A couple of streets back from the hustle and bustle of Northbourne Avenue and Braddon central is the inviting sound, aroma and community of O’Connor local, the Duxton.
While it is true that the Duxton has been a staple of the community for years, a new look, vibe and menu are ensuring that it continues to be packed to the rafters seven days a week.
Venue Manager, David Quinn, has been at the helm of the Duxton through its transition and welcomes the change of vibe and clientele.
“We’ve become Canberra’s local pub now, as a lot of people are going out of their way to get to us, rather than mainly attracting people from the immediate area,” he says.
“Ultimately we want the Duxton to be a place where you can come for a takeaway lunch, beer and something to eat with your mates, family dinner or romantic night out.”
The Duxton has really grown in all areas since its renovation in 2016. With a greater emphasis on local food, wine and innovative cocktails for the more adventurous, we could hardly contain our excitement when we sat down to sample the venue’s autumn menu.
Perusing the many dishes, it is easy to see the kitchen’s emphasis on quality, seasonable produce in both small plates and larger share platters.
To start our Autumn feast, we were served the Roast Japanese Pumpkin. This dish really accentuates the flavour of the humble roast pumpkin. The sweet, nutty flesh of the thick-cut autumn vegetable is perfectly accompanied by roasted chickpeas, rich creamy goats cheese, spinach and a sweet and sour lashing of pomegranate molasses.
As a light dish, this is the perfect lunch time treat for any weather that really celebrates and educates diners about the flavour of the humble pumpkin.
A simple but favourite of any pub menu would have to be a tasty slice of pizza. With a whole section of the menu dedicated to the dish alone, we had to sample a slice ourselves!
The Prosciutto Pizza comprises a thin and crispy crust that is topped with prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, rocket, green chilli and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. It is the sweetness of the reduction and the kick of chilli that dances on your taste buds and keeps you coming back for more.
These clever additions to the menu come from the experience and know-how of acclaimed Head Chef, James Privett.
“We have tried to transition the Duxton menu into basically a gourmet take on classic pub food, obviously, you still need to have these classics available on the menu, but by adding new things to each dish, we can educate some of our classic ‘schnitty’ diners,” he says.
“One of these adaptations is the addition of a balsamic glaze over the classic prosciutto pizza, some people hate it and others love it, but it’s all about the education process.”
With such a visually engaging and aromatic wood-fired grill, we couldn’t look past the grill section on the menu. To try something a little different we requested the Seared Tuna. Gently kissed with the lines of the grill, the tuna fillet is a substantial piece of fish complete with a subtle salty, brine taste that combines perfectly with the smoky cooking process.
As a play on texture, the baby cos lettuce heart on the side of the dish had also been placed on the grill to be warm and soft outside, combining the sweetness of the raisins with the earthy flavours of herbs, hazelnuts and pecorino cheese. While the inside remains crunchy, holding everything together.
Saving the best for last, we loosened our belts and made room for the piece-de-résistance, the Rotisserie Suckling Pig. Trust me when I say, bring some friends to tackle this massive platter of pure deliciousness.
At first look, we played a guessing game with what the translucent edible artwork nestled on top of the dish was. Well, to put your mind at ease – it’s (sort of) crackling! Using a cooking technique called chicharron, the pork skin is boiled and then deep fried to create this awesome (and tasty) translucent, crackly finish.
With that bit of trivia out of the way, we dove into the succulent pork compete with a traditional gravy, offset by a sour salsa verde. Combine this with some roasted carrots and a creamy crushed potato and you have the perfect night out sorted!
For the full experience, be sure to order the Choc Apple Pie Cocktail. As we all know, apple and pork are a match made in heaven, and the Duxton combines this with Crème De Cacao, vanilla vodka and Fireball Whisky, for not only a taste explosion but a definite creamy, autumn warmer!
Since its renovation, the Duxton is back in full force. Now taking bookings upstairs and in the courtyard, there are a number of options for those wanting to dine-in. To keep you entertained there are still TAB facilities downstairs and live entertainment, DJ sets, trivia and bespoke culinary events on the horizon.