Honkytonks: The Review

by The Editor

One week after the opening extravaganza, The Canberran was happy to return to Honkytonks in Garema Place to properly check out the new kid on the block. It’s easy enough to criticise the soul-less venues on the other side of Bunda Street under the auspices of the QIC (read: Canberra Centre), but perhaps this gives greater reason to celebrate a couple of local Canberrans investing in the city’s bar culture.

On a beautiful Spring afternoon, where royalty was in the air, there was only one offering worth acquiring from Honkytonks. For those yet to be initiated, the house special comes in a pitcher – more precisely in the form of red or white sangria – perhaps the ultimate way to celebrate the arrival of both warmer weather and a new venue. The timing is simply divine.

So, armed with white sangria, The Canberran and Little Spoon sat back and watched the patrons float in. The clientele was in keeping with the pseudo-Melbournian vibe the bar has going on – suits mingled with hipsters mingled with those who seemed much more relaxed.  An orderly queue formed in a straight line from the door to the bar, regardless of the fact there was ample space off to the right with eager bartenders beckoning the patient to move across and name their poison.  Even in the early days of a bar, when every wanker wants to press the flesh and show their face in the new place-to-be, Honkytonks seemed to draw a crowd satisfied enough simply to be there. It was, for someone who has seen a lot of bars try, come and go, somewhat refreshing.

Halfway through our sangria, the food order arrived. We partook in a couple of tacos, intrigued by the menu’s sales pitch referring to 24 hour-marinated beef. To be fair, they were delicious: soft shell, guacamole, corn, salsa and onion.  Actually, they were quite delicious but, at five bucks a pop, and with barely more substantive offerings available off the menu, we can’t help but wonder if Honkeytonks has missed an opportunity to change the Canberra drinking scene and offer perfect food to match the quality of the drinks list.

All in all, Honkytonks is a very promising start from Laurence and Sascha.  The groundwork has been laid and, as the venue matures, the food will no doubt be refined.  We look forward to seeing Honkytonks in twelve months time, when it is a little more sure footed and has realised the potential of what is a most promising start.

Download The Canberran Report Card Honkytonks