First Floor, 65 London Circuit, Canberra City, ACT
06 6230 6222
It’s somewhat fitting that Bar Rochford sits within the Melbourne building. At first glance, the venue looks like something straight out of Fitzroy or South Yarra, with a menu, fit-out and service that’s almost standard down south.
However, on closer inspection, Bar Rochford is resolutely Canberra. With a drinks list that champions the wine region that surrounds it and a diverse audience that ranges from university students to lawyers and hospitality folk, it celebrates the best of the city through fine food, good service and classic cocktails.
The concept was created by Nick Smith, his girlfriend Luci and chef-friend Ian Poy. All three are old hands in the hospitality industry, spreading their skills over Melbourne, Sydney, London and Berlin. At Bar Rochford, they come together to present a bar and restaurant that caters for the crowd looking for something that’s more sophisticated than a nightclub but less intense than a late-night speakeasy.
From street level, the wine bar has an air of mystery to it. However, once you venture up the narrow staircase to the first floor, such an air evaporates and the warmth of a busy bar and bustling restaurant greets you instantly. The space combines an historic ambience of its building with a touch of European grunge to create a welcoming and unassuming aesthetic. Hanging lights, green leather booths, matching green leather bar stools and concrete beams fill the room, finding the balance between classy and casual. Boasting high ceilings and large west-facing windows that regularly flaunt a beautiful pink Canberra sunset, it’s light and airy, perfect for an after-work wine or late-night cocktail.
Aiming for a vibe of laid-back class, Nick designed Bar Rochford in a way that places equal focus on both the food and the drinks. Ian is in charge in the kitchen, bringing his experience in Braddon’s eightysix to Bar Rochford’s pass. He has designed a concise offering that’s made to share and rotates seasonally.
Dishes range from small nibbles such as Moonlight Flat oysters and bush spice almonds, to entree-esque plates like roast eggplant, labneh and harissa, and more substantial dinner plates such as pasture-raised T-Bone with smoked anchovy butter, and charcoal-grilled octopus with agrodolce and chorizo.
In the way of drinks, Bar Rochford prides itself on a constantly rotating list of eclectic wines. It’s a collection of carefully selected drops with a focus on lesser-known winemakers, varietals and regions, as well as a steady presence of natural wines. For those who are less wine-inclined, they also offer a selection of beers, as well as a seasonal cocktail menu. If you have a hankering for a classic, the team of seasoned bar tenders can whip up anything you fancy.
With delicious food and unique drinks, Bar Rochford is the ideal destination for a Friday night dinner and drinks. Offering good food, good wine and a good time, it’s everything you could ask for.