T1 reviews The Bridge Between at Gundaroo Colonial Inn (Fireside Festival)

29 Aug

The ACT and surrounds’ annual Fireside Festival has always seemed to me to make the usually bleak arse-end of winter (aka August) a little more enjoyable. Frustratingly, the many enticing events have usually been well booked out by the time I’ve kicked myself into gear.  This year of course was no different, but by the last weekend in August there were still a few events which seemed a) decent and b) available and— crucially—c) other friends decided to go to one and organised me.

And so it was on a stunningly bright August Sunday that friends E and C picked me up for a country drive to Gundaroo Colonial Inn where we’d booked a lunch at Crowes Restaurant to be accompanied by music from 2.30pm by The Bridge Between, a duo who’ve been getting around to other fine establishments such as the National Gallery and Kingston’s Belgian Beer Café over the past months with their bluesy sets.

On arrival we found our table clearly marked with our name and sat down. There was no greeting from the busy wait staff, but they did realise we didn’t have menus and quickly placed them on our white paper table mats, as well as physically plonking a ‘specials’ blackboard in front of us a few moments before whisking it away.

The menu has a surprisingly large (being so far from the ocean) seafood selection and is just long enough to provide a fussy eater like myself with more than a few options to debate. Being in Gundaroo, E and I thought it only natural to choose something with ‘Gundaroo’ in the name, so at the cash register we both ordered the Gundaroo chicken ($26.50 with options of salad and chips, or mash and veges – I asked for salad and mash and they complied), while C ordered the surf and turf ($29.50). To top it off, I couldn’t go past the Gundaroo-brewed cider Jolly Miller (also available in a number of Canberra establishments)—a $6 schooner at a potent 7% (!). E and C also ordered two breads (which I of course helped myself to): Crowes Bread (bacon, onion and cheese) and Mushroom Bread (… oily mushrooms).

There’s not much to report on the Crowes Bread—it had the flavour you would expect, with the large slivers of onion thankfully mild. The Mushroom Bread was much more delicious, with the tasty oil soaking through the bread. The mushrooms were sat on top which meant they slid off with relative ease, and there were no side plates with which to cradle the bread—stupid gripes I know, but when you’re already a very messy eater…

Our meals arrived before we’d worked our way through the second bread.  The Gundaroo chicken is a chicken breast in a garlicky-chilli cream sauce on a bed of rice and topped with four prawns—if I’d realised there was rice I may have skipped the potato side altogether as once finished I was full to bursting, and my salad was left untouched. My chicken was a touch overcooked (E’s was fine—no doubt I am picky!), but the sauce’s flavour more than made up for it. Truth be told, I was glad to have the rice and mash to mop up all the sauce! C’s surf and turf was generous but he experienced the same problem you always get with steak: it never being quite what you ordered. His medium was certainly medium rare, but still tasty going by his clean plate. The Jolly Miller cider is crunchy, and while it probably wasn’t the best accompaniment to my meal, I could see myself washing down a few in the not too distant future (and maybe somewhere a bit closer to home where the taxis home were cheaper!).

The band started at 2pm and while I’m not a blues or country fan (I know, heathen, sorry) I thoroughly enjoyed their set, including a rousing Copperhead Road later on.  The inn is split very well by the bar in the centre of the room, meaning the restaurant area was buffered from the music.  Should you be having a meal you could enjoy the music while still being able to hold a conversation, but you could also step into the bar area to fully appreciate the sound if you desired. So many pubs and restaurants fail at this, so this was a big plus for the inn.

E ordered a coffee while C ordered a hot chocolate (and I ordered a lime and soda – there’s no postmix here, so I got the remains of the soda bottle, too) to cap off their meals and had to remind the staff that they had ordered their beverages after waiting more than 10 minutes for their delivery. E, being diabetic, had to resort to her emergency supply of Equal because there was nothing other than white sugar available.  Another small gripe, but presence of Equal and the like is something that’s so easy to remedy and so appreciated.

While the day wasn’t quite ‘fireside’ weather, it was a lovely afternoon drive, with the inn providing a charming atmosphere.  I’ve made a promise to myself to be more organised next year so I can experience more of what this festival has to offer*.

Date: Sunday, 28 August (~12.30pm-4.30pm, noting the kitchen closed at 2.30pm)
Attendees: T1
Cost: $36.50 = $26.50 (food) and $10 (drinks) + free transport (thanks E and C!). Note meals could be paid for separately – a rarity in Canberra!
Location: Gundaroo Colonial Inn, 23 Cork Street, Gundaroo
Worthwhile factor: Worthwhile
Want more? http://www.firesidefestival.com.au/event/476.html (the 28 August event), http://www.gundaroocolonialinn.com.au/ and www.firesidefestival.com.au; http://thebridgebetween.com.au/

*I will need reminding of this promise.

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