Friday night drinks at Old Parliament House*

24 Oct

* I enjoyed this experience as a guest of Restaurant Associates.

I count my early experiences of Friday night OPH drinks among my first introductions to Canberra. It was a great way to hang out with friends and meet new people, but I also have memories of it being rowdy with an annoying token system. OPH drinks seemed to take a bit of a hiatus a few years ago, but they’ve always held a soft spot in my heart. I was stoked when the sunshine-filled courtyards were equally resplendent with people – and beach balls – in 2013 in a more sophisticated manner, and looked forward to seeing what 2014 would bring.

Both the House and Senate courtyards have recently undergone maintenance, and the grass is looking particularly lush. The courtyard is dotted with tables and chairs, big couches, and a ping pong table (beach ball come back is still being considered).

My guest and I start our evening with a Leo Buring riesling and the house cocktail – chambord, strawberries, cucumber, orange and dry ginger ale (both $12). The cocktail tastes Pimms-esque and is very easy to drink in the sun.

While these drinks are on the expensive side, the house red (Shiraz), white (Sauv Blanc) and sparkling are all $5, and there’s also Pinot Noir ($9) and Pinot Gris ($7) as mid-price options. What I’m really glad to see on the menu is a $4.50 wine spritzer – cheap, low calories, and low alcohol. Wins all round!

LOVE this reflection

Last year the drinks changed each week depending on the week’s theme, but this year the drinks menu is set.

The food, however, will mix up a little bit. It’s served out of cute little carts in the corner of the courtyard. This week there’s a good range amongst the four options – and three of them are vego!

Sweet potato wedges, hummus and sourdough, Peruvian salad, pulled beef sliders (all $6)

The sliders are full of flavour and the salad is fresh and crispy, but what really gets my attention are the wedges and the hummus. The hummus is spot on, and the sour dough bread is lightly toasted so that it’s both crunchy and chewy.

The wedges are beautifully seasoned and so moreish – particularly with a blue cheese dipping sauce.

Music is present throughout the afternoon and evening through large speakers, but it adds to the atmosphere rather than drowning out any conversation. At 6.30pm, a local artist takes to the stage with some great beats (and still at a healthy volume!).

It’s a pretty sophisticated operation – and a very nice, relaxing way to finish off the week.

But wait, there’s more.

From 5pm til late on Wednesdays during sitting weeks, the Members’ Bar is open – where better to grab a drink during a sitting week than Old Parliament House?

There’s so much fascinating trivia at Old Parliament House – every time I go there I learn something new. Did you know there are no fireplaces in OPH because at the time it was built, fireplaces were seen as daggy? All the heating comes from a boiler in the basement. Many of the lights are boarded up in the Members’ Dining Room because on the day that it opened, it was ‘too bright’. They remain boarded!

Date: Friday, 17 October 2014

Where: Old Parliament House (entry from Queen Victoria Terrace)

Want more? Head there Fridays from 5pm!

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3 Responses to “Friday night drinks at Old Parliament House*”

  1. Whispering Gums October 24, 2014 at 8:11 am #

    I love that venue so am thrilled to hear that something’s happening there. It has seemed a waste for there not to be anything, I’m assuming from what you say that there’s still no return to lunches there. That was one of my favourite lunchtime places – the food varied over the years – but the venue, the venue!

    And I do like the idea of the spritzer – as much for the low alcohol option as for the price. So many low alcohol drinks are sweet but a spritzer – presumably it doesn’t use a sweet wine – is a wonderful option, particularly in summer. Not perfect if you like quality wine but a good compromise.

    • inthetaratory October 24, 2014 at 8:14 am #

      I agree entirely! They mentioned the cafe is doing a lot of new things so expect there might be some lunches on? Will have a deeper look.

  2. Susan October 27, 2014 at 3:12 am #

    I’m glad drinks are back on. But I have to say, I do miss the lovely Kitchen Cabinet

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