The Portrait Café is located in the National Portrait Gallery in Parkes, within the Parliamentary Triangle. The National Portrait Gallery is home to a collection of portraits of prominent Australians, who have excelled in their chosen fields in one form or another. Allow some time in your visit to enjoy this free gallery, displaying well-known faces and characters in a variety of different mediums.
After enjoying the exhibitions, perhaps stop for a drink or lunch at the Portrait Café, located just inside the front door to the gallery. You can also enter the café via the side walkway, past dozens of tables and diners enjoying their meals in a sunny spot or under the shade.
The Portrait Café isn't a large café, however there are a good number of tables to ensure that everyone gets a seat during busy times. There are several inside tables and a long bar to sit at with stools, if you are waiting for a coffee or the kids want to sit up high. There are also tables close to the counter and a few around the corner close to the gift shop. With plenty of light, it makes for a comfortable place to stay a little longer and enjoy the bustling, arty atmosphere.
There is a large scale menu above the counter, which has a good range of lunch options ranging from ham and cheese croissants, gourmet wraps and rolls ($9 - $12) to soups, goulashes, risottos, home made pies, sausage rolls, pulled beef rolls and other seasonal choices ($9 - $18). The soups and goulashes in particular were popular choices, with many diners enjoying them with a side of sourdough toast.
One thing that caught our eye was the reasonably-priced, huge homemade pot pies and sausage rolls. These monster creations smelt and looked delicious and are served with green salad and tomato relish on the side.
Our little party couldn't go past these enticing pastries, so we ordered the "Chicken, ginger and coriander sausage rolls with salad greens and tomato relish" for $9 and the "Pot Pie with Pulled Beef and Vegetables" with the same accompaniments for $15. A bowl of stringy chips with aoili on the side cost $8.
The table was silent as we tucked into our meals, with deliciously flavoursome fillings and the audible crunch of pastry heard with each pierce of the fork. Due to the beautiful blend of flavours inside each one, combined with the tomato relish and refreshing taste of the salad dressing, they were meals that we would easily come back for again. The sausage roll was a milder version in taste, with subtle flavours to enjoy. The pot pie was particularly flavoursome, with the pulled pork filling a beautifully intense flavour that comes with hours of slow cooking.
Chicken, ginger and coriander sausage roll with salad greens and tomato relish ($9)
If you sit outside, there are views over to the High Court and to the aboriginal sculptures and artworks at Reconciliation Place. Perhaps after your meal, take a walk along this walkway and admire the artworks, read the stories and even hear the audio of aboriginal stories from years gone past. Reconciliation Place was officially opened in 2012 by then Prime Minister John Howard, to aid in the reconciliation process. It has 17 artworks along the walkway leading back to the entrance to Questacon.
View of some of the sculptures at Reconciliation Place
Inscription on stone at beginning of Reconciliation Place: If we want to break away from our colonial past, and begin anew, then we have to walk together - hand in hand and side by side - as a truly reconciled nation - Gatjil Djerrkura OAM, 2004
The Portrait Café is a central place to stop for lunch or a coffee whilst exploring the many attractions nearby. It is within walking distance from The National Gallery, The High Court, Questacon and Lake Burley Griffin foreshore.
If you aren't sure where to go, look out for this orange sculpture outside the entrance to the National Portrait Gallery. Titled "Geo Face Distributer" (2009), it makes for a handy landmark when trying to find the gallery and if you have kids with you, they will be the first to spot it from a distance. Kids find the colour particularly intriguing, wondering if it is an oversized piece of play dough or plastic toy - which perhaps isn't what artist James Argus had in mind when he created it.
Why not walk through the doors and enjoy the portraiture in the galleries and the delights in the Portrait Café, this weekend.
Play dough? Plastic toy? Colourful molecule? You decide at the National Portrait Gallery