Canberra has a thriving blogger community, but it’s not often we see each other face to face. Thanks to the organisation skills of one lovely lady, some of us self-proclaimed foodies descend on Mint Garden Bar at the Gorman House Markets to have a Christmas catch up (and for some of us, first meeting!).
Mint Garden Bar is married to the award-winning Sage Dining Rooms (which I’ve reviewed here, here and here – yes, I know, a bit excessive!). It makes use of the open space directly outside the restaurant, which would otherwise be empty. Of course, that also means on a busy day it can make Sage a bit difficult to access – but I think it just adds to the atmosphere.
What I like about Mint is that it tries, but not too hard. The venue has the basics, including plenty of seats, and an undercover area where installed plastic can be pulled down to protect punters from the elements. There’s a genuine garden feel; it’s got the same feel as those Melbourne bars in the alleys.
There’s also a dedicated little kitchen to pump out the bar food without distracting from the main event in the Sage kitchen. The menu options aren’t too many, but what’s on the menu is done well, with fresh and interesting combinations of ingredients. The guy behind the bar is overly chatty, but he’s personable and professional so I’ve got nothing to complain about.
Did I mention there’s $5 wine? Yep, all day Wednesday all the wines are just $5. (Why didn’t I know about this sooner?)
It gets the basics right.
As one foodie group, we approach the bar. I’d be mildly intimidated by us as a force. We order almost half the menu to share. We skip the nibbles (which includes 80s throwback bacon wrapped dates) but opt for two crostini ($16 for a serving of four) and all the pizzas ($13, $15 and $17 each).
Honestly? It’s all good. The ingredients are high quality and tasty. I taste all of it and enjoy all of it. I’m still not convinced that salmon and raspberries is the best combo ever, but I love both ingredients on their own and the colours are great. I don’t like apricot generally, but if I could only choose one pizza, that’s the one I’d go for.
It’s a really lovely evening with great company enjoying great food and in a relaxed – but not complacent – environment.
Date: 4 December 2013
Where: Gorman House Markets
Cost: Four pizzas and two crostinis between us ends up about $16 per person with the six of us
Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile
Want more? Mint Garden Bar is open Tuesday to Friday from 4pm, and Saturday from noon. The specials days are Tuesday ($5 pizzas – now that’s good value), Wednesday ($5 wine) and Thursday ($20 punchbowls).