The Kingston Foreshore is really gathering momentum; it feels like it’s competing with Braddon with the number of new eateries and bars opening each month! A blogger catch up seemed the perfect time to check out one of the newest establishments to border the shore of Lake Burley Griffin.
My first impression of the Kingston Foreshore is that there is a whole lot of concrete.
Despite the concrete, and the fact that there’s still construction going on (complete with a few ugly temporary fences), there’s a decent vibe. There’s been at least an attempt to add in some greenery, and the large amounts of people milling about breathes life into the area. I’m really surprised that the lake hasn’t been capitalised on – rather than being the major feature of the area, it feels to me like its beauty has been dwarfed by the size of the buildings and their industrial shape.
The Rum Bar is located on the ground floor of one of the long, large buildings, and faces the water. The venue is in three parts: an indoor area, complete with a baby grand piano and mostly set with high tables and stools; an indoor/outdoor area; and then the indoor/outdoor area stretches into an outdoor area, which is mostly in shade. The outdoor area is bordered by some well-placed plants.
I’m very late to our catch up, but it turns out to be advantageous – I take a sip of my friend’s rum-based cocktail and, while tasty, it’s a strong hit. I’m driving, so no cocktails for me!
Inside, I’m impressed and surprised with the range of bottled beers in the fridge – not least because they don’t all seem to be mentioned in drinks menu. Among them are Two Birds, 4 Pines, Matso’s, Stone & Wood – a number of which have been very popular at the four beer festivals in Canberra last year.
I opt for a glass of wine ($9), and am glad I’m not carrying more – the wide door to the indoor area is very heavy, and a little hard to manoeuver (be warned!).
Outside again, the wind has picked up. More experience and evidence is needed, but it feels like the area is quite the wind tunnel. What’s more, the breeze is cool; while it’s actually bright and sunny, the entire area is in shade from the buildings.
The tapas are beautifully presented, and taste as good as they look.
The beef in the Beef and Reef is incredibly tender and tasty – I love it. The herb paste overwhelms the ceviche, but the beef is so good I’m willing to overlook it. The ingredients here probably justify the $6 per portion price tag.
The pork belly has the right marriage of hard crackling on top and melt-in-your-mouth fat throughout the meat. The cauliflower puree is a little lost, and – while I love the flavour and it’s perfect for the dish – the fig glaze hides pork’s rum infusion. It’s still yummy, and better value for money than the Beef and Reef. The little side plates which accompany the dishes are truly little – if you are a bit enthusiastic with your cutlery like me, take note!
The glamour of the inside doesn’t quite match the more industrial feel of the outside of The Rum Bar, but it’s clear they’ve worked hard to get the basics right. Just like all of Kingston Foreshore, life is breathed into The Rum Bar by the people who are there, and the summer weather is a perfect match for the venue. It will be interesting to watch how not only The Rum Bar but the entire precinct handles cooler temperatures, and what measures they take to encourage people to keep filling up the venues and maintain the vibe.
Date: Wednesday, 22 January 2014
Where: Kingston Foreshore, near Max Brenner
Cost: $9 for wine, $14 for three portions of pork belly, $18 for three portions of beef and reef
Food creativity: 3 out of 10 – five years ago it would have been considered creative, but we’ve come to expect similar
Waitstaff pretentiousness: Low
Worthwhile factor: Worthwhile
Want more? The Rum Bar is open Wednesday-Sunday. Unlike a lot of Canberra venues, it’s open until 10pm on Sunday nights (!). A website is coming, but in the meantime try their Facebook page. For a slightly different take, and some great shots of the interior, check out Le Bon Vivant’s post here.