Dinner Tuesday to Saturday 5pm-10.30pm
You Am I is on the stereo, Howard Arkley's portrait of Nick Cave is on the wall and there's a savvy bundle of bottles from all over on the wine list. The arched windows of the Melbourne Building are lovelier than the view of the magistrate's court they frame, and the most has been made of this splendid old building's bones. Let's be clear, though: this is not Restaurant Rochford. The bass thumps off the concrete floor, painted brick and unclothed tables, it's a bar. But the tables aren't crowded with punters purely here for the excellent cocktails. The menu is as interesting as any in Canberra. Oysters, charcuterie and cheese are top-drawer, but there's also confidence in the deployment of smoked sardines on tomato and pecorino toast, and it takes smarts to pair a grilled T-bone so successfully with a smoked mussel butter. The staff are perfectly friendly and accommodating - if you can make yourself heard above the din.