A visit to Gus' cafe is a must for any visitor to Canberra
Gus' is a Canberra institution. It's one of those cafes that locals and tourists have been dining at for years, due to two things – its location and its fabulous food.
Opened in the late 1960s by an Austrian gentleman, Gus Petersilka, Gus' was Canberra's first ever outdoor café. Back in the sixties, dining outdoors when one ate out in Canberra was not the "done thing." However fast forward 40 odd years and the majority of cafes in our nation's capital have an outdoor dining area. Gus was certainly a trailblazer in Canberra's dining scene – he had to fight tooth and nail to receive permission from local bureaucrats to create his outdoor dining venture, even going as far as writing to the Queen when the bureaucracy got too much. He wanted his café to not only offer seating outdoors but also to offer late night dining and the council officials of the day were none too happy about it. Thankfully Gus persevered as Gus' is certainly a café to check out when you are visiting Canberra.
Located in Civic, Canberra's premier shopping and dining district, Gus' occupies a prime position right on busy Bunda Street. The outdoor eating area on the street surrounds the trunk of an old tree. Due to Canberra's unpredictable cold weather this area has now been enclosed to allow for heating. However if you are die hard traditionalist you can still sit outside at Gus' no matter what the weather conditions are.
For a cafe that has been operating for decades, Gus' certainly keeps up with the times. From the modern menu to the trendy staff clad in full length brown aprons to the funky wooden chopping boards that the food is served on, Gus' certainly gives all of Canberra's new hip eateries a run for their money. Sadly Gus is now in the great café up in the sky but luckily the new owners have continued his vision and have just added a few modern touches.
We dined at breakfast time – two adults and two children. We were warmly greeted and seated in the enclosed outdoor eating area. Gus' menu is impressive in size and variety. The breakfast menu is divided into Something Sweet... or Savoury with prices ranging from $4.00 up to $20.00 depending on what you order.
The carnivore amongst us enjoyed Gus' Omelette on Toast. This spicy omelette was full of Kransky, chilli fried potatoes, roasted red capsicum, red onion and cheese – the perfect warming breakfast on a cool Canberra morning. The vegetarian chose the Herbivores on Rye Toast – two perfectly poached eggs, tomato, spinach and garlicky mushrooms. We were advised upon ordering that they had no more spinach and that we would receive a double serve of mushrooms instead which was not a problem for the vegetarian. They must have been having an extra busy morning as the Herbivore's breakfast came with white toast instead of rye.
Gus' children's menu is perhaps one of the most comprehensive I have seen in my travels to date. It is almost a mini version of the adults menu and would be sure to please even the fussiest of kids. Our children had jam on toast and for $2.80 this was great value, with two large slices of thick toast and strawberry jam being served on a trendy chopping board. Their toast was washed down with freshly squeezed granny smith apple juices.
Open from 7.30am to late every day, you can choose from the breakfast menu all day if you wish or perhaps you would prefer to choose something from the all-day dining menu selection. Gourmet toasted sandwiches, hot rolls, burgers, salads, pastas – basically anything you can think of is on the menu at Gus'. If you are after a sweet treat then make sure you try one of their old fashioned banana splits or a chocolate brownie sundae.
If you're just after coffee and cake, they are available until close. Gus' coffee is excellent, a unique blend of beans from four different origins. It is verging on the expensive side at $3.90 for a standard coffee, but as they say, you get what you pay for. If coffee is not your thing, there is a huge list of other beverages on offer. For the tea drinkers out there, some interesting sounding concoctions await you – Turkish apple, China jasmine, and strawberries and cream are to name but a few.
Other hot drinks include the luscious sounding Nutella mocha, caramel cinnamon latte and peanut butter hot chocolate. For a cool refreshing drink why not try a pine lychee frappe or an old fashioned soda like a fire engine? These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the impressive number of beverages available at Gus'.
The café operators of Canberra have a lot to thank the pioneering Gus for. We all take dining outdoors in Canberra as well as anywhere else in Australia for granted. Who knew that less than 50 years ago this was not possible in our nation's capital? Here's cheers to you Gus!