Visiting the nation's capital is something I have done three times in my life: for the obligatory, if not national rite of passage, where year 6 goes to visit Canberra for school camp... To visit someone's mother, and then sadly, for a funeral. But the lure of seeing artist J.M.W. Turner's luscious canvases, was too much to resist, so I hopped on a bus and was off to the land of roundabouts and politicians (and handsome political reporters). By they way, if you can get to the Turner exhibition you will be astounded by his ability to capture light. Stunning.
Canberra is not Sydney. It may be the capital of Australia, but that was only because Sydney and Melbourne came to fisticuffs over wanting to be the capital, and neither won. Let's invent a place in the middle of nowhere and call that the capital… Canberra is not Sydney. It was a Sunday night at a hip and happening tapas bar in town and there were 5 people in the joint. I knew I wasn't in Kansas anymore but that was ok.
Playground bills itself as a martini bar, so naturally one must try the martinis. I think the last time I had an actual straight-out martini martini, was nearly a decade ago, and I remember it being a very stiff drink that was almost impossible to drink. These martinis go down easily, which makes me think "are they real martinis?". Nonetheless, they are yummy. The alluring perfume of the gin dances across your palate whispering "come closer, I have a secret to tell you"...
We order a smattering of tapasy goodness and between the exciting conversation, "really? me too!", and smiles, gulp down a pretty decent feed.
Calamari: soft, subtle and with a lovely, piquant capsicum dipping sauce.
Pork Belly: fatty where it needed to be and crisply golden where it needed to be.
Hamloumi: enough said.
My favourite dish was the lamb (I'm a lamb lover from way back, ever since I gnawed on a lamb chop bone at six months). It was full of flavour, and luckily, Mr Political Reporter wasn't gaga for it, so I scored a whopping 3 pieces out of the 4. Go me!
Creme Brulee: I need to get my torching skills up to this level. Gorgeous and even shell of crackle on top and creamy bliss underneath.
Crumble: armour for a winter's night personified, warm, comforting and spicy.
I am led to believe that Canberra is light on in terms of funky places to eat at, so luckily Playground fulfils the brief in regards to atmosphere and menu for this Sydney-centric gal.