Calling fringe dwellers, the National Multicultural Fringe Festival starts in Civic tonight. Over four nights…
Imagine for a minute a bar with its own kitchen, a degustation of perfectly matched cocktails and canapés, and an establishment that fed you until 1 am. In Braddon.
Praise be this is not a dream.
When it opens next Thursday night, Alcove will bring something special to Londsdale Street in rather a secret location that lends an air of exclusivity to the experience.
Tucked at the back of the new Branx building, Alcove is, indeed, an alcove with an enormous wall of glass at the back, shaded by oaks.
The brainchild of restaurateur Ricky Liau and chef Kenny Tse, both internationally seasoned professionals who met while Kenny was head chef at Monster and Ricky was Food and Beverage Manager, the couple wants to create a cocktail bar with a difference, melding food and drink in a unique way.
Of course, Alcove has a generous cocktail and wine menu, and its canapés can be ordered in any permutation you like, depending on hunger. But it’s the Pair Menu that sets a new bar for Canberra, matching inventive cocktails to each bespoke morsel.
Want sashimi? Drink a Shiso of yuzu, champagne and aromatic fog to get the most out of the fresh, subtle flavours.
Feel like a wonton of Canton chicken with scallion, daikon and wakame? Pair it with a Chrysanthemum of pear, sake, citrus and whites.
If you love sweet, try the coconut mousse with caramelised white chocolate, banana, kaffir lime curd and toasted sponge. Wash it down with an espresso martini of salted caramel, pineapple, espresso and spiced tropical rum.
See where they are going with this?
Ricky said the cocktail bar had been two years in the dreaming phase and one year in construction with a luxe semi-industrial fit-out by Sophie Collis of Code Design.
The bar includes a row of marble tables down one end and plush leather curved banquets down the other.
The heavy black industrial window frames of Branx add elegance while tiny black table lamps shine the perfect amount of light onto each delicate dish as to ensure the most instagrammable of nights out. Food even comes nestled on terrazzo blocks for extra insta cache.
“We went to a lot of effort to get these colour-tuned lights exactly right,” says Ricky. “We know in a dark bar it is super hard to get good shots.”
The pair have enjoyed collaborating on their menu, cooking and mixing together and sparking new taste combinations and ideas along the way.
“Having the kitchen in the bar has been a really different experience but it means when Kenny is browning the butter, I can smell it and my mind turns to what to create to go with it.
“There are a lot of bars in Canberra but none of them really take the idea of matching the food to the cocktails like we have. Most bar food seems to be an afterthought. There isn’t a single item that is fried on our menu!”
Alcove hopes to work in many ways. First and foremost a cocktail bar, it’s also a place for an inventive “meal” of small plates, or a place to begin or end a night.
“Often you want to finish a meal at a bar. Well, our bar just happens to serve the most amazing espresso martinis which are perfectly complemented by a dessert,” Ricky says.
And if you are peckish right up until 1am, there will be a place for you, and your iPhone, with perfect lighting and a matching cocktail, ready and waiting.
Where: 105/16 Lonsdale Street Braddon (take the carpark entry to the right of the building and take another right)
When: Tuesday to Saturday 5.30pm-1am from Thursday 24 February