Leyla is Canberra’s newest rooftop bar and it has all the makings of a new favourite venue.
With its dusky pink and cream tones, Leyla feels like it’s been transplanted from Bondi. I visited with friends on a cold Canberra evening and we felt cosy and warm while watching the rain against the windows.
We found ourselves a perch at a hightop bar and pored over the drinks menu. The Miami Mommy is a citrus blend of cumquat gin and chinotto nero: an Italian bitter orange drink. Sweetened with honey, it’s a more complex and nuanced drink than sugar-sweet cocktails and you savour each mouthful.
My friends chose Noose the Goose: an interesting combination of vodka and mandarin brandy, and a delightful pineapple and rum drink called the Hitchhiker.
The bar menu is small but cohesive. Gluten-free options are noted on the menu and the bar staff were able to tell my dairy-free dining companion what was safe for them to eat.
All ingredients for the bar snacks are prepared at the hotel kitchen then assembled to order by the bar staff, which means they aren’t able to make any significant changes to accommodate more complex dietary requirements. But most patrons should find at least a few items on the menu to suit them.
We ordered the wagyu beef tartare and seared tuna tostada to share, while the dairy-eaters at the table also ordered the prawn rolls which are made with fluffy, buttery brioche buns.
Traditionally, a tartare comes with all the condiments and sauces arranged on the side, but at Leyla they are premixed into the diced wagyu beef. The result is a dish that looks a little less confrontingly raw than your average tartare, and the flavours are absolutely spot on.
It’s seasoned perfectly with the right hit of mustard heat to cut through the indulgently fatty beef. We enjoyed it so much we ordered another.
Seafood rolls are one of my absolute favourite things: cold fresh prawns (or, in an ideal world, lobster) mixed with creamy mayonnaise and herbs piled high in a perfectly soft and crusty roll. The prawn roll at Leyla has yuzu in the mayo which really elevates the whole dish.
The seared tuna tostada was arranged beautifully on a disc of seriously crunchy tortilla with creamy avocado, and sour pops of finger lime. It’s a crunchy, salty and tasty dish that pairs very nicely with a cocktail, and is pretty enough for your Instagram feed.
To accompany our second helping of tartare, we turned to the wine list which features local and international drops. We chose a French rose, a South Australian Nero D’Avola, and a Victorian shiraz.
The atmosphere in the bar feels intimate and friendly. The evening we visited was fairly busy with groups of friends, colleagues and more than a few dates. But it never felt overcrowded or too loud. Large windows allowed us to appreciate the full spectacle of New Parliament House and it will be nice to visit during different seasons to see the autumn colours or spring blossoms in the leafy surrounding suburbs.
Leyla Bar is located at 1 Burbury Close, Barton, on the rooftop of the Burbury Hotel. It’s open Tuesday to Friday from 11 am to late, and Saturday and Sunday from 3 pm to late. Follow them on Instagram.