea of a good breakfast cafe is one that offers vegetarian options beyond pancakes. A bite to eat definitely fits this bill. Phil opted for bubble and squeak with poached eggs and harissa tomatoes and a side of home-baked beans. Delicious, fresh, and definitely different.

If you only try one cafe in Canberra, my recommendation is A bite to eat. It ticks all the boxes, with food that is both fantastic and surprising, great coffee, a funky interior and a convenient location (only ten minutes’ walk from Woden plaza). A bite to eat is open from 8am Wednesday to Monday, closing late Wednesday to Friday only. Food is freshly cooked and of very good quality. Prices reflect this but both breakfast and lunch menus include cheaper options. We paid just under $40 for two hearty breakfasts, a side dish and two coffees. Special options include vegetarian, vegan and gluten free meals. Restrooms are available onsite and there is free time-limited offstreet parking around the Chifley shops complex. A bite to eat is located at Shop 8, Eggleston Crescent, Chifley ACT.

Rating: 5 cups.