I’ve spent a bit of time at the University of Canberra over the past few weeks. I was a student at UC a few years ago, and it’s interesting to see what’s changed since I left.
There is student accommodation where there used to be car parks. There are boom gates where it used to be free parking, and shiny new buildings all over campus.
But in my opinion, one of the best changes is that there are so many new places to eat. From a handful of ho-hum cafes and a couple of cafeteria-style eateries, UC has come a long way in recent years. Just this month it opened its own student-built, student-run bar, The Well.
I’ve eaten my way through a couple of the newer cafes, but the one that I’m excited to tell you about is Oscar’s Bakery Cafe, which is tucked away underneath Coopers Lodge.
Almost everything at Oscar’s is made on site, including the bread, pasta, pide bases, burger patties, schnitzels, aioli, dips, cakes, and even the filo pastry for the baklava.
For a place that makes everything on site, the food is dirt cheap. On my first visit I left with two very excellent house-made meat pies and a gigantic brownie for $11.
At Oscar’s, sausage rolls and brownies are $3 each. Giant chicken rolls and toasties are $6. Meat pies are $4, or $4.50 if you want to splurge on the beef and bacon variety. Students don’t know how good they have it. You can pay more than $6 for a coffee in the real world.
Oscar’s also does a proper food menu, with burgers and chips ($13 each), Turkish plates (around $16) and pides. On this visit I ordered a beef burger with chips. It’s a small cafe with mostly outdoor tables, and since it was a miserable day I ordered my meal to take away.
The service was reasonably quick, and the serving size was enormous. There would have been enough chips in this container to feed me, all my siblings and maybe even my next door neighbours. They were hot and crispy too.
With house-made bread, beef patty and aioli, I was expecting good things from this burger. And even though each of the components stood up on its own, the ratio of wet ingredients to bread wasn’t quite right. The top half was great, but the bottom half was soggy from sauce and aioli and collapsed when I tried to pick it up. (Apologies to anyone in the UC refectory on Monday afternoon, because my table manners as I attacked my lunch were atrocious.)
The burger was good value, but next time I’m getting another pie.
What: Oscar’s Bakery Cafe
Where: Cooper Lodge, 7 Telita Street Bruce
Opening hours: 8am to 9pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 8.30pm Saturday and 11am to 5pm Sunday.