The edgy shipping container village down by Lake Burley Griffin may not be top of your list for weekend breakfast.
I’d been there during Art Not Apart last year and was impressed by the set up, especially the view from the bar on the top floor. With art exhibitions in containers, live graffiti artists at work and dancers performing in and around the crowds, it seemed like the hippest thing to hit Canberra that day. But would there even be anything open on an ordinary Sunday morning?
The Westside Acton Village website lists the retailers operating on the site, and preliminary research suggested a fruit and yoghurt fix from O’ So Smoothie would probably be the go. The smoothie outlet was open from 8am on Sundays according to the website, but it remained closed till we left at 10am on our visit and RiotACT has since learnt that it has closed down.
Luckily, neighbouring Damn Fine Roasters was open and serving light breakfasts and freshly squeezed orange juice.
The café in a container promotes itself as Canberra’s first drive-through coffee outlet, and given its position between Commonwealth Avenue bridge and Civic and the ease with which you can swing down there and back onto the main road, this seems like a good idea.
As the name would suggest, the Damn Fine team roast their own coffee beans, creating a blend based on a Southern Italian family recipe. The consensus on the day we visited was that the coffee was very good but too hot, but that this made sense if the idea was to ensure it was the right temperature once the drive-through customer arrives at their destination and starts drinking it.
There are herbal teas, exotic iced teas, milkshakes and thickshakes on offer too, with soy and almond milk available, but I continued my search for the world’s best hot chocolate. The DFR hot chocolate wasn’t bad, but won’t be in the title fight. The freshly squeezed orange juice was delicious, though, and a real treat after the boring bottled juices of recent weekends.
There were more breakfast options than I’d expected, with turkey, cranberry and cheese and ham and cheese toasted focaccia sandwiches, banana bread and muffins the most obvious.
Less breakfasty but available all day are hot dogs, pies, nachos and Italian cannoli.
We’d run to the Carillon and back before ordering but even still the cannoli seemed too calorific to contemplate. I went for a blueberry muffin, which the cheerful young woman behind the counter offered to heat up for me. It was so good warm, too. She and her colleague provided the friendliest and most courteous service I’ve seen in Canberra of late, which makes a return visit much more likely.
If there’s a queue to order, you can fill in some time by browsing the Sunday markets for bath salts, gourmet foods, second hand books and vinyl records.
There are a few tables and chairs as well as a surprisingly enticing selection of milk crates decked out with cushions. I tried both, and would recommend either. It’s a great place to sit in the sun and chat over a coffee or snack.
I reckon cyclists, walkers and runners who are out circumnavigating the lake should consider adding Westside to their itinerary. I’ll remember it next time I’m heading into the city by car and hungry because … well … drive-through cannoli!
Where: 3 Barrine Drive, Acton ACT 2601
When: 7am-8pm Monday-Thursday, 7am-11pm Friday-Sunday.