Drawing back the curtin on Canberra’s newest local–Two Blind Mice | HerCanberra

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Drawing back the curtin on Canberra’s newest local–Two Blind Mice

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The Curtin Shops is getting a serious injection of street cred with Two Blind Mice opening its giant, hand-made, reclaimed, recycled and restored timber door to the public.

In fact, if the food side of the venture wasn’t so exciting, we could spend much of this article remarking on the ingenuity and hard work of owner Sam Carlini who could probably forge a career in carpentry after all he has achieved on this expansive corner site.

Everything, from the feature wood on the outside (scavenged fence palings from a house in Lyneham) to the bar roof (beams salvaged from the old Knightsbridge Penthouse) to the glorious floorboards (rescued basketball court from the Australian Institute of Sport), has a story to tell.

And Sam has created a relaxed but stylish pub setting in which to pull up a restored mid-Century seat to tell it.

But we digress.

With a pedigree in the local hospitality scene—Sam has had a hand in some of the city’s best known bars including Kremlin, Molly and Highball—Two Blind Mice takes everything he has learned about the industry and puts it together in a suburban setting he loves (disclaimer, he lives in Curtin and adores the cohesive community vibe).

Chef Josh McDonald and owner Sam Carlini

Sam wants the atmosphere to be as relaxed and welcoming as the food is serious.

All ingredients listed on Two Blind Mice’s menu will be hand-made, from the pizza dough, to the icecream to the pasta and pickles. There is no freezer on site in keeping with the desire for fresh and seasonal produce only. And flavours are distinctly European – carried through from the food to a wine list which will go heavy on Sam’s favourite Italian reds.

Drawing on relationships he has with some of the city’s accomplished chefs, Sam has brought on board head chef and partner Josh McDonald who has previously worked at Nomad Sydney, Terra and Kokomos. Josh will oversee the large black-and-white tiled kitchen which features an enormous stone pizza oven (from which you’ll be able to order takeaway).

While the vibe is warm and democratic “I want to welcome everyone, from workers in high-vis to dressed-up couples out on a Saturday night,” says Sam, the menu suggests Two Blind Mice will command the more serious attention of the city’s food-obsessed.

For instance, you can start with dishes including Burrata with fennel jam and toasted sourdough, or butterflied prawns with chermoula, dill and pickled chilli, or perhaps fried cauliflower salad with cashew, rocket and labne.

Some of the main courses may sound like regular pub fare, but Two Blind Mice’s version of fish and chips includes whole butterflied and crumbed snapper, with a leaf salad, tartare sauce and hand-cut chips. There’s a spiced half chicken with kohlrabi, celeriac rémoulade and gravy, or pasta-lovers can toss between the beef cheek pappardelle with red wine braised beef cheek, parsley and lemon gremolata, or the seafood linguine with mussels, crab, cherry tomatoes and half a Moreton Bay bug.

The pizza menu is extensive, and as such is broken down into red and white based version, befitting of the substantial pizza oven.

In time, Sam will be taking over the adjoining commercial property so that he can start selling some of the house-made products his kitchen produces, including his own charcuterie.

But first thing is first, and that is, opening the beautiful door that he sanded by hand to an eagerly awaiting community.

No doubt Curtin residents are going to have to get used to interlopers from other suburbs crashing in on “their” local. The name, by the way, refers to two mates at a pub, not a children’s nursery rhyme.

But it might be hard to find a seat in line with Curtin’s rise in gourmet standing thanks to its great Vietnamese bakery My Gourmet Delights and Red Brick Espresso which already entice non-residents into the village-style shops.

To that end, Sam is clear that the glorious yellow La Marzocco coffee machine beside the front door is  “just about being able to have an espresso martini or a coffee after dinner. Curtin already has great coffee and we don’t want to compete with that. People will be coming to us for beer. Or a spritz, or a super-Tuscan wine…”

All images by Zachary Griffith.



Two Blind Mice
Where: 6/44 Curtin Place, Curtin
Hours: 11am-11pm seven days.


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