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Cheap Eats – Marble and Grain (Braddon)

Alexandra Craig 6 January 2016 32

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Marble and Grain in Braddon is the restaurant attached to The Avenue hotel. They opened up some time last year and then had a re-launch this year with the new addition of a gastropub. When they initially opened, I went along with a couple of friends and had an utterly terrible experience. I won’t go into details but it was very, very bad.

I heard Marble and Grain had a $14 lunch special so despite my awful experience, I still wanted to go along to see if things had changed.

When we arrived it took a little while for us to be seated and we were advised we would have to sit in the pub section as there was no more room in the restaurant. We could see about 15 empty tables in the restaurant but perhaps they were expecting a rush of reserved bookings. Anyway, the pub section was fine to sit in. It was nice and quiet at one o’clock in the afternoon.

The $14 lunch special has a handful of options; a beef burger, poached chicken salad, fish and chips, chicken schnitzel, and mushroom gnocchi.  My friends ordered the burger and the gnocchi, I opted for the chicken schnitzel as it sounded a bit fancier than your average pub schnitzel.

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The meals came out quickly and they looked really good. They far exceeded our expectations in terms of presentation. Often lunch specials aren’t nicely plated because well, you’re paying $10-$15 for it, but our meals looked great.

My schnitzel was much smaller than what you would expect a schnitzel to be (but by no means was it a small dish), but this was not a bad thing at all. Less is more. It was cooked perfectly and the potato salad it came with was delicious.

My friend loved her beef burger, she said the meat was delicious and cooked perfectly. Her only complaint is that the bun was a bit bready, as in, too much bread. Other than that she really enjoyed it.

My partner had the gnochhi and he thought it was great. He said it may have been a tiny bit oily, but there was lots of mushroom and lots of flavour.

Overall, I was highly impressed with the quality and the value for money that the $14 lunch special had to offer. Comparing my two experiences with Marble and Grain, I think they have improved significantly since the first time I visited and I’ll definitely be back again.

What: Marble and Grain
Where: Mort Street, Braddon (back of The Avenue hotel, just up from McDonalds)
Opening hours: 6.30am-12.00am (7 days) Lunch special 12.00pm-2.00pm (7 days)
Website: http://www.marbleandgrain.com.au/


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32 Responses to
Cheap Eats – Marble and Grain (Braddon)
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rubaiyat 8:25 pm 13 Jan 16

Just briefly watched a report on TV “revealing” that smoothies are unhealthy! Who would have thought it?

That people need to have the bleedin’ obvious on this, and lots of other unhealthy franchise “Healthy” food fads explained to them, and yet still ignore the fundamental message, shows just how insane and irrational food marketing has made them.

Kerryhemsley 2:53 pm 13 Jan 16

Reschs is an interesting choice for someone so discerning about what goes in their mouth.
Even clubs do better than that these days. Junk beer

rubaiyat 10:47 am 13 Jan 16

btw Don’t think that because I mentioned those three clubs I was actually recommending them.

Just making the point that if you want bog standard pub food that isn’t going to scare granny and don’t want to spend ridiculous prices, places like Marble and Grain are a poor choice.

I was just responding to the dubious excuses put up by other posters.

Spend less, eat somewhat better, be more discriminating.

Three things that got us out of era of Ozzie Stodge.

rubaiyat 10:07 am 13 Jan 16

Charlotte Harper said :

If you submit a list of suggested cheap eats restaurants we’ll add them to the list for consideration for our reviewers, Rubaiyat. I’ll pass on the suggestions that we cover those three clubs and look out for healthy options.

I’ll do that but with the following caveats.

1. Eating out regularly is generally not good for you. Even, perhaps especially, good restaurants are careless with the salt, sugar and animal fats.

2. Some of that you can fix, by asking for no added salt especially if there is already a salty sauce. You can always add it yourself to taste. Just play it down, a good shake is often more than what you should have for the entire day, and processed food is already loaded with the stuff, rendering the need for you to salt it superfluous. The only reason why you may be hooked on the stuff is you have built up resistance and let it get out of hand to the point you can’t taste anything else and think that is the actual flavour, which in the case of most junk food made from rubbish ingredients, it is.

