It’s not every day you get to dine in a giant bird cage, or at…
When I moved to the ‘berra in 2005 I realised pretty quickly that going out for brekky/brunch on the weekend is a favourite pastime of Canberrans. This still holds true today. But while many of us flock to the cafés in Kingston, Braddon, and beyond, last weekend I had a wonderful brunch at somewhere rather unexpected—the National Museum of Australia (NMA) café, catered by Broadbean Catering.
If you’re my age (33) or older, you may remember the days when the only food offerings at museums and other educational institutions were your standard sandwiches, pies, sausage rolls, chips, etc. I’m pleased that things have changed since then, particularly in Canberra, and the NMA café is a great example of how much so.
Arriving early on Saturday morning, the first part of the experience that made me happy was ample and free parking. Meeting my friends outside, we scurried in from the cold and headed past the gift shop towards the café (I told my friends to not let me near the gift shop after brekky, but ended up sneaking in after they left—and buying a copy of On Our Selection (as in Dad and Dave) by Steele Rudd).
While I’d been inside the NMA café before, my friends hadn’t, and one of them commented that there was a lovely view of the lake from every single table. We settled ourselves at a table near the biggest window, and I have to say, the view alone makes a visit to the café worthwhile. I would have loved to be there in autumn, the prettiest season in Canberra, and seen all the different colours on the trees around the lake while enjoying a meal.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-zWbfMoo8D3g/U6Kf1C0neHI/AAAAAAAAFVg/B0vg2Jvb06k/s144-c-o/IMG_3517.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108454826374315674707/BroadbeanCateringNationalMuseumOfAustralia#6026554985014589554″ caption=”Gorgeous view from the NMA cafe” type=”image” alt=”IMG_3517.JPG” pe2_single_image_size=”w614″ pe2_img_align=”center” pe2_caption=”1″ ]
Finally tearing our eyes from the view, we focused on the menu. I hadn’t eaten at the café in a very long time, and the menu had changed since my last visit, probably due to the change in caterers. The café is now catered by Broadbean Catering, who won ACT Caterer of the Year and Venue Caterer of the Year in 2012 and 2013.
There were some café classics on the menu, including a bacon and egg roll, and my favourite, poached eggs with smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce on toast (Eggs Benedict, or Eggs Montreal, whatever you want to call it). But there were also some dishes that sounded rather intriguing, including baked eggs with Spanish tomato sugo, chorizo and tapendade, and poached eggs with baked beans and ham hock.
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Two of my friends ordered the Eggs Benedict, and, while I was really tempted, I though I should branch out and try something else. My other friend and I were both tossing up between the baked egg and chorizo dish and the baked beans and ham hock one, and ended up doing our usual trick of ordering one each so we could try both.
The Eggs Bennys came out first, and they looked delicious (and my friends confirmed they were). I almost regretted not ordering one myself.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-ERKdYx60AA4/U6KfxuCprjI/AAAAAAAAFVg/ANAf7hRRkJI/s144-c-o/IMG_3514.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108454826374315674707/BroadbeanCateringNationalMuseumOfAustralia#6026554927896702514″ caption=”Poached eggs, smoked salmon and Hollandaise sauce on sourdough toast” type=”image” alt=”IMG_3514.JPG” pe2_single_image_size=”w614″ pe2_img_align=”center” pe2_caption=”1″ ]
But then my baked eggs and chorizo came out, and I definitely had no regrets. It was wonderful! And while I’m not a big fan of olives, the tapenade mixed well with the rest of the dish (this is why I rely on chefs to make these decisions, they know better!)
[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-SBa4-Fesp4A/U6KfjTUOVqI/AAAAAAAAFVg/v_SitcENalM/s144-c-o/IMG_3513.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108454826374315674707/BroadbeanCateringNationalMuseumOfAustralia#6026554680204482210″ caption=”Baked eggs with Spanish tomato sugo, chorizo and tapendade with sourdough toast” type=”image” alt=”IMG_3513.JPG” pe2_single_image_size=”w614″ pe2_img_align=”center” pe2_caption=”1″ ]
My other friend was equally pleased with her poached eggs, baked beans and ham hock, and after trying it, I could see why.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/–pKyBd8CuCo/U6KiBqb5v-I/AAAAAAAAFVg/E88nCTTo2JQ/s144-c-o/IMG_3512%252520-%252520Copy.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108454826374315674707/BroadbeanCateringNationalMuseumOfAustralia#6026557400830033890″ caption=”Poached eggs with baked beans, ham hock and sourdough toast” type=”image” alt=”IMG_3512 – Copy.JPG” pe2_single_image_size=”w614″ pe2_img_align=”center” pe2_caption=”1″ ]
We were all thoroughly impressed with our meals—our only disappointment was that we hadn’t realised earlier that we could get such eats at the NMA café, and with such a pretty view! We all left determined to come back and make our way through the rest of the menu—I still want to eat a whole serve of the Eggs Benny and the eggs, baked beans and ham hock myself (though not at the same time!), and I also really liked the sound of the buttermilk pancakes with berry compote and maple mascarpone. Since Broadbean Catering’s menu is seasonal, I guess this just means I’m going to have to go back sooner rather than later, before the menu changes—and then I’m going to have to go back again when the new menu is out.
So next time you’re thinking of somewhere to brunch, why not branch out from your usual spot and give Broadbean Catering at the NMA Café a go—and check out the museum (or gift shop!) while you’re there.
The author and her friends dined courtesy of Broadbean Catering, but this is an honest account of their experience.
The place: Broadbean Catering at the National Museum of Australia café
Where: 1 Lawson Crescent, Canberra
When: 9am to 4.45pm, 7 days a week
Food: Modern Australian and café classics, including quite a few gluten free and vegetarian options
Drinks: Range of hot and cold drink
Contact: Call 02 6208 5179, visit the website at www.broadbeancatering.com.au or visit their Facebook page