10 April 2008

Woodstock restaurant to close

| Duke
Join the conversation

As announced in today’s CT, the Woodstock restaurant in Civic will close its doors after 37 years – with the possibility it will open again in another location at a later date.

This is arguably Canberra’s first family restaurant and many of us have fond memories of going there for family birthdays etc. It was a place to get a great pizza, mum and dad could get an adult meal while the kids could order chips and chicken nuggets.

According to the owner, Mal Reid, the demise of Woodstock is due to a drop in patronage. I feel sorry for the guy – if only he had eaten there as a regular customer with his family he might have seen how far the standards at Woodstock had dropped over the years.

Reid was a victim of the staff shortages issues, having been forced to employ lazy chefs and weird emo waiters who failed to grasp basic concepts like supplying cutlery, serving water, taking orders and stuff like that.

And in the later years I certainly gave this place enough chances. The pizzas could be excellent, but then again they could be terrible depending on who was on the ovens that evening. The notorious flash-fry steak served to me on my last visit was the final straw.

So can I say i’d love to see you back, Woodstock, but do some serious re-tooling while you’re away – train your staff up and take a bit longer preparing meals if it means getting them right. There’s no excuse for serving bad food when you’ve had the same menu for 37 years.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

along with the Akuna Club financials that arrived in the mail was the news that Woodstock would be opening in the Akuna Club. Not quite the same atmosphere in the Akuna as eating alfresco in Garema Place. I understand the same bloke owns both places

Amen to the loathing of emo waitstaff, especially the ones conspicuously on meth. I won’t miss Woodstock.

Do owners of these places ever eat in them? Or even talk to people who eat in them? How is it that a business can go so far south without anyone noticing and intervening to stop the rot?

With practically anyone able to hold a pen also able to walk into a junior policy position in the APS, I am beginning to think that the only way to get decent front of house staff is to see that they have some sort of stake in the business. A shining example is Rama’s in Pearce, where one sister cooks and one maitre d’s. The food is great, but every review talks about the fabulous service, and so they should. I don’t know how you achieve that without ownership, though – some sort of profit-share maybe?

Re Yank pizza – agreed re the Noo Yawk variety, which is thin and greasy and sparsely populated, but Al, give the Chicago interpretation a shot some time! All the fillings one’s heart could aspire to. If one’s arteries weren’t clogged solid with cheese that is.

I plead guilty for spending most of my life sneering at Mexican food on the basis that it was just the same five or six boring ingredients arranged in different combinations. Then I tried real Mexican food in California. It will never be my favourite cuisine, but it is definitely way more interesting and tasty than I thought. I guess there’s more than one Curse of Montezuma.

My partner and I ate there once, maybe 18 months ago, not long after I moved down here.
It was terrible… slow, rude service. Pizza was lopsidedly topped and burnt on one side. I spent 20 minutes trying to get a drink re-fill (but too lazy/stubborn) to walk up to the counter.

Ingeegoodbee10:20 pm 13 Apr 08

I remamber a few feeds at the woodstock in the eighties. It wasn’t bad pizza then, but that’s got to be considerered in the context of that fact that I was probably drunk. Later we used to go there to drink beer and talk business when the clubs got too loud. I took my kids there for a pizza a year or so ago – never been back. Good riddance to crap service and shitty pizzas.

I remember going to Woodstock in the early eighties. It was good then. It was different and had a slightly bohemian atmosphere and interesting pizzas. By the late eighties, and ever since, the competition has streaked ahead. My last trip to Woodstock was a few years ago and a huge disappointment. The “never again” tag was well and truly applied.

To anyone out there in the industry doing a good job: I salute you. We ( the great unwashed ) are fortunate the the lure of running a restaurant/cafe overcomes the fear of reality enough times and places that we have the opportunity for great food and coffee, and not so great food and coffee to make the comparison.

True, I’ve never seen Indonesian or Malaysian there! I’m sure htey exist…. somewhere. US restaurants tend to be pretty disappointing though, they do pub food there the best… pizza, ribs, wings, pot pie, burgers (love the pickle), steaks, that kind of gear. And Mexican.

We don’t have much mexican cos it isn’t right next to us.

You’ll probably find the US doesn’t have Indonesian and Malay restaurants much either.

