Bolt Bar, Aranda

5 Oct

A year ago Aranda Shops were empty. And they had been empty for more than a decade. The car park and the centre were dilapidated and if you were new to the area, you wouldn’t even know that it had once been shops.

That’s changed now. Two Before Ten has set up shop in the whole building, starting with its cafe on a far corner, followed by a library, followed, at the other end, by the adjoining, long awaited pub: Bolt Bar (named after Dirk Bolt, who designed the unusual building). Aranda Shops is now full of life in the mornings, and, with the Bolt Bar open til at least mid-evening seven days a week, I think it’s likely the whole area will be constantly humming very shortly.

On a recent long weekend I stopped in not once but twice – both to sample its own locally-named beers and to give the menu a run-through.

Bolt Bar is clothed in dark walls and dim lights; one of the dark walls will be perfect and is intended for big-screen projections of live games. Most of the room is high tables and chairs, but the library – connected with an archway – hosts more comfortable, lower chairs. The bar itself immediately greets you as you enter, framed by a wall of spirits. The kitchen is in the back corner.

Beers include the Bolt Brew (my favourite), Aranda Pale, Kingston Steam and Oktoberfest. More mainstream beers will also be added to the tap. A pint is about $8. There’s also a range of common and more uncommon bottled beers and wines available, with the range ever-growing.

In two visits I managed to eat a lot of food. The menu is split into smaller things (small, share bites, about $14-16), bigger things (duck leg, beef cheek and fettuccine) and a range of things from the grill, including lamb burgers, steaks and – of course – chicken schnitzel ($19).

On my first night I’m all over the smaller things. My picks are the mushroom and tarragon crepes (3 per serve at $14) and ham and cheese croquettes (6 per serve at $16). The crab and croutes (basically a crab mix on toasted bread) is tasty but a little more difficult to eat and the spiced calamari packs a punch. All of the sauces with the dishes are delicious, and I hope the fries with rosemary salt ($9) soon have an accompanying sauce, too.

Warning! terrible mobile phone pic: Crab and croutes, with the crepes in the background

Moreish, hot, creamy, delicious ham and cheese croquettes

On the Monday we’re keen for something a little bigger so opt for the chicken schnitzel with a choice of sauces and sweet potato fries. At $19 this is on the upper end of the reasonable schnitzel price but I’m pleased with the size of the meal and the mountain of excellent fries which accompany it. The sauces – served separately – are a little watery but this doesn’t detract from the taste. We also enjoy the mushroom and tarragon crepes again (they are really good!).

With specials like Wednesday Jaffle, Fries and Heineken ($10) and Tuesday $10 rump steaks, 3pm opening hours Monday-Thursday and from midday Friday-Sunday, and warmer weather to open the bar up to, I predict a lot of success for Belconnen’s newest bar…

… and it’s always worth reminding that it is in a residential area. The brick wall that borders the car park has homes right on the other side of it. Respect the residents – especially if you’re having a drink outside in the lovely sunshine or warm evening.

Date: 26 and 28 September 2015

Where: Aranda Shops, Bandjalong Crescent, Aranda

Cost: See above

Value for money: Reasonable (especially the drink prices)

Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile

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4 Responses to “Bolt Bar, Aranda”

  1. Melini February 27, 2016 at 11:57 pm #

    Shame this place dose not care about the local children or residents.
    My daughter is 8 and is being kept awake every night! Smoke fills her bedroom because of this bar.
    The owner Chris is a pathetic human being with no morals or concise.

  2. Kate March 26, 2016 at 7:46 pm #

    I would not recommend that anyone goes here. We ordered five meals on a Saturday morning and had to wait an hour for them (there was only 5 other people in the bar). They seemed to only have one person in the kitchen who was cooking one meal at a time. When the meals arrived they were all cold. The fish and chips were cold (how hard is it to put something in the deep fryer with the right timing?). We got the special of the pulled pork burger which arrived on a partly frozen bun and was complete cold, it was more like a salad and pork roll. At one stage I had seen the chef walk out from the kitchen confused and looking at the specials board. I assume he had no idea what a pulled pork burger was. The schnitzel was hot but the chips were horribly cold. We sent all the meals back and got our money back. The waitress was apologetic but the chef was not at all and seemed a bit annoyed. Like it’s our fault that he can’t cook! Horrible place with slow service and everything is frozen. The chef has no idea what he is doing.


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