Tucking into a classic pub meal on a Friday night is a marvellous thing. The promise of a comforting, familiar, well-priced dish along with a bevvy to end the week had me heading to Badger & Co.
Located in the ANU Kambri Precinct, an easy walk from Civic, Badger & Co is the on-campus pub providing a place where students, academics and the local community can study, eat, drink, meet and mingle.
I first visited when it opened in February 2019 and was struck by how far university pubs had come from my student days when they served bad food and were dark and dingy with sticky floors and upholstery.
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 onto Black Mountain Tower and Sullivan’s Creek.
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, there is nothing sticky or dingy about the space, which features concrete and recycled timber.
In comparison to my first visit, the pub feels more lived-in now. They have found their groove and what works for their target market. Pool tables have been added to the mix, sports are playing on the overhead televisions, and they have switched out live music for curated staff playlists. On the food front, the menu has had a revamp to concentrate on value for money hearty pub classics with no dish over $20.
Walking in on a Friday night, it is buzzing, there is a nice atmosphere, and it reminds me how great it is after our COVID-19 restrictions to once again be able to indulge in the simple pleasures of going to the pub.
Like visiting any good local, it is all about community and Badger & Co aptly reflects its community. The staff are mainly students studying at ANU, and they tell me during the day, they are flooded with nearby public servants in search of a good feed. The evenings tend to be more of a university crowd.
The menu is compact and full of hearty crowd-pleasers. All the pub classics are there: wedges with sweet chilli sauce and sour cream, buffalo wings and nachos catch my eye on the starter list. Schnitzel, parmigiana, steak, pasta, burgers and salad round things out.
All orders for drinks and food are done at the bar. There are 11 tap beers to choose from, along with a smattering of wine and a full selection of spirits except for the drink of my youth, Midori (I asked for old times’ sake and was glad to learn students have moved on from the sweet fluorescent green drink).
With drinks in hand, we settle at one of the large round tables waiting for our buzzer to signal our food was ready for collection. The wait is short, and our starter and mains all come out a once. All generously portioned, I start with the buffalo hot wings. They are large and meaty with a perfect tang to the sauce. A meal in itself, it was the highlight for me.
For mains, my dining partner orders the fish and chips while I step out of my chicken schnitzel comfort zone to order a chicken parmigiana which, looking around at food on neighbouring tables, is one of the most popular choices.
The large serving of panko-crumbed chicken topped with ham, red sauce and mozzarella with chips and salad is a big meal.
The chicken is moist and lovely and reminded me exactly why I have such a love for chicken schnitzel. It is a very satisfying way to end the week, especially when washed down with a glass of white wine.
Visit Badger & Co at the Health & Well-being Centre, Kambri Precinct at ANU. It’s open Monday to Friday from 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm and Saturday from 5:00 pm to late.