I recently read the story of how the Coney (a grilled chilli-hot-dog) became Detroit’s signature dish. It’s a fascinating yarn that reminds me how important good, affordable food for workers is critical for any city. It also made me think – does Canberra have a signature dish? Dr Google couldn’t answer that question, so I began to think … if Canberra had a signature dish, what would it be??
When I started food writing a few years ago, one of the meals which struck me with its ubiquity across our city was the humble schnitzel (or schnitty for the true connoisseurs). Is there another meal that is served in every single club, pub and many restaurants across the ACT? In terms of calories for cost, its value is pretty hard to beat as well.
$9.90 hot schnitzel at #Canberra City Labor Club 2day was v spicey lunch. A recommended #CBR cheap eat! pic.twitter.com/0oZN0iMedM
— CBR foodie (@CBRFoodie) February 10, 2014
The RiotACT previously covered reader’s recommendations for Canberra’s best schnitty in and the Austrian Club in Mawson was declared the winner after a taste-off between the two most popular destinations. The other was the Tradies. My favourite memory from the Dickson Tradies was in early 2001 of eating a massive schnitty in an old tram carriage, surrounded by vintage bicycles.
There are lots of places I would recommend trying a schnitty in Canberra, including the three mentioned above. Also high on my personal favourite list are the Durham Castle in Kingston ($10 lunch specials), Eastlake Football Club, Knuckles Restaurant at the German Harmonie Club, Edgar’s Inn Ainslie and there’s a few schnitzel burgers around too.
Speaking of burgers, maybe Brodburger could be considered Canberra’s signature dish? It has a lot of competition for burgers these days, but is still a quintessential Canberra brand, especially now that they have second van serving their burgers at ANU!
OK, I know schnitties are Austrian and burgers are American food, but is there a real authentic Canberra food? No doubt someone will suggest Bogong moths or Kangaroo Tail, but last time I looked there weren’t too many commercial kitchens serving them up.
How about the famous Freakshake by Patissez?!
Bentspoke beer? Beer is made from grain and hops and yeast, so it is definitely a kind of food don’t you agree?
The Yabby Jaffle at Hotel Hotel’s Monster Kitchen and Bar?
I’m all for letting the readers decide once and for all what is Canberra’s signature dish. What other foods should we add to the list for a survey?
I’ll put in an early vote for schnitties, but strongly recommend only trying one per day. And probably not more than a couple per week, just to be on the safe side.
Last year I visited Schnitzel House in Erindale (not sure why, but I enjoyed eating here more than the one in Braddon, it just seems a bit more noisy, friendly and authentic) and tried their “schnitzel challenge” and lived to tell the tale. You’re meant to polish off two large schnitzels, a large serving of pork belly, large bowl of chips, salad and a pint of beer. Anyway I passed the test, but boy did that second schnitty wipe the smile off my face!
Please add your comments below, what do you think is Canberra’s signature dish? Where is your favourite example? What other foods should we add to the list for a survey?
Elias Hallaj (aka CBRfoodie) is a part-time food blogger and full-time political staffer who has joined RiotACT as a regular contributor. All his opinions about schnitties are his own. Don’t worry he is trying to cut back on eating too much, but insists schnitties are just too damned tasty. If you have any tips or feedback or advice about schnitties or your own favourite signature food around Canberra you can add a comment below or find him most nights on Twitter @CBRfoodie.