New to Canberra, I love exploring this city and the secrets that it holds with my family.
Published February 4th 2018
Stop for brunch at this colourful Lonsdale Street eatery
Elk and Pea is a cafe and restaurant, located on the bustling cafe strip on Lonsdale Street in Braddon, just a few minutes from the city centre. I have often wondered the story behind its unusual name, until we walked inside on a Sunday morning to discover ornamental elk heads positioned around the restaurant and peacock feathers and murals adorning the walls. The quirky, eclectic mix of decor is what makes this cafe so interesting - retro light shades, different clocks on the walls, bookshelf wallpaper, stuffed peacocks on beams, plates threaded onto sticks and my personal favourite at the back of the venue - antique paintings attached to the ceiling.
The overall effect is simply "Wow"!
Just one of the colourful tables at Elk and Pea, Braddon
When you first arrive, you are greeted at the door by one of the many friendly wait staff, who will find you a table where you choose - if one is free! There are several outside tables so you can watch the street life go by, or sit inside with the high ceiling and eclectic decor and enjoy the surroundings. We chose to sit inside and were shown to a table near the bar. After sitting for a minute, we were then asked to move to another table down the back, as our current table was reserved for a larger group. This juggling of tables by the wait staff shows how busy this venue is - Sunday mid-morning was absolutely packed! Thankfully, we were even happier with our new table down the back of the restaurant, so we could look up at the art and watch the kitchen window in action, as they pumped out the meals to the bustling brunch crowd.
The All Day Menu is fairly extensive and runs between 7:30am - 2:30pm, to cater to people who want to sleep in. The prices are at the higher end of city prices, with an extra 10% surcharge on Sunday - which we weren't expecting when we received the bill at the end of the visit, although it is mentioned at the bottom of the last page of the menu.
On our visit, we chose the Smashed Avocado and Dukka, which was a generous serve of two pieces of smoky sourdough toast, two poached eggs, avocado mix, thin slices of radish, bocconcini, cherry tomatoes, a small sprinkling of dukka and a wedge of lime. The bocconcini was an interesting addition to the meal, with its unique mild flavour and soft texture on the plate. The combination was a beautiful balance of flavours and very filling, which kept me full for hours long after I had left.
We also ordered the Egg and Bacon Roll, which had a melt-in-the-mouth soft brioche bun, double bacon, egg and an amazing, tangy sauce which was a mix of tomato chutney, chipotle aioli and hickory BBQ sauce. It left a little sizzle on your tongue at the end of each bite, which kept you wanting more. We also enjoyed a caramel milkshake, with chunks of creamy vanilla ice-cream and freshly squeezed orange juice. In all, we were impressed by our meals and atmosphere - it is easy to see how this eclectic café is always one of the busiest on the strip.
Although the staff were very welcoming to our young daughter, this venue isn't ideally suited to children as there isn't much to choose from on the menu (although she did love counting how many elks and peacocks she could see!). This bustling, vivacious venue is ideally suited for groups of friends and couples, who don't mind background music and the buzz of happy chatter.
This restaurant is also open for dinner between 6pm - 9:30pm (see the Elk and Pea website for current nights) with an extensive drinks menu and a long list of cocktails. The menu is Australian with a South American influence, as well as plenty of vegetarian options with a hit of spice. They often hold Vegan, Mexican, Argentinian, Jamaican and Latin Food Safari nights, so keep an eye on their Facebook for future events.
With tasty food, eclectic atmosphere and tropical cocktails getting shaken behind the bar, you are always in for a colourful experience at Elk and Pea. Why don't you stop in for brunch this weekend? See how many elks and peacocks you can find!
A touch of South American magic at Elk and Pea. Image: Original photos from Elk and Pea Facebook