It’s Australia Day! What are you doing to celebrate? More importantly, what are you eating?…
It’s been a long 13 months. But Braddon’s biggest new venture – Assembly – is opening its doors tomorrow, Thursday 20 June.
For owner Wes Heincke, it’s been both a labour of love and a love of labour that has seen him and his team strip back the former Paddy Pallin store and Braddon Cellars to little more than a shell—by their own hands.
“We didn’t have a designer, we just got in and did a lot of the work ourselves,” says Wes. This includes everything from making the giant table stands, to the massive zig-zag lighting columns that break up the vast ceiling, to casting two enormous concrete bars by hand.
The team has transformed the cavernous space into a luxe industrial-toned pub with long blackbutt tables, cosy leather booths, polished concrete floors, exposed brick and a tonne of greenery.
Speaking of which, the backyard beer garden—complete with a 50-year-old English Oak tree that they craned in to create a centrepiece—screams of long summer sessions where you can either grab a table or simply plonk down on the grass.
And ultimately, that’s what Wes wanted to create—a relaxed, easy, authentic pub where long hours eating and drinking with friends and family await.
“We all know one of the biggest criticisms of Canberra is that it really lacks that authentic pub culture. Assembly is exactly what the name suggests. A place to come and relax while enjoying great food and drink.”
To that end, Assembly has a menu which, while deliberately unpretentious, promises a gastronomic edge to the pub experience.
Take the roast lamb shoulder with smoked yoghurt, cauliflower and pomegranate salad, or the chickens fresh from the enormous wood-fired rotisserie in the main kitchen. Burgers are big on the menu but are brought out with a twist—jerk chicken with jalapeño aioli, pulled pork with pineapple salsa, grilled beef with bacon jam and pickled red onion, and chicken schnitty with charred corn.
For something smaller try the haloumi fries, zucchini flowers with goat’s curd, or the kingfish sashimi which is supplied from Matt Moran’s preferred fishmonger in Sydney.
There is an eye-watering array of steaks and some choice vegetarian options—an eggplant parmigiana, quinoa salad and roast potato and spinach salad among them.
But Assembly also devotes part of its menu to the most important meal of the day—breakfast.
Try the mozzarella, potato and corn fritters with chipotle aioli, the ricotta bowl of house-made muesli and hazelnut crumb, the mushrooms with celery pickle and pine nuts, or the salmon gravlax with a fennel baguette and goat’s curd.
And we couldn’t help but notice the “Re-Assemble” breakfast cocktail of Berroca, kombucha, a nip of vodka and dash of lemonade, which may come in handy some mornings.
Coffee is Red Brick, with cold and batch brew available alongside your flat whites and lattes.
Now we can’t rate a pub without mentioning its wine list and Assembly provides a considered mix of local, national and international labels. It boasts two local collaborations under its own “Assembly” wine label—a Riesling created at Collector Wines and a Shiraz created with Mada. There are 40 wines, most offered by the glass, and 12 beers on tap.
Having overseen almost every detail of the massive project, Wes can’t wait for warm weather in which to push out the bi-fold windows out onto Lonsdale Street and open the back doors onto the beer garden.
When we tell you Assembly is vast, we truly mean it. Think a capacity in the vicinity of 500 people and you will realise just how big an undertaking this has been.
Hiring the 50 staff to man the place has been a big undertaking as Wes, who formerly ran Edgar’s Inn in Ainslie, understands that the right mix of intelligent, helpful and unpretentious staff will make this a place people are keen to return to.
“Staff is our number one priority. In Canberra you can get good food and drinks at any number of amazing places and we understand the atmosphere we create here has a lot to do with the quality of the service, so we have worked really hard on that.”
Assembly is also happily pro-kid—encouraging their attendance through a dedicated menu and lots of (contained) space to run around out the back.
“Everyone is welcome, and there is room to fit them all!” says Wes.
Assembly opens Thursday 20 June.
Where: 11 Lonsdale St Braddon
When: Seven days – 6.30am Monday to Friday, 7.30am Saturday & Sunday, and staying open ’til late all nights, including a 2am closing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.