I’ve been eyeing this space for a while now. Ever since the Habitat building was completed I’ve been wondering what fantastic eateries would open up like they did with Mode3. It is nice to see all this change happening in Braddon, there’s just a whole bunch of apartments being built which means a lot of new food places! Places like PitaPit, which is next door to Bentspoke and opened up just a week or so ago. Its like Subway but with pitas!
So, Bentspoke finally opened last week with much fanfare, everywhere I went someone was talking about it; my friends, my workmates, the news, Facebook. It was all the rage! Originally, I was going to check it out after dinner on the way home on opening night but when I saw the line to get in, I figured I’ll just wait until the hype died down. I really don’t care for getting sucked into opening night hysterics if it means I’m going to have to wait in a line for the privilege. Lucky for me though, on the way home from a lovely dinner at Banana Leaf on Saturday there was no line to be seen, so I dropped by and managed to pop in and get a couple of beers and some nibbles.
I’m pretty sure we saw the owner (previous brewer at Wig & Pen) someone in our group pointed him out. He was so lovely, serving drinks at the bar, rushing around to take away empty cups! I’m sure they started running out because after a while they took away all the cups they had out for the water fountain! And he was so passionate about beer, I remember him asking us about the oregano in the Barley Griffin.
There was plenty of space inside with seating space upstairs and downstairs. The decor had a really cool…bike vibe, I guess that’s the best way to describe it. it was really great, I liked it so I took a picture of it. As for the food, it was really nice, especially the nibbles.
To go with our beers we got the Spud spokes with B.B BBQ sauce ($9). These were delicious, a little different from your standard fries. Much denser potato on the inside and crispy and crunchy on the outside. These kind of reminded me of home made fries but the best part was the BBQ sauce, it was fantastic but I couldn’t quite figure out what it tasted like, we even end up talking about it for a while and then I figured out that It was star anise.
How? Well, I felt something in the bottom of the sauce cup, and thought I had dropped half my chip in the BBQ sauce. I fished it out, threw it into my mouth and was chomping away when I hit something hard and bitter. It came out into a tissue, and when I had a look, there it was a little star anise. Anyway, the BBQ sauce was amazing! Never seen or tasted anything like that, who would have known that a little bit of star anise could make such a difference. I’m definitely going to try and recreate this sauce at home.
Our second snacky dish for the night was the Grain crushed hot wings ($18 large) with malted blue cheese sauce. This also comes in a small version for $12. The large plate came with 11 wings, its a pretty odd number and we only realised because we were sharing and 11 is a really hard number to share! Nevertheless, the wings themselves were delicious. They were saucy, moist with a bit of spice to them for taste but nothing overwhelming. The wings went really well with the blue cheese sauce which was quite mild but still gave the wings plenty of creamy goodness.
We had already had dinner for the night so only managed the snacks but the menu looked pretty awesome so we decided to return a couple of days later. If you’re looking for a proper meal from Bentspoke, for $28 you can pick between a:
- T-bone (extra $3)
- Lamb chops
- Chicken maryland
- Apple and sage sausages
And two sides from the following list:
- Baby beet salad with ricotta, rocket and an apple balsamic reduction
- Grilled eggplant and red onion salad with goat feta, rocket and herbs
- Garden salad with toasted grains
- Smoked cheddar cauliflower mac and cheese
- Stew of zucchini, oregano and roast capsicum in tomato sauce
- Apple cider rotkohl with granny smith apples.
First up, the T-bone with mac and cheese and an apple cider rotkohl ($31). The steak was nice, a good cut of meat cooked to medium rare, nice and juicy on the inside. Originally, we didn’t know what the rotkohl was but thanks to Google we found out that it was red cabbage, so we just assumed that this side would be similar to sauerkraut but red. They were sour but also had the crispiness and tartness from the apples. As for the mac and cheese, it tasted nice and was slightly on the drier side but that gave it some texture and crunch.
Next up, the Sirloin with a garden salad and baby beet salad ($28). The sirloin was a lot bigger than expected, it was a good cut of meat, with a great chunk of fat on it. The meat was delicious and juicy. The garden salad was nice, fresh and light. Really helped cut through the richness of the meat and the mustard sauce. Wasn’t a massive fan of the baby beet salad, the beets were great but there was a lot of rocket and rocket gets a bit much after a while. But if you’re a fan of rocket, this is the side for you.
Finally, another T-bone with mac and cheese and the zucchini stew ($31). Another t-bone and mac and cheese. These were just as good as the other one so I probably won’t talk about that again. As for the zucchini stew, I really enjoyed this. I’m normally pretty lukewarm to zucchini but this was done really nicely. It was really heavily flavoured and tasty. I wish there was more of this!
We also decided to get a Cheese board ($19), which included Warrmambool matured cheddar, Tarago Rive triple cream, blue stilton, Meredith Dairy ash with cider pickled onions, fruits, quince paste and crusty bread.
When the cheeseboard came out, it looked rather sad and small but I figured, I’ve never had one in Canberra before, maybe this is just how they are here. A couple of days later I was at home browsing and saw some other people’s cheese boards from Bentspoke. Seeing those made me sad because mine was really small compared to theirs. They had like half a loaf of bread, a very generous amount of apple sauce, plenty of quince and slices of cider picked onions, I’m not sure onions were ever on my board.
I honestly would rather be told that they didn’t have enough to make a cheese board and swap out my order than get something that wasn’t how it was intended to be. I missed the coolest sounding part! I would have really liked some crisp cider picked onions.
As for the cheeses themselves, they were nice, creamy and fresh. The bread was crispy but fluffy. And the apple sauce and quince were nice and went well with the strong, flavoursome cheeses. I wonder what happened to others who ordered this afterwards, it was only 9PM when I got mine.
Here is more decor that I found cool looking, so I took a picture of it too. They had beer drums as seats with their store name embossed on it which looked really awesome. Onwards to the handcrafted beers! From pale ales to things that reminded me of guinness.
We started with the mildest, the Barley Griffin ($7.50 small), an ale with oregano spices and an Adam’s Cider ($7.50 small), a hand crushed Granny Smith and Red Delicious cider.
I’m pretty hopeless when it comes to beers, but I really enjoyed the Barley Griffin, it was light and crispy and had a delicious malty after-taste to it. Really refreshing and would love to get this again.
The Adam’s Cider was fantastic. Really fresh with a lot of tartness to it. It wasn’t like the bottled stuff where its just sweet and fizzy. This was kind of like a cloudy apple juice but with bubbles. It had just the right amount of sourness to make it taste great, giving it freshness but not making you cringe. I really enjoyed this cider. better than any other cider I’ve had.
To something a little hoppier, the Mort’s Gold ($11 large), a hoppy pilsner. We wanted to try all the different beers here to see which ones we preferred. I actually enjoyed this, I didn’t think I would, the description made it sound quite bitter, but the after taste made it worthwhile. Another lovely drink, probably not my favourite but I wouldn’t rule it out in the future.
Finally, to the darker beers! A Dick Tracey ($7.50 small), a hoppy brown ale and a Crankshaft ($7.50 small), an orange Indian pale ale full of different weird sounding hops.These were definitely stronger, not quite my favourite but I was still happy to finish it. Towards this end of the spectrum of beers I can’t really tell any more, but the Crankshaft had the malty taste that I liked and I felt that it was lighter than the Dick Tracey. I probably won’t order these again but that’s totally due to preference. I prefer the oregano herbs in the Barley Griffin!
Bentspoke was fun, it is nice to see awesome and rad places opening up in Braddon!
On a side note, is Bentspoke a play on words of bespoke because that would be cool. Hipster and hand made.