Less than a minute down the highway from Gold Creek, take a right and follow a side road to Hall Village. Worth a visit for its historical buildings, you can explore Hall with the National Trust’s self-guided heritage walk which takes about 90 minutes, and then refuel at the centrally located 1882 Bar & Grill for lunch or a relaxed dinner out on the patio.
It’s a bright modern space and owner Cindy warmly welcomes us like old friends.
“We opened in March of last year. This building had been closed for about 11 months. It used to be a tavern called the Wood Duck,” she explains.
After taking ownership, Cindy and her co-owner, sister Nikki, gave a much-needed facelift to the interior that was worn out and prematurely aged by years of wild nights. They and their families worked hard. Everyone did their bit.
They ripped up the carpet, stripping back the concrete for an exposed aggregate finish. The open ceiling mirrors the contemporary style of the flooring, its wooden beams and foil caterpillars of insulation are a talking piece and comes with a bit of a backstory. Ask Cindy to tell you.
The sisters brought in Stephanie Stirling, a Canberra-based interior designer, to help design and inspire the new interior.
Cindy solves the enigma of the restaurant’s name, explaining that Hall was established in 1882 and that naming their restaurant after this date was Nikki’s idea as a nod to the neighbourhood.
Cindy and Nikki knew that in starting the new restaurant, they had a lot to live up to. The community had supported the previous tavern through some dark times.
“There was a lot of heart in this place and we had a bit to prove when we came in to make sure we could live up to expectations,” Cindy says. “Every business brings different opportunities. While before it was good for young people, now we have families coming. Even though we are licensed until midnight, were rarely open after 10:30 pm. People come for a meal, they don’t just come to drink, unless it’s an afternoon. We feature live music outside on Sunday afternoons. People love it, they can bring their kids and they can just run to the oval.”
Cindy says the sisters are grateful for the backing of the local community.
“The locals love it. Chef Davis Cheng was an executive chef at the Press Club for years. He has guided the way the menu has gone. He brought on board a lot of people who have followed him around different places in Canberra.”
Chef Davis is all about modern Australia cuisine, and he loves his steak and seafood.
“It’s a great team, lovely staff, and we have been so lucky to have the support of the local community. We don’t get any passing traffic. People have to make the effort to come here, and they do!”
Keep an eye out on 1882’s social media channels for their regular wine dinners.
“Canberra is blessed with amazing wineries,” says Cindy. “Our wine list is heavy with local wines. We have had a lot of great wine dinners featuring local wineries like Clonakilla, Eden Road and Nick O’Leary. It is usually a 5-course meal with matching wines and the winemaker comes to talk about the wines.”
Our dinner arrives. We start with the scallop entrée, dragging a forkful of sweet, succulent scallop through the earthy cream and musk of goat’s cheese, topped with crispy rice flakes. A delicious combination.
Our mains are the Duck Breast and Lamb Gnocchi. The duck breast is tender and juicy, resting on a bed of cauliflower rice, tangy with citrus reduction. The gnocchi are al dente morsels tossed with fragrant lamb ragu, peas and parmesan cheese.
A delicate panna cotta is the perfect finish to our tasty meal.
1882 Bar and Grill is located at 13 Gladstone St in Hall.
They are open Wednesday to Friday from 11:30 am to 10:00 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 am to 11:00 pm.