Step into the humble and welcoming halls of Hotel Kurrajong to revel in the delights that Chifley’s Bar & Grill continues to serve up.
Hotel Kurrajong is a jewel in the crown of Canberra, fitting perfectly in the heart of Barton. The entire building has a beautiful, old school charm. The bright and bubbly staff will make you feel at home in the classic and timeless setting as they serve up mouth-watering food in this stunning location.
The restaurant is cleverly divided into intimate sitting spaces, despite the bright and open layout. The interior transitions seamlessly out onto the terrace and into the courtyard, which is lit up with sun just in time for an afternoon drink.
Tess Gegenhuber, Events Manager, explains that the restaurant has a strong focus on individual experience, so you know that you will get personalised service and have a memorable time each visit.
“We’re all about celebrating both personal style and historical style,” she says.
Jess Baker, Food and Beverage Manager, adds the heritage of the hotel brings in a crowd.
“We’re quite unique. We want to celebrate everyone’s milestones and for them to have a personal, memorable experience,” she says.
Chifley’s sure has crowd-pleasing options for everyone! A number of weekly events dance across the calendar, starting with Whiskey Mondays, guaranteed to improve any dreary start to the week as you enjoy 20 per cent off all whiskeys in the glorious whiskey bar.
Wine Wednesdays are the extended happy hour that you’ve always needed as you sip on that glass of red, white, rose or sparkling to ride smoothly over hump day. Happy hour is held between 4pm and 6pm on Wednesday to Friday, and Acoustic Fridays are the perfect end to the week as live music fills the courtyard with life and happy customers throw back a few to welcome the weekend.
What had me really excited, however, was the popcorn bar. Each Thursday and Friday afternoon, a popcorn bar is set up with a multitude of sweet and savoury to which you can help yourself. What better accompaniment with that refreshing Friday afternoon drink than a salty or sweet snack?
Head Chef, Saju Rajappan, has extensive experience in the style of modern Australian fine dining, having worked with the likes of The Park Hyatt Hotel and Parliament House. He expressed to me his pride to work at Chifley’s and wants customers to leave with a great experience knowing that they’ve enjoyed simple, yet delicious food.
“This is one place where I can be really proud of where I work. There’s a lot of history attached to this hotel. It’s a great venue,” he says.
At lunchtime, the full al a carte menu is available, but the express lunch option brings in a crowd.
“When we look at the menu, we design it to be classic with a modern twist. We use fresh ingredients, close to the source and local produce,” Saju says.
The fresh produce is delivered daily and sourced locally, even as close at the herb garden on the restaurant terrace.
Up first, I tried the Pork Cheek Croquettes. These jumbo (and I mean jumbo!) croquettes are perfectly crispy on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside. The green apple slaw upon which they are served is delightfully creamy and crisp and the accompanying sauce perfectly finishes the generous serving.
Second, a lighter option, the Grilled Haloumi and Mint Salad. Now, who could go past haloumi? The grilled cheese is perfectly balanced with the fresh mint, sweet and juicy orange, and toasted walnuts, adding crunch and really hitting the spot.
The Smoked Cowra Lamb Cutlets are a complete showstopper. The large juicy cutlets are served atop a green pea mash and drizzled with pomegranate molasses. The sweetness and acidity of the pomegranate cuts through the meal and brings the colourful dish to life, as a true modern twist on a classic should always do.
Saju believes that “food is all about sharing.” And I agree. The mixed grill is an absolute stand out on the menu. This one is designed to share, a generous portion between two people, and includes deliciously smokey hickory lamb cutlets, tender beef medallions, home-style roasted, cornfed chicken breast and Bronte beechwood smoked bacon (yes, bacon!), all accompanied by homemade chutney and mustard. The roasted garlic and tomatoes are a lovely edition and, as you would hope with any mixed meat platter, a huge side of creamy mash is served up, alongside a bright garden salad to round off the meal.
Now I hate to be biased, but I must admit that my favourite of our wondrous feast was the Kurrajong Dessert Platter. That’s right, platter! Designed to share (though my fellow diners scored very little), this board of the three most popular desserts is sure to please even the sweetest of tooths.
The crunchy, creamy pavlova is filled with the fluffiest cream and juiciest fruit, paying a true, modern homage to the Aussie classic. The banoffee pie has everything you want, from the gooey caramel, crisp biscuit base, sweet banana and shavings of chocolate, landsliding down the whipped cream topping. And thirdly, a crème brulee like no other! Yes, I teaspoon-tested the crunchy sugar layer and broke into the heavenly, creamy brulee beneath. This treat melts in your mouth, just as any good dessert should.
The hard-working team are at Chifley’s year-round, as they open every day of the year. They host a number of events, including Christmas in July, truffle dinners and involvement in wine and whiskey dinners. The cocktail and wine lists changes seasonally to utilise the best produce and keep customers coming back for more.
If you’re after hearty, delicious food in a beautiful, historic setting, Chifley’s is your place. The restaurant is guaranteed to bring life and soul to any meal and leave you with a memorable experience every time.