3. Eating more is no solution for eating crap. It is not going to get any better just because you stuffed yourself.

4. Even recommended places vary. It is not always the same chef, or the sous/head chef working on your plate and it is an industry where staff move around a lot.

5. Use your eyes and nose and common sense. That photo and usually the ridiculously overwritten menu are not what you often get on your plate. That may be a fatuous point but a quick glance at what people do as opposed to say they do, shows it can’t be said often enough.

6. Be ready to say what you thought, without animosity, and be prepared to walk away. Restauranteurs pay more attention to that than anything else. We are spoiled for choice, it does not have to be the lazy one.

9. Pay attention to the better informed ‘hipsters”. They may not always get it right but they are trying and often have tried a lot. Beats getting tips from those who only eat where, when and what least frightens them.

10. Look around the kitchen. Amazing what you can spot. One I went to recently that proclaimed in huge signage “Authentic Asian cooked on premises”, I caught the “chef” shaking out the frozen boxes. He saw me seeing him too, no words were spoken. Cairns I think.

11. Cook, prepare meals for yourself. It isn’t that hard and the TV and computer games could probably do with a break and you’ll save a mozza.

Last but not least:

12. When in doubt, don’t.

rubaiyat 7:50 am 13 Jan 16

Timmytron said :

I ate a Marble and Grain once. The mains and entrees were okay, nothing standout.

Dessert however. They covered the creme bruelee with salt instead of caster sugar and somehow managed to caramelise it.

It tasted like how I imagine drinking water from the dead sea would taste.

Never again.

That may very well have launched my son’s chef career.

I had found some excellent Beurre Bosc pears at Canberra Markets and decided I would poach them in red wine with an extremely thin toffee glaze a la Philipine Pears Vulcan.

The poaching seemed to be taking a lot longer than normal and the pear were not coloring up as expected but a quick probe showed they were cooked but still firm, So removed them from the pot and did the light toffee glaze. They looked great and I put them on the table proudly. My son who was still small took one taste and said “This is incredibly salty”.

My wife had used the jar we keep the sugar in to decant the salt, and I had committed the fundamental mistake of not tasting. My son has never made that mistake!

rubaiyat 7:04 am 13 Jan 16

Charlotte Harper said :

Yep, I have indeed edited the last couple of lines of this comment, because they were disparaging of our reviewers. Happy to publish a comment that talks about what you like or do not like about the content of our reviews, but not when it mocks or belittles members of our team.

To paraphrase The Corrs, “There May be a Reason”.

btw I haven’t been to any of the clubs I belong to for a while. They are so cheap in Canberra which has more per head of population than anywhere else, you may as well join as not join.

Just to check out the supposition that Marble and Grain’s $14 lunch specials are actually the stated “Good value” I ate in the Southern Cross yesterday. It could just as easily have been the Canberra Labor Club or the Hellenic, and ate the lunch schnitzel (large chicken Vienna Schnitzel, salad and chips, none overcooked or salty) for the standard $9.90 or $8.90 if a member. With a schooner of Reschs it came to less than the meal at Marble and Grain which was beyond ordinary when I tried it late last year.

I am constantly astonished at what some here think and do. I am not going to try every single eatery in City to make the point but I know quite a number that are substantially cheaper, no worse and probably better than those proposed here. Since I am selective but eat a broader spectrum of food than it seems most of the readers, most would also offer healthier options.

My son, who is an excellent chef, worked briefly in a Club at my suggestion, it didn’t work out because of the Head Chef and my son quickly moved on to something better, but he did learn the point I was making that due to the high turn over and therefore constant practice many club chefs can actually nail the basics. Many but not all.

One of the key objectives with any food is to of course pay attention, and not overcook the food. A common mistake that people are so used to that it seems that they actually expect that and call that “cooked perfectly”. That and pour salt all over it to try and give it the flavour it otherwise lacks. Also grease it up and possible sugar it as well. Chilli and mayo are other great disguises for poor ingredients.

