Besides Parliament House, the Melbourne and Sydney buildings that flank Northbourne Avenue are probably the most recognisable buildings in the city. It makes sense, then, that Canberra’s most acclaimed bar takes pride of place on the first floor of the Melbourne Building.

The centerpiece at Bar Rochford is a huge arched window overlooking London Circuit. If you’re visiting during the day, get in early – seats by the window go quickly. Elsewhere, hunter-green leather upholstery pairs up with wooden accents to create a feel that’s equal parts comfortable and sophisticated. In winter, there’s also a roaring fire to enjoy. The record collection mirrors the wine list: eclectic, funky and extensive.

Traditional classic bottles sit alongside alternate varietals, bolstered by handwritten specials on butcher’s paper that constantly change as bottles run out. Owner Nick Smith knows his stuff when it comes to wine, and the team can outline any wine on the list as though they were describing a close friend.

Co-head chefs Josh Lundy and Belinda Florence preside over the kitchen. What’s local and in season governs what you’ll find on the menu here. It’s separated into cheeses and charcuterie, snacks and share plates. If you're after something small, your night may involve a single snack of crusty toast lathered in sobrassada (a spreadable Catalonian sausage), buffalo curd and zucchini. Or you could settle in for something larger, such as a plate of eggplant with caramelized yoghurt or sliced steak with crisp parsnips and porcini.

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Updated: June 24th, 2022

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