Search for Corella Bar on social media or look at their website and you won’t find a description. You’ll find their menus, images and basic information so you know when they’re open and how to make a booking. So what is it?
To put it simply, Corella Bar is a beautiful wine bar serving refined modern Australian dishes that feature native Australian ingredients. In fact, every dish on their menu features at least one native ingredient.
There are only a handful of restaurants in Canberra showcasing native ingredients, and I would love to see more restaurants doing this.
Opening in late April, Corella Bar is located at the city end of Lonsdale Street in Braddon. I wasn’t sure how busy it would be at lunch and it’s risky business attempting to eat out without a booking these days. I originally had a booking for two, but my dining partner had to cancel.
Arriving at 1:30 pm on a Wednesday, I was seated at the front window bench. It’s a good spot to people watch and soak up the afternoon sun. If you don’t want to sit on a high seat, I recommend booking one of the standard tables or a table with the cushioned seating along the wall.
Only a few tables are occupied when I visit, but hungry diners continue to fill up more tables as I’m eating my way through the menu.
People walk by, looking in curiously before returning and asking if they can have a table without a booking. I wouldn’t attempt to do this at dinner as I’m told evenings are extremely busy and usually booked out. There are limited seats and it fills up fast.
It’s a small but beautiful space with arched windows that run up one side, complementing surrounding buildings on Lonsdale Street. The gorgeous bar runs along the other side and various shades of green have been used throughout the interior.
I can imagine the whole atmosphere changing at night when the lights are dimmed to create an intimate atmosphere. The kitchen is along the back wall and you can catch a glimpse of the action if you’re seated at one of the middle tables.
The cocktail list is interesting and I’m tempted by the Frosty Fruit – Ketel One vodka, pineapple, passionfruit, lemon and soda. The wine list has something for everyone with a good selection of sparkling, whites and reds by the glass or bottle. I have an afternoon of work to complete after lunch so I settle for a glass of Mada Sauv Blanc.
The menu is a la carte with a selection of smaller bites, small plates, large plates, sides and dessert. I’m told the Ranger’s Valley flank steak with charred lime and Davidson plum teriyaki is really popular. But I’d dined at a steakhouse the night before so I added it to the to-eat list for my next visit.
The Burrata with Illawarra plum jam, mint oil and pangrattato is recommended. Although I love burrata, and I surprise myself for saying no to cheese, I think it’s a dish that would be better shared between two.
I settle on the chicken liver parfait, caramelised onion and bush apple chutney served on toasted brioche ($9) and the prawn roll with fermented chilli mayo ($14) to start. The chicken liver parfait is delicious and the crunch of the brioche with the sweet onion and chutney is a winning combination. Give me a plate of these and I would be one happy customer. The chilli mayo has a nice amount of heat and compliments the crispy prawns on the soft roll.
I’m a fan of Kingfish sashimi, so I had to try the plum-cured Kingfish with blood lime, chilli, chives ($19). The fish is fresh and it’s a generous serving. The chilli is very subtle, although it’s a zesty dish and the sour blood lime flavour is very prominent. It’s almost like a palette cleanser, and I’m a fan of sour flavours so I enjoy this dish. It’s a nice way to break up the richness of the chicken liver parfait and the prawn roll before tackling the next food plate.
The Jerusalem artichoke spaghetti with coral mushroom and saltbush ($28) is an interesting dish. The spaghetti is from The Italian Place and it reminds me of thinner udon noodles. It’s slightly sweet with a nutty, salty flavour with a hint of umami. The crispy artichoke tastes like sweet potato and the coral mushrooms add a unique texture to the dish.
The charred sprouts with macadamia romesco and feta ($12) is a new dish to the menu so I ordered them too. I prefer crispier sprouts, but the macadamia romesco and feta added a nice flavour to them.
By this time, I’m full, but I need to try one of their desserts.
I want all three options, but I try the Corella cherry ripe with Lilly Pilly mousse, coconut ice cream, white chocolate and Milo snow. It’s a surprisingly light dish, and the combination of the creamy coconut ice cream with the chocolate glaze that coats the mousse and Milo snow is the perfect way to finish the meal.
A vegan dark chocolate native mint freckle was a complimentary end to the meal. They also have a vegan and vegetarian menu, and most of their dishes can be made gluten-free.
Corella Bar is a welcome addition to Lonsdale Street’s bar and restaurant scene and I’m excited to work my way through the food menu.
Corella Bar is located at 14 Lonsdale St, Braddon. They’re open from Wednesday to Sunday, midday until late.