A haven of calm sophistication in the bustlingly cool hub that is Canberra’s Braddon, Corella’s sophisticated native-ingredient-infused cooking has all the hallmarks of a cutting-edge fine diner, but it’s just as welcoming for those intent on share plates and a glass or two.
The regular’s tip
Don’t be scared to ask to go off list, as there are usually some wine gems tucked away.
The nuts & bolts
This Canberra newcomer takes its name from a small cockatoo found in the local area that’s known for its playful and chatty nature. Just like its namesake, these birds have quite the appetite for local fruits, berries, nuts and seeds.
The 30-seat restaurant, which focuses on indigenous Australian ingredients, is a bit of a passion project for the team behind Assembly, Canberra’s biggest pub. Although located just across the road, the two venues are worlds apart in their offerings. Corella is an intimate escape from the bustle of Braddon Street, with its emerald-green banquettes, bentwood chairs and arched windows that let in the afternoon sun – filtered by soft curtains, of course.
Owner Wes Heincke says Corella was supposed to be a casual wine bar, but after extensive menu trials with head chef Nemanja Babic, “we found it hard to cull the menu to a small snacky menu, and from there it has evolved into a bit more of a restaurant”.
Babic’s menu is produce based, with more than a sprinkling of Australiana. Butter to slather on toasted sourdough has been whipped with Vegemite, lamb ribs are dusted with “bush spice” and served with yuzu yoghurt, and a burnt honey mousse is drizzled with macadamia oil. The food might read fine dining, but the experience overall is more relaxed – there is no compulsory degustation menu here, just polished share plates and relaxed service with a banging wine list to boot.
Venue manager and wine buyer Brady Scholes, who came across from Assembly, says Corella caters for everyone. “We encourage the pop-in wine,” he says, “especially during off-peak times. We don’t shut down between lunch and dinner, meaning the kitchen and bar are open all day Thursday to Sunday.”
Sholes has stacked the drinks list with a good showing of new Aussie producers, backed up by a few established labels from the EU. “The wine list is more on the classic side with a small selection of minimal intervention,” he says. There are usually around 60 bottles on offer at any time, but don’t be afraid to ask Scholes to go off menu – he’s probably got something fun tucked away.