ANU Commons Cafe
26 Barry Drive, Acton
A $5 lunch is usually a sufficient deterrent to returning home to Ainslie to pick up your cheese and pickles sandwich. The new Cafeteria and Commons on the ground floor of Lena Karmel Lodge seeks to find its market in the lazy college student, the forgetful “townie” or any other unsubscribed individual looking for a conveniently-located cheap lunch. Or perhaps I am mistaken. On Tuesday, as this reviewer trialled a cafeteria lunch, the only clients of ANU’s latest eatery were public servants and business people from the surrounding offices. In fact, our party of three appeared to be the only students taking advantage of the discounted meals for ANU students and staff. The décor was typical of a shopping centre’s food court; uncomfortable and unpleasing, but clean. The background music was Channel V’s top 40, with the hit “Call me maybe” providing the atmosphere for our lunch.
The only thing to save ANU’s new cafeteria was going to have to be the food. The Cafeteria provides a small range of hot foods ($5- $6) that appear to change on a daily basis, an assortment of $5 sandwiches, a burger menu ($10+) and some other odds and ends including a rather delicious and sizeable roast vegetable tart. While everything that we ate had a definite flavour of microwave radiation, the food itself was fairly good and, in the case of the pork jambalaya and the beef, was actually delicious. Unfortunately, the portions were on the small side and left us wanting.
One of my companions had invested in the Fish Burger at $10 and was bitterly disappointed by a somewhat slimy experience as the mash of fish and potato (on a burger?) sought to appease him. In the end the burger was left unfinished and the roast vegetable tart was divided in three to provide some satisfaction to the otherwise disheartened diners.
The saving grace for the ANU commons may well be the sandwiches, which look good and are, after all, only $5. Overall, the lunch experience was a bit hit-and-miss. If you keep your fingers crossed and the fates are smiling, you may score a decent feed without dropping too much dough.