My Dad is always impressed by wife’s Vienna Schnitzel, despite the fact he has been cooking it all his life and comes from source, and my wife is not European. He always asks her what the secret is and she tells him, don’t cook it to death. Which, like I suspect many of the readers here, he ignores.

Just as despite I have often recommended many good restaurants in both Canberra and surrounds, the readers blithely ignore that as well and go on with whatever is buzzing through their thoughts at the time. Mostly resentment.

I may beat the quality/healthy drum, but really it does need it here. Look around you at your neighbours and the people you meet day to day in Canberra, it is death by food.

Like Robert Morley’s character in “Who is Killing the Great Chef’s of Europe”, if that is going to be your chosen method of exit, don’t waste the opportunity to do it in style.

    Charlotte Harper 8:29 am 13 Jan 16

    If you submit a list of suggested cheap eats restaurants we’ll add them to the list for consideration for our reviewers, Rubaiyat. I’ll pass on the suggestions that we cover those three clubs and look out for healthy options.

chewy14 10:25 am 12 Jan 16

bj_ACT said :

I was very impressed by Rubaiyat’s food review and found it very interesting and informative. I am now keen for Rubaiyat to do a review on some locally grown oleander tea.

Many readers here would find that delicious.

That would be an interesting review to pass away (the time) to.

Timmytron 9:59 am 12 Jan 16

I ate a Marble and Grain once. The mains and entrees were okay, nothing standout.

Dessert however. They covered the creme bruelee with salt instead of caster sugar and somehow managed to caramelise it.

It tasted like how I imagine drinking water from the dead sea would taste.

Never again.

bj_ACT 2:01 pm 11 Jan 16

I was very impressed by Rubaiyat’s food review and found it very interesting and informative. I am now keen for Rubaiyat to do a review on some locally grown oleander tea.

Many readers here would find that delicious.

rubaiyat 7:49 am 11 Jan 16

dukethunder said :

Can’t wait for Rubes’ guide to summernats food stalls.

Straight up Northbourne, on your left when you smell burnt rubber and gas and can’t hear yourself think. “Accessible from car window”.

Word count: 22

rubaiyat 6:11 am 11 Jan 16

Kalliste said :

lol I’d be interested in a review series by Rubayat too!

Your wish is my command:

WHAT I ATE IN MY HOLIDAYS

Nan and Pop and sis n me all went in the car to all these amazing restaurants.

My best favourite was Macdonalds. The food is the best because they have a play place!

I go this great trik wear I eat the food and only look at the picture up on the wall behind the counter.

Don look at the food or it spoils it for ya.

We wen all these other kool places like KFC, Hungry Jacks, and lots of others n they wer all really amazin but after a while I couldn remember which one I was in and I asked for a Happy Meal in Burger King and they all laughed at me!

Pop sed he was sick of all these places because he coodn get a beer and we shuld go to a proper place. So he tok us to MArbles n Groan. They din’t even have a proper car park or anything and the fries were all the wrong shape. Nan said its real special though and make sure we eat our burgers with the knives and fooks. I sed where’s the box? Don they have boxes here? Wears my box!

Sis had some funny green stuff on her plate an was too scared to touch it. Pop had to take it off and put it in the bin, but Pop got pissed off because he couldn’t find a big bin anywhere. Sure nowhere you could reach from the table anyway. So he tossed it on the floor. Said that’ll teach them.

Sis still wooden eat cause the green stuff had touched her burger. So we went back to Macdonalds and I showed her my trick with the picture.

THE END

ruby age 9 and three quarter pounders :0

rubaiyat 1:13 am 11 Jan 16

In answer to the “rubaiyat hates everything, because he says unkind things about my favourite whatever…”

I really, Really, REALLY LOVE when anyone does ANYTHING well, putting their heart and soul into what they do.

Whether it be singing, art, craft, writing, thinking, performing, even something as basic as cleaning toilets, if THAT is what you do.

…yes that includes reviewing, and …cooking.

I have Never regretted paying too much for something that is really good, but never More than paying Anything for obvious lack of effort.

I always thank the kitchen staff when they have done a great job, it doesn’t have to be fine dining, just cooked with ‘Care and Pride’. I get a kick out of their faces, not often that anyone remembers them, let alone praises their hard work. If only Canberrans similarly rewarded effort.

