Forget everything you know about university pubs in Australia because the newly opened Badger & Co on the ANU campus is setting a high new standard that is modern, stylish and functional.
The good news is, it isn’t just for students either; it is a beautifully designed space to spend some time no matter what life stage you are at.
Prior to my first visit, I had flashbacks to the university pub during my student days. It had bad food, was dark, dingy, featured sticky floors, uncomfortable high top tables with vinyl stools and was not anyone’s first choice for a night out or casual relaxing drink.
Badger & Co, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. It is expansive and light-filled, featuring over 500 square metres of both indoor and outdoor space. An impressive large timber bar anchors the room while the huge floor to ceiling windows take advantage of the location with views looking onto Black Mountain Tower and Sullivan’s Creek.
It was expertly designed by Capezio Copeland, the creative force behind the slick hip interiors of two of the city’s most beloved restaurants, Eighty-six in Braddon and XO in Narrabundah. Importance was placed on sustainability throughout the project. The use of existing concrete infrastructure and introduced recycled timber blends seamlessly with a contemporary range of textures, finishes and details.
Located at the new ANU Kambri Precinct which is an easy walk from Civic, Badger & Co was modelled off ‘The Faculty Club’ concept. Providing a place where students, academics and the local community can study, eat, drink, meet, and mingle in an awe-inspiring space. That is exactly what has been happening since they opened their doors in February.
Open seven days a week from 9 am until late, the menu is varied and caters for all hunger levels and budgets from the lunch crowd, after-work drinks and nibbles, dinner and weekend sessions.
There are share plates, featuring the perfect late afternoon snack, of which our pick, with a nice glass of wine, was the more-ish Panko Crumbed Haloumi fingers served with chipotle aioli and a serve of Tempura Zucchini Flowers. The main meal options include Scotch Fillet, Panko Crumbed Chicken Schnitzel and our favourite Prawn Linguini with white wine, garlic, chilli, cherry tomatoes and pangrattato bread crumbs. The dish was bursting with flavour and full of plump juicy prawns.
Some of the most popular dishes to date at Badger & Co have been the burgers. The Fried Chicken Burger is a balanced combination with kimchi, lettuce, kewpie mayo and fries while the Wagyu Beef Burger with cheese, lettuce, onion, bacon jam and fries which satisfies a carnivorous hunger.
Being a university pub, after all, there is a strong emphasis on student and wallet-friendly specials throughout the week. From a juicy $13 Burger deal on Monday night to 1kg Wings for $10, available every Tuesday evening. The wings are hot, spicy, saucy and satisfyingly messy, the whole experience could quite possibly be the best $10 you spend all week. There is a classic $10 Schnitty Night on Wednesday and a $12 Pasta night on Thursday to keep you warm through the cold months.
As you would expect, drinks and music feature heavily in the weekly lineup as well. With a tempting $5 Happy Hour every Thursday and Friday night. The music lineup is all about homegrown local talent with RnB Jam on Thursday nights. An initiative run by Badger & Co in conjunction with Moku Music Canberra featuring an opening act by an ANU School of Music student, followed by the Canberra RnB Collective, a band of local musicians jamming out to classic RnB music. On Friday, live music continues with an ever-changing schedule of local upcoming artists.
Visit Badger & Co at the Health & Well-being Centre, Kambri Precinct @ ANU. Open Monday – Sunday, 11 am – Late.