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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Canberra’s restaurants surviving in lockdown

It seems many of Canberra’s restaurants have thought of creative ways to accommodate the different restrictions faced from COVID-19.   

While ACT restaurants are now permitted to hold up to 20 people at one time as of Saturday, many changed the way we thought about eating out while restricted to takeaway options or just 10 patrons.

Rizla, a wine bar and eatery in Braddon, revamped its takeaway wine and food menu to complement the cold Canberra winter.

“People feel like comfort food and red wine in winter, so we wanted to accommodate for that,” owner Andy Day said.

“We’ve been lucky to use the time and feedback from guests over the last few weeks to nail down dishes to go with the reds we love, and given the volume of reds we’ve sold recently, it really is a no-brainer.”

Rizla wine bar and eatery in Braddon has revamped its takeaway wine and food menu to suit Canberra’s winter weather, but won’t reopen for dine-in until the limit increases to 20.

Mr Day decided not to open for dining when restrictions originally lifted to permit 10 customers inside the restaurant, preferring to stick to takeaway.

“From a customer experience and financial perspective, it didn’t make sense to me and it didn’t feel right – having 10 people in a restaurant is just too empty,” he said.

“I thought let’s hold off until we are allowed 20 and we can open up the doors and have a good time.”

Conversely, Daana, an award-winning, family-run Indian restaurant located in Curtin, took to the 10-person restriction limit by altering their dining-in style.

Holding two nightly sessions for 10 patrons, the restaurant offered a set menu named ‘dish stories’.

“We started with a new concept focusing on dishes that have been lost in time from India,” co-owner and chef Sunita Kumar said.

“It was really well received; we now have bookings well into June.”

As restrictions have since lifted to allow 20 people in the restaurant, Daana will be honouring all ‘dish stories’ bookings while also launching its new menu, ‘Confluence’.

The menu will incorporate native Australian ingredients into traditional Indian recipes.

While we don’t want to give too much away, diners can expect to find some interesting flavours and textures like Cocktail Dill Vadas with quandong chutney, Chettinad prawns with banana and finger lime chutney,” co-owner and chef Sunjay Kumar said.

The restaurant also boosted its business during lockdown by offering frozen Indian meals for takeaway purchase.

While Rizla’s business also thrived on its takeaway during lockdown, Mr Day said he doesn’t know that it’s a long-term plan for the wine bar.

“We are going to play things by ear at the moment,” he said,

“We might can takeaway but things are so flexible we will just go with it for now.”

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