On Sunday, I took a walk along the lake shore with B1 & B2. The lake wasn't looking its best from close up, but there were still black swans and cormorants, flaming red Manchurian pear trees and yellow weeping willows, and the carillon was playing Bach. A flock of black cockatoos was flying overhead. The mist sculpture was running in the National Gallery sculpture garden as we walked through aiming for the Portrait Gallery.
We followed up our walk with lunch on the Portrait Gallery cafe verandah. This is a lovely spot, looking over Reconciliation Place and the High Court, towards the lake. I had a rather good artichoke, spinach & goat cheese toastie ($7) with a fresh mesclun side salad ($4) and a sparkling guava and cranberry juice ($4). It's cafeteria style - you queue up, order and pay, and a lot of the food is in the counter fridges and bains-marie. But they do bring your food out to you: no wrestling with trays.
The food was pretty good, and there is a nice range on offer. There are several different vegetarian choices: there were two toasties, two pies, an omelette and a soup yesterday. The sweets were unusual. There was a quince and almond bread and butter pudding, which was tempting, but I ended up choosing the toasted sour cherry and walnut loaf ($5). I also love the idea of the extra small cupcakes, biscuits and caramel slices ($2). It was all very pleasant, with a minor exception - the cashier made a typo with our table number and in consequence the server couldn't find us with our desserts.
It's a good affordable casual lunch stop, this place - unlike the revamped Waters Edge, which no longer offers brunch. I was happy to see the change of management, though. We had very poor and snotty service there a couple of years back. But it's now run by Canberra's star chef James Mussilon, and has recently got a Canberra Times rave review (by Bryan Martin, not me). We stopped to peek at the menu as we walked past, and we're talking $36 mains, or $70 for a 3 course meal. Lunch is only a little cheaper. It's well into serious fine dining territory, and I'd love to go there sometime and try it out. Perhaps for a birthday lunch.
After our walk and lunch, we went back to B1's place and she gave me a lot of lemons and spinach from her garden. The spinach came with a few yellow ladybirds, which I tried to shake off. But I still ended up with four of them in the car, that I felt obliged to catch and release outside. To top it off, there was a huge flock of sulphur-crested cockatoos in my front garden when I got home, feasting on the autumn crop of acorns from our massive pinoak street trees. A beautiful day, in a very Canberra style.