6 September 2016

Revamped Poachers Pantry bound to attract more fans

| Elias Hallaj
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Canberra region food, wine and tourism icon Poachers Pantry has officially unveiled its new Smokehouse Restaurant and Wily Trout Cellar Door. The new Poachers Building seats 100 people in a new layout, with the deck and terrace offering seating for 100 more outside. No doubt the venue will continue to be a favourite for wedding receptions, with its picturesque 1890s slab woolshed and impressive working kitchen garden, with views to the hills, framing the revamped restaurant.

I first got to know Poachers Pantry really well during the 2014 Human Brochure project run by Visit Canberra, when it was an obvious darling favourite of the many experienced Canberra foodies who regularly rave about its menu and wine. My friend Tara Cheyne’s blog post (with accompanying mouth-watering food photos) is typical of the huge local fan base for this family-run food and wine mecca.

Poachers Pantry was built by husband and wife team Rob and Sue Bruce, and they’ve been tempting Canberrans with their mouth-watering smoked meats and vegetables since 1991. They’re not cheap but you often get what you pay for in the fine dining restaurant trade and Sue and Rob have always prided themselves on running a top-shelf establishment. We can’t afford to eat their fare regularly but it’s worth taking the better half there for special occasions and trying the seasonal menu changes as well as enjoying the changing vista that each season brings.

The new building also includes a handmade fireplace made from stones collected by the owners’ son as well as a new coolroom for displaying Poacher’s many smoked goods.

On a cold and wet winter’s day last week I really appreciated the fireplace!

Will Bruce’s passion is wine and he is taking a new approach to Wily Trout Wines with natural ferment, small batch, limited release wines made using a ceramic egg rather than traditional oak barrels. It’s a fascinating method, which you can find out more about online by searching under “amphora fermentation” – a classic wine-making method used since ancient times. I’m more of a beer connoisseur but I found the “Nanima Block” wine produced by Will in his “ceramic egg” tasted amazing.

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Will Bruce is happy to explain how classical amphora fermentation works.

Poachers Pantry has been specialising in locally sourced, high quality smoked meats, since long before artisan production was considered commercially viable or as widely popular as it is now. They use traditional curing and smoking methods and production takes place onsite. As well as being sold onsite, the Poachers Pantry range is available at high quality grocers and delicatessens in Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney and regional NSW. Once direct international flights start to Canberra later this month, you’ll be able to taste their wares if you’re lucky enough to travel Business Class on Singapore Airlines!

The Wiley Trout Vineyard specialises in Canberra region cool climate wines (Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc) and all wines are 100% estate grown. The range also includes an Australian Sparking wine made from a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay blend.

The biggest reason for the ongoing success story that is Poachers Pantry has to be their innovative and delicious food. From the moment we arrived for the launch (along with around 100 local journalists, food writers, wine lovers and suppliers and retailers) we were treated to the unique Poachers professional approach to food presentation.

The new spring menu features a wide selection of delicious food.

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Seared yellow fin tuna with passion fruit & wasabi


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Delicious kangaroo fillet served on lentils


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Smoked duck breast with goats cheese, beetroot & cucumber


The samples of entrees and mains were followed by a tempting selection of sweets and desserts.

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To say the owners and the Canberra Tourism community (and Yass Valley Shire) are justifiably proud of Poachers Pantry is an understatement. At the launch last week, Canberra Tourism Tsar Ian Hill, owner Sue Bruce and Yass Mayor Rowena Abbey all spoke at length and from experience about their pride in this continuing Canberra region success story.

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Ian, Sue and Rowena toast their favourite Pantry. Photo courtesy of Three Sides Marketing.

You’ll remember how lucky you are to live in Canberra once you realise people will be flying here from Singapore and Wellington to (among other things they can and will do in Canberra) try out our wonderful restaurants and wineries. If you haven’t been to Poachers Pantry before, it’s wise to book ahead, especially as the weather warms up and the international tourism trade picks up. Expect a 30 minute drive, depending on traffic and an experience to remember, both for your palate and eyes.

Thank you to the owners and staff of Poachers Pantry for the opportunity to sample your food. I will be back as a paying customer once the weather warms up as I know my better half and children will want to know what I’m raving on about and enjoy the sights and smells of your gardens and winery and smokehouse!

Where: Poachers Pantry is just north of Canberra at 431 Nanima Road, Springrange NSW. Ph: 02 6230 2487
Opening hours: 9.30am-5pm 7 days
Website: http://www.poacherspantry.com.au/
Social media: Find them on Facebook and on Instagram.

CBRfoodie Recommends: try and get there on a weekday (to avoid the weekend crowds) and enjoy taking your time and asking the owners and staff about all their delicious food and wine.

CBRfoodie is a part-time food blogger and full-time political staffer who has joined RiotACT as a regular contributor. All opinions are his own. If you have any tips or feedback you can find him on Twitter @CBRfoodie.

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