MEJ Masthead

Review: The Old Canberra Inn

Bronwen Stead

I drive past the Old Canberra Inn on a fairly regular basis, and of late have been noticing all sorts of happenings taking place – from a constant flow of patrons during the week to bustling outdoor weekend markets that you’re willing to brave the cold for.

It’s been a long term favourite of my husband and his friends – be it a mid-week schnitty to the automatic destination for a Sunday arvo bevvy and many rounds of Buckhunter (a shoot ‘em up style game that I never managed to master).

So with word that it has been recently renovated we were eager to see how much it had changed.

My husband and I went down to the OCI on a random Thursday night, and the first thing that struck me as we walked in was how clean it was – even the backyard courtyard, which was too cold on a Canberra evening to have any patrons in it, was spotless. Not a speck of leaf litter in sight –my own courtyard is nowhere near as tidy! The venue has undergone some refurbishments, yet the owners have stuck perfectly within the theme, to the point that it just looks more like itself, just on its best hair day.

It was wonderfully warm inside (without being overbearing) and John Butler Trio was playing at just the right level in the background. There was a mix of clientele, from a family of five enjoying dinner to a netball team who came in post-game clutching bags of ice, a couple of uni students tucked away in a nook debating their English assignment, and what appeared to be a corporate function out the back with a steady stream of business attired men and women getting drinks from the bar.


The bar offers your standard selection of drinks including Australian beers and ciders — many of which I did not recognise — though to be fair I am not much of a beer drinker (at all). While I enjoyed a lemon squash (my drink of choice while pregnant, it cannot come tart enough), my husband enjoyed an Angry Man Pale Ale. The Inn also changes the beer taps on rotation, with new craft beers introduced regularly.

With a comprehensive menu, there are plenty of options for any appetite, including your standard pub-grub and a distinct South American flavour throughout the menu. I’m told by staff that the kitchen is also trialling different specials, and pending popularity they make it on to the menu as a permanent fixture (the most recent addition was the Classic bangers and mash).

We ordered a Chicken schnitzel and Beef burger with chips. Despite the venue being quite busy our food was ready quickly. You collect your order at the kitchen window, once your buzzer sounds, and can select your own condiments from a broad range in the cupboard including a range of hot sauces and mustards.


We sat in what used to be the old darts room which has now been converted into the dining room featuring a fantastic kookaburra wallpaper made by Funky Wombat Textiles in Melbourne.


The schnitty was very good with the highlight its crispy chunky panko bread crumb. While Mr Stead reported it wasn’t the biggest schnitzel in Canberra, it was a case of quality over quantity, and definitely enough to satiate a grown man (there is no chance I could have finished it).


For me it was the Beef Burger and it was just delicious. The patty was thick and tasty – I hate it when your burger patty is too small for your burger and you end up with half a salad roll. But this burger definitely delivered. What we were both taken with were the chips – they weren’t your standard frozen chips deep fried – these were actual chopped potato with bits of skin left on, and were simply so yummy and generous that neither of us got through the serve.


The staff were friendly, happy to make recommendations and substitutions (no mayo on my burger, thank you), and to talk about the venue’s new makeover, including its eclectic mix of live music events that run on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s these nights that also attract a big crowd. Similarly, the weekend markets do too.

The recent renovations have included a major clean up and a refurb to the bathrooms, which are now bright and fresh. But the owners advise that they have exciting plans for further renovation, including the acquisition of a new meat smoker, transformation of the Pool Room into a more accessible functions/entertainment room, extensions to the bar, repair and restoration of the original timber slabs used to construct the old building; and landscaping and gardening in the beer gardens.

We really enjoyed the Old Canberra Inn and will definitely not be leaving it so long between drinks this time.

Oh and we did double check and yes, Buck Hunter has happily survived the revival.

The essentials

The place: Old Canberra Inn
Where: 195, Mouat Street, Lyneham
When: 11am-10pm Sunday to Thursday; 11am-Late Friday and Saturday.
Contact: (02) 6134 6000
Web: or Find them on Facebook.

The author and her guest dined courtesy of Old Canberra Inn. 

Bronwen Stead

Bronwen loves to celebrate life and all things Canberra, which is why she is passionate about writing for HerCanberra and promoting the amazing people and activities that Canberra contains. She is a mother, wife and a creative with a passion for wellbeing and health. More about the Author