HALE W18 Masthead

Capitol Bar and Grill: a tantalising taste of Canberra’s newest restaurant

Michelle Brotohusodo

For those of you who, like me, have been wondering what’s been going on at the old Rydges Lakeside, the word is finally out—it’s been transformed into the new QT Canberra hotel, which has brought with it the enticing new Capitol Bar and Grill.

The hotel been completely redesigned inside and out by renowned designer Nic Graham, with a bold design that celebrates our political history. QT Hotels Creative Food Director, Robert Marchetti (of Bondi Icebergs fame) is the man behind the Capitol Bar and Grill, creating a menu of bistro classics and future favourites with an Italian twist.

I was lucky enough to attend the opening last night, which gave attendees a taste of what culinary delights the restaurant has to offer (it’s already open for business) as well as showing off the funky new fitout.


Without a doubt, the pièce de résistance was the antipasto table. Its offerings last night included prosciutto covered bread sticks, Grana Padano cheese, and skewers of cherry tomatoes, rockmelon and cheese with salsa verde.




If this sounds like your kind of thing, you will be very pleased to know that the antipasto table is a permanent fixture, and you can fill your plate depending on whether your appetite is small, medium or large. For me, tempting as it might be to just eat goodies from the table and nothing else, that would mean that I’d be too full to try anything else. Which, having seen the full menu, would be a real shame.

The menu is divided into sections, including Canberra Favourites, From the Sea, From the Farm, and two that I found particularly amusing and appealing: Not a Vegetable and A Celebration of Potatoes (which includes Paris mash, hurrah!).

While these understandably weren’t on offer on the night (I am totally going back so I can try them), we did get to try some steaks from The Grill Department section of the menu. The wood fired grill where the steaks are cooked is part of the restaurant’s display, and it was fun watching the large orange flames rise up around the meat and the chefs work their magic.



The two other things worth mentioning were the cocktails and the chocolate truffles. We got to try a cocktail called Perfect Bubbles, which comprised strawberry aperitif, Plymouth gin, and sparkling wine, topped with a chocolate strawberry. If you’re wondering if it tasted as good as it sounds, the answer is hell, yes! The chocolate truffles were also incredible.


The tantalising taste of what we can expect from Capitol Bar and Grill was definitely enough for my friends and I to want more (one of them booked dinner for tonight while she was there), and I can’t wait to go back to start making my way through the full menu (and rest assured, I will be telling you all about it!).

the essentials

The place: Capitol Bar and Grill
Where: 1 London Circuit, Canberra, ACT (inside the QT Hotel)
When: Breakfast and dinner
Food: Italian-themed, including an antipasto table and wood fired grilled steaks
Drinks: Wines, beers, cocktails
Phone: 02 6247 1488
Web: www.qtcanberra.com.au


Michelle Brotohusodo

Michelle moved to Canberra vowing to stay for two years, tops. More than 10 years later, she’s a bona fide Canberra convert. When she’s not working in her day job as a public servant, she’s enjoying Canberra’s culinary delights or finding fun things to do/see in and around town. More about the Author

  • Karen

    I’ve been to Capitol Bar and Grill five times since it’s opened and it hasn’t disappointed at any point. Great food, great atmosphere and the staff are delightful.

  • James Allen

    Let me start by saying, the waitress and maitre’d were really good. Attentive, friendly and took our orders accurately and in good time.
    Decor was intersting although a little dark in places (hard to read menu) . Music annoyingly intrusive ( Michael Jackson – Blame it on the Boogie amongst others) made it hard to talk.
    However, it was the kitchen staff that really let the place down with providing inadequate meals that took forever to arrive. 1.5 hour wait between entree and mains. 30-40 minutes for deserts to arrive.
    Fresh Ravioli “al Ragu di Bologna” ($32.00) – Tasteless and looked completely unappetising
    T Bone “Bistecca Fiorentina” ($38.00) – 3 x cold and tasteless T Bones. Returned to kitchen, two of which were still cold when they came back. These were taken off the bill. Also the steak is just a steak. For a meal you need to also buy Chips/Potatoes ($10.00) Salad ($14.00) mashed carrots ($10.00)
    Steak was just a steak. You have to by Chips/Potatoes ($10.00) Salad ($14.00) mashed carrots ($10.00)
    Fresh Rigatoni “con Salsicce” ($29.00) – Probably one of our better meals but I didn’t feel ’t it was twenty nine dollars worth.
    Tiramisu ($19.00) – We were looking around for Ronnie Barker after the waitress served a large spoonful, slopped on plate at the table from a metal mixing bowl like something out of an episode of Porridge.
    Not allowed to buy drinks over the bar, which results in slow service and heart palpitations when settling the bill for a table for 10. With the meals taking a long time to arrive and drinks being served at the table costing significantly more than if bought at the bar, we felt fleeced.

    • Amanda Whitley

      Hey James

      Have to say, the last time we ate at Capitol wasn’t all that great, either. The food itself wasn’t bad, there just wasn’t enough of it for what we paid. It’s a shame, because I’d really been looking forward to going back, but we won’t be in a huge hurry to give it another try…