Canberra acts as the country’s capital, but offers so much more particularly in winter and spring, when the city showcases some of its best highlights. Recently a girlfriend and I decided to venture down on a Friday night for a weekend getaway. For those driving, there is the 3.5 hour journey, or alternatively the comfy Murray’s bus that departs from Central as well as air travel.
We arrived at our hotel for the weekend, the East Hotel. Located in the upmarket suburb of Kingston next to Manuka, it is a happening hub with a busy bar, popular restaurant and bookshop come café during the day, flanking the entrance. They have setup a little treat and refreshment station to welcome guests, the perfect touch to arriving.
We entered our Studio Suite, and were greeted by a sizable open plan living room and kitchen. A lovely assortment of yummy snacks were left for us including some homemade chocolate, biscotti and a wonderful local bottle of wine. Already, we were off to a great start.
The suite itself is the perfect size, like a mini-apartment, in fact it was larger than one of the apartments I lived in during my time in New York. It was perfectly designed with a desk space and TV along one wall, perpendicular was a self-contained kitchen with fridge, cooktop, oven and microwave with a small dining table and chairs alongside.
The room was made homely by the couch, arm chair and soft vividly coloured furnishings in the lounge/TV area next to the kitchen. This opened out to a balcony overlooking Canberra’s lush greenery and vegetation.
The bedroom was sleek and sexy with a simple modern design. The purple accents echoed from the living room, with sheer silky satin curtains glimmering against the windows. What I particularly loved about this room, was that it had a cute rectangular window right opposite the bed that looked out to Capitol Hill. Laying on the bed and looking out, the following day it played host to a picturesque sunset, which echoed almost the perception of a gorgeous transforming picture on the wall. The room had a small but sufficient wardrobe space, filled with fluffy robes and slippers to pop on and rug up in, shielding the Canberra chill. The bathroom was sizable and spacious with a double basin, bathtub, shower and separate toilet.
The entire studio suite was well laid-out and designed, addressing one’s needs perfectly. Its something I would recommend for those posted in Canberra for work but wanting to be independent, maybe do the odd bit of cooking or someone looking for a comfortable home away from home during their visit.
In Canberra, we visited the National Gallery of Australia which was playing host to a Monet exhibition. After a leisurely day, we ventured to the hotel’s restaurant Agostini’s. On Saturday night the place was pretty much full, bustling with activity. Agostini’s is as the name suggests, an Italian restaurant boasting delicious wood-fired oven and amazing food.
We whet our appetite with a few entrees, Focaccia al forno al olio d’Agostinis ($10) with freshly sliced San Daniele prosciutto ($7) and Burrata con tartufo ($22). The focaccia which I would call more a light pizza dough, was bubby and thin, the perfect snack to accompany our entrees. The Burrata con tartufo ($22) hailed from the typical of the Puglia region in Italy, as an oozy and decadent mozzarella made from cows’ milk and cream, topped with fresh local truffles, served with oven roasted tomatoes. The burrata burst open to reveal its luscious white creamy insides. The roasted tomatoes were similar to sun-dried tomatoes with concentrated flavour and a slight caramelisation. When one combined together the prosciutto, burrata and fresh pizza dough/ focaccia from their wood-fired oven, it was the perfect combination!
As well we had the Parmigiana di melanzana ($17) described as “a moreish winter classic… layers of eggplant, tomato sugo and bufala mozzarella, served with house-made focaccia.” A seering hot pan of eggplant layered with cheese and tomato sugo was delivered to the table, emitting a delectable waft of cheesey goodness. It was rich, yet the eggplant balanced it perfectly, alongside the focaccia which proved perfect for dipping in and scooping out the last remnants of sauce.
Considering it was an Italian restaurant and they boasted homemade pasta, it would’ve been silly to skip ordering one of those. My counterpart opted for the Fettuccine ai funghi con tartufo ($30) consisting of house-made fettuccine tossed with wild mushroom ragù, parsley & white wine, with grated fresh truffles. The silky smooth pasta was al dente, the delectable pieces of mushroom bursting with flavour and uniting with the truffle to create a perfect harmony.
Meanwhile I choose the Tagliata di manzo($40) a 320g grain-fed scotch fillet topped with crispy rocket with parmesan cheese and balsamic glaze, substituted with roasted pumpkin but normally served with rosemary and sea salt roasted potatoes. The steak was perfectly cooked, wonderfully pink inside with criss-cross chargrill lines patterning the meat on the outside. The little cubes of roast pumpkin were moreish, and it was finished off the thin slivers of parmesan on top.
We were absolutely stuffed by dessert, and each had a nibble at Agostinis’ tiramisu ($14), a made-to-order dessert created the traditional way with savoiardi biscuits soaked in espresso and layered with mascarpone. It was a nice way to end the meal but nothing to rave about.
We hobbled off to our room, wishing perhaps we could be zipped up on the back of the scooter in the restaurant, but luckily the elevator was only a few footsteps away. Needless to day we enjoyed sinking into our bed, our bellies filled with Italian feasts.
The next morning we ate in the hotel’s café and bookstore Muse, where one can get a delicious meal, enjoy a glass of wine or great coffee all whilst reading a book. At 10am on a Sunday morning the place was heaving with patrons, seemingly serving up a delicious brunch.
We went for the Chilli Brown Rice Bowl roast pumpkin, tofu, broccoli, avocado, pickled red cabbage, fried egg ($21) and a build your own brekkie of eggs, smoked salmon and mushrooms. The pumpkin bowl was a great healthy wholesome vegetarian option. The coffee was one of the best I have enjoyed in a long while – made wonderfully well – so be sure to enjoy.
With the spring blossom festival looming and an everlasting calendar of events at the NGA, be sure to pop down to Canberra for a fun and YUMMY weekend away.
East Hotel Canberra
69 Canberra Ave,
I Ate My Way Through stayed as guests of East Hotel Canberra.