Salsa verde, salsa roja, salsa de Fuego and pico de gallo… mmmm. If anyone finds a mexican place that does these properly, let me know, because the Australianised versions are average at best.

Mex and tex-mex is my favourite food.

Even the CT managed to do a story on Woodstock closing. Ye gods.

I agree with the bloke: zappy thin crusts are the go and are harder to find. A pizza lives or dies on its crust. But their cheese was terrible! Greasy. Maybe people like greasy cheese.

http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/Chili/ChiliHistory.htm ….. and the Mexicans in the US will tell you endlessly, it’s not Mexican food. They like it, I like it, but it’s some kind of fusion dish that sprang up north of them.

The Salsa Roja I’m having trouble finding is a very bland, smooth red sauce. Not even sure what’s in it, apart from tomato (I think). It’s similar to what’s sold as “taco sauce” here, except it’s slightly blander than that.
Funny we don’t get salsa verde here, there’s several brands of it in average yank supermarkets, along with the giant $1 tins of refried beans.

damnintellectuals3:23 am 13 Apr 08

ant said :

Chilli isn’t even Mexican, it’s Tex-Mex.

Actually, chilli is not Tex-Mex. Canberra doesn’t know what Tex-Mex is. It’s essentially Northern Mexican cuisine, focussed on enchiladas and tacos, known for fajitas and guisadas and more authentic than burritos, the cornerstone of California Mission-style cuisine.

Salsa Roja is easy to make. You need to soak dried chili, saute some onion and garlic, add the chili as well as roasted tomato and some cilantro (coriander) to tickle your fancy. I’m not a roja fan – green salsa is my favorite.

I like the Pizzas you can order over the bar at All Bar Nun in Oconnor. Eat them with your Pint when you cant get enough calories out of beer.

Agreed Al (on the you’re/your irritation too), good pizzas are hard to find. I reckon most takeaways do a decent job – greasy, but flavoursome. I have started buying my pizzas from Bellucis in Phillip. They cost around $19 for a large but they are easily the best i’ve tasted in Canberra. Presumably you can get them at the Dickson and Manuka restaurants too.

Pizzas are like the new meat pie – plenty of them, but trying to find a good one is near impossible!

I must be too young to remember Woodstock ever being good. Every time I’ve been there the pizzas have been awful, the service slow and the prices high. I’m actually amazed that it lasted so long and still has any customers.

Gungahlin Al7:17 pm 12 Apr 08

Tried to resist urge to chip mael about “your” for “you are – you’re” again. But failed – it just irritates me too much…

Gungahlin Al7:07 pm 12 Apr 08

A few months after one time there with plenty of grease but not much else, I gave them one more chance. Same woeful fodder. never again. No loss to Canberra. Be good to have an operator move in to that great location and turn out some decent food/service to boot actually.

On the subject of pizzas, just about given up trying to find a decent one. For sure the big chains are all turning out complete tripe lately. Fan of loaded-up pizzas here, rather than yank-style base and sauce with 7 pieces of so-called filling…

I take it you’ve never been to APK Woden then biter79?

Yay. Woodstock. Worst. Pizza. Restaurant. Ever…

Thumper, your actually right. Customers no longer tolerate crap service, for crap food. The climate has changed, and they failed to keep up.

Um yeah see I was sad about what it had become caz, because the steaks and pizzas were not always as you described.

I blame climate change…

I discovered the joy of flan at Rincon Latino, they made it well. That place was all right in my books, although my aunty went there quite a bit and said the quality dropped over time till it was really crap around the time they closed.

rofl @ cazjs starbucks comment!

I was devo about della piazza closing down 🙁 and the same for rincon latina – that little south american cafe which used to be behind the big screen in garema place – it broke my heart when that closed down (last year? maybe year before) too. their pizzas and the best chilli topping ever ‘on the side’ which i smothered my pizza with. delicious!

woodstock is doing a roaring trade today – all the tables full outside when i walked by at lunch. word must have gotten out it’s closing. i have to say i’ve only been there once in my 8 years in canberra and was pretty unimpressed.

how about bring an episode of ‘the chopping block’ to canberra, that would be awesome!

Chilli isn’t even Mexican, it’s Tex-Mex.

Wah wah wah. I’ve lived in this city all my life and i’m sad to see a kid’s restaurant close. Boohoo.

Good riddance, Woodstock. As someone who’s only been there once or twice as an adult, i say take your gristly steak and greasy pizza and begone! Fill the gap with another Starbucks or something. I mean, the nearest starbucks is about twenty metres away and that’s too far.


I was being generous, but only for nostalgic reasons. The back page of the todays CT has a bit on ‘your fond memories of Woodstock’ – well I was 10 when i last had a fond memory of that joint, and that memory is vague, at best.

@Ruff – too right, i’m pretty ignorant on Mexican food, but only because all I know comes from the Montezumas menu – which just closed down in Phillip because the locals soon tired of beans and chili.

‘oaf, Ruff. Mexican food is a delight, and I’m really surprised we don’t have more of the real thing here. I guess we’re not really on the Mexicans’ radar. I was chatting to a couple of illegals I was doing yardwork with in the US, they’d obviously never even considered Australia, never thought about it.

It’s hard for them to look past the US, I guess. And South America is on the up, so that’ll be another palce to occupy their ambitions.

There’s a hole in teh market! Maybe I should go to Mexico, learn Spanish and learn all their recipes and methods, and come back and corner the market. First, to learn how to make Roja Salsa. Walmart sold giant tins of it, and it’s a mysterious brew.

Good to hear that Iori is still there – most authentic Japanese in Canberra.

Mexican is nothing but beans and chili

Um, no. Saying that means you don’t know anything about Mexican food.

It is incredible that we have only one decent Mexican restaurant in this whole town.

IORI was open yesterday when I walked past – maybe LG is confused as a new indian has opened next door to it in the bus interchange but Iori was definitely still there on Thursday.

RiotACT appears to be in agreement!

Excellent post Duke, I would have been less fair to the place if I’d been writing it.

Two resto-rant sites ….

Woodstock pizza makes Dominios look good; at least they are always the same. I mean, a 14 yr old can’t even make a mistake there. But Woodies were great with the 2CC win-a-prize coupons and no hazzle at all. I agree with some that for a pretty quick meal (pizza) and a glass of red at a good price, Zeff’s @ Dickson not bad. Nood House just nearby excellent. And for the desperate – $4.95 at Subway for a bun and a coke.

Went there late last century. Ate food from mid 20th century and was charged 21 st century prices. Its loss will not be lamented.

I thought the Wodes Montezumas closed :S Obviously not. It looked quite vacant the last time I was on the bus about 3 weeks ago.

I blame the Chinese Gov

My first meal in Canberra was at woodstock – still nothing like a Gemini with extra chillis

RIP Woodstock – one of Canberra’s true institutions.

Another request for Iori closing confirmation, we were thinking of going to dinner there next week…!

Ramsey would have a field day in Canberra. Enough for an entire series just in Garema place.

For those with a nostalgic tear in their eyes, Page Vietnam Village Inn has just changed hands as well (I think) – at the very least they have new staff. I’m currently preparing for my comparison critique for those who want to check it out beforehand.

I rarely sat at Woodstock, but I did go in there every now and again whilst working late nights to pick up a quick pizza.

Some of their pizzas were greasy, but I always enjoyed their Supreme pizzas. They weren’t the greatest pizza’s in the world but they got the job done.

Yah Ramsay style makeover isn’t far off the mark, but I don’t believe there is anything wrong with the menu. People still love big steaks, schintzels and pizzas, just that (as one rioter so succintly put it) there is no love left in the place.

At their peak they did a way better pizza than APK and you could eat a decent steak without resorting to that HOgs Breath monstrosity, but they just let the whole place slip.

@regularbrowse – Montezumas at Woden is now closed – that site is cursed! But Mexican is nothing but beans and chili, it’s the margaritas which pull you in (and leave you crawling out).

Last time I was at Montezuma’s in Woden they were, believe it or not, OUT of chilli con carne. At 6:30PM, with an empty restaurant (gee I wonder why).

The Maxican place Francisco’s in Manuka is great.

Fortunately Cream serves breakfast till 3pm so you can get something edible at lunchtime if you want to go and check out the eye candy… If you want good food and good service Milk and Honey is streets ahead.

I had a work function at Woodstock about a month ago.. it took ages for our crappy food to arrive, the bartender we had, had no idea of what he could actually serve us.. the soft drinks were served in room temperature cans, and all the management did was complain about how much noise we were making. (mind you I think the last bit was worth complaining about)

All in all goodbye shitty woodstock. And for all your other restaurants, if you serve decent food and keep your guests happy… we should come back for more.

I love the North Quarter, peple who are too cool for school mixing it up with the deros and junkies

Can anyone confirm that IORI is closed? hope this is not a mistake???

regularbrowse5:54 pm 10 Apr 08

Avoid the Montezumas at Woden. Same dodgy tex-mex menu as the old Montezumas in Civic. My last visit had a side salad with brown pieces of carrot – yuck. It is obvious to passersby who see the next door Beluccis packed with public servants having farewell lunches and Montezumas empty but for a handful of people. I might try the Mexican at Manuka which has been suggested. Sorry to see Iori close – they had excellent sushi.

argh, Cream is SO over-rated. Della Piazza never did anything for me, but it was a useful landmark adn kept getting wine list awards, which seemed a bit odd.
Mexican in Manuka sounds promising. Might check it out.

Spooky – I just realised my last 3 work lunches were at Della, Woodstock and … Cream! Here’s hoping!

Francisco’s Chilli Con Carne is pretty delish as are the beef and bean burritos. Nice little quaint place in Manuka with nice owners. Definitely worth checking out!

jenny green said :

Della Piazza has also closed I notice after a relatively short 17 years…

Another non loss.

Ramsey style makeover loool

Della Piazza has also closed I notice after a relatively short 17 years…

For good Mexican, go to Francisco’s Mexican Cantina in Manuka. The food is pretty good there. Hard to find as its inside an arcade, but worth looking for it.

I agree with the Ramsey style make over required. People don’t want the same crap they had 20 years ago anymore. If you are not new, fresh and exciting and remain so you will end up closing.

I had crap food and crap service there about 10 years ago and haven’t been back since – too many other places to try.

Mælinar: yeah APK is pretty good actually. Do they have spaghetti?

What happened to the crazy chef guy that was there for years?
I heard he broke his leg but never turned up again. He was always angry and hated my uncle (with good reason, he used to rile him up). Good times.

I’ll tell you what….

I ate there about 6 months ago and that was the last time for me because the emo waiters ruined it for me.
One of the emo waiters was coughing her guts up and then actually brought over our cutlery, I then asked her for a drink and she made it while coughing all over it walked it back over to me and dropped it and it smashed all over the floor. She then made me a new one and delivered it to me, then she started to chuck and ran to the toilet as fast as she could then spent around 20 minutes in the toilet until the other emo waitress went looking for her.

When I went to pay the waitress that was sick rang up my bill and charged me $429.80 for 2 steaks and 4 drinks…. She then got the sh!ts, walked out yelling to one of the chefs to ring the bill up.

So yeah not very good service and made me not go back there ever.

APK is just around the corner NH. Same crap service and crap pizza, but with alcoholic ginger beer (also crap).

“There’s also the coolness factor, in a town with as many pretentious wankers as Canberra”

So very true. Though as much as I don’t want to admit it, I think it is highly due to the public servants.

The street and geographical design of Canberra is fu*ked up as well. It makes everybody semi-isolated. Therefore, it is harder to move about. Am I wrong? Maybe. If right, then I am correct in my beliefs of certain things. You know, those things…

Don’t know where my family is going to go when the relos vist from Sydney…Woodstock was the only place we could agree on! I had my 18th there the food was AWESOME that time. I liked the feel of the place, really sucks its going 🙁

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy3:19 pm 10 Apr 08

What’s killing restuarants like this is crap service. Having wait staff that can’t even carry out the basics of looking neat and tidy, being friendly, and bringing cutlery food and drinks to your table.

In my mind, I have reclassified most people working in front line hospitality as turnips.

Iori has closed? Noooooooooooooo! What is this town coming to? (Woodstock’s demise is, however, unlamented)

No, that’s called wank factor….

coolness factor is all about OPH whatever it’s called drinks on Fridays.

A service would be to enter that place with a machine gun and leave with an empty magazine.

Like the 8 year olds in America, I’m kind of, like, not actually that serious. I’d probably not recommend a harsh sentence if I were a juror though.

CanberraResident2:35 pm 10 Apr 08

JD114 said :

There’s also the coolness factor, in a town with as many pretentious wankers as Canberra

Ha ha ha ha haaaaa ….. this is soooooo true. Glad I’m not the only one that thinks so …

RuffnReady said :

Canberra really lacks for good Mexican. …the place in manuka looks decent although I’ve only seen the food walking by. Thoughts?

If the food is walking by, I’d avoid it, har har har.

What we need is some Mexicans! Proper “peasant” Mexican food is wonderful, but the over-flavoured hyped-up Tex-Mex most of our Mexican restaurants do is not the same. A Mexican friend called Tacos etc “party food” the way we had them here (Montezumas etc). The good, hearty, earthy stuff is the one thing I miss in the US, made by people who can’t speak english, but know what to do with corn flour and beans and a handful of jalapenos.

Woodstock is a victim of the times. it’s not markedly worse than it has always been, it’s just standards have risen across town and it has failed to rise with them. In the 60s and 70s there were very few places offering exciting quality food at reasonable prices, and as a result Woodstock’s no nonsense fare was a winner. Also the pizzas changed several years ago for the worse, maybe with the new owner? That must have cost them some of the old repeat business.

There’s also the coolness factor, in a town with as many pretentious wankers as Canberra, if you’re not seen to be cool like those over-priced formula food places in the North Quarter, you’re not even considered for the necessary task of sitting out to be seen.

The Mexican place in Manuka is excellent.

It would be great up on Bunda St somewhere.


Went to Woodstock twice way back 10 years ago and the food was average at best, never been back since.

On a related note, what are your favourite places to get a steak, people? Quality of meat is of utmost importance. I enjoy the rumps at El Dorado, and Charcoal for a high-end steak.

Canberra really lacks for good Mexican. Mote’s is blurgh, but the place in manuka looks decent although I’ve only seen the food walking by. Thoughts?

There’s a mexican place up the end of Lonsdale st, near the Blue Heffalump or whatever that Sri Lankan place is.

i hope a mexican place opens in that spot. are there any mexican restaurants left in canberra??

Had many a cracker meal at Woodstock, but like many others haven’t ventured in for some time. Sad to hear that the place is going, even sadder to hear that the standards have dropped so low.

Getting a bit nostalgic on here today!!!

I remember being thrilled by the danger of their “hot” pizza back in the 70s. What bland diets we had then. I also vaguely remember their pizzas were rather greasy, it seemed that they used cheddar rather than mozzarella? Amazing smells used to waft out though. I reckon a good, solid restaurant would do fine in that position, but if the food and service is poor, well, people go elsewhere. I stopped going years ago, because it wasn’t that good.

Blind beggars, Captain Greggs, Boot and Flogger…

All gone…

@Thumper – I can’t remember either.

Thumper and Mælinar may or may not have been to Woodstock. As we were both screamingly drunk we could have been in Minsk Airport for all we knew at the time.

I suspect we had a reasonable time, wherever we were, and the food was appreciated, if it was pizza or otherwise.

I don’t remember getting on a plane, I just added that bit for artistic journalism purposes.

Was that Woodstock?

I can’t remember…

Do we need to start blaming the ‘North Quarter’ for the demise of Civic eateries? I note that Iori in the bus interchange has recently closed (but replaced with Indian). And also that Italian place in Garema square.

Great pizza on Anzac day, from what I remember of it.

CanberraResident12:04 pm 10 Apr 08

I’ve eaten at Woodstock too in recent times, and it was very obviously that no luuurve went into the food preparation. Needed a Ramsay style overhaul. Anyway, bye bye Woodstock. I have fond memories of great pizzas back in the mid 80s, but not much since then. All the best with any future ventures.

Ha! Crikey. A little off topic, but all the symbols of my youth have also disappeared. Two ACT primary schools – closed down. One ACT high school – closed down. One ACT college – closed down. One uni different state – still there.

Crack out the zimmer frame Crikey you old bastard.

Private Bin, Civic Greater Union…..Woodstock….all the symbols of my youth are disappearing 🙁

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.