If you have ever found yourself in Woden around lunch time, you’ll understand that it’s not always easy to find somewhere delicious to eat.
Well, you can all now breathe a collective sigh of relief. Urban Bean Espresso Bar has stepped up its game under the watchful eye of the new head chef, Shane Johnson. While Urban Bean is by no means a ‘new’ cafe, it’s still relatively unknown among a lot of people that I know, perhaps because it’s nestled within the ground floor of an everyday Canberran public service building.
Despite being almost impossible to find as a first timer (it’s on the ground floor of Scarborough House) Urban Bean didn’t fail to satisfy. With so much more to offer than the usual lobby cafe, the menu features cheeseburgers, authentic Thai fishcakes, Szechuan calamari, homemade pizzas and of course, freshly made gourmet sandwiches and wraps.
I couldn’t go past the buffalo chicken burger with blue cheese sauce. My confidant du jour opted for the herbed lamb salad with beetroot, rocket, feta and walnuts. To accompany our eats we ordered a lychee and guava frappe, a latte and a cappuccino for my friend.
Our food arrived in no time, although they didn’t arrive together – a forgivable error from an inexperienced waiter. Of course we had no regrets when our food arrived accompanied by our picture perfect coffees.
While the burger was no Brodburger, it definitely surpassed my expectations – crispy bacon, fresh rocket, with a nice thick and juicy chicken breast ticking all the right boxes. It came with a side of well-seasoned chips as well as appetising sweet potato crisps. The salad was generous and colourful although one small complaint, the lamb was cooked well past the point of medium, verging on well-done.
My frappe was a welcome change to the insipid ones I’ve grown accustomed to in the city. It was strong and flavoursome from the first sip to the last drop. The latte art on our Ona coffees seemed too nice to drink, but of course we couldn’t let them go to waste. Great flavour accompanied a perfect froth, just what I needed to counteract the arctic wind flowing through the automatic doors.
Our plates were promptly cleared to make room for the pièce de résistance: dessert. A recent addition to the smorgasbord of menu options are the cakes and donuts all made on site which are reminiscent of something you’d find in Jamison. It was too hard to decide, so we accepted suggestions from our fabulous waitress, Kitty.
We ended up with two different donuts: one snickers, and one salted caramel with popcorn, while other options included a banana and nutella cheesecake tart, passion fruit slice and plenty of other tempting sweets. We were not disappointed with our donuts. They were just the right amount of indulgence without going overboard.
Upon arrival it was bewildering to me why lunch service ended at two, the cafe was packed and the line was growing by the second. Then as it came closer to 2pm all the public servants started scurrying back to the comfort of their warm cubicles without a trace, leaving the whole area a ghost town by comparison.
Overall the whole experience made the trek to Woden worth my while, great food, great coffee, great service, and all while Ellen played on the TV in the corner – what more could you ask for?
Urban Bean is on the ground floor of Scarborough House, Atlantic Street Woden.