Canberra has the old Australian mindset, which gets more than adequate air time here, an undying hatred for anyone who tries “too hard” or thinks “too hard”.

Shortly after I came to Canberra a project I was involved in was knocked back for being “Too Good”. It was not just the absurdity of that assumption that left me speechless (was it even possible?), it was the agreement that it got around the room.

That sad, sad notion praises the bad for being “normal”, “natural”, “what we need”.

All part of the obligatory, “Not Trying”.

    Charlotte Harper 12:12 pm 11 Jan 16

    Yep, I have indeed edited the last couple of lines of this comment, because they were disparaging of our reviewers. Happy to publish a comment that talks about what you like or do not like about the content of our reviews, but not when it mocks or belittles members of our team.

rommeldog56 11:02 am 10 Jan 16

rubaiyat said :

Everyone has their own idea of what “good” or “great” is, which is why just saying “good” or “great” is meaningless, but if your cookbooks are all Colour-In don’t make out like you are a discerning food aficionado.

THAT is what I find wrong with these “reviews”.

If you ask a bloke where you can get a decent pie and he recommends a place that is “cheap”, “decent feed” and “choice of 3 Heinz sauces”, you are getting an honest review. To make out the same pie and sauces are something fancier, …well that is something else

I’m certain that Alexandra Craig, nor any other food/venue reviewer on RiotAct, is trying to make out that they are a “discerning food aficionado” as u claim.

Can you please give the reviewers on here a break………

dukethunder 8:03 pm 09 Jan 16

Can’t wait for Rubes’ guide to summernats food stalls.

Kalliste 6:06 pm 09 Jan 16

lol I’d be interested in a review series by Rubayat too! Because, as mentioned in previous comments, nothing seems to meet his standards in Canberra. Other than that the bacon out at Pialligo is decent.. I think?

I had lunch at Marble and Grain about 12 months ago and it was of a similar price but I had a burger and I don’t know what it was in it but I just could not stand it. I’ve never eaten anything before that made me just want to spit it out on the plate. My boyfriend had no issues with it though so it must have just been something that my tastebuds didn’t enjoy… I also see that they’ve changed the chips which is a bit sad. The ones they were selling in the beginning actually looked like they came from a potato and were really nice.

One thing I did want to note is that although the lunch menu is cheap their regular menu isn’t. Hopefully no one goes there for dinner and gets a shock at the high prices (comparatively) on the menu. When I went there for dinner a few months ago they also had an outdated menu on the website and on the electronic display on the window. The dishes were different and the prices of the steak had increased.

rubaiyat 3:30 pm 09 Jan 16

justin heywood said :

rubaiyat said :

I am never much wiser on reading these reviews, but I don’t read them with the expectation of learning anything, except what the RiotACT correspondent eats, which seems to be a narrow band of junk food.

The English language is one of the most astoundingly expressive and detailed languages the world has ever seen. We are rapidly losing track of exactly how many words are in circulation and the fine distinctions in the many alternate meanings of those words.

In this case what exactly do “delicious”, “cooked perfectly”, “lots of flavour”, and even “looked great/really good” mean.

The photo is a happy snap so I can’t be absolutely certain but that schnitzel looks well over-cooked, my guess is dry and getting on the stringy side. The chips look standard bendy. The presentation seems to be the throw away skewer in the “bready” burger.

So short of getting out my atomic spectrometer and running it over the jpeg to ascertain the salt, fat and sugar content, are we left with anything other than “I liked it/didn’t like it”? Since “Man (woman) is the measure of all things” we have the same problem as when a yard was the length of the king’s nose to the tip of his long finger.

The only thing I can say for sure is that you think $14 for any of that is actually a cheap mid day lunch in a pub. I don’t even know if the drinks were thrown in, or extra? Or whether they were “poured perfectly”.

Ha. Do you realise that it took you 504 words of snark to complain about a review of 411 words, and you really said nothing except that YOU didn’t like the review? And you wonder why you get moderated.

A good review in my opinion. A plain just-the-facts article with a few simple photos, unpretentious, entirely in keeping with the tone of the place. Certainly made me want to try it.

I said EXACTLY why I didn’t think much of the review, one of them being “liking/not liking” isn’t very edifying because that is mere opinion and just a call to “Do as I do”.

Also you have no idea of why I get moderated.

As I don’t. One of them simply said that I had tried Marble and Grain.

justin heywood 9:55 pm 08 Jan 16

rubaiyat said :

I am never much wiser on reading these reviews, but I don’t read them with the expectation of learning anything, except what the RiotACT correspondent eats, which seems to be a narrow band of junk food.

The English language is one of the most astoundingly expressive and detailed languages the world has ever seen. We are rapidly losing track of exactly how many words are in circulation and the fine distinctions in the many alternate meanings of those words.

In this case what exactly do “delicious”, “cooked perfectly”, “lots of flavour”, and even “looked great/really good” mean.

The photo is a happy snap so I can’t be absolutely certain but that schnitzel looks well over-cooked, my guess is dry and getting on the stringy side. The chips look standard bendy. The presentation seems to be the throw away skewer in the “bready” burger.

So short of getting out my atomic spectrometer and running it over the jpeg to ascertain the salt, fat and sugar content, are we left with anything other than “I liked it/didn’t like it”? Since “Man (woman) is the measure of all things” we have the same problem as when a yard was the length of the king’s nose to the tip of his long finger.

The only thing I can say for sure is that you think $14 for any of that is actually a cheap mid day lunch in a pub. I don’t even know if the drinks were thrown in, or extra? Or whether they were “poured perfectly”.

Ha. Do you realise that it took you 504 words of snark to complain about a review of 411 words, and you really said nothing except that YOU didn’t like the review? And you wonder why you get moderated.

A good review in my opinion. A plain just-the-facts article with a few simple photos, unpretentious, entirely in keeping with the tone of the place. Certainly made me want to try it.

rubaiyat 9:14 pm 08 Jan 16

Just saw the Pialligo Smokehouse bacon get mentioned on the ABC tonight in Countrywide.

Anyone who has tried it will know, not just what “good” is, or “great tasting” is, but if they paid attention when they were young, what bacon USED to taste like. That smokey full on pork, not too much fat, thicker cut and a good rind, that we used to enjoy before we got substituted watery sulphurated mass produced imports of unexercised caged pigs that deceptively say “Made in Australia”.

I get that a lot of people only want lotsa and cheap, blithely ignoring quality, but please it is Deception to make out, like the “Australian” bacon, that it is something it is not.

My fascination with this series of reviews, and with the RiotACT generally, actually started with the reviews on that 3 minute wonder, cup cakes. The reviews actually perked my interest enough to get me to go into a couple that had such high praise heaped on them. I was shocked. One by the ridiculous prices and two by the awful childish rubbish. This was the Woman’s Weekly Kids Birthday Cake cookbook being sold to adults. Bright artificial colours, with cheap lollies planted in them as faces, dressed up with smarmy pseudo hip names and merchandising. People were catering weddings with them for more than it costs for top pastry by trained bakers who care.

Face painting meets Coles Cake Rack.

Everyone has their own idea of what “good” or “great” is, which is why just saying “good” or “great” is meaningless, but if your cookbooks are all Colour-In don’t make out like you are a discerning food aficionado.

THAT is what I find wrong with these “reviews”.

If you ask a bloke where you can get a decent pie and he recommends a place that is “cheap”, “decent feed” and “choice of 3 Heinz sauces”, you are getting an honest review. To make out the same pie and sauces are something fancier, …well that is something else.

Look forward to the annual Coke/Pepsi tasting. Tinny vs Plastic. How long you should lay the bottle down for, and whether the spouts at Maccers can ever match the experience of unscrewing that cap for yourself!

rubaiyat 4:31 pm 08 Jan 16

For those interested:

Have I eaten at Marble and Grain?

Yes.

rosscoact 4:22 pm 08 Jan 16

Food was pretty good, not great but certainly up to pub standard.

Wine list was about the same as you would get at an RSL in a small country town. Mediocre at best. Which is a shame because the experience could be much improved by a well curated wine list.

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