Most of you may have heard that Westside Acton Park has opened. That’s the tall yellow and blue building/tower you can see when driving past on Commonwealth Avenue Bridge heading North-side. Westside is basically a pop-up shipping container village holding some pretty awesome vendors including food! There’s also a Gold’s Gym if you’re in need of one.
I headed there a few weeks ago for its opening day to check it out. There are fun skateboard swings to sit on or sit back in a sunchair and enjoy the sunshine.
During its opening weekend, there were still construction workers and a crane moving shipping containers around. So it was not quite ready yet. However, a few stalls were open such as Damn Fine Coffee Roasters – Canberra’s first drive through coffee stop.
And so was Stomping Grounds offering a food menu with three items on it – a hot dog, the kevin bacon roll or Londsale Street Roasters Ribs and Wings. Coffee and food orders are taken at the counter while the food is collected around the other side of the shipping container.
I started with the LSR Ribs and Wings ($10) in a spicy espresso BBQ sauce. Once I sat down to open the takeaway box, I realised there were no wings in the said Ribs and Wings package. I wasn’t too fussed and got stuck into the three small ribs. Tender and I absolutely loved the sticky BBQ sauce. A side of coleslaw helped freshen things up.
I bought the spring rolls ($5 for a serve of 6) and am happy to report these were crispy and stuffed full of delicious chicken, lemongrass, garlic and a chilli marinade. I’d order these again. The chicken skewer ($3 for 1) was tasty with yummy charcoal on one side. Your typical BBQ chicken skewer.
The set up at Westside had changed slightly in the last few weeks. The pallet chairs were gone and have been replaced with a longer pallet seating option wrapped in blankets for extra comfort. I hope heaters will be set up for winter.
Miss Van’s has moved into its own shipping container at one end. The menu has changed completely. No more spring rolls and Laotian skewers. But they have been replaced with three types of pho (beef noodle soup) – your usual rare beef, oxtail beef or special beef soup with beef balls, braised brisket and ox tail. Banh mi is on the menu with pork, chicken or vegetarian options. Cold noodle salad bowls, soy bean milk, Vietnamese iced coffee and sweets are also available.
I wanted to try the special beef noodle soup ($13) but was informed that they’re still preparing it and it won’t be ready for a few more days. That meant I got to try the Vietnamese pork banh mi ($7) with five spice red pork, Vietnamese pork loaf and housemade pate. I was asked whether I wanted chilli oil in the bun which I agreed to but asked for a tiny amount. I really loved this pork banh mi and I’m going to say it is the best in Canberra (that I’ve tried to date). The bread roll was super crispy outside but soft inside. The roll looks smaller than other places that sell banh mi. But don’t let that fool you. There’s no scrimping on the filling and it is stuffed so full that it started to fall out. There’s plenty of pate (yum!) and thick slices of each pork element. The fresh ingredients and the heat from the chilli helped make this awesome. Lots of flavour and punch that really hit the spot for me. And it’s only $7!
A new stall to open is La Crepe, a French creperie that had only opened up two days prior. I noticed that it had replaced the spot that Stomping Grounds had originally settled into. I’m not sure what happened to it but it’s no longer on the Westside website. Anyway, La Crepe’s opening menu included a bunch of sweet crepes (menu below) with savoury crepes made with buckwheat flour anticipated to be introduced in about a week. Crepes are only $5-6 at this stage.
I can never resist a nutella crepe ($6) and was really pleased with this one. The crepe is fairly large with plenty of folds to snack on. Soft, smooth and a generous amount of nutella in between. Simple yet so so good! If you like salted caramel, La Crepe makes salty caramel crepes too. I’d be interested in trying that out and the savoury crepes when they are introduced. All up, I only spent $13 for lunch + dessert. Bargain!
Habibiz has opened in a separate shipping container close to the carpark offering authentic Middle Eastern BBQ. The menu sounds good with plenty of rolls on offer (the Habibiz Fries Roll? Is this a Middle Eastern version of the chip roll / chip butty?), charcoal chicken / meat, falafel, sambusik, skewers, salads, Turkish coffee and other Middle Eastern drinks, and sweet with baklava for $1 advertised. I headed upstairs to check out the Aviary Bar. The decor is minimal with some rugs on the floor to give a home-like feel, bright blue chairs and plenty of standing room with tables made out of more pallets.
There’s artwork against some of the shipping containers giving the whole place a young, urban vibe. There’s even a small skate ramp on site with plans to build a BMX pump track to hold competitions and events. The space can be used to hold other events such as the upcoming Streetball Tournament. So at this stage, the following food/drinks stalls are open:
- Miss Van’s Street Food (Vietnamese)
- Damn Fine Roasters (coffee)
- O So Smoothie (healthy smoothies)
- La Crepe (French creperie)
- Habibiz (authentic Middle Eastern BBQ)
- Courtside (bar on ground floor)
- Aviary Bar (rooftop bar)
Opening hours for food stalls haven’t been posted on the Westside website just yet. The park itself is located on Barrine Drive and is open seven days a week. Both bars are open Thursday to Sunday from midday, Damn Fine Roasters is open seven days a week from 7am to 9pm, and O So Smoothie is open seven days a week from 7am to 7pm. Checkout the website for more information.
Value for money 8/10
FPJ score 23.5/30
If you want more random photos and updates about food, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram