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10 loved-up places to eat

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Searching for the perfect romantic dining experience?

Here are 10 to fall in love with across Canberra.

Aubergine

Widely recognised as Canberra’s best restaurant for what seems like forever, Aubergine is the ultimate special occasion destination.

From the curved dining room to the long, sheer curtains and soft lighting, it’s an intimate space that lends itself to quiet conversations. The food is appropriately elegant and refined (no shared plates here) and the wine list is one of the best in town.

18 Barker Street, Griffith | Open for dinner Monday to Saturday from 6 pm | 02 6260 8666 | aubergine.com.au

The Boat House

Waterfront location and killer views? Tick.

Fine dining cuisine from one of Canberra’s top chefs? Tick.

Great service? Tick, tick, tick.

A popular spot for weddings, The Boat House is also the perfect pick for dinner with your significant other. An inventive and intricate menu washed down with a beautifully-curated wine list makes this a must‑visit for foodies with romance on their mind.

Grevillea Park, Menindee Drive, Barton | Open for dinner Monday to Saturday from 6:30 pm | 02 6273 5500 | theboathouse.restaurant

eightysix

It’s noisy, brash and encourages sharing—no, eightysix is not your typical ‘date night’ restaurant. But trust us, a perch for two at the kitchen bench is not only the best seat in the house, it’s the perfect ice breaker for new relationships.

Watch the chefs at work, develop food envy when you spot dishes you wish you’d ordered, and immerse yourself in an almost-theatrical experience.

Our tip? Always choose the tasting menu—it’s not only delicious but a natural conversation starter.

Corner Elouera and Lonsdale Streets, Braddon | Open Tuesday to Sunday from 6 pm | 02 6161 8686 | eightysix.com.au

Rubicon

A hidden gem at Griffith shops, Rubicon has been a romantic dining destination for nearly 20 years. Four small dining areas make for a cosy and private experience, and the food is classic mod-Oz done to perfection.

The best zucchini flowers in the city, a superior wine list and service that is almost as sparkling as the ceiling of fairy lights—there’s a reason this place has retained its status as a special-night-out venue while also earning the rusted-on loyalty of inner south-siders who just want a perfectly cooked steak.

6A Barker Street, Griffith | Open for dinner Monday to Saturday from 6 pm and for lunch Monday to Friday from 12 pm
02 6295 9919 | rubiconrestaurant.com.au

Grazing

There are few things more romantic than a drive in the country. Take a mini road trip to Gundaroo for lunch or dinner for two at Grazing at the historic Royal Hotel.

An award-winning restaurant with a focus on the best of the district’s food and wine, Grazing serves elegant food made with the freshest possible ingredients. And settings just don’t come any more charming than this—polished floorboards, high ceilings, large wooden tables, fireplaces and rugs make for a fabulously rustic and simple interior.

Cork Street, Gundaroo | Open for lunch Friday to Sunday and dinner Thursday to Saturday | 02 6236 8777 | grazing.com.au

Pialligo Estate

A little oasis just minutes from Canberra Airport, Pialligo Estate may as well be a world away. And while its Garden Pavilions might be a little spacious for a party of two, the stunning new glass-topped open-air dining area is just right.

A glass of wine, shared platters of Darren Perryman’s flavourful paddock-to-plate menu and views across the olive groves make for a deliciously romantic dining experience.

18 Kallaroo Road, Pialligo | Open for brunch Saturday and Sunday 11 am to 3.30 pm, lunch Wednesday to Sunday 11 am to 3.30 pm, and dinner Wednesday to Saturday 6 pm to 10 pm | 02 6247 6060 | thepialligoestate.com.au

Joe’s Bar

Not ready to commit to a full three-hour dinner for two? Head to Joe’s Bar at Kingston’s East Hotel. A moody wine bar that’s small in size but big on style, its intimate nooks invite couples to sit and connect over a glass or two.

An intriguing wine list balances Italian wines with a selection of local drops designed to complement the modern Italian menu of Chef Francesco Balestrieri.

With a focus on using the freshest local produce sourced from within 100 kilometres of Canberra, bar snacks are taken to another level.

East Hotel, 69 Canberra Avenue, Kingston | Open Tuesday to Saturday, 4 pm until late | 02 6295 6925 | joesateast.com

RAKU

You’d be forgiven for thinking a shopping centre isn’t the obvious place to look when you’re seeking romance—but RAKU delivers it in spades.

This sleek modern Japanese restaurant is a versatile date-night destination: sit at the bench and watch the chefs as they slice sashimi and craft dumplings, or hole up in one of the sculptural timber booths and ignore the rest of the world. Whichever option you choose, you’re assured of a memorable dining experience.

Bunda Street, Canberra City | Open seven days from 11 am to 11 pm | 02 6248 6869 | rakudining.com.au

Onred

If views are your thing, it’s hard to go past Onred. It’s housed in a quirky circular glass-walled building built in 1964 atop Red Hill and boasts incredible views from its vantage point 175 metres above Canberra city.

Serving up an elegant Modern Australian menu, head to Onred when you’re after real wow factor.

50 Red Hill Drive, Red Hill | Open Tuesday to Saturday from 5:30 pm, and for lunch on Friday 12 noon until 5 pm | 02 6273 3517 | onred.com.au

On, or beside, the lake

A loved-up dinner date doesn’t need to include starched tablecloths and candlelight. The sound of water lapping the shore, a gentle breeze, some delicious morsels eaten al fresco—there are few things more appealing on a warm Canberra day or night.

Pull up a table for two at The Pop Inn at one of its events around town and enjoy a glass of wine and a charcuterie platter, order a gourmet hamper from Schmicnics and find the perfect picnic place, or hit the water with GoBoat. They’re all perfectly romantic.

The Pop Inn | Various dates and locations | thepopinn.com

Schmicnics | schmicnics.com.au

GoBoat Canberra | goboatcanberra.com.au

Photography: Tim Bean Photography

This article originally appeared in Magazine: FALL for Autumn/Winter 2019, available for free while stocks last. Find out more about Magazine here.

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