A.Baker at New Acton – Lightning Review
by The Editor
It seems like forever since our beloved Parlour and wine room suffered at the hands of an unruly pizza oven and burnt to the ground. Not that it was in any way Parlour’s fault (the oven belonged to the restaurant next door), however since then, epicurean Canberrans have mourned their loss from the heart of the New Acton precinct.
Flash forward to September 2013, and we have a new culinary powerhouse to peruse. After a fair amount of preparation and training, last week A. Baker made an appearance with all intent to establish itself as a fully-fledged food and wine Mecca.
Every hospitality owner has a dream. It’s a dream that their venue will serve breakfast, a lovely lunch, coffees throughout the day prior to a packed house for dinner. After all this the site would magically become a bar, where the influencers and fashionistas flock and mill into the early hours.
Rarely does this vision become a reality. Simply, customers tend to decide what a venue will be based on the needs of the market. Ask any number of venues that have opened with dreams of 24/7 trade.
And so we have A. Baker.
Owners Jarrod and Chris have broad experience through their leading roles in Trinity Bar and Belluci’s Dickson respectively, as well as their joint roles as owner/operators of Two before Ten Café and the 10 Yards Café – both located in Canberra House. This experience culminates in a venue that is attempting to be a breakfast to late-night venue in the traditional way.
Rather than attempt to achieve this all in the one space, A. Baker has taken the route of developing three separate spaces where these activities occur. On the ground floor of the building resides a large open dining room in the burned-out shell of the old structure.
Blackened walls rise up to the concrete slab of the floor above. The industrial, raw feel is enhanced through the use of stainless steel and glass structures that break up the room. Black tables add to the neutral palette. The room echoes with the sound of diners and the busy open kitchen.
And this is merely one part of the space. Head downstairs to find an intimate ‘speakeasy’ style of bar that is very much focused on conversation and quality drinks. There isn’t room to get rowdy, the bar is lined with stools for engagement with the bar-staff and some serious discussion over the liquor of your choice.
As the hours go on, you might look over your shoulder to see the workings of A. Baker’s… um, bakery that is located behind a dimmed window. It’s where they do their best to prepare breakfast treats for the upstairs dining room, as well as for sale across the city.
All things to all people? Perhaps, but not all at the same time. Cleverly, A. Baker doesn’t seek to please all within the same space – the selective use of kitchen, bar and bakery to satisfy different aspects of the Canberra market is a fascinating strategy.
Whatever your flavor, head over to New Acton and have a look through A. Baker and see what appeals. Oh, and have a look through the big windows to see Parlour Bar and Wine Room, as it heads towards an opening